Over the years I've collected quotes that I liked, and have put most of them here. Any quote that I find clever, insightful, funny, profound, or interesting, ends up here. The first bunch is vaguely grouped by subject matter, followed by the rest which are added in the order I find or remember them. I hope the attributions are correct, but no guarantees. Let me know if you find any mistakes.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
- Galileo Galilei
"The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth."
- Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
"We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough?"
- Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
"When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."
- Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)
"This isn't right, this isn't even wrong."
- Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958), upon reading a young physicist's paper
"Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing."
- Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977)
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. –Sir Isaac Newton
"I am become death, shatterer of worlds."
- Robert J. Oppenheimer (1904-1967) (citing from the Bhagavad Gita, after witnessing the world's first nuclear explosion)
"To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit."
"As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow."
-A. C. Benson, From a College Window
"Black holes are where God divided by zero."
- Steven Wright
"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."
- Tom Clancy
"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
- Sherlock Holmes (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930)
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."
- Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."
- Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"Always do right- this will gratify some and astonish the rest."
- Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
"There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher."
- Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)
"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right."
- Henry Ford (1863-1947)
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."
- Henry Ford (1863-1947)
"Do, or do not. There is no 'try'."
- Yoda ('The Empire Strikes Back')
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
- Frank Zappa
"It is much more comfortable to be mad and know it, than to be sane and have one's doubts."
- G. B. Burgin
"I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure -- that is all that agnosticism means."
- Clarence Darrow, Scopes trial, 1925.
"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. "
-Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)
"Everyone is a genius at least once a year; a real genius has his original ideas closer together."
- Georg Lichtenberg (1742-1799)
"Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so."
- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
"You are a possibility that has never occured before and will never occur again. No one else has had or will ever have your unique combination of talents, experiences and dreams. So don't waste that uniqueness." -Patrick Combs
"In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite."
- Paul Dirac (1902-1984)
"I am not young enough to know everything."
- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."
- Mae West (1892-1980)
"Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you."
- Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)
"Happiness is good health and a bad memory."
- Ingrid Bergman (1917-1982)
"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying."
- Woody Allen (1935-)
"Opportunities multiply as they are seized."
- Sun Tzu
"Silence is argument carried out by other means."
- Ernesto"Che"Guevara (1928-1967)
"Well done is better than well said."
- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know."
- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
"If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?"
- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
"The average person thinks he isn't."
- Father Larry Lorenzoni
"Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century."
"There is only one nature - the division into science and engineering is a human imposition, not a natural one. Indeed, the division is a human failure; it reflects our limited capacity to comprehend the whole."
- Bill Wulf
"For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing."
- Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)
The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself? -Anonymous
"If you are going through hell, keep going."
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
...man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on. –Sir Winston Churchill
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill
"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."
- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)
"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
- Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
"Love is friendship set on fire."
- Jeremy Taylor
Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth. –Archimedes
"I have often regretted my speech, never my silence."
- Xenocrates (396-314 B.C.)
"No Sane man will dance."
- Cicero (106-43 B.C.)
"After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one."
- Cato the Elder (234-149 BC, AKA Marcus Porcius Cato)
"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."
- H. G. Wells (1866-1946)
"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome."
- Isaac Asimov
"Facts do not cease to exist because
they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley
"Pray, v.: To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy."
- Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
"All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher."
- Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready."
- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
"Men have become the tools of their tools."
- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
"Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do."
- Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)
"If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth."
- Umberto Eco
"He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction." -Bessie Stanley
(a variation of this is often attributed to Emerson)
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man... I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence -- as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."
"Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."More Einstein Quotes
Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
Carl Sagan is one of my favorite writers, and is one of the main reasons I'm studying astronomy.
The following quotation is my favorite, period. I hope you enjoy it too.
We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at
it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone
you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their
lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of
confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and
forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of
civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every
hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer,
every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every
supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species,
lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the
rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in
glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction
of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of
one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some
other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager
they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings,
our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged
position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our
obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come
from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said
that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building
experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the
folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me,
it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately
with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only
home we've ever known.
Excerpted from a commencement address delivered May 11, 1996.
Dr. Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot expands on these ideas.
Image from Voyager 1, 1990.
Here is a nice video with Sagan himself reading the quote from the book:
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
"Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries." --Cosmos p.333
"Once we overcome our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome Universe that utterly dwarfs--in time, in space, and in potential--the tidy anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors. We gaze across billions of light-years of space to view the Universe shortly after the Big Bang, and plumb the fine structure of matter. We peer down into the core of our planet, and the blazing interior of our star. We read the genetic language in which is written the diverse skills and propensities of every being on Earth. We uncover hidden chapters in the record of our origins, and with some anguish better understand our nature and prospects. We invent and refine agriculture, without which almost all of us would starve to death. We create medicines and vaccines that save the lives of billions. We communicate at the speed of light, and whip around the Earth in an hour and a half. We have sent dozens of ships to more than seventy worlds, and four spacecraft to the stars. We are right to rejoice in our accomplishments, to be proud that our species has been able to see so far, and to judge our merit in part by the very science that has so deflated our pretensions." --Pale Blue Dot p.53-54
"It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works--that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it." --Pale Blue Dot p.159-160
"It took the Church until 1832 to remove Galileo's work from its list of books which Catholics were forbidden to read at the risk of dire punishment of their immortal souls." --Pale Blue Dot p.43
"Science fiction. You're right, it's crazy. In fact, it's even worse than that, it's nuts. You wanna hear something really nutty? I heard of a couple guys who wanna build something called an airplane, you know you get people to go in, and fly around like birds, it's ridiculous, right? And what about breaking the sound barrier, or rockets to the moon? Atomic energy, or a mission to Mars? Science fiction, right? Look, all I'm asking is for you to just have the tiniest bit of vision. You know, to just sit back for one minute and look at the big picture. To take a chance on something that just might end up being the most profoundly impactful moment for humanity, for the history... of history." --Ellie Arroway, Contact
"In our tenure on this planet we have accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage, hereditary propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders and hostility to outsiders, which place our survival in some question. But we have also acquired compassion for others, love for our children and our children's children, a desire to learn from history, and a great soaring passionate intelligence--the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity. Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our vision and understanding and prospects are bound exclusively to the Earth--or, worse, to one small part of it. But up there in the immensity of the Cosmos, an inescapable perspective awaits us." --Cosmos p.318
"Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group. Initially our loyalties were to ourselves and our immediate family, next, to bands of wandering hunter-gatherers, then to tribes, small settlements, city-states, nations. We have broadened the circle of those we love. We have now organized what are modestly described as super-powers, which include groups of people from divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds working in some sense together--surely a humanizing and character building experience. If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth. Many of those who run the nations will find this idea unpleasant. They will fear the loss of power. We will hear much about treason and disloyalty. Rich nation-states will have to share their wealth with poor ones. But the choice, as H. G. Wells once said in a different context, is clearly the universe or nothing." --Cosmos p.339
All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us-then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.
The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir. [Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark]
Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.
Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.
The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.
The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look Death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed"? Instead they say, "No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way." A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverenve and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.
Is our self-esteem so precarious that nothing short of a universe custom-made for us will do?
The evidence, so far at least and laws of Nature aside, does not require a Designer. Mayber there is one hiding, maddeningly unwilling to be revealed. Sometimes it seems a very slender hope.
The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life's meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is prefereable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.
If we crave some cosmic purpose, the let us find ourselves a worthy goal.
Apart from a thin film of life at the very surface of the Earth, an occasional intrepid spacecraft, and some radio static, our impact on the universe is nil. It knows nothing of us.
Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.
Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?
We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think its forever.
Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea...
This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars and so on -- whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man -- for precisely the same reasons.
All it takes to fly is to hurl yourself at the ground... and miss.
It is not the fall that kills you. it's the sudden stop at the end.
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
It's no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase "As pretty as an airport" appear.
Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.
Plenty of people did not care for him much, but then there is a huge difference between disliking somebody -- maybe even disliking them a lot -- and actually shooting them, strangling them, dragging them through the fields and setting their house on fire. It was a difference which kept the vast majority of the population alive from day to day.
Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own laws.
Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn't have a good answer to.
The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who, by peddling second-rate technology, led them into it in the first place.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.
Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing
to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied.
You live and learn. At any rate, you live.
Most of the preceeding quotes were put together in 2002 as a group. From here on are quotes that I've found since then.
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." - - Stephen Roberts
"He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea."
"Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of men.
I have wished to know why the stars shine.
Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims tortured
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.
This has been my life; I found it worth living."
"But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer." –Samwise Gamgee
"You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."
-- Mary Pickford
Lester Burnham (Last line): I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me. But it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and not try to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. Don't worry, you will someday.
"Be glad of life, because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars."
-Henry Van Dyke
"A little while and I will be gone from among you, when I cannot tell. From no where we came, into nowhere we go. What is life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is a breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."
-Ispwo Mukika Crowfoot
"We are bits of stellar matter that got cold by accident, bits of a star gone wrong."
-- Sir Arthur Eddington
"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."
-- M. Cartmill
"If you can see a thing whole," he said, "it seems that it's always beautiful.
Planets, lives....But close up, a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day,
life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. You need distance,
interval. The way to see how beautiful the earth is, is to see it as the moon.
The way to see how beautiful life is, is from the vantage point of death."
"The Disposessed" pg 169 Ursula K. LeGuin
"May you find serenity and tranquility in a world you may not always understand. May the pain you have known and the conflict you have experienced give you the strength to walk through life facing each new situation with courage and optimism. Always know that there are those whose love and understanding will always be there, even when you feel most alone. May you discover enough goodness in others to believe in a world of peace. May a kind word, a reassuring touch, and a warm smile be yours every day of your life, and may you give these gifts as well as receive them. Remember the sunshine when the storm seems unending. Teach love to those who hate, and let that love embrace you as you go out into the world. May the teachings of those you admire become part of you, so that you may call upon them. Remember, those whose lives you have touched and whose have touched yours are always a part of you, even if the encounters were less than you would have wished. It is the content of the encounter that is more important than the form. May you not become too concerned with material matters, but instead place immeasurable value on the goodness in your heart. Find time each day to see beauty and love in the world around you. Realize that each person has limitless abilities, but each of us is different in our own way. What you feel you lack in the present may become one of your strengths in the future. May you see your future as one filled with promise and possibility. Learn to view everything as a worthwhile experience. May you find enough inner strength to determine your own worth by yourself, and not be dependent on another's judgment of your accomplishments. May you always feel loved." -Unknown
"I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken -- and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived."
- Margaret Mitchell
"The most beautiful things in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us."
"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
"Ends and beginnings -- there are no such things. There are only middles."
"How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."
-- Alexander Pope
"The best sunrises are the ones you see as you’re going to bed."
-John Huchra, Astrophysicist at CfA
Only as high as I reach can I grow, Only as far as I seek can I go, Only as deep as I look can I see, Only as much as I dream can I be.
-- Karen Ravn
"The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not obtained by sudden flight
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern — unseen before,
A path to higher destinies."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
"Enlightenment is not an attainment; it is a realization. When you wake up, everything changes and nothing changes. If a blind man realizes that he can see, has the world changed?" -Dan Millman
"Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He's enjoying the wind and the fresh air - until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. " 'My God, this is terrible,' the wave says 'look what's going to happen to me!' "Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, 'Why do you look so sad?' "the first wave says, 'You don't understand! we're all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn't that terrible?' "The second wave says, 'No you don't understand. You're not a wave, you're part of the ocean.' " -Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom
"Do you believe then that the sciences would ever have arisen and become great if there had not beforehand been magicians, alchemists, astrologers and wizards, who thirsted and hungered after abscondite and forbidden powers"?
Friedrich Nietzsche, 1886
Doubt is uncomfortable, certainty is ridiculous. -Voltaire
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool.
-- Richard Feynman
"Who is crazy, the world because it sees itself as it is, or I, because I see how it could be?" -Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.
Text QIV (decto)
(Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse Dune)
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. -George Bernard Shaw
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -Arthur C. Clarke Waking Life
Waking life is this really cool movie that deals with the question of how to tell the difference between life and dreams, and in the process explores a lot of other philosophical territory. I watched it again the other day, here are some cool quotes from it:
They say that dreams are only real as long as they last. Couldn't you say the same thing about life?
On really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion.
There's only one instant, and it's right now. And it's eternity.
As the pattern gets more interesting and subtle, being swept along is no longer enough.
When it was over, all I could think about was how this entire notion of oneself, what we are, is just this logical structure,
a place to momentarily house all the abstractions. It was a time to become conscious, to give form and coherence to the mystery,
and I had been a part of that. It was a gift. Life was raging all around me and every moment was magical. I loved all the people,
dealing with all the contradictory impulses - that's what I loved the most, connecting with the people. Looking back, that's all
that really mattered.
The worst mistake that you can make is to think you're alive when really you're asleep in life's waiting room.
Dream is destiny.
"If one knows only what one is told, one does not know enough to be able to arrive at a well-balanced decision." ~ Leó Szilárd
"Oh, if a man tried to take his time on earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, I wonder what would happen to this world?" ~ Harry Chapin
"Is there not A tongue in every star that talks with man, And wooes him to be wise? nor wooes in vain; This dead of midnight is the noon of thought,
And wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars."
-Anna Letitia Barbauld, A Summer Evening's Meditation (l. 48)
Nothing shocks me. I'm a scientist.
-- Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones
For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
-Vincent Van Gogh
Remember that no man loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other than this which he now loses. –Marcus Aurelius
A man must be both stupid and uncharitable who believes there is no virtue or truth but on his own side.
The stars are forth, the moon above the tops Of the snow-shining mountains--Beautiful! I linger yet with Nature, for the night Hath been to me a more familiar face Than that of man; and in her starry shade Of dim and solitary loveliness I learn'd the language of another world.
- Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron)
What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail? -Sydney Smith
Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. -Jean-Paul Sartre
Life has no meaning a priori...It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose. -Jean-Paul Sartre
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
"Things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I
believe that dreams— daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open
and your brain machinery whizzing— are likely to lead to the
betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the
imaginative man or woman most apt to invent, and therefore to foster,
civilization." -- L. Frank Baum
The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action.
-- Frank Herbert
Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
"Either this is madness or it is Hell."
"It is neither," calmly replied the voice of the Sphere, "it is Knowledge."
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.
- Bertrand Russell, Impact of Science on Society (1952) ch. 1
Richard Dawkins is a leading evolutionary biologist and is world famous for clearly explaining the intricacies of evolution and science in general to the public. So far I have read two of his many books: The Selfish Gene and A Devil's Chaplain. If I had read them a few years earlier, I might be a biologist.
"Blind faith can justify anything. If a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die --- on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a crusader's sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast ... This is true of patriotic and political as well as religious blind faith." - Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
The human psyche has two great sicknesses: the urge to carry vendetta across generations, and the tendency to fasten group labels on people rather than see them as individuals. Abrahamic religion mixes explosively with (and gives strong sanction to) both. Only the willfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities in the world today. -Richard Dawkins, A Devil's Chaplain
You cannot be both sane and well educated and disbelieve in evolution.
I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
What has 'theology' ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has 'theology' ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? What makes you think that 'theology' is a subject at all?"
If you want to do evil, science provides the most powerful weapons to do evil; but equally, if you want to do good, science puts into your hands the most powerful tools to do so. The trick is to want the right things, then science will provide you with the most effective methods of achieving them.
We should take astrology seriously. No, I don't mean we should believe in it. I am talking about fighting it seriously instead of humouring it as a piece of harmless fun.
Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.
Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have a chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.
I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt
When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
-- Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)
The future is a hundred thousand threads, but the past is a fabric that can never be rewoven.
-Orson Scott Card, Xenocide
I have tasted the heat of many stars, and all of them were sweet. -Orson Scott Card, Xenocide
"Uneducated people delight in argument and fault-finding, for it is easy to find fault, but difficult to recognize the good and its inner necessity. Education in its early stages always begins with fault-finding, but when it is complete, it sees the positive element in everything. In religion, it is equally easy to say that this or that is superstition, but it is infinitely more difficult to comprehend the truth which it contains."
-Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Death twitches my ear. "Live," he says, "I am coming." ~Virgil
Now is the time to get drunk! To stop being the martyred slaves of time, to get absolutely drunk - on wine, poetry, or on virtue, as you please. ~Charles Baudelaire
We do not do what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are - that is the fact. ~Jean Paul Sartre
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
The Bene Gesserit Littainy against Fear
Frank Herbert, Dune
Until calculus is required in houses of worship, faith-based 'science' has no place in public education. -Unknown
“We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.” — Pastor Ray Mummert, on the hardships involved in supporting Creationism
Sometimes at night I light a lamp so as not to see. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin
Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,
Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
Wise foundress of the system of the world,
Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
Bound to the tail of folly's uncurbed steed,
Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
To the fool-king belongs the world. -Friedrich Schiller; "The Maid of Orleans", Act III, Scene 6
To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich, to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never, in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common, this is to be my symphony. - William Henry Channing
We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us; and the more we gain, the more is our desire. The more we see, the more we are capable of seeing. - Maria Mitchell
It may be that the old astrologers had the truth exactly reversed, when they believed that the stars controlled the destinies of men. The time may come when men control the destinies of stars.
-- Arthur C. Clarke, First on the Moon, 1970
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the
strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done
better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives
valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the
great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy
cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high
achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while
daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and
timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." -- Theodore Roosevelt
If our society seems more nihilistic than that of previous eras, perhaps
this is simply a sign of our maturity as a sentient species. As our
collective consciousness expands beyond a crucial point, we are
at last ready to accept life's fundamental truth: that life's only
purpose is life itself.
-- Chairman Sheng-ji Yang,
"Looking God in the Eye"
Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature; but he is a thinking reed. There is no need for the whole universe to take up arms to crush him: a vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But even if the universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than his slayer, because he knows that he is dying and the advantage the universe has over him. The universe knows nothing of this.
- Blaise Pascal
Oh, greatest of mass media, thank you for elevating emotion, reducing thought, and stifling imagination. Thank you for the artificiality of quick solutions and for the insidious manipulation of human desires for commercial purposes. This bowl of lukewarm tapioca represents my brain. I offer it in humble sacrifice. Bestow thy flickering light forever."
-Calvin and Hobbes
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away" -Philip K. Dick
People want to be happy, isn't that right? Haven't you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren't they? Don't we keep them moving, don't we give them fun? That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these. -Fahrenheit 451
Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.-Fahrenheit 451
There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ: every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we've done for a thousand years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we'll stop making the goddam funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.-Fahrenheit 451
'I hate a Roman named Status Quo!' he said to me. 'Stuff your eyes with wonder,' he said, 'live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that,' he said, 'shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.'"
- Fahrenheit 451
We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.
"What ever happened to happy endings?"
They got them on shows at Saturday matinees."
Sure, but what about life?"
"All I know is I feel good going to bed nights, Doug. That's a happy ending once
a day. Next morning I'm up and maybe things go bad. But all I got to do is
remember that I'm going to bed that night and just lying there a while makes
The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance - the idea that anything is possible.
* If we listened to our intellect we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go in business because we'd be cynical: "It's gonna go wrong." Or "She's going to hurt me." Or,"I've had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . ." Well, that's nonsense. You're going to miss life. You've got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.
We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.
Why would you clone people when you can go to bed with them and make a baby? C'mon, it's stupid.
Video games are a waste of time for men with nothing else to do. Real brains don't do that. On occasion? Sure. As relaxation? Great. But not full time -- And a lot of people are doing that. And while they're doing that, I'll go ahead and write another novel.
Too late, I found you can't wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down with everbody else.
-Charles Holloway, in "Something Wicked This Way Comes"
“…Beware the autumn people…
For some, autumn comes early, stays late, through life, where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring or revivifying summer.
For these beings, fall is the only normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond.
Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No, the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks through their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars.
They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud al clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks.
Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.”
Charles Holloway, quoting “Pastor Newgate Phillips” in Something Wicked This Way Comes
"I suppose one night hundreds of thousands of years ago in a cave by a night fire when one of those shaggy men wakened to gaze over the banked coals at his woman, his children, and thought of their being cold, dead, gone forever. Then he must have wept. And he put out his hand in the night to the woman who must die some day and to the children who must follow her. And for a little bit next morning, he treated them somewhat better, for he saw that they, like himself, had the seed of night in them. ... So that man, the first one, knew what we know now: our hour is short, eternity is long. With this knowledge came pity and mercy, so we spared others for the latter, more intricate, more mysterious benefits of love."
-Charles Holloway, in "Something Wicked This Way Comes"
The stuff of nightmare is their plain bread. They butter it with pain. They set their clocks by death-watch beetles, and thrive the centuries.
-Charles Holloway, in "Something Wicked This Way Comes"
Death doesn't exist. It never did, never will. But we've drawn so many pictures of it, so many years, trying to pin it down, comphrehend it, we've got to thinking of it as an entity, strangely alive and greedy. All it is, however, is a stopped watch, a loss, an end, a darkness. Nothing. ...we're more afraid of Nothing than of Something.
-Charles Holloway, in "Something Wicked This Way Comes"
[Mr. Dark, the evil carnival owner, covered head-to-toe with tatoos of strange creatures, searches for the two boys Jim and Will in the library]
Mr. Dark came carrying his panoply of friends, his jewel-case assortment of calligraphic reptiles which lay sunning themselves at midnight on his flesh. With him strode the stitch-inked Tyrannosaurus Rex, which lent to his haunches a machined and ancient wellspring mineral-oil glide. As the thunder lizard strode, all glass-bead pomp, so strode Mr. Dark, armored with vile lightning scribbles of carnivores and sheep blasted by that thunder and arun before storms of juggernaut flesh. It was the pterodactyl kite and scythe which raised his arms almost to fly the marbled vaults. And with the inked and stenciled flashburnt shapes of pistoned or bladed doom came his usual crowd of hangers-on, spectators gripped to each limb, seated on shoulder blades, peering from his jungled chest, hung upside down in microscopic millions in his armpit vaults screaming bat-screams for encounters, ready for the hunt and if need be the kill. Like a black tidal wave upon a bleak shore, a dark tumult infilled with phosphorescent beauties and badly spoiled dreams, Mr. Dark sounded and hissed his feet, his legs, his body, his sharp face forward.
-Something Wicked This Way Comes
This is a fantastic example of Bradbury's writing style, which never ceases to amaze me.
More great quotes from Ray Bradbury are HERE
At last he came to a door, with these words in glowing emeralds:
THE END OF THE WORLD
He did not hesitate. He opened the door and stepped through.
-Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
Only one rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation. So, of course, we killed him.- Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card
Even if there is no such thing as free will, we have to treat each other as if there were free will in order to live together in society. Because otherwise, every time somebody does something terrible, you can’t punish him, because he can’t help it, because his genes or his environment or God made him do it, and every time somebody does something good, you can’t honor him, because he was a puppet, too. If you think that everybody around you is a puppet, why bother talking to them at all? Why even try to plan anything or create anything, since everything you plan or create or desire or dream of is just acting out the script your puppeteer built into you.
So we conceive of ourselves and everyone around us as volitional beings. We treat everyone as if they did things with a purpose in mind, instead of because they’re being pushed from behind. We punish criminals. We reward altruists. We plan things and build things together. We make promises and expect each other to keep them. It’s all a made-up story, but when everybody believes that everybody’s actions are the result of free choice, and takes and gives responsibility accordingly, the result is civilization. -Xenocide, Orson Scott Card
Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.
Madame Bovary (1857)
"Sure, ninety percent of science fiction is crud. That's because
ninety percent of everything is crud." -- Theodore Sturgeon
With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
If a man wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.
-L. Ron Hubbard (science fiction writer and inventor of Scientology)
Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances,... and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all that we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, which people see as ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.
...how vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable the Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit Consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot. -Christiaan Huygens, 1698 (this quote was clearly the inspiration for Sagan's Pale Blue Dot quote)
Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind.
-- Marston Bates
The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.
-- William James
It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end. -Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness
"Tell me, Genry, what is known? What is sure, unpredictable, inevitable -- the one certain thing you know concerning your future, and mine?"
"That we shall die."
"Yes, There's really only one question that can be answered, Genry, and we already know the answer. ... The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next." -Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness
"How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That's a good thing, but one musn't make a virtue of it, or a profession. ... Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope." -Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
- Mark Twain
Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
- Robert A. Heinlein
If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
-- John Kenneth Galbraith
Now, I know there are some polls out there saying that this man [George W. Bush] has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality". And reality has a well known liberal bias. -Stephen Colbert, at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner
There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. -Carl Jung
To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else. -Emily Dickinson
Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry. -Mark Twain
Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies. ~Erich Fromm
Physics Student: Do you like spaceships?
Little Girl: No. I only like ponies.
I ask not for a lighter burden, but broader shoulders. - Jewish Proverb
"If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul."-Isaac Asimov
Like sailors we are, who must rebuild their ship upon the open sea, never able to dismantle it in dry dock or to reconstruct it there from the best materials. -Otto Neurath, "Protocol Sentences"
We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.
-- Richard Feynman
Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.
-- Ben Hecht
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says "I'll try again tomorrow." ~Mary Anne Radmacher
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.
-Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins
Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustable well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even concieve of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
"I'm afraid sometimes
you'll play lonely games too,
games you can't win
because you'll play against you"
A cult is a religion with no political power.
-- Tom Wolfe
The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never scrutinize or question.
-- Stephen Jay Gould
"You ask me the real point of it all. Each of us must take his own path on that... Different
paths have their own advantages, their own perils. But for your own, human sake... you should consider: Each civilization has its time.
Each science has its limits. And Each of us must die. If you truly understand those limits ... then you are ready to grow up, to know what counts."
He was silent for a while. "Yes... just listen to the peace. It's a gift to be able to do that.
Too much time is spent in frenzied rushing. Listen to the breeze... Listen to the laughter
of your children and grandchildren. Enjoy the time you have, however it is given to you, and for however long."
-Magnate Larson in A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
“In an age when the horizons have grown near, when the lands of mystery are as close as the travel channel, when everything seems known and tired, when all the wildernesses are conquered, the human soul is starved for challenge. Only our outbound quest can satisfy this hunger, which is a very real hunger that is at once spiritual, psychological, emotional, as well as intellectual. We do this for knowledge and to hone our technical capabilities. But most of all, we do it for our deepest hearts, which yearn outward.”
-- From James Cameron's address to the International Mars Society, August 1999
It's human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is not a choice, really; it's an imperative.
— Michael Collins
"I don't like it, and I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with it."
-- Erwin Schrodinger talking about quantum mechanics.
"All science is either physics or stamp collecting."
-- Ernest (1st Baron) Rutherford (1871-1937)
"The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and confine man in the bonds of Hell."
-- St. Augustine (354-430)
"He seems to have an inordinate fondness for beetles."
-- John Burdon Sanderson Haldane, British geneticist and writer (1892-1964), when asked late in his life whether his studies had taught him anything about God that he might care to share (Beetles comprise about a quarter of all known species.)
"Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: 'My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.' This stranger is a theologian."
-- Diderot, c1762
"First you guess. Don't laugh, this is the most important step. Then you compute the consequences. Compare the consequences to experience. If it disagrees with experience, the guess is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn't matter how beautiful your guess is or how smart you are or what your name is. If it disagrees with experience, it's wrong. That's all there is to it."
-- Richard Feynman, from a PBS show on Dr. Feynman. He was describing to his class how to look for a new law of physics