Thinking Scientifically

Sunday, March 15, 2009 – Thinking Scientifically

 

I think science has enjoyed an extraordinary success because it has such a limited and narrow realm in which to focus its efforts. Namely, the physical universe. ~ Ken Jenkins

 

No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer. ~ Thomas Browne

 

Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men. ~ Jean Rostand

 

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. ~ Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883

 

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. ~ Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

 

Science is a cemetery of dead ideas. ~ Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life, 1913

 

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but “That’s funny…” ~ Isaac Asimov

 

The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment. ~ Celia Green, The Decline and Fall of Science, 1972

 

A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective. ~ Edward Teller

 

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing. ~ Wernher Von Braun

 

Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind. ~ Marston Bates

 

Science does not know its debt to imagination. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them. ~ William Lawrence Bragg

 

That theory is worthless. It isn’t even wrong! ~ Wolfgang Pauli

 

Great scientific discoveries have been made by men seeking to verify quite erroneous theories about the nature of things. ~ Aldous Huxley, “Wordsworth in the Tropics”

 

Observations always involve theory. ~ Edwin Hubble

 

In physics, you don’t have to go around making trouble for yourself – nature does it for you. ~ Frank Wilczek

 

Physics is imagination in a straight jacket. ~ John Moffat

 

There are no physicists in the hottest parts of hell, because the existence of a ‘hottest part’ implies a temperature difference, and any marginally competent physicist would immediately use this to run a heat engine and make some other part of hell comfortably cool. This is obviously impossible. ~ Richard Davisson

 

It would be a poor thing to be an atom in a universe without physicists, and physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an atom’s way of knowing about atoms. ~ George Wald

 

The microwave oven is the consolation prize in our struggle to understand physics. ~ Jason Love

 

I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them. ~ Karl Friedrich Gauss

 

Science is the topography of ignorance. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Medical Essays, 1883

 

Men are probably nearer the central truth in their superstitions than in their science. ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact. ~ H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebook, 1956

 

Theory helps us bear our ignorance of facts. ~ George Santayana, The Sense of Beauty, 1896

 

In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. ~ Carl Sagan

 

The improver of natural science absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin. ~ Thomas Henry Huxley, Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews, 1871

 

It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young. ~ Konrad Lorenz

 

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

 

The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination – but the combination is locked up in the safe. ~ Peter DeVries

 

Religions die when they are proved to be true. Science is the record of dead religions. ~ Oscar Wilde

 

Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition. ~ Alan Turing

 

It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. ~ Albert Einstein

 

In this house, we OBEY the laws of thermodynamics! ~ Homer Simpson

 

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate. ~ Henry J. Tillman