The Uses of Science

Sunday, May 25, 2014 – The Uses of Science

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. ~ Werner 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 straitjacket. ~ 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

Theory helps us bear our ignorance of facts. ~ George Santayana

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

Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings. ~ Victor Stenger

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

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former. ~ Albert Einstein

The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible. ~ Ray Bradbury

The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behaviour control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers. ~ Lewis Thomas

Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. ~ Thomas Huxley

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. ~ Charles Darwin

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away, and think this to be normal, is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be. ~ Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time

I believe in general in a dualism between facts and the ideas of those facts in human heads. ~ George Santayana


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