Open Questions: Quotations Relevant to Science

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The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
Albert Einstein

Some people seek meaning in life through personal gain, through personal relationships, or through personal experience. However, it seems to me that being blessed with the intellect to divine the ultimate secrets of nature gives meaning enough to life.
Michio Kaku, Hyperspace

Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there.
Richard Feynman

The simplicities of natural laws arise through the complexities of the language we use for their expression.
Eugene Wigner

It is the theory that decides what can be observed.
Albert Einstein

The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.... The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.
Albert Einstein

You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degres of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here....

I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me.
Richard Feynman

I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. ... Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, 'But how can it be like that?' because you will get 'down the drain', into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.
Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law

Now my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
J. B. S. Haldane

The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserved.
Eugene Wigner

The burden of (this) lecture is just to emphasize the fact that it is impossible to explain honestly the beauties of the laws of nature in a way that people can feel, without their having some deep understanding of mathematics.
Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself.
Richard Feynman

If sex evolved so that your children are not condemned to be just like you, intelligence evolved so that you are not condemned to be just like yourself.
Alison Jolly

We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.
Maria Mitchell

For every difficult question there is a simple answer -- and it's wrong.
H. L. Mencken

There is a real world independent of our senses; the laws of nature were not invented by man, but forced on him by the natural world. They are the expression of a natural world order.
Max Planck

Scientifically speaking, a butterfly is at least as mysterious as a superstring. When something ceases to be mysterious, it ceases to be of absorbing concern to scientists. Almost all the things scientists think and dream about are mysterious.
Freeman J. Dyson

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
Albert Einstein

People often think of research as a form of development -- that it's about doing exactly what you planned, doing it on time, and doing it with resources that you said you'd use. But if you're going to do that, you have to know what you are doing, and if you know what you are doing, it isn't really research.
Dave Liddle, The New Yorker, Feb. 23/Mar.2, 1998, p 84
The Next Big Idea, John Heilemann

For the real amazement, if you wish to be amazed, is this process. You start out as a single cell derived from the coupling of a sperm and egg; this divides in two, then four, then eight and so on, and at a certain stage there emerges a single cell which has as all its progeny the human brain. The mere existence of such a cell should be one of the great astonishments of the earth. People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell.
Lewis Thomas

Studying the universe engages us in something bigger than ourselves. Science tries to describe, in terms we can only grasp intuitively, things that are beyond our intuition. . . . all we can hope for is that our physical descriptions, like a song or a good painting, are a faithful evocation of some ineffable truth.
Guy Consolmagno, The Way to the Dwelling of Light

Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Philosophy is written in that great book which ever lies before our gaze -- I mean the universe -- but we cannot understand if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written. The book is written in the mathematical language, and the symbols are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without the help of which it is impossible to conceive a single word of it, and without which one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth.
Galileo Galilei

One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulas have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them.
Heinrich Hertz

To do any important work in physics a very good mathematical ability and aptitude are required. Some work in applications can be done without this, but it will not be very inspired. If you must satisfy your "personal curiosity concerning the mysteries of nature" what will happen if these mysteries turn out to be laws expressed in mathematical terms (as they do turn out to be)? You cannot understand the physical world in any deep or satisfying way without using mathematical reasoning with facility.
Richard Feynman

There are no solved problems. There are only more-or-less solved problems
Henri Poincaré


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