SUBJECT: SOME IDEAS AND IDEALS ABOUT FUNDAMENTAL SCIENTIFIC TRUTH.
Lead, follow — or get out of the way.
The task of the physicist is to see through the appearances down to the underlyling, very simple, symmetric reality.
He travels furthest, fastest, and with greatest insight – is the man who travels alone.
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow; He who would search for pearls must dive below.
Part of the art and skill of the engineer and of the experimental physicist is to create conditions in which certain events are sure to occur.
Truth comes more readily out of error — than out of confusion.
It is difficult to think about draining the swamp — when you are up to your neck in alligators.
It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.
G. K. Chesterson
Men live by their routines; and when these are called into question, they lose all power of normal judgment. They will listen to nothing save the echo of their own voices; all else becomes dangerous thoughts.
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday, is the hope of today, and the reality of tomorrow.
Robert H. Goddard
ABOUT THE CURRENT “CAMERA” PICTURE OF THE NATURAL EYE – AS TAUGHT IN MEDICAL SCHOOLS:
An easily understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex incomprehensible truth.
The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best — and therefore never scrutinize or question.
Stephen Jay Gould
The ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding.
It is as fatal as it is cowardly to “blink” facts because they are not to our taste.
Many errors, of a truth, consist merely in the application of the wrong names of things.
When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.
Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.
People believe and do whatever they want to do, regardless of the facts presented to them.
Thomas Quackenbush (Vision Research)
You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back.
New ideas are always criticized – not because an idea lacks merit, but because it might turn out to be workable, which would threaten the reputations of many people whose opinions conflict with it. Some people may even lose their jobs.
When adults first become conscious of something new, they usually either attack it or try to escape from it… Attack includes such mild forms as ridicule, and escape includes merely putting it out of mind.
W. I. Beveridge
I know that most men … can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the very fabric of their lives.
Insanity is doing the same thing over-and-over again — but expecting different results.
Rita Mae Brown
It is one thing, to show a man that he is in an error — and another — to put him in possession of truth.
Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome.
The trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.
You cannot by reasoning correct a man of an ill opinion which by reasoning he never acquired. We can also say that neither by reasoning, nor by actual demonstration of the facts, can you convince some people that an opinion which they have accepted on authority is wrong.
There are no hopeless situations. There are only men who have grown hopeless about them.
Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt — prior to investigation.
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
Science is never merely knowledge; it is orderly knowledge.
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
The test of a first-class mind is the ability to hold two opposing views … at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Imagination is more important that knowledge…knowledge is limited but imagination circles the world. To see with one’s own eyes, to feel and judge without succumbing to the suggestive power of the fashion of the day, to be able to express what one has seen and felt in a trim sentence or even a cunningly wrought word…is that not glorious? When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing absolute knowledge.
To him who is a discover in this field, the products of his imagination appear so necessary and natural that he regards them, and would like to have them regarded by others, not as creations of thought but as given realities.
Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
No one but a theorist believes his theory; everyone puts faith in a laboratory result — but the experimenter himself.
…one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.
It seems that the human mind has first to construct forms independently before we can find them in things. Kepler’s marvelous achievement is a particularly fine example of the truth that knowledge cannot spring from experience alone, but only from the comparison of the inventions of the mind with observed fact.
The formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution, which may be a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.
Any intelligent fool can make thing bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — as a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.
Science is the attempt to make the chaotic diversity of our sense-experience correspond to a logically uniform system of thought.
It is the theory that decides what we can observe.
Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavor to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears it ticking, but he has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of the mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility of the meaning of such a comparison.
The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
The skeptic will say, ‘It may well be true that this system of equations is reasonable from a logical standpoint, but this does not prove that it corresponds to nature.’ You are right, dear skeptic. Experience alone can decide on truth.
– Albert Einstein
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.
My advice to those who wish to learn the art of scientific prophesy is not to rely on abstract reason, but to decipher the secret language of Nature from Nature’s documents: the facts of experience.
ATOMIC THEORY AND DESCRIPTION OF NATURE.
The task of science is both to extend the range of our experience and to reduce it to order, and this task presents various aspects inseparable connected with one another. Only by experience itself do we come to recognize those laws which grant us a comprehensive view of the diversity of phenomena. As our knowledge becomes wider, we must even be prepared therefore to expect alterations in the point-of-view best suited for the ordering of experience.
ABOUT EINSTEIN “THINKING” APPROACH TO SCIENCE.
“Einstein expressed over and over again the thought that one should not couple the quest for knowledge with a bread-and-butter profession, but that research should be done as a private spare-time occupation. He himself wrote the first of his great treatises while earning his living as an employee of the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. What he did not consider, however, [was that] to be able to practice science as a hobby, one has to be an Einstein.
– Max Born
You cannot cheat nature, however much you may cheat your fellow man.
In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.
In the natural sciences the art of rhetoric is ineffective.
People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care … about them.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George B. Shaw
Odd as it may seem, most people’s views about motion are part of a system of physics that was proposed more than 2,000 years ago and was experimentally shown to be inadequate at least 1,400 years ago.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.
Every creative act involves … a new innocence of perception, liberated from the cataract of accepted belief.
Those who fall in love with practice without science are like a sailor who enters a ship without a helm or compass, and who never can be certain whither he is going.
Leonardo da Vinci
I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
It often happens, with regard to new inventions, that one part of the general public finds them useless, and another part considers them to be impossible. When it becomes clear that the possibility and the usefulness can no longer be denied, most agree that the whole thing was fairly easy to discover and that they knew about it all along.
When a thing is new, people say: ‘It is not true.’ Later, when its truth became obvious, they say: ‘It is not important.’ Finally, when its importance cannot be denied, they say: ‘Anyway, it is not new.
The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.
T. E. Lawrence
He that resolves upon any great and good end has, by that very resolution, scaled the chief barrier to it.
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Nature does not appear very simple or unified … [but] we can at least make out the shape of symmetries, which though broken, are exact principles governing all phenomena, expressions of the beauty of the world …
Knowledge rests not only upon truth alone, but upon error also.
You know … everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
Arguments are to be avoided. They are always vulgar and often convincing.
It’s not what we inherit from our mothers and fathers that haunts us. It’s all kinds of old defunct theories, all sorts of old defunct beliefs, and things like that. It’s not that they actually live on in us; they are simply lodged there, and we cannot get rid of them.
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
Arthur C. Clarke’s First Law
It’s like religion. Heresy [in science] is thought of as a bad thing, whereas it should be just the opposite.
The pressure for conformity is enormous. I have experienced it in editors rejection of submitted papers, based on venomous criticism of anonymous referees. The replacement of impartial reviewing by censorship will be the death of science.
Julian Schwinger, physicist
The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.
All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.
– Arthur Schopenhauer
“Theories have four stages of acceptance:
i) this is worthless nonsense;
ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view;
iii) this is true, but quite unimportant;
iv) I always said so.
– J.B.S. Haldane
Oakham’s Razor: The philosophic rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.
In other words, you should not invent additional explanations about the experimental data that are more complex, when a simpler explanation has already been provided. If each experiment requires its own theory and explanation, then you have not developed a scientific concept at all.
A management team distracted by a series of short-term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour.
The Google Owner’s Manual
If I want to stop a research program I can always do it by getting a few experts to sit in on the subject, because they know right away that it was a fool thing to try in the first place.
If you restrict the journal to publishing only what pleases the referees, you end up publishing what is popular, and while it does make everyone feel more comfortable, you are guaranteed to miss the occasional breakthrough.
A. Dessler, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters,
If the man doesn’t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can’t burn him.
Once a new paradigm takes hold, its acceptance is extraordinarily rapid and one finds few who claim to have adhered to a discarded method.
Dr. B. Lown, inventor of the modern defibrillator
A man with a new idea is a crank until he succeeds.
Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are that good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
Intricate; complicated, like the GORDIAN KNOT tied by Gordius, King of Phrygia. An oracle having declared that he who should untie the knot should be master of Asia, Alexander the Great cut it with his sword.
Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a great city, and no man knows what is safe, or where it will end.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is a fool’s prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak.
He who can take advice is sometimes superior to him who can give it.
Karel von Knebel (1744-1834)