Web-Materials

 
Quotes From Mainly Scientists and Engineers

“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant”


Alan Greenspan
Chairman of US Federal Reserve Board


"My father the plumber once told me that he had repaired a complex heating system with a single well-placed kick of his foot. Balking at a seemingly exorbitant bill, the owner asked my father why he should pay so much for so little. 'The kick was free,' said my father. 'The charge is for knowing just where to kick"


Sheldon L. Glashow
(Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University; Nobel Laureate, 1979)
Interactions
Warner Books, New York, 1988
: p.117

 


"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."


Benjamin Franklin
(1706 - 1790)


"No one believes experimental data except the person who takes them, and everyone believes in the theory except the person who makes it up"

Robert Khan
in Euromat 2001, Rimini, Italy


"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."


H.G. Wells
(1886 - 1946)


"If you cannot saw with a file or file with a saw, then you will be no good as an experimentalist."


Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788 - 1827)


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


Sir William Lawrence Bragg (1890-1971)


"In Zipf's law the quantity under study is inversely proportional to the rank, that is, proportional to 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, etc."


Sir William Lawrence Bragg (1890-1971)Murray Gell-Mann
(Professor Emeritus, California Institute of Technology; Nobel Laureate 1969)
The Quark and the Jaguar
Adventures in the simple and the complex

W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, USA, 1994,
p.95


"This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value""

Western Union Internal Memo, 1876


"If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment."

Ernest Rutherford
(1871-1937)
Quoted in The Mathematical Approach to Biology and Medicine , N.T.J. Bailey, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1967.


"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible"


Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), 1895


"In a time of drastic change it's the learners who survive; the 'learned' find themselves fully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists".

Eric Hoffer, 1902-1983
Born in New York City. Unschooled and temporarily blind as a child, he read voraciously after recovering his sight at age
15. At age 18 he went to California and took up work as a migrant farmer writing on the side; from 1943 he was a dockworker. His writings, starting
with The True Believer (1951), a study of fanaticism and mass movements, won recognition for their pungent, aphoristic style and perceptivity.
Hoffer retired from the docks in 1967 but continued to be widely celebrated as "the longshoreman philosopher.


"That is why the stove's flame turns yellow when the soup boils over. The table salt in the soup contains sodium, whose dominant spectral lines are bright yellow."

Sheldon L. Glashow
(Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University; Nobel Laureate, 1979)
Interactions
Warner Books, New York, 1988
: p.50


"One of the deepest principles of quantum theory the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that there is a finite probability that seemingly implausible events can happen. Imagine being trapped in a maximum-security prison. Normally, hitting one's head against the massive brick walls will only give one a headache. However, there is a finite probability the atoms of one's head will slip right through the atoms of the brick wall, allowing one to escape the prison. (The probability of such an event is calculable and is so small that the event will not occur within the lifetime of the universe, so the quantum theory is not a practical way to break out of prisons.)"

 


Michio Kaku
(Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York)
Visions
(How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century)
Anchor Books, New York, USA, 1997
, p.107


"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers"

Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943
(As quoted in Macleans magazine, April 1998, p.60)


"It was not unusual in theoretical physics to spend a lot of time in speculative notion that turns out to be wrong. I do it all the time. Having a lot of crazy ideas is the secret of my success. Some of them turned out to be right!"

Sheldon L. Glashow
(Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University; Nobel Laureate, 1979)
Interactions
Warner Books, New York, 1988
: p.114


"Perhaps the most famous example of futurology gone wrong is the predictions made by John von Neumann, the father of the modern electronic computer and one off the great mathematicians of the century. After the war, he made two predictions: first, that in the future computers would become so monstrous and costly that only governments would be able to afford them, and second, that computers would be able to predict the weather accurately."

Michio Kaku
(Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York)
Hyperspace
Anchor Books, Doubleday, New York, USA, 1994, p.277


"Trouble about common sense is that it can often let you down. After all, common sense suggests that the sun and stars revolve around the Earth. Einstein once remarked that "common sense is that layer of prejudices laid down in the mind prior to the age of eighteen" [quoted in Relativity for Scientists and Engineers by R. Skinner (Dover, New York, 1982), p. 27]."

Paul Davies
(Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Adelaide, Australia)
About Time
Touchstone Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, USA 1995,
p.70


"For the future, with our resources largely spent, mere brawn will not suffice, and those who are scientifically illiterate are enslaved by their own ignorance."

Sheldon L. Glashow
(Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University; Nobel Laureate, 1979)
Interactions
Warner Books, New York, 1988
: p.119


"It is an ironic fact that physicists spent many an hour gazing through window glass speculating if an amorphous material could have a bandgap. Window glass is indeed amorphous and yet, precisely because it is transparent to visible light, it must have a bandgap beyond the visible; depending on the glass, the absorption edge lies at about 3000 or 4.0 eV."

J. Mort
(Senior Research Fellow at Xerox Corp., Webster, NY)
The Anatomy of Xerography, Its Invention and Evolution
McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, USA, 1989, p.77


"After a year's research, one realises that it could have been done in a week."

Sir William Henry Bragg

(As quoted by Alan L. Mackay, Dictionary of Scientific Quotations, Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol, 1994, p. 37, apparently from Fifty Year's of X-ray Diffraction ed. P.P. Ewald, Utrecht, 1962)


"In question of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."


Galileo Galilei

(1564-1642)


"If all the seals had leaked, it would have been obvious even to NASA that the problem was serious. But only a few of the seals leaked on only some of the flights. So NASA had developed a peculiar kind of attitude: if one of the seals leaks a little and the flight is successful, the problem isn't so serious. Try playing Russian roulette that way: you pull the trigger and the gun doesn't go off, so it must be safe to pull the trigger again...."

[Richard Feynman talking about the O-ring seal problem that lead to the space shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986]

Richard P. Feynman
(19181988; Nobel Laureate, 1965)
What Do You Care What Other People Think?
Unwin Paperbacks, Unwin Hyman Ltd., London, 1988, p.138


"Like the ski resort full of girls hunting for husbands and husbands hunting for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem."


[apparently from a lecture in 1964 at Birkbeck College]

Alan L. Mackay
[Professor in Crystallography at Birkbeck College, University of London]
A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations
Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol, 1994, p.160


"In a time of drastic change it's the learners who survive; the 'learned' find themselves fully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists".

Eric Hoffer
[ as quoted by Professor Barry Brown in one of his articles in the On Campus News - a newsletter of the University of Saskatchewan]


"We have a habit in writing articles published in scientific journals to make the work as finished as possible, to cover up all the tracks, to not worry about the blind alleys or describe how you had the wrong idea first, and so on. So there isn't any place to publish, in a dignified manner, what you actually did in order to get to do the work."

Richard P. Feynman
Nobel Lecture, 1966


"From an energy point of view, for about 99.99% of the existence of humanity on this planet, the technological level of our species was only one step above that of animals. It has only been within the past few hundred years that humans have had more than 1 horsepower available to them."

Michio Kaku
(Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York)
Hyperspace
Anchor Books, Doubleday, New York, USA, 1994, p.275


"The British scientist and author C.P. Snow had an elegant way of remembering the three laws [of thermodynamics]
1. You cannot win (that is, you cannot get something for nothing, because matter and energy are conserved)
2. You cannot even break even (you cannot return to the same energy state, because there is always an increase in disorder; entropy always increases).
3. You cannot get out of the game (because absolute zero is unattainable). "
[Professor Kaku is talking about the entropy death of the universe.]

Michio Kaku
(Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York)
Hyperspace
Anchor Books, Doubleday, New York, USA, 1994, p.304


"There is a tacit assumption that scientific theories are part of a gigantic confidence trick designed to inflate the power and importance of self-serving scientists. Scientific discourse is treated with suspicion as an esoteric code, created to maintain the exclusivity of the club and deliberately designed to dazzle nonscientists with impenetrable mathematics and jargon.
[Paul Davies talking about "intellectuals" in the arts and literary field]"

Paul Davies
(Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Adelaide, Australia)
About Time
Touchstone Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, USA 1995,
p.70


"Physicists use the wave theory on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the particle theory on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays."

Sir William Henry Bragg
(As quoted by Alan L. Mackay, Dictionary of Scientific Quotations, Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol, 1994, p. 37) [ Note: Sundays allocated to rest.]


"An outstandingly innovative scientist, Rudi Kompfner, wrote that when his intuition was unengaged or disengaged then his creative faculties were paralyzed. Although Kompfner was talking about quantum theory , his remarks apply to most aspects of science. How can one create and innovate when no understanding is present?"

J.E. Carroll
(Professor of Engineering, University of Cambridge)
Rate equations in semiconductor electronics
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1985,
p.1.


"Customers are no longer satisfied with with an absence of defects, but demand a presence of value. Global competitors are everywhere offering a wealth of value and ready to serve every need. And change is constant! Stated in another way: the current world is like a race when you run the first four laps as fast as you can, and then you gradually increase the pace"


James L. Meska
(Dean of the College of Engineering, Iowa State University, 1997)
from an article "Trends in engineering education in the USA"
Engineering Science and Education Journal (IEE)
Vol. 6, No. 6, December 1997, p. 239


"In Ducker's postcapitalist society, the real, controlling resource and the absolutely decisive factor of production is knowledge rather than the traditional factors of capital, land and labor. In this knowledge-based society, the critical and only sustainable competitive advantage is to be able to learn faster than the competitors"

James L. Meska
(Dean of the College of Engineering, Iowa State University, 1997)
from an article "Trends in engineering education in the USA"
Engineering Science and Education Journal (IEE)
Vol. 6, No. 6, December 1997, p. 241


"Since its inception some 70 years ago and despite its extraordinary predictive successes, quantum mechanics has been plagued by conceptual difficulties. Plainly put, the basic problem is this: It is not at all clear what quantum mechanics is about. What in fact, does quantum mechanics describe?"

Sheldon Goldstein
(Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers University, 1998)
from an article "Quantum Theory without Observers - Part One"
Physics Today, March 1998, p. 42


"There is no likelihood that man can ever tap the power of the atom."

Robert Millikan
Nobel Laureate, 1923


"If current trends endure, future computers will consist of a single chip. No one will have the foggiest idea what is on it. Somewhere in the basement of Intel or its successor will be a huge computer file with chip's listing. The last electrical engineer will sit nearby, handcuffed to the disk drive in a scene out of Ben Hur. That engineer will be extremely well paid, and his or her every demand will be immediately satisfied. That engineer will be last keeper of the secret of the universe: E = IR."


Robert Lucky,
Spectrum, May 1998 Issue, p.21.


"I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind"


Lord Kelvin (1824-1907; William Thomson)

From Lecture to the Institution of Civil Engineers, 3 May 1883


“If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said”


Alan Greenspan
Chairman of US Federal Reserve Board


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