"When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are
about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, one of two
things will happen; there will be a ledge for you to stand on,
or you will be taught to fly!"
- In a letter of Leibiz to Fontenelle dated Jan 6, 1703:
"Man muss sich dem Publikumsgeschmack anpassen, der jede Abhandlung
nach ihrem handgreiflichen Nutzen betwertet." -- sounds familiar? Indeed,
the first version of a manuscript Leibniz submitted to the French Academy,
in which binary notation for integers is first described, was rejected
on the grounds
that there was no obvious application or utility of the binary notation.
Leibniz modified the
text by adding a theological discussion of zero and one (1 corresponding
to perfection or God), whereby the fact that all integers could be written
in binary notation was similar to the fact that all of creation emerged from
only two concepts:
perfection and emptyness. Fortunately for the sake of digital computers,
the modified text was subsequently accepted.
(At the time, Leibniz believed that he was the first
to have discovered binary notation; though not well known at the time,
binary notation had already been discovered.)
Quotation taken from the excellent biography,
Der berühmte Herr Leibniz by Eike Christian Hirsch.
- "Ein Stück des Lebens ist verloren, sobald eine Stunde
vergeudet wird", life motto of Leibniz.
- "Die Natur verstümme auf der Folter der Apparate", quote from
Goethe, reacting to Newton's successful mathematical physics (especially
Newton's optics, where Goethe strove to retain a 'balance' between the
objective and subjective worlds). Goethe also believed that applied
everything (analysis) without building connections (synthesis), i.e.
die angewandte Mathematik zerlegt alles und verbindet nichts. However,
since Newton (1643-1727) and Goethe (1749-1832), the success of modern
experimental and theoretical physics is without question, so Goethe's
viewpoint is either the opinion of a math-averse literary genius or
the kernel of a visionary concerned with the loss of the soul in our
The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it. -
Epicurus. See also
"... (Music) should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by
showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise.
It's easy to rediscover part of yourself, but through art you can be shown
part of yourself you never knew existed. That's the real mission of art.
The artist has to find something within himself that's universal and which he
can put into terms that are communicable to other people. The magic of it is
that art can communicate to a person without his realizing it... enrichment,
that's the function of music." (Bill Evans, jazz piano giant)
"Wer nicht von 3000 Jahren sich weiss, Rechenschaft zu geben,
bleib im Dunkeln, unerfahren, mag Tag zu Tag leben." (Johann Wolfgang
Quotation of the Erkenntnistheoretiker, Paul Feierabend, who held
professorships at Berkeley and the ETH. Feierabend erwähnt
die guten Geschichten, die ihn allein an den Wissenschaften interessierten,
die "immer bald standisiert, gelehrt, systematisiert, und in
normal Scheisse verwandelt werden wurden".
Text taken from the book,
Verborgene Behinderungen, by Christian Mürner.
From an American journalist's interview with Marie Curie around 1918
concerning the fact that despite the immense economic fortune the Curies
could have obtained by patenting radium, the extraction of radium from
"Ich erwähnte die Patente, die sie [Marie Curie]
zu einer sehr reichen Frau hätten machen müssen. Rühig erwiderte sie, 'Das Radium soll niemandem reich machen.
Es ist ein Element, und gehört also allen Menschen.'"
The situation is strangely reminiscent of efforts to patent genes or the
(Quotation taken from "Marie Curie", by Peter Ksoll.)
Quotation of Galileo Galilei, around 1640, found in
Galilée, by Ludovico Geymonat
(see also complete works of Galileo VIII 521)
Vous voyez donc comment le raisonnement mathématique sert à
éviter ces écailles sûr lesquelles parfois le
éxperimentale court le risque de bouter et de se briser.
to quotes of Jean-Louis Krivine, emeritus professor of mathematical
logic and computer science at l'Université Denis Diderot de Paris
(= Paris 7)
Ratschluß des Magiers, by Alexandre Dumas
(Memoires d'un medecin - Joseph Balsamo).
Gilbert: "Ich habe den Ehrgeiz, Arzt zu werden".
Monsieur: "Ein schöner und edler Beruf, bei dem man zwischen
der wahren, anspruchslosen und opferbereiten Wissenschaft und
der dreisten, mit Gold aufgewonenen, fettleibigen Scharlatanerie
wählen kann. Wenn Sie die Wahrheit lieben, junger Mann, werden
Sie Arzt. Lieben Sie den Glanz, dann geben Sie sich als Arzt aus."
Sprüuche des Konfuzius by Schiller:
"Nur die Fülle führt zur Klarheit, und im Abgrund wohnt die Wahrheit."
"Der Mensch kann tun was er will, aber nicht wollen was er will."
Schopenhauer, von Einstein mehrmals zitiert.
Unix is not user-unfriendly. It's just that Unix chooses its friends
"There is now an enormous amount of information on the
events that take place in living systems at the molecular level. However,
much of this information is qualitative and descriptive, even when the
components involved are known and the structures of many of them
(proteins and nucleic acids) have been determined.
Many ingenious experiments have been done to establish which phenomena take
place, but most of them do not address the question
of why things happen the way they do. This is where the
physical sciences, including thermodynamics, can make an essential contribution to biology."
(Themis Lazaridis and Martin Karplus, page 3, "Microscopic
basis of macromolecular thermodynamics", Thermodynamics in Biology,
ed Enrico di Cera, Oxford University Press (2000))
"The world today is sick
to its thin blood for lack of elemental things,
for fire before the hands,
for water, welling from the earth,
for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot."
(Henry Beston, The outermost house: A year of life
on the Great Beach of Cape Cod (1929))
"I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself
I seem to have been only like a boy, playing on the seashore,
and diverting myself, in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a
prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all
undiscovered before me."
(Isaac Newton, from p. 271 of
World of Mathematics, ed. James R Newman)
"There will always be exciting times for anyone who's in a position
to be experimenting and doing new things, new music and so on.
That's the lifeblood of the whole thing."
(Woody Herman, from page 74 of
Stan Getz: A Life in Jazz by Donald Maggin)
"Life is a system that both stores and processes
the information necessary for its own reproduction."
"In fact, being able to predict a protein's
structure from its amino acid sequence is
one of the most important unsolved problems
of molecular biology and biophysics.
Not only would a successful prediction algorithm
be a tremendous advance in the understanding of the
biochemical mechanisms of proteins, but, since
such an algorithm could conceivably be used
to design proteins to carry out
specific functions, it would have profound,
far-reaching effects on biotechnology and
the treatment of disease."
(M. Mitchell, page 62, An Introduction to Genetic Algorithms
"Survival machines began as passive receptacles for the genes,
providing little more than walls to protect them from the chemical
warfare of their rivals and the ravages of
accidental molecular bombardment. In the early days
they `fed' on organic molecules freely available in the soup."
(R. Dawkins, page 46, The Selfish Gene (1989))
"But there is nothing magic about Darwinian fitness in the genetic
sense. There is no law giving it priority as the fundamental
quantity that is maximized. Fitness is just a way of
talking about the survival of
replicators, in this case genetic replicators."
(R. Dawkins, page 110, The Extended Phenotype (1982))
"To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable
contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of
light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic
aberration, could have been formed by
natural selection, seems, I freely
confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that
the sun stood still and the world turned round,
the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false;
but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as
every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science."
(Charles Darwin, page 146, The Origin of Species)
"Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle."
(Steinbach's Guideline for Systems Programming).
"Glaubt es mir, wenn die Menschen in der wissenschaftlichen Fabrik
arbeiten und nutzbar werden sollen bevor sie reif sind,
so ist in kurzem die Wissenschaft eben so ruiniert wie
die allzuzeitig in dieser Fabrik verwendeten Sklaven."
(Friedrich Nietzsche, Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historia für das Leben,
Three web sites for sources of information used by Craig Unger, in
research for his book House of Bush, House of Saud: