The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.
— Claude Lévi-Strauss
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny…’
— Isaac Asimov
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.
— Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut
Theory is when you know everything but nothing works. Praxis is when everything works but no one knows why. In our lab, theory and praxis are combined: nothing works and no one knows why.
— Unknown
The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
So, in the face of overwhelming odds, I’m left with only one option, I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.
— Mark Watney
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
Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.
— George E. P. Box
An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.
— Niels Bohr
An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
— Nicholas Butler
Just as there are odors that dogs can smell and we cannot, as well as sounds that dogs can hear and we cannot, so too there are wavelengths of light we cannot see and flavors we cannot taste. Why then, given our brains wired the way they are, does the remark, “Perhaps there are thoughts we cannot think,” surprise you?
— Richard Hamming
Nothing is more practical than a good theory.
— Kurt Lewin
Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.
— Wernher von Braun
The purpose of models is not to fit the data but to sharpen the questions.
— Samuel Karlin
A theory is something nobody believes, except the person who made it. An experiment is something everybody believes, except the person who made it.
— Attributed to Albert Einstein
Contrary to what Asimov says, the most exciting phrase in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ or ‘That’s funny…,’ it’s ‘Your research grant has been approved.’
— John Alejandro King
You’d be amazed how much research you can get done when you have no life whatsoever.
— Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
— Sherlock Holmes
With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.
— John von Neumann
The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.
— Richard Hamming
The most important thing about an equation is all the quantities that don’t appear in it; once we know what the essentials are, figuring out how they depend on each other is often the easier part.
— Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm
Thermodynamics is easy – I’ve learned it many times.
— Harvey S. Leff
Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.
— John Tukey, The future of data analysis
An article about computational result is advertising, not scholarship. The actual scholarship is the full software environment, code and data, that produced the result.
— Buckheit and Donoho (1995)
”Forty-two!” yelled Loonquawl. ”Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”
”I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, ”and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”
”But it was the Great Question! The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything!” howled Loonquawl.
”Yes,” said Deep Thought with the air of one who suffers fools gladly, ”but what actually is it?”
A slow stupefied silence crept over the men as they stared at the computer and then at each other.
”Well, you know, it’s just Everything … Everything … ” offered Phouchg weakly.
”Exactly!” said Deep Thought. ”So once you do know what the question actually is, you’ll know what the answer means.”
— Douglas Adams, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
— Pablo Picasso
The true and only goal of science is to reveal unity rather than mechanism.
— Henri Poincaré
One of the principal objects of theoretical research is to find the point of view from which the subject appears in the greatest simplicity.
— Josiah Willard Gibbs
The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.
— William Gibson
True science teaches, above all, to doubt and to be ignorant.
— Miguel de Unamuno
If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.
— Unknown
Dividing one number by another is mere computation; knowing what to divide by what is mathematics.
— Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking
I’ve been in this argument a thousand times. Won them all and convinced nobody.
— Amos Tversky, on the hot hand fallacy
Mathematics is the extension of common sense by other means.
— Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking
If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.
— Blaise Pascal
I am going to give what I will call an elementary demonstration. But elementary does not mean easy to understand. Elementary means that very little is required to know ahead of time in order to understand it, except to have an infinite amount of intelligence. There may be a large number of steps that hard to follow, but to each does not require already knowing the calculus or Fourier transforms.
— Richard P. Feynman
In this section a mathematical model of the growing embryo will be described. This model will be a simplification and an idealization, and consequently a falsification. It is to be hoped that the features retained for discussion are those of greatest importance in the present state of knowledge.
— Alan Turing, The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis
Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back.
— Piet Hein
Art is solving problems that cannot be formulated before they have been solved. The shaping of the question is part of the answer.
— Piet Hein
Physics is the simplest of all the sciences, and fundamental physics⁠⁠—the study of the basic pieces of reality at the deepest level⁠—is the simplest of all. Not "simple” in the sense that the homework problems are easy, but simple in the sense that Galileo's trick of ignoring friction and air resistance makes our lives easier. The reason why physics classes seem so hard is not because physics is so hard—it's because we understand so much of it that there's a lot to learn, and that's because it's fundamentally pretty simple.
— Sean Carroll, The Big Picture
Simplicity is a great virtue but it requires hard work to achieve it and education to appreciate it. And to make matters worse: complexity sells better.
— Edsger W. Dijkstra
The fundamental role of a teacher is not to deliver information. It is guide the social process of learning. The job of a teacher is to inspire, to challenge, to excite their students to want to learn. Yes, they also do explain and demonstrate and show things, but fundamentally that is beside the point. The most important thing a teacher does is make every student feel like they are important, to make them feel accountable for doing the work of learning.
— Derek Alexander Muller, https://youtu.be/GEmuEWjHr5c
What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.
— Epictetus
Confusion is a feeling that precedes learning something. It means you should pay closer attention, not disengage.
— The Stoic Emperor, https://twitter.com/TheStoicEmperor/status/1309998964796567552
We don't use heuristics just because they are fast and efficient. We use them because they are less precise and thus less vulnerable to be misled by noise. A good heuristic is to distrust whoever adds or requires unnecessary precision. Another good heuristic is to distrust whoever thinks that precision always correlates with correctness.
— Luca Dellanna, https://twitter.com/DellAnnaLuca/status/1287644735016927234
Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here.
— Said to be engraved on the door of Plato's Academy, the oldest recorded entrance requirement of a college
The comments aren't there to explain the code to the programmers, the code is there to explain the comments to the computer.
— Andy Harris, How to begin thinking like a programmer, https://youtu.be/YWwBhjQN-Qw?t=1165