The most remarkable discovery ever made by scientists, was science itself.
Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.
No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.
Dissent is the mark of freedom.
The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation.
Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her.
“Sooner or later every one of us breathes an atom that has been breathed before by anyone you can think of who has lived before us-Michelangelo or George Washington or Moses.”
Man is not the most majestic of the creatures; long before the mammals even, the dinosaurs were far more splendid. But he has what no other animal possesses: a jigsaw of faculties, which alone, over three thousand million years of life, made him creative. Every animal leaves traces of what he was. Man alone leaves traces of what he created.
[John] Dalton was a man of regular habits. For fifty-seven years he walked out of Manchester every day; he measured the rainfall, the temperatureóa singularly monotonous enterprise in this climate. Of all that mass of data, nothing whatever came. But of the one searching, almost childlike question about the weights that enter the construction of these simple moleculesóout of that came modern atomic theory. That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to the pertinent answer
By the worldly standards of public life, all scholars in their work are of course oddly virtuous. They do not make wild claims, they do not cheat, they do not try to persuade at any cost, they appeal neither to prejudice nor to authority, they are often frank about their ignorance, their disputes are fairly decorous, they do not confuse what is being argued with race, politics, sex or age, they listen patiently to the young and to the old who both know everything. These are the general virtues of scholarship, and they are peculiarly the virtues of science.
The symbol of the University is the iron statue outside the Rathskeller of a barefoot goosegirl that every student kisses at graduation. The University is a Mecca to which students come with something less than perfect faith. It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known but to question it.
Fifty years from now, if an understanding of man's origins, his evolution, his history, his progress is not in the common place of the school books, we shall not exist.
The force that makes the winter grow Its feathered hexagons of snow, and drives the bee to match at home Their calculated honeycomb, Is abacus and rose combined. An icy sweetness fills my mind, A sense that under thing and wing Lies, taut yet living, coiled, the spring.
The painter's portrait and the physicist's explanation are both rooted in reality, but they have been changed by the painter or the physicist into something more subtly imagined than the photographic appearance of things.
Nature is more subtle, more deeply intertwined and more strangely integrated than any of our pictures of her than any of our errors. It is not merely that our pictures are not full enough; each of our pictures in the end turns out to be so basically mistaken that the marvel is that it worked at all.