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date: 09 December 2023


  1. The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.
    Bertolt Brecht 1898–1956 German dramatist: The Life of Galileo (1939) sc. 9
  2. The scientific method, as far as it is a method, is nothing more than doing one's damnedest with one's mind, no holds barred.
    Percy Williams Bridgeman 1882–1961 American physicist: Reflections of a Physicist (1955)
  3. The essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to a pertinent answer.
    Jacob Bronowski 1908–74 Polish-born mathematician and humanist: The Ascent of Man (1973) ch. 4
  4. In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.
    Francis Darwin 1848–1925 English botanist: in Eugenics Review April 1914 ‘Francis Galton’
  5. I ask you to look both ways. For the road to a knowledge of the stars leads through the atom; and important knowledge of the atom has been reached through the stars.
    Arthur Eddington 1882–1944 British astrophysicist: Stars and Atoms (1928) Lecture 1
  6. The grand aim of all science [is] to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest possible number of hypotheses or axioms.
    Albert Einstein 1879–1955 German-born theoretical physicist: Lincoln Barnett The Universe and Dr Einstein (1950 ed.)
  7. The world looks so different after learning science. For example, trees are made of air, primarily. When they are burned, they go back to air, and in the flaming heat is released the flaming heat of the sun which was bound in to convert the air into tree.
    Richard Phillips Feynman 1918–88 American theoretical physicist: ‘What is Science?’ speech to the 15th annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, New York City, 1966
  8. Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.
    Richard Phillips Feynman 1918–88 American theoretical physicist: ‘What is Science?’ speech to the 15th annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, New York City, 1966
  9. Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense, differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club.
    T. H. Huxley 1825–95 English biologist: Collected Essays (1893–4) ‘The Method of Zadig’
  10. 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: it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.
    often quoted as ‘If you cannot measure it, then it is not science’
    Lord Kelvin 1824–1907 British scientist: Popular Lectures and Addresses vol. 1 (1889) ‘Electrical Units of Measurement’, delivered 3 May 1883
  11. Scientific truth should be presented in different forms, and should be regarded as equally scientific whether it appears in the robust form and the vivid colouring of a physical illustration, or in the tenuity and paleness of a symbolic expression.
    James Clerk Maxwell 1831–79 Scottish physicist: attributed
  12. The changing of bodies into light, and light into bodies, is very conformable to the course of Nature, which seems delighted with transmutations.
    Isaac Newton 1642–1727 English mathematician and physicist: Opticks (1730 ed.) bk. 3, pt. 1, question 30
  13. There are no such things as applied sciences, only applications of science.
    Louis Pasteur 1822–95 French chemist and bacteriologist: address, 11 September 1872
  14. 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.
    Max Planck 1858–1947 German physicist: A Scientific Autobiography (1949, tr. F. Gaynor)
  15. Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.
    Henri Poincaré 1854–1912 French mathematician and philosopher of science: Science and Hypothesis (1905) ch. 9
  16. Nature, and Nature's laws lay hid in night.
    God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.
    Alexander Pope 1688–1744 English poet: ‘Epitaph: Intended for Sir Isaac Newton’ (1730); see Squire
  17. It must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience.
    Karl Popper 1902–94 Austrian-born philosopher: The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1934) ch. 1, sect. 6
  18. All science is either physics or stamp collecting.
    Ernest Rutherford 1871–1937 New Zealand physicist: J. B. Birks Rutherford at Manchester (1962)
  19. It did not last: the Devil howling ‘Ho!
    Let Einstein be!’ restored the status quo.
    J. C. Squire 1884–1958 English man of letters: ‘In continuation of Pope on Newton’ (1926); see Pope
  20. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain 1835–1910 American writer: Life on the Mississippi (1883)
  21. Science is a cemetery of dead ideas.
    Miguel de Unamuno 1864–1937 Spanish philosopher and writer: The Tragic Sense of Life (1913)