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date: 18 February 2020

Inventions and Discoveries 

  1. When man wanted to make a machine that would walk he created the wheel, which does not resemble a leg.
    Guillaume Apollinaire 1880–1918 French poet: Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1918)
  2. Eureka!
    I've got it!
    Archimedes c.287–212 bc Greek mathematician and inventor: Vitruvius Pollio De Architectura bk. 9, preface, sect. 10
  3. Printing, gunpowder, and the mariner's needle [compass]…these three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world.
    Francis Bacon 1561–1626 English lawyer, courtier, philosopher, and essayist: Novum Organum (1620) bk. 1, Aphorism 129 (tr. J. Spedding); see Carlyle
  4. The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star.
    Anthelme Brillat-Savarin 1755–1826 French jurist and gourmet: Physiologie du Goût (1825) aphorism no. 9
  5. Thus first necessity invented stools,
    Convenience next suggested elbow-chairs,
    And luxury the accomplished sofa last.
     
    William Cowper 1731–1800 English poet: The Task (1785) bk. 1 ‘The Sofa’ l. 86
  6. It's true that by blundering about, we stumbled on gold, but the fact remains that we were looking for gold.
    of the discovery of the structure of DNA
    Francis Crick 1916–2004 English biophysicist: What Mad Pursuit (1988)
  7. What one man can invent another can discover.
    Arthur Conan Doyle 1859–1930 Scottish-born writer of detective fiction: The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905) ‘The Dancing Men’
  8. For most of my life I refused to work at any problem unless its solution seemed to be capable of being put to commercial use.
    Thomas Alva Edison 1847–1931 American inventor: interview, in New York Sun February 1917
  9. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.
    Albert Einstein 1879–1955 German-born theoretical physicist: telegram to prominent Americans, 24 May 1946, in New York Times 25 May 1946
  10. Why sir, there is every possibility that you will soon be able to tax it!
    to Gladstone, when asked about the usefulness of electricity
    Michael Faraday 1791–1867 English physicist and chemist: W. E. H. Lecky Democracy and Liberty (1899 ed.)
  11. Whatever Nature has in store for mankind, unpleasant as it may be, men must accept, for ignorance is never better than knowledge.
    Enrico Fermi 1901–54 Italian-born American atomic physicist: Laura Fermi Atoms in the Family (1955)
  12. What is the use of a new-born child?
    when asked what was the use of a new invention
    Benjamin Franklin 1706–90 American politician, inventor, and scientist: J. Parton Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (1864) pt. 4, ch. 17
  13. salviati: Now you see how easy it is to understand.
    sagredo: So are all truths, once they are discovered.
    often quoted as ‘All truths are easy to understand, once they are discovered; the point is, to discover them’
    Galileo Galilei 1564–1642 Italian astronomer and physicist: Dialogue Concerning the two Chief World Systems (1632) ‘The Second Day’ tr. Stillman Drake
  14. My reflection, when I first made myself master of the central idea of the ‘Origin’, was, How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!
    T. H. Huxley 1825–95 English biologist: ‘On the Reception of the “Origin of Species”’ in F. Darwin Life and Letters of Charles Darwin vol. 2 (1888) ch. 5
  15. Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
    He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
    Looked at each other with a wild surmise—
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
     
    John Keats 1795–1821 English poet: ‘On First Looking into Chapman's Homer’ (1817)
  16. Men might as well project a voyage to the moon as attempt to employ steam navigation against the stormy North Atlantic Ocean.
    Dionysius Lardner 1793–1859 Irish scientific writer: speech to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1838
  17. It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being.
    John Stuart Mill 1806–73 English philosopher and economist: Principles of Political Economy (1848) bk. 4, ch. 6
  18. Nothing is more contrary to the organization of the mind, of the memory, and of the imagination…It's just tormenting the people with trivia!!!
    on the introduction of the metric system
    Napoleon I 1769–1821 French monarch, emperor 1804–15: Mémoires…écrits à Ste-Hélène (1823–5)
  19. praise without end the go-ahead zeal
    of whoever it was invented the wheel;
    but never a word for the poor soul's sake
    that thought ahead, and invented the brake.
     
    Howard Nemerov 1920–91 American poet and novelist: ‘To the Congress of the United States, Entering Its Third Century’ 26 February 1989
  20. I don't know what I may seem to the world, but as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
    Isaac Newton 1642–1727 English mathematician and physicist: Joseph Spence Anecdotes (ed. J. Osborn, 1966) no. 1259
  21. The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
    Eden Phillpotts 1862–1960 English writer: A Shadow Passes (1918)
  22. on being asked who owned the patent of his polio vaccine:
    There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?
    Jonas Salk 1914–95 American microbiologist: interview with Edwin Murrow, See It Now CBS TV, 12 April 1955
  23. Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
    Albert von Szent-Györgyi 1893–1986 Hungarian-born biochemist: Irving Good (ed.) The Scientist Speculates (1962)
  24. Name the greatest of all the inventors. Accident.
    Mark Twain 1835–1910 American writer: Notebooks (1935)