For most of human history, we could only watch, like bystanders, the beautiful dance of Nature. But today, we are on the cusp of an epoch-making transition, from being passive observers of Nature to being active choreographers of Nature. The Age of Discovery in science is coming to a close, opening up an Age of Mastery.
        - Michio Kaku, "Visions - How science will revolutionize the 21st century"

Scientific and technological progress themselves are value-neutral. They are just very good at doing what they do. If you want to do selfish, greedy, intolerant and violent things, scientific technology will provide you with by far the most efficient way of doing so. But if you want to do good, to solve the world's problems, to progress in the best value-laden sense, once again, there is no better means to those ends than the scientific way.
        - Richard Dawkins

Science without conscience is the ruin of the world.
        - Francois Rabelais

We scientists have fantasies of being uniquely qualified to make great discoveries. Alas, reality is cruel: most of us are replaceable. For the vast majority of scientific contributions, if scientist X hadn't achieved it that year, scientist Y would have achieved the same result or something very similar soon thereafter.
        - Jared Diamond

The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look Death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
        - Carl Sagan, "Cosmos"

Scientists can routinely predict a solar eclipse, to the minute, a millennium in advance. You can go to the witch doctor to lift the spell that causes your pernicious anaemia, or you can take Vitamin B12. If you want to save your child from polio, you can pray or you can inoculate. If you're interested in the sex of your unborn child, you can consult plumb-bob danglers all you want . . . but they'll be right, on average, only one time in two. If you want real accuracy . . . try amniocentesis and sonograms. Try science.
        - Carl Sagan, "The Demon Haunted World"

Scientific medicine is one of the greatest triumphs of humankind.
        - Raymond Tallis, "Hippocratic Oaths: Medicine and its Discontents"

Scientists, increasingly, have become our public intellectuals, to whom we look for explanations and solutions. If there are any answers to life’s greatest questions, or if there are other questions that we should be asking instead, it is science that will provide them.
        - Minette Marrin, in Britain's "The Telegraph"

The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.
        - Stephen Jay Gould, "Dinosaur in a Haystack"

The phrase 'contrary to all expectations' rings through the story of the progress of human knowledge. It was 'contrary to all expectations' that the Earth was found to revolve around the sun, and not the other
way round, and that a mould growing in one of Dr. Alexander Fleming's dishes was found to be capable of destroying bacteria. When in 1989 the spacecraft Voyager 2 got close enough to the planet Naptune to
take detailed pictures of the surface, they were 'contrary to all expectations'.
        - ATQ Stewart, "The Shape of Irish History"

It is always useful to remember that science is not designed to produce absolute knowledge, eternally true once found; for the most part it simply pushes back the frontier of that vast realm called ignorance.
        - Jake Page

Je cherche à comprendre.
        - Jacques Monod

A common man marvels at uncommon things; a wise man marvels at the commonplace.
        - Confucius

It seems to be a general rule that sciences begin their development with the unusual. They have to develop considerable sophistication before they interest themselves in the commonplace.
        - Ralph Linton

The known is finite, the unknown infinite. Intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land.

- TH Huxley, 1887 Wonder... and not any expectation of advantage from its discoveries, is the first principle which prompts mankind to the study of Philosophy, of that science which pretends to lay open the concealed connections that unite the various appearances of nature. - Adam Smith, "The History of Astronomy", (1795) Only human beings guide their behaviour by a knowledge of what happened before they were born and a pre-conception of what may happen after they are dead; thus only humans find their way by a light that illuminates more than the patch of ground they stand on. - PB and JS Medawar, "The Life Science" As long as men are free to ask what they must; free to say what they think; free to think what they will; freedom can never be lost and science can never regress. - J. Robert Oppenheimer If the world were to end tomorrow and we could choose to save only one thing as the explanation and memorial to who we were, then we couldn't do better than the Natural History Museum, although it wouldn't contain a single human. The systematic Linnean order, the vast inquisitiveness and range of collated knowledge and beauty would tell all that is the best of us.

        - AA Gill, "The London Times"

Beyond a critical point in a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans in the finite space of a planetary ecosystem as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.

- Frank Herbert, "Dune" There are three great themes in science in the twentieth century : the atom, the computer, and the gene. - Harold Varmus, Director, US National Institute of Health In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms. - Stephen Jay Gould Philosophy is a game with objectives and no rules. Mathematics is a game with rules and no objectives. - Anonymous Mathematics may humbly help in the market-place, but it also reaches to the stars. - Herbert Westren Turnbull Mahematics is the language in which God has written the universe. - Galileo The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and confine man in the bonds of Hell. - Saint Augustine It is certain that the real function of art is to increase our self-consciousness; to make us more aware of what we are, and therefore of what the universe in which we live really is. And since mathematics, in its own way, also performs this function, it is not only aesthetically charming but profoundly significant. It is an art, and a great art. - John W.N. Sullivan The great tragedy of Science : the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact ~ Thomas Huxley Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science. - Henri Poincaire Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater - Albert Einstein. The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy - Steven Weinberg The brain is a three pound mass you can hold in your hand that can conceive of a universe a hundred billion light-years across. - Marian C. Diamond If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn’t.

        - Lyall Watson

Quantum Mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of.

- Stephen Wright. In science, it doesn't matter if you're wrong, as long as you're not stupid. In business, it doesn't matter if you're stupid, so long as you're not wrong. - Unknown "All scientists know of colleagues whose minds are so well equipped with the means of refutation that no new idea has the temerity to seek admittance. Their contribution to science is accordingly very small." - Peter Medawar Back in 1989, a year after the publication of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, a brilliant physicist at a Cambridge college confessed to me that he had given up on page 28. "I couldn't make head nor tail of it," he said with total candour. The comment suggests that those who enjoyed Hawking's book the most probably understood it the least.
        - John Cornwell, "The London Times"

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
        - Carl Sagan

The Inventions Room.
        - One 6 year old's description of a science lab

It is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation which could safely be relegated to anyone else if machines were used.
        - Gottfried Von Leibniz

The machine is a mission of redemption : to enable man to produce at a maximum with a minimum of effort.
        - Arthur Coelho, of Manuas (1880)

In the design of fission reactors man was not an innovator but an unwitting imitator of nature.

- George A. Cowan, "A Natural Fission Reactor" For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. - Richard P. Feynman The simplest schoolboy is now familiar with truths for which Archimedes would have sacrificed his life. - Ernest Renan (1823-92), French philosopher and theologian The real goal of physics is to come up with an equation that could explain the universe but still be small enough to fit on a T-shirt - Leon Lederman Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators.
        - Richard Dawkins comes up with a Biology one...

As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life — so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls.

- Matt Cartmill. One week ago I said that cloning of mammals was years away... it is fun to be alive at this point in history. - Anders Sandberg It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time. - Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (Part 1) It is not possible to be ignorant of the end of things if we know their beginning. - Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologica", A very small cause, which escapes us, determines a considerable effect which we cannot ignore, and we say that this effect is due to chance. - Henri Poincare, reconciling chance and determinism with long term unpredictability, "Science et Methode", (1908) Chaos theory, a more recent invention, is equally fertile ground for those with a bent for abusing sense. It is unfortunately named, for 'chaos' implies randomness. Chaos in the technical sense is not random at all. It is completely determined, but it depends hugely, in strangely hard-to-predict ways, on tiny differences in initial conditions. - Richard Dawkins #

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

- Carl Sagan Demon mean knowledge in Greek, especially about the material world. Science means knowledge in Latin. A jurisdictional dispute is exposed, even if we look no further - Carl Sagan, "The Demon Haunted World", p.110 The claim is also sometimes made that science is as arbitrary or irrational as all other claims to knowledge, or that reason itself is an illusion. As Ethan Allen said "Those who invalidate reason ought seriously to consider whether they argue against reason with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle that they are labouring to dethrone. If they argue without reason, which they must do, in order to be consistent with themselves, they are out of reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument. - Carl Sagan, "The Demon Haunted World", p.243 Nature ( the Art whereby God hath made and governes the World ) is by the Art of man, as in many other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make am Artificial Animal. For seeing life is but a motion of Limbs, the beginning whereof is in some principall part withing; why may we not say, that all Automata ( Engines that move themselves by springs and wheels as doth a watch ) have an artificial life? For what is the Heart, but a Spring; and the Nerves, but so many Strings; and the Joynts, but so many Wheels giving motion to the whole Body, such as was intended by the Artificer? Art goes yet further, imitating that Rationall and most excellent worke of Nature, Man. For by Art is created that great Leviathan called a Common-Wealth or State which is but an Artificall Man; though of greater stature and strength than the Naturall. - Thomas Hobbes, "Leviathan", 1651, ( The First Sociobiologist? ) "And I am infinitely saddened to find myself suddenly surrounded in the west by a sense of terrible loss of nerve, a retreat from knowledge into - into what? Into Zen Buddhism; into falsely profound questions about; Are we not really just animals at the bottom; into extra-sensory perception and mystery. They do not lie along the line of what we are now able to know if we devote ourselves to it: an understanding of man himself. We are nature's unique experiment to make the rational intelligence sounder than reflex. Knowledge is our destiny. Self-knowledge, at last bring together the experience of the arts and the explanations of science, waits ahead of us." - Jacob Bronowski "The price of these failures has been a loss of moral consensus, a greater sense of helplessness about the human condition. ... The intellectual solution to the first dilemma can be achieved by a deeper and more courageous examination of human nature that combines the findings of biology with those of the social sciences." - EO Wilson #

Imagine that killers have invaded your neighborhood. They're in your house, and you and your neighbors are hiding in the cellar. Your baby starts to cry. If you had to press your hand over the baby's face till it stopped fighting—if you had to smother it to save everyone else—would you do it? If you're normal, you wouldn't, according to a study published last week in Nature. But if part of your brain were damaged—the ventromedial prefrontal cortex—you would. In the study, people were given hypothetical dilemmas: Would you throw a fatally injured person off a lifeboat to save everyone else? Would you kill a healthy hostage? Most normal people said no. Most people with VMPC damage said yes.
        - William Saletan, "Slate Magazine"


We live in the most probable of all possible worlds.

        - Stephen Hawking, paraphrasing Pangloss

"Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on philosophers, but they have not been very kind to me... I have been variously called nominalist, an instrumentalist, a positivist, a realist, and several other ists. The technique seems refutation by denigration: If you can attach a label to my approach, you don't have to say what is wrong with it... I am sure that Einstein, Heisenberg and Dirac didn't worry about whether they were realists or instrumentalists."

- Steven Hawking So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?

        - Stephen Hawking, "A Brief History of Time"

"With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway about the flux."

- Bertrand Russell "A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to them only that degree or certainty which the evidence warrants, would, if it became general, cure most of the ills from which the world suffers." - Bertrand Russell When a honeybee dies it releases a death pheromone, a characteristic odour that signals the survivors to remove it from the hive. The corpse is promptly pushed and tugged out of the hive. The death pheromone is oleic acid. What happens if a live bee is dabbed with a drop of oleic acid? Then no matter how strapping and vigourous it might be, it is carried kicking and screaming out of the hive. - Carl Sagan, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" Of course there's more to Science than just hurting animals, but frankly its the part I like best. - Scientist, "Dilbert" Where would we be without science? Sure, those boffins may have come up with occasionally handy items such as life-saving medicine, air travel and the internet, but science is also guilty of some terrible things, like eugenics and Jordan's breasts.
        - Ian O'Doherty

Mathematicians have announced the existence of a new whole number which lies bet ween 27 and 28. "We don't know why it's there or what it does," says Cambridge mathematician, Dr. Hilliard Haliard, "we only know that it doesn't behave properly when put into equations, and that it is divisible by six, though only once."

- On The Hour Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house. - Robert Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love" Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory does not understand it. - Niels Bohr What is the origin of the urge, the fascincation that drives physicists, mathematicians, and presumably other scientists as well? Psychoanalysis suggests that it is sexual curiosity. You start by asking where little babies come from, one thing leads to another, and you find yourself preparing nitroglycerine or solving differential equations. This explanation is somewhat irritating, and therefore probably basically correct. - David Ruelle, "Chance and Chaos" I guess I'm just an old mad scientist at bottom. Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers, and a beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not who writes the nation's laws. - S.J. Perelman, "Captain Future, Block That Kick!" There are no physicists in the hottest parts of hell, because the existence of a "hottest part" implies a temperature difference, and any marginally competent physicist would immediately use this to run a heat engine and make some other part of hell comfortably cool. This is obviously impossible. - Richard Davisson All cats die. Socrates is dead. Therefore Socrates is a cat. - Eugene Ionesco, Rhinoceros Like the ski resort of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem. - Alan McKay This theory is worthless... this isn't right. This isn't even wrong. - Wolfgang Pauli, about a paper submitted by a physicist colleague There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. - Benjamin Disraeli We demand guaranteed rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty. - Douglas Adams There has always been more living scientists than dead ones. If the rate of scientist growth remains the same until until 2100, everyone will be a scientist. - ? This is a one line proof... if we start sufficiently far to the left. - Cambridge University Math Department In a manner which matches the fortuity, if not the consequence, of Archimedes' bath and Newton's apple, the [3.6 million year old] fossil footprints were eventually noticed one evening in September 1976 by the palaeontologist Andrew Hill, who fell while avoiding a ball of elephant dung hurled at him by the ecologist David Western - John Reader, "Missing Links: The Hunt for Earliest Man" Some authors unaware of the acute international shortage of parentheses, sqaunder them, and write sqrt (9), not sqrt 9, which of course means the same thing. -What the study of Logic can do to an otherwise only slightly insane undergraduate University President: "Why is it that you physicists always require so much expensive equipment? Now the Department of Mathematics requires nothing but money for paper, pencils, and erasers... and the Department of Philosophy is better still. It doesn't even ask for erasers. - Told by Isaac Asimov One thing they don't tell you about doing experimental physics is that sometimes you must work under adverse conditions... like a state of sheer terror. - W.K. Hartmann "I used to have this professor at Oxford... he used to sort of scare the underclassmen with this story about how the world would eventually be eviscerated by technology. You see, it was inevitable that a compound would be created which he referred to as the 'Anti-God'. It was like an accelerated mutator or sort of, you know, like a, an unstoppable force of destructive power, that would just lay waste to everything - to buildings and parks and streets and children and ice cream parlors, you know? So whenever I see, like, a rogue organization willing to spend this amount of money on a mystery tech, I always assume... it's the Anti-God. End-of-the-world kinda stuff, you know... But no, I don't have any idea what it is. I was just speculating."

        - Benji Dunn, "Mission Impossible 3"

Professor Gorden Newell threw another shutout in last week's Chem. Eng. 130 midterm. Once again a student did not receive a single point on his exam. Newell has now tossed 5 shutouts this quarter. Newell's earned exam average has now dropped to a phenomenal 30%.

If God had meant for us to use the metric system, we would have been born with ten fingers and ten toes.

Topics is be covered in future issues include proof by: ( rather than by induction ) Intimidation, Gesticulation (handwaving), "Try it; it works", Constipation (I was just sitting there and ...), Blatant assertion, Changing all the 2's to n's, Mutual consent, Lack of a counterexample, and "It stands to reason"

Lots of us have a question or an issue that has bothered us for ages. Mine involves dead birds. Where do they all go? Why aren’t the trees surrounded by the corpses of our feathered friends once their time is up? And wouldn’t you think that from time to time one would read about people suffering a sharp blow to the head after a crow or something similar had suffered a mid-flight coronary? Yet, it does not appear to happen. Why not? Has evolution managed to make fallen birds instantly biodegradable?
        - Tim Hames, "The Times" [my theory is cats]

"I recently went to my staircase at Clare College, Cambridge and there were women there! There have been a lot of convincing studies recently about the loss of productivity in the Western male. It may be that entertainment culture now is so engaging that it keeps people satisfied. We didn't have that. Science was much more fun than listening to the radio. When you are 16 or 17 and in that inherently semi-lonely period when you are deciding whether to be an intellectual, many now don't bother."
        - James Watson, recalling how interesting science was in his youth

# From "Does Anything Eat Wasps and 101 Other Questions" by New Scientist Magazine

Q: Does behading hurt?
A: It depends on how skillful the executioner is. When Mary, Queen of Scots was executed in 1587, it took three strokes to remove her head. In the end, a knife was used to carve through the gristle and bone. Generally, it appears to take around 30 seconds to lose consciousness after decapitation. We know this from the French Revolution and the liberal use of the guillotine. The condemned were asked to blink if they were still alert after their heads had been removed from their body. Records show that it took between 20 and 30 seconds for the eyes to stop blinking.

Q: Can a man live on beer alone?
A: Beer is made from malted barley, which makes it high in vitamins. One pint can provide more than 5% of the daily recommended intake of vitamins B9, B6 and B2. This is almost the same as a slice of brown bread. However, beer is low in vitamins A, C and D and is a diuretic and will eventually leave you dehydrated. Beer is healthier than spirits.

Q: Does anything eat wasps?
A: Wasp-eaters are called vespivores and the most famous vespivore is a bird called the bee-eater.


CAUTION: The Mass of This Product Contains the Energy Equivalent of 85 Million Tons of TNT per Net Ounce of Weight.

HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE: This Product Contains Minute Electrically Charged Particles Moving at Velocities in Excess of Five Hundred Million Miles Per Hour.

THIS IS A 100% MATTER PRODUCT: In the Unlikely Event That This Merchandise Should Contact Antimatter in Any Form, a Catastrophic Explosion Will Result.


A biologist, a statistician, a mathematician and a computer scientist are on a photo-safari in africa. They drive out on the savannah in their jeep, stop and scout the horizon with their binoculars.
The biologist : "Look! There's a herd of zebras! And there, in the middle : A white zebra! It's fantastic ! There are white zebra's ! We'll be famous !"
The statistician : "It's not significant. We only know there's one white zebra."
The mathematician : "Actually, we only know there exists a zebra, which is white on one side."
The computer scientist : "Oh, no! A special case!"

- Niels Ull Jacobsen, U. of Copenhagen # THE DRAGON IN MY GARAGE

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"
You look inside the garage and see no dragon.
"I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon"
You propose spreading flour on the floor to capture the footprints.
"Good idea - but this dragon floats in the air"
Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.
"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless"
You'll spray paint the dragon and make her visible.
"Except, she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint wont stick"

And so on, I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work. Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal floating dragon that spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are verdically worthless.

- Carl Sagan, "The Demon Haunted World", p.160 #

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