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Quotations on Science and the Mysteries of the Universe

The exact sciences also start from the assumption that in the end it will always be possible to understand nature, even in every new field of experience, but that we may make no a priori assumptions about the meaning of the word understand.

T.S. Eliot
The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started.

Albert Einstein
For us physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion.

Popeye the Sailor
I ain't no physicist but I knows what matters.

Mark Twain
There are too many stars in some places and not enough in others.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
A day is a miniature eternity.

Confucius 500 BC
Gravity is only the bark of wisdom's tree, but it is what preserves it.

Carl Sandburg
The drum in a dream pounds loud to the dreamer.

Archibald Macleish
See the world as it truly is, small and blue, beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats.

Galileo Galilei
The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do.

Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn)
"We had the stars up there," said Huck, "And we use to lie on our backs and look up at them and discuss 'bout whether they was made or just happened. Jim he allowed that the stars was made, but I allowed they just happened. Jim said the Moon could'a laid them; Well, that looked kind of reasonable so I didn't say nothing against it. I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done."

Albert Einstein
Things should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.

Lee Hays
The future just ain't what it use to be and what's more it never was.

William Herschel
The heavens are now seen to resemble a luxuriant garden, which contains the greatest variety of productions, in different flourishing beds.

How is it that the sky feeds the stars?

Lao Tzu
In the Universe the difficult things are done as if they were easy.

What we have learned is like a handful of earth. What we have yet to learn is like the whole world.

Richard Feynman
Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.

It is not easy to describe the sea with the mouth.

Sarah Williams
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

The Sun, the stars and the seasons as they pass, some can gaze upon these with no strain of fear.

St. Juliana
He showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with the eye of my understanding, and thought; "What may this be?" And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made.

Albert Einstein
Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Isaac Newton
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the seashore, 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.

Many a night from yonder ivied casement,
Ere I went to rest,
Did I look on great Orion,
Sloping slowly to the west.

Thomas Carlyle
I don't pretend to understand the Universe. It's a great deal bigger than I am.

William Herschel
I have looked farther into space than ever a human being did before me.

There is nothing new under the Sun.

He knows well the evening star, and once when he awoke, in a most distressful mood (some inward pain had made up that strange thing, an infant's dream), I hurried with him to our orchard plot, and he beheld the moon, and hushed at once. Suspends his sobs and laughs most silently. While his fair eyes, that swam with undropped tears, did glitter in the yellow moonbeam.

William Shakespeare (Othello)
The wind-shak'd surge, with high and monstrous main,
Seems to cast water on the burning Bear,
And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole.

John Masefield
I must go down to the seas again,
To the lonely sea and the sky.
And all I want is a tall ship,
And a star to steer her by.

Albert Einstein
Watch the stars and from them learn.
To the Master's honor all must turn,
Each in its track, without a sound,
Forever tracing Newton's ground.

Walt Whitman
When I had heard the learn'd astronomer, When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to divide, and measure them, When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till rising and gliding out I wandered off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time Looked up in perfect silence at the stars.

Tycho Brahe (on a supernova, 1572)
When I had satisfied myself that no star of that kind had ever shone before, I was led into such perplexity by the unbelievability of the thing that I began to doubt the faith of my own eyes.

Immanuel Kant
The infinitude of creation is great enough to make a world, or a Milky Way of worlds, look in comparison with it what a flower or an insect does in comparison with the Earth.

Harry Monroe 1986
It's just a bunch of junk up there.

R.L.Dietz 1991
In space you can hang your clothes anywhere.

Francis Bacon
I would live to study, and not study to live.

Richard Feynman
The present situation in physics is as if we know chess, but we don't know one or two rules.

Rene Descartes
It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.

Japanese proverb
There are no frontiers to learning.

Lord Macaulay
Knowledge advances by steps and not by leaps.

Ralph W. Sockman
The longer the island of knowledge the longer the shoreline of wonder.

Marie Curie
The way of progress is neither swift nor easy.

Sir Karl Popper
Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.

Edwin Hubble
Observations always involve theory.

Johanne Kepler
Eyesight should learn from reason.

Niels Bohr
A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a great truth.

Albert Einstein
Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.

Dr. Seuss
Satire is looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

Many a night I saw the Pleiads,
Rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies,
Tangled in a silver braid.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
That is the spiral galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns. Now I think we are small enough.

Winnie the Pooh
I am a Bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.

W. Heisenberg
By getting to smaller and smaller units, we do not come to fundamental or indivisible units. But we do come to a point where further division has no meaning.

Albert Einstein
I never think about the future. It comes soon enough.

Thracian handmaid 585 BC
Thales fell into a well as he was looking up at the stars. He was so eager to know what was going on in heaven that he could not see what was before his feet.

Anaximander 546 BC
There are many worlds and many systems of Universes existing all at the same time, all of them perishable.

Heraclitus 501 BC
There is a stability in the Universe because of the orderly and balanced process of change, the same measure coming out as going in, as if reality were a huge fire that inhaled and exhaled equal amounts.

Democritus 439 BC
Moving in space, the atoms originally were individual units, but inevitable they began to collide with each other, and in cases where their shapes were such as to permit them to interlock, they began to form clusters. Water, air, fire, and earth, these are simply different clusters of the changeless atoms.

Anaxagoras 428 BC
The forces of rotation caused red hot masses of stones to be torn away from the Earth and to be thrown into the ether, and this is the origin of the stars.

Lily Tomlin
Infinity is just time on an ego trip.

Archilochus 648 BC
Nothing can be sworn impossible since Zeus made night during mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun.

Anaxagoras 434 BC
The Sun is a mass of fiery stone, a little larger than Greece.

Galileo Galilei 1611
Spots are on the surface of the solar body where they are produced and also dissolved, some in shorter and others in longer periods. They are carried around the Sun; an important occurrence in itself.

Anaximander 547 BC
The source from which existing things derive their existence is also that to which they return at their destruction.

Art Mason
Time begins from some place
Measured by the age of light.
It began from the furthest thing
We see flicker in the night.

Anaxagoras 459 BC
The purpose of life is the investigation of the Sun, the Moon, and the heavens.

William Hartmann 1978
One astronomer set up his equipment in an empty chicken coop to protect his instruments from the wind, and then spent most of the eclipse trying to shoo away the chickens, who dutifully reported to the roost when darkness fell.

Seneca, Book 7, first century
The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden. A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject...And so this knowledge will be unfolded only through long successive ages. There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them...Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced. Our universe is a sorry little affair unless it has in it something for every age to investigate...Nature does not reveal her mysteries once and for all.

Johanne Kepler 1577
Astronomy would not provide me with bread if men did not entertain hopes of reading the future in the heavens.

Christopher Wren 1657
A time will come when men will stretch out their eyes. They should see planets like our Earth.

H.G. Wells 1902
A day will come when beings, now latent in our thoughts and hidden in our loins, shall stand upon Earth as a footstool and laugh, and reach out their hands amidst the stars.

W. Huggins 1865
It is remarkable that the elements diffused through the host of stars are some of those most closely connected with the living organisms of our globe.

John Keynes 1942
Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians.

Alison Jolly 1988
Anyone who has lived through an English winter can see the point of building Stonehenge to make the Sun come back.

Jacob Bronowski 1967
To me the most interesting thing about man is that he is an animal who practices art and science and in every known society practices both together.

Friedrich Nietzsche 1886
Do you believe then that the sciences would ever have arisen and become great if there had not before hand been magicians, alchemists, astrologers and wizards, who thirsted and hungered after abscondite and forbidden powers?

The Beatles 1968
Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes that call me on and on across the Universe. Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns, it calls me on and on across the Universe.

John Updike
Human was the music, natural was the static.

Albert Einstein
What science strives for is an utmost acuteness and clarity of concepts as regards their mutual relation and their correspondence to sensory data.

Thomas Carlyle 1880
Why did not somebody teach me the constellations, and make me at home in the starry heavens, which are always overhead, and which I don't half know to this day?

W.H. Smyth 1860
The number of those seen by the naked eye at once is seldom above a thousand; though from their scintillation, and the indistinct manner in which they are viewed, they appear to be almost infinite.

Galileo Galilei 1611 (the Milky Way)
It is nothing else but a mass of innumerable stars planted together in clusters.

Satires Tupelos 1890
They toiled and built a thousand years
In love's all powerful might;
And so the Milky Way was made
A starry bridge of light.

Gaius Manilius, first century (the Milky Way)
Whether the skies grown old here shrink their frame,
And through the chinksmit an upper flame.
Or whether here the heaven's two halves are joyn'd,
But oddly clos'd still leave a seam behind.
Or here the parts in wedges closely prest,
To fix the frame, are thicker than the rest.
Like clouds condens'd appear and bound the sight,
The azure being thickened into white.

H.W. Longfellow 1880 (the Milky Way)
Torrent of light and river of air,
Along whose bed the glimmering stars are seen,
Like gold and silver sands in some ravine
Where mountain streams have left their channels bare!

Archimedes 200 BC
Give me a firm place to stand and I will move the Earth.

William Blake 
To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
I could be bound in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space.

Samuel Butler 1900
Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.

Mark Twain (Life on the Mississippi)
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on Earth?

Eskimo creation story
"What are you? I have never seen anything like you." The Raven looked at man and was surprised that this strange new being was so much like himself.

Persian creation story, 800 BC
Now that the destinies of heaven and Earth have been fixed, the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates have been established, what else shall we create? Oh Anunaki, you great gods of the sky, what else shall we do?

Victor Hugo
Where the telescope ends the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?

Timothy Ferris
If we could speed up our sense of time until thousands of years were speeding by in the wink of an eye, we would see nebulae burst into light, deliver themselves of a shower of stars, then fade back into darkness. As it is we see each nebula frozen at a stage in the process.

William Huggins 1865
May it not be that the brighter stars are like our Sun, the upholding and energizing centers of systems of living beings?

Christiaan Huygens 1690
The rest of the planets have their dress and furniture, nay and their inhabitants too, as well as this Earth of ours.

H.G. Wells 1897
Men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise.

Robert Jastrow 1989
The Universe is populated by innumerable suns, innumerable earths, and perhaps, innumerable forms of life. That thought expresses the essence of the Copernican revolution. No revelation more striking has ever come from the scientific mind.

Robert Frost (The Star Splitter)
The best thing we're put here for's to see; The strongest thing that's given us to see with's a telescope. Someone in every town, seems to me, owes it to the town to keep one.

Heinrich d'Arrest upon discovering Neptune, 1846
That star is not on the chart!

Visiting astronomer to Clyde Tombaugh before he discovered Pluto, 1929
Young man, I am afraid you are wasting your time. If there were any more planets they would have been found long before this.

Albert Einstein 1946
One thing I have learned in a long life, that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike.

A rocket explorer named Wright,
Once traveled much faster than light.
He set out one day, in a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.

President Martin Van Buren 1829
Railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of fifteen miles per hour by engines which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to the crops, scaring the livestock, and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such break-neck speed.

Simon Newcomb 1920
Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which man will never be able to cope.

William H. Pickering, astronomer 1910
The popular mind often pictures gigantic flying machines speeding across the Atlantic carrying innumerable passengers in a way analogous to our modern steamships. it seems safe to say that such ideas are wholly visionary.

Editorial, The New York Times 1920
We hope the Professor from Clark College (Robert H. Goddard) is only pretending to be ignorant of elementary physics if he thinks that a rocket can work in a vacuum.

Johannes Kepler 1610
There will certainly be no lack of human pioneers when we have mastered the art of flight....Let us create vessels and sails justed to the heavenly ether, and there will be plenty of people unafraid of the empty wastes. In the meantime we shall prepare, for the brave sky-travelers, maps of the celestial bodies.

Vincent Van Gogh 1889
For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it, but looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?

Isaac Asimov 1979
Before another century is done it will be hard for people to imagine a time when humanity was confined to one world, and it will seem to them incredible that there was ever anybody who doubted the value of space and wanted to turn his or her back on the Universe.

President Jimmy Carter 1977
We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations.

William Proxmire 1977
As chairman of the Senate subcommittee responsible for NASA appropriations, I say not a penny for this nutty fantasy.

Valeri Ryumin USSR
"You're out of your mind!" I told myself, hanging onto a ship in space, and getting ready to admire a sunrise.

Jeff Hoffman USA
Suddenly I saw a meteor go by underneath me.

William Pogue USA
I raised the visor on my helmet cover and looked out to try to identify constellations. As I looked out into space, I was overwhelmed by the darkness. I felt the flesh crawl on my back and the hair rise on my neck.

Charles Duke USA
It was a texture. The blackness was so intense.

Alan Bean USA
Frequently on the lunar surface I said to myself, "This is the Moon, that is the Earth. I'm really here, I'm really here!"

Anatoli Berezovoy USSR
In space everything is different, you sleep on the ceiling.

Yuri Artyukhin USSR
Straddled comfortably on the vacuum cleaner, I rode around the Salyut space station.

Anatoli Berezovoy USSR
We flew throughout the summer and fall and the start of winter. At first the whiteness gave way to the green of summer, and then gold covered the fields and forests, and then the whiteness again.

Aleksandr Aleksandrov USSR
We were flying over America and suddenly I saw snow, the first snow we ever saw from orbit. I have never visited America, but I imagined that the arrival of autumn and winter is the same there as in other places, and the process of getting ready for them is the same. And then it struck me that we are all children of our Earth.

J. d'Alembert
To someone who could grasp the Universe from a unified standpoint the entire creation would appear as a unique truth and necessity.

Vincent Van Gogh 1889
Sometimes I have a terrible need of, shall I say the word, religion. Then I go out at night and paint the stars.

Keystone Astronomers 1988
The Universe is a pretty thing, a real pretty thing.

David Bohm
In some sense man is a microcosm of the universe; therefore what man is, is a clue to the universe. We are enfolded in the universe.

William J. Broad
The crux is that the vast majority of the mass of the universe seems to be missing.

Thomas Carlyle
I don't pretend to understand the Universe—it's a great deal bigger than I am.

Dr. Beverly Crusher
If there is nothing wrong with me, maybe there's something wrong with the universe.

George Ellery Hale
Like buried treasures, the outposts of the universe have beckoned to the adventurous from immemorial times...

Eugene Ionesco
The universe seems to me infinitely strange and foreign. At such a moment I gaze upon it with a mixture of anguish and euphoria; separate from the universe, as though placed at a certain distance outside it; I look and I see pictures, creatures that move in a kind of timeless time and spaceless space, emitting sounds that are a kind of language I no longer understand or ever register.

Perry Miller
It is only too clear that man is not at home in this universe, and yet he is not good enough to deserve a better.

Louis Pasteur
The universe is asymmetric and I am persuaded that life, as it is known to us, is a direct result of the asymmetry of the universe or of its indirect consequences. The universe is asymmetric.

Mark Putzke
Nature recycles itself. History repeats itself. Religion has faith in itself. Technology creates itself. Humanity loves itself.



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