Quotes on research

Quotes on research

"Perhaps I can best describe my experience of doing mathematics in terms of a journey through a dark unexplored mansion. You enter the first room of the mansion and it's completely dark. You stumble around bumping into the furniture, but gradually you learn where each piece of furniture is. Finally, after six months or so, you find the light switch, you turn it on, and suddenly it's all illuminated. You can see exactly where you were. Then you move into the next room and spend another six months in the dark. So each of these breakthroughs, while sometimes they're momentary, sometimes over a period of a day or two, they are the culmination of - and couldn't exist without - the many months of stumbling around in the dark that precede them." Andrew Wiles

"The mathematician's patterns, like the painter's or the poet's, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colors or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics." G. H. Hardy

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny...'" Isaac Asimov

"Contrary to what Asimov says, the most exciting phrase in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' or 'That's funny...,' it's 'Your research grant has been approved.'" John Alejandro King

"A theory is something nobody believes, except the person who made it. An experiment is something everybody believes, except the person who made it."" Albert Einstein

"Nothing is more practical than a good theory." Kurt Lewin

"An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field." Niels Bohr

"An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing." Nicholas Butler

"Pavel Vasil'evich liked only his own articles, while articles written by others, which he was supposed to read or listen to, always felt to him like a cannon muzzle directed straight at his face." Anton P. Chekhov

"Basic research is like shooting an arrow into the air and, where it lands, painting a target." Homer Adkins

"The prevailing perspective in academia is often caricatured by the metaphor that "basic research is like shooting an arrow into the air and, where it lands, painting a target."... Industry, on the other hand, is replete with preexisting targets: a company's business plan, product performance specifications, project cost and timing goals, and so on. Few companies today can afford to invest in significant amounts of high-risk, unfocused, exploratory research with the goal of capitalizing on any breakthrough wherever and whenever one occurs." Kenneth C. Hass

"Luxury and learning are ill bed-fellows." Charles W. Eliot

"An author who is willing to take credit for a paper must also bear responsibility for its contents." On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research (2nd edition, 1995)