Favourite Quotes

Everybody is a philosopher, but only some realize it.
- Pete Patterson

Teaching quantum mechanics without the appropriate mathematical equipment is like asking the student to dig a foundation with a screwdriver... Hand the students shovels and tell them to start digging. They may develop blisters at first, but I still think this is the most efficient and exciting way to learn.
- David Griffiths, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics.

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
- Elie Wiesel

If you liked it then you should have moved a mass inside its Roche limit.
- Randall Munroe, What If

We are all bundles of contradictions, and we manage to hang together by bringing out only one side of ourselves at a given time.
- Douglas Hofstadter, Godel Escher Bach

Simplicio: Are you really trying to claim that mathematics offers no useful or practical applications to society?
Salviati: Of course not. I'm merely suggesting that just because something happens to have practical consequences, doesn't mean that's what it is about. Music can lead armies into battle, but that's not why people write symphonies. Michelangelo decorated a ceiling, but I'm sure he had loftier things on his mind.
- Paul Lockhart, A Mathematician's Lament

Mathematics is the music of reason. To do mathematics is to engage in an act of discovery and conjecture, intuition and inspiration; to be in a state of confusion- not because it makes no sense to you, but because you gave it sense and you still don't understand what your creation is up to; to have a breakthrough idea; to be frustrated as an artist; to be awed and overwhelmed by an almost painful beauty; to be alive, damn it.
- Paul Lockhart, A Mathematician's Lament

When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them, as if legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon, I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.
-Henry Thoreau, Walking.

Last time I asked: 'What does mathematics mean to you?', and some people answered: "The manipulation of numbers, the manipulation of structures.' And if I had asked what music means to you, would you have answered: 'The manipulation of notes?'
-Serge Lang, The beauty of doing Mathematics.

There was a footpath leading across fields to New Southgate, and I used to go there alone to watch the sunset and contemplate suicide. I did not, however, commit suicide, because I wished to know more of mathematics.
- Bertrand Russell's autobiography

In this way, the government of the city, for us and for you, will be a waking reality rather than the kind of dream in which most cities exist nowadays, governed by people fighting one another over shadows and quarrelling with one another about ruling, as if ruling were some great good. The truth is, I imagine, that the city in which those who are to rule are most reluctant to do so will inevitably be the city which has the best and most stable government, whereas the city with rulers of the opposite kind will have a government of the opposite kind.
- Plato, The Republic, translated by Tom Griffith

You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
- Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

How much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.
- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. ... To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow.
- Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
- Mark Dunn, Ella Minnow Pea

This is all very confusing, especially when we consider that even though we may consistently consider ourselves to be the outside observer when we look at the rest of the world, the rest of the world is at the same time observing us, and that often we agree on what we see in each other. Does this then mean that my observations become real only when I observe an observer observing something as it happens? This is a horrible viewpoint. Do you seriously entertain the idea that without the observer there is no reality? Which observer? Any observer? Is a fly an observer? Is a star an observer? Was there no reality in the universe before 109 B.C. when life began? Or are you the observer? Then there is no reality to the world after you are dead? I know a number of otherwise respectable physicists who have bought life insurance.
- Richard Feynman

I'm not very interested in my school days and feel no special nostalgia for them. But I remember sixth form. In those days we imagined ourselves as being in a holding pen, waiting to be released into our lives. And when that moment would come, we would be at university. How were we to know that our lives had already begun, and our release would only be into a larger holding pen? And in time, a larger holding pen. When you are young, you want your emotions to be like the ones you read about in books. You want them to overturn your life and create a new reality. But as that second hand insists on speeding up and time delivers us all too quickly into middle age, and then old age, that's when you want something a little milder, don't you? You want your emotions to support your life as it has become. You want them to tell you that everything is going to be okay. And is there anything wrong with that?
- Julian Barnes, Sense of an Ending (Adapted to film)

In this respect, a single human life imitates the history of mankind; at first it is plunged into immobile slowness, and then only gradually does it accelerate more and more. Just two months ago Martin had turned forty.
- Milan Kundera, Laughable Loves (translated by Suzanne Rappaport)

Un homme qui dort, tient en cercle autour de lui le fil des heures, l'ordre des annees et des mondes.
-Marcel Proust, Du cote de chez Swann.

With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he also was an illusion, that someone else was dreaming him.
- Jorge Luis Borges, The Circular Ruins

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
- Ernest Hemingway

It is fashionable among mathematicians to despise groupoids and to consider that only groups have an authentic mathematical status, probably because of the pejorative suffix oid. To remove this prejudice we start Chapter I with Heisenberg's discovery of quantum mechanics.
- Alain Connes, Noncommutative Geometry

Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.
- (Possibly) Immanuel Kant

The reduction [collapse] postulate is an ugly scar on what would be beautiful theory if it could be removed.
- Gottfried