30 Brilliant Scientist Quotes

Fantastically quotable scientists on science:

Georg Christoph LichtenbergIt is strange that only extraordinary men make the discoveries, which later appear so easy and simple.

Georg C. Lichtenberg, 1742 to 1799
PhilolausActually, everything that can be known has a Number; for it is impossible to grasp anything with the mind or to recognize it without this.

Philolaus, c. 470 – c. 385 BC
Scientist and Philosopher
paul erdosGod created two acts of folly. First, He created the Universe in a Big Bang. Second, He was negligent enough to leave behind evidence for this act, in the form of microwave radiation.

Paul Erdős, 1913 to 1996
william ramsayProgress is made by trial and failure; the failures are generally a hundred times more numerous than the successes ; yet they are usually left unchronicled.

William Ramsay, 1852 to 1916
victor schefferAlthough Nature needs thousands or millions of years to create a new species, man needs only a few dozen years to destroy one.

Victor Scheffer, 1906 to 2011
Nicolaus CopernicusThere may be babblers, wholly ignorant of mathematics, who dare to condemn my hypothesis, upon the authority of some part of the Bible twisted to suit their purpose. I value them not, and scorn their unfounded judgment.

Nicolaus Copernicus, 1473 – 1543
Astronomer, Mathematician
ernest rutherfordIf your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.

Ernest Rutherford, 1871 to 1937
aristotleBy ‘life,’ we mean a thing that can nourish itself and grow and decay.

Aristotle, 384 BC to 322 BC
Scientist, Philosopher
george waldA physicist is an atom’s way of knowing about atoms.

George Wald, 1906 to 1997
100-man-grayDid the genome of our cave-dwelling predecessors contain a set or sets of genes which enable modern man to compose music of infinite complexity and write novels with profound meaning? …It looks as though the early Homo was already provided with the intellectual potential which was in great excess of what was needed to cope with the environment of his time.”

Susumu Ohno, 1928 to 2000
max planckAn experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature’s answer.

Max Planck, 1858 to 1947
Theoretical Physicist
justus von liebigA fact acquires its true and full value only through the idea which is developed from it.

Justus von Liebig, 1803 to 1873
john wheelerThere is no law except the law that there is no law.

John Archibald Wheeler, 1911 to 2008
Theoretical Physicist
thomas chrowder chamberlinFalsity in intellectual action is intellectual immorality.

Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin, 1843 to 1928
100-fred-hoyleOutstanding examples of genius – a Mozart, a Shakespeare, or a Carl Friedrich Gauss – are markers on the path along which our species appears destined to tread.

Fred Hoyle, 1915 to 2001
steven weinbergIt does not help that some politicians and journalists assume the public is interested only in those aspects of science that promise immediate practical applications to technology or medicine.

Steven Weinberg , 1933 to present
Theoretical Physicist
john haldaneScience is vastly more stimulating to the imagination than the classics.

J. B. S. Haldane, 1892 to 1964
carl saganValid criticism does you a favor.

Carl Sagan, 1934 to 1996
jw mellorTrial by combat of wits in disputations has no attraction for the seeker after truth; to him, the appeal to experiment is the last and only test of the merit of an opinion, conjecture, or hypotheses.

Joseph Mellor, 1869 to 1938
arthur eddingtonWhat is possible in the Cavendish Laboratory may not be too difficult in the sun.

Sir Arthur Eddington, 1882 to 1944
Astronomer, Physicist, Mathematician
marie curiePierre Curie voluntarily exposed his arm to the action of radium for several hours. This resulted in damage resembling a burn that developed progressively and required several months to heal. Henri Becquerel had by accident a similar burn as a result of carrying in his vest pocket a glass tube containing radium salt. He came to tell us of this evil effect of radium, exclaiming in a manner at once delighted and annoyed: “I love it, but I owe it a grudge.”

Marie Curie, 1867 to 1934
Chemist, Physicist
Subrahmanyan ChandrasekharThe black holes of nature are the most perfect macroscopic objects there are in the universe: the only elements in their construction are our concepts of space and time.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, 1910 to 1995
thomas thomsonChemistry, unlike other sciences, sprang originally from delusions and superstitions, and was at its commencement exactly on a par with magic and astrology.

Thomas Thomson, 1773 to 1852
robert kirshnerUnderstanding the history of matter and searching for its most interesting forms, such as galaxies, stars, planets and life, seems a suitable use for our intelligence.

Robert Kirshner, 1949 to present
stephen jay gouldWe are storytelling animals, and cannot bear to acknowledge the ordinariness of our daily lives.

Stephen Jay Gould, 1941 to 2002
thomas goldThings are as they are because they were as they were.

Thomas Gold, 1920 to present
arthur eddingtonI believe there are 15 747 724 136 275 002 577 605 653 961 181 555 468 044 717 914 527 116 709 366 231 425 076 185 631 031 296 protons in the universe and the same number of electrons.

Sir Arthur Eddington, 1882 to 1944
Astronomer, Physicist, Mathematician
william ramsayArchimedes’ finding that the crown was of gold was a discovery; but he invented the method of determining the density of solids. Indeed, discoverers must generally be inventors; though inventors are not necessarily discoverers.

William Ramsay, 1852 to 1916
George Johnstone StoneyA theory is a supposition which we hope to be true, a hypothesis is a supposition which we expect to be useful; fictions belong to the realm of art; if made to intrude elsewhere, they become either make-believes or mistakes.

George Johnstone Stoney, 1826 to 1911
manScience is the acceptance of what works and the rejection of what does not. That needs more courage than we might think.

Jacob Bronowski, 1908 to 1974
Mathematician, Biologist


  1. Mad Moinky says

    What Susumu Ohno said makes me think that we don’t have the full evolution story yet. We evolved the ability to solve pure math problems, wave equations, complex symphonies and build computers while we’re hunter gatherers? That’s spooky.

    • pop says

      I guess it’s not a popular view here, but I think there’s plenty wrong with evolution. People coming from fishes makes no sense to me.

  2. RUFUS says

    Evolution, as Darwin gave it, is a completely plausible and valid theory. Its when insanity like spontaneous generation is tacked to the end of it you get problems.

    • Theodore Taylor says

      It is because Darwinian Evolution, in the form that Darwin presented it, was completely flawed and implausible that spontaneous generation and such were added. It is entirely impossible that the universe ALWAYS existed, yet what natural cause for the universe could there be OUTSIDE the universe? Regardless of what you may think about God, it becomes difficult to invent a non-miraculous origin for the universe. Thus the simplest definition of God is that which had no beginning, because nothing except the supernatural could ever be eternal.

  3. Marcia says

    I recently watched the documentary and creative presention, “Cosmos” on Netflix. The presentation makes considering evolution a bit more palpable, make our universe a lot more interesting and understandable for even the average person, and opens doors to lots of questions for my rather artistic but sheltered mind.

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