In a Nutshell

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“The difference between the amoeba and Einstein is that, although both make use of the method of trial and error elimination, the amoeba dislikes erring while Einstein is intrigued by it.” — Karl Popper, Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach, 1972

Unquote

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“The only way to keep ahead of the procession is to experiment. If you don’t, the other fellow will. When there’s no experimenting there’s no progress. Stop experimenting and you go backward. If anything goes wrong, experiment until you get to the very bottom of the trouble.” — Thomas Edison

Misc

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  • The state sport of Maryland is jousting.
  • North and South Dakota were established together, in 1889.
  • NEAT TAILOR makes ALTERATION.
  • Percentages are reversible: 25% of 16 is 16% of 25.
  • “Success in research needs four Gs: Glück, Geduld, Geschick, und Geld [luck, patience, skill, and money].” — Paul Ehrlich

Reflections

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Maxims of Goethe:

  • When a rainbow has lasted as long as a quarter of an hour we stop looking at it.
  • Researching into nature we are pantheists, writing poetry we are polytheists, morally we are monotheists.
  • Considered historically, our good points appear in a moderate light, our faults excuse themselves.
  • To do well you need talent, to do good you need means.
  • For surely everyone only hears what he understands.
  • If you miss the first buttonhole, you can’t ever get fully buttoned up.
  • You really only know when you know little; doubt grows with knowledge.
  • People think one ought to be busy with them when one isn’t busy with oneself.
  • Acumen is least likely to desert clever men when they are in the wrong.
  • One doesn’t find frogs wherever there is water, but there is water where you hear frogs.
  • Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but not more interesting than contemplating.
  • Everyone manages to have just about enough strength left to act according to his convictions.
  • Let memory fail as long as our judgment remains intact when needed.
  • Dirt glitters when the sun happens to shine.
  • Beauty can never be clear about itself.
  • Mysteries do not as yet amount to miracles.

“There are people who ponder about their friends’ shortcomings: there’s nothing to be gained by that. I have always been on the lookout for the merits of my opponents, and this has been rewarding.”

Unquote

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“It has always puzzled me that so many religious people have taken it for granted that God favors those who believe in him. Isn’t it possible that the actual God is a scientific God who has little patience with beliefs founded on faith rather than evidence?” — Raymond Smullyan

“It Is Not Enough to Mean Well”

Maxims of Theodore Roosevelt:

  • A bad man of ability is worse than a bad man of no ability.
  • It is almost as irritating to be patronized as to be wronged.
  • Timid endurance of wrongdoing may often be to commit one of the greatest evils that one can possibly commit against one’s fellows.
  • The lives of truest heroism are those in which there are no great deeds to look back upon. It is the little things well done that go to make up a successful and truly good life.
  • Our system of government is the best in the world for a people able to carry it on. Only the highest type of people can carry it on.
  • No one ought to submit to being imposed upon, but before you act always stop to consider the rights of others before standing up for your own.
  • The wicked who prosper are never a pleasant sight.
  • It is hard to fail; but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
  • Don’t let practical politics mean foul politics.
  • For almost every gain there is a penalty.
  • There is grave danger in attempting to establish invariable rules.
  • Woe to all of us if ever as a people we grow to condone evil because it is successful.
  • Remember that the shots that count in war are the ones that hit.
  • What every man needs is robust virtue, that will enable him to go out into the world and remain true to himself.
  • Capacity for work is absolutely necessary, and no man can be said to live in the true sense of the word if he does not work.
  • In doing your work in the great world, it is a safe plan to follow a rule I once heard preached on the football field: Don’t flinch; don’t fall; hit the the line hard.

(More here.)

Unquote

“Music is the pleasure the human soul experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting.” — Leibniz

“The composer opens the cage door for arithmetic, the draftsman gives geometry its freedom.” — Cocteau

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.” — Thelonious Monk