Quite often in science we get a bit ahead of ourselves and begin theorizing wildly, which can very often be an excellent thought experiment in and of itself. But without some data to give proof to our theorems, we can be easily sidedtracked. Never have I read a statement so poetically phrased to admonish against it as I have recently:
So, we’d better bridle our speculations, lest we run the risk that someone like LeCarre’s Smiley asks us one day: ‘What dreams did you cherish that had so little of the world in them?’
Werner R. Loewenstein (1926 – 2014), German born American biophysicist
in The Touchstone of Life: Molecular Information, Cell Communication and the Foundatons of Life (Oxford University Press, 1999)
Possibly one of the oddest closing sentences of a technical book–and a very good one at that–I’ve ever read:
This pressure can be calculated by minimizing the Helmholtz function of the system. Details can be found in Fermi’s textbook on thermodynamics (Fermi 1956). But why does osmosis explain the behavior of a salted cucumber? This question is left to the reader as a parting gift.
André Thess in (Springer, 2011) The Entropy Prinicple: Thermodynamics for the Unsatisified
This is definitely the quote of the week:
Incidentally, I note that ‘HARASS SARAH’ is a PALINdrome, as well as a popular left-wing sport.
Sol Golomb, mathematician and information theorist
via personal communication while discussing a palindromic word puzzle
Definitely the quote of the day:
…[the reader] should not be discouraged, if on first reading of section 0, he finds that he does not have the prerequisites for reading the prerequisites.
Paul Halmos (1916 – 2006, Hungarian-born American mathematician
in Measure Theory (1950)
This is essentially the mathematician’s equivalent of the adage “Fake it ’til you make it.”
Even by the standards of continuum functional integrals we have hit a new low…
R. Shankar in Principles of Quantum Mechanics
He really has a great sense of humor, doesn’t he?