Nothing Would be More Devastating than Reduced Access to a Technical Library

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, flâneur
in the Financial Times in response to the question:
“If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?”



Algebra is Like Pastry: Wonderful!

Pierre Anton Grillet (1941 – ), algebraist
in preface to Abstract Algebra, Second Edition (Springer, 2007)


Annotated The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas TalebNassim Nicholas Taleb (Random House)
The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore, professore dottore Eco, what a library you have ! How many of these books have you read?” and the others - a very small minority - who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you don’t know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menancingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

Inquire in the Margine

"If the Page satisfie not, inquire in the Margine" - John Selden
John Selden (1584-1654), English jurist and a scholar
in Illustrations (1612), a commentary on Poly-Olbion, a poem by Michael Drayton
in the margin next to ‘A table to the chiefest passages, in the Illustrations, which, worthiest of observation, are not directed unto by the course of the volume.’


Photo courtesy of Sjoerd Levelt
Photo courtesy of Sjoerd Levelt


A Mathematical Symphony

Robert B. Ash, mathematician
in A Primer of Abstract Mathematics (The Mathematical Association of America, 1998)


A Primer of Abstract Mathematics by Robert B. Ash
A Primer of Abstract Mathematics by Robert B. Ash


The Single Biggest Problem in Communication

apocryphally attributed to George Bernard Shaw,
but more likely William H. Whyte in Fortune, “Is Anybody Listening?” Start Page 77, Quote Page 174, Published by Time, Inc., New York (September 1950)


George Bernard Shaw shading his eyes with his hands

“We didn’t cover much, but we sure did learn.”

Steve Mitchell, algebraic topologist
on learning mathematics in Steve Mitchell short biography


Stephen Mitchell

To Understand God’s Thought…

Florence Nightingale, OM, RRC (1820-1910), English social reformer and statistician, founder of modern nursing, renaissance woman
in Florence Nightingale’s Wisdom, New York Times, 3/4/14


Florence Nightingale developed the polar pie chart to depict mortality causes in the Crimean War.
Florence Nightingale developed the polar pie chart to depict mortality causes in the Crimean War.


Information Theory is Something Like the Logarithm of Probability Theory

Dr. Daniel Polani, reader in Artificial Life, University of Hertfordshire
in “Research Questions”


Not only a great quote, but an interesting way to view the subjects.

Why a Ph.D. in Physics is Worse Than Drugs

Jonathan I. Katz, Professor of Physics, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
in “Don’t Become a Scientist!”


In the essay, Dr. Katz provides a bevy of solid reasons why one shouldn’t become a researcher.  I highly recommend everyone read it and then carefully consider how we can turn these problems around.

Editor’s Note: The original article has since been moved to another server.

How might we end the war against science in America?

The Two Cultures

C.P. Snow, Kt., CBE (1905 – 1980), an English physical chemist and novelist
in 1959 Rede Lecture entitled “The Two Cultures”


C. P. Snow, English physicist, author, and diplomat.
C. P. Snow, English physicist, author, and diplomat.


Fundamental Difference Between Science and Politics

Nate Silver, statistician
in The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t (Penguin Books, 2012)


The Signal and The Noise

God Could Have Caused Birds to Fly With Their Bones Made of Solid Gold

Salviati’s (Galileo’s voice) response to Simplicio (Pope Urban VIII)
Galileo Galilei in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems


Galileo's Dialogo Title Page
Title Page from Galileo’s Dialogo

Beauty, Melody, and Entropy are an Equivalence Class

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, OM, FRS (1882-1944), a British astronomer, physicist, and mathematician
in The Nature of the Physical World, 1927


Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington


One Cool Judgment is Worth a Dozen Hasty Councils

Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924),  28th U.S. president