Insipirational Quotes

Life

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, and motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize that, in life, they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you. -Neil deGrasse Tyson

Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. -Winston Churchill

Sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table. -Malcolm Gladwell

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. - Charles Darwin

It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you. It’s what you know that just ain’t so. - Mark Twain

The only person you are destined to be is the person you decide to be. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fall seven times, stand up eight. -Japanese proverb

On the open channel to finding the meaning of it all: admitting that we do not know, and maintaining perpetually the attitude that we do not know the direction necessarily to go, permit a possibility of alteration, of thinking, of new contributions and new discoveries for the problem of developing a way to do what we want ultimately, even when we do not know what we want. -Richard Feynman

There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see. -Leonardo da Vinci

There are always higher mountains behind a high mountain, and there are always more capable people beyond a capable person. -Chinese idiom

A person who chases two rabbits catches neither. -Confucius

We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing. -Charles Bukowski

Mathematics/Science

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is. - John von Neumann

To those who do not know mathematics, it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature. -Richard Feynman

On whether a man knows what he is talking about, whether what he says has some basis or not: my trick that I use is very easy. If you ask him intelligent questions—that is, penetrating, interested, honest, frank, direct questions on the subject, and no trick questions—then he quickly gets stuck. It is like a child asking naive questions. If you ask naive but relevant questions, then almost immediately the person doesn’t know the answer, if he is an honest man. It is important to appreciate that. -Richard Feynman

Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do. -Donald Knuth

Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler. -Albert Einstein

[In a Markov process,] history is completely disregarded; each new situation uk+1 depends only on the current situation uk, and the record of u0, u1, … , uk−1 can be thrown away. Perhaps even our lives are examples of Markov processes, but I hope not. -Gilbert Strang

Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful. -George E. P. Box

A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. -Paul Erdos

To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. Tis much better to do a little with certainty and leave the rest for others that come after than to explain all things by conjecture without making sure of any thing. -Isaac Newton

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. -[paraphrased from] Abraham Maslow

We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge. - John Naisbitt

Now it would be very remarkable if any system existing in the real world could be exactly represented by any simple model. However, cunningly chosen parsimonious models often do provide remarkably useful approximations. For example, the law PV = RT relating pressure P, volume V and temperature T of an ideal gas via a constant R is not exactly true for any real gas, but it frequently provides a useful approximation and furthermore its structure is informative since it springs from a physical view of the behavior of gas molecules. For such a model there is no need to ask the question “Is the model true?”. If “truth” is to be the “whole truth” the answer must be “No”. The only question of interest is “Is the model illuminating and useful?”. - George Box

The scientist explores the world of phenomena by successive approximations. He works in an atmosphere of probabilities; he knows that his data are never precise, and that his theories must always be rested. It is quite natural that he tends to develop healthy skepticism, suspended judgment, and disciplined imagination. -Edwin Hubble

As the area of light increases, so does the circumference of darkness. -Albert Einstein

I am sometimes asked how I developed an ability to be original in scientific research. It is those evenings at MIT, playing with equations, when I acquired the taste for discovery. Importantly, I have always avoided projects that involve calculations I already understand. The avoidance made me a poor research assistant during my graduate and postdoctoral years. (I never published a paper with either my Ph.D. advisor or my postdoctoral advisor.) My interest is sparked when a subject confuses me. Usually the confusion is the result of my ignorance, but sometimes, after enough thought and investigation, I learn that the essence of the confusion is something fundamental. Resolving that confusion becomes a quest, and good science often results. -David Chandler in “From fifty years ago, the birth of modern liquid-state science”

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -Aristotle

Miscellaneous

I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time. -Blaise Pascal

By Haruki Murakami

He had never seen eyes with such absolute clarity. They were like two springs, utterly transparent, but too deep to see the bottoms. He felt he might be sucked inside if he went on looking at them. He had no choice but to turn away from them.

I must be in love. No mistake about it. Ice is cold; roses are red; I’m in love. It’s irreversible. And this love is about to carry me off somewhere. The current’s too overpowering; I don’t have any choice. It may very well be a special place, some place I’ve never seen before. Danger may be lurking there, something that may end up wounding me deeply, fatally. I might end up losing everything. But there’s no turning back. I can only go with the flow. Even if it means I’ll be burned up, gone forever.

Once you see that true sight with your own eyes, the world you’ve lived in till now will look flat and insipid. There’s no logic or illogic in that scene. No good or evil. Everything is merged into one.

The reason that people sing songs for other people is because they want to have the power to arouse empathy, to break free of the narrow shell of the self and share their pain and joy with others. This is not an easy thing to do, of course.

It was not one of those strong, impulsive feelings, […] but something quieter and gentler, like two tiny lights traveling in tandem through a vast darkness and drawing imperceptibly close to each other as they go.

I find it hard to talk about myself. I’m always tripped up by the eternal “who am I?” paradox. Sure, no one knows as much pure data about me as me. But when I talk about myself, all sorts of other factors—values, standards, my own limitations as an observer—make me, the narrator, select and eliminate things about me, the narratee. I’ve always been disturbed by the thought that I’m not painting a very objective picture of myself.
This kind of thing doesn’t seem to bother most people. Given the chance, people are surprisingly frank when they talk about themselves. “I’m honest and open to a ridiculous degree,” they’ll say, or “I’m thin-skinned and not the type who gets along easily in the world.” Or “I am very good at sensing others’ true feelings.” But any number of times I’ve seen people who say they’re easily hurt hurt other people for no apparent reason. Self-styled honest and open people, without realizing what they’re doing, blithely use some self-serving excuse to get what they want. And those “good at sensing others’ true feelings” are duped by the most transparent flattery. It’s enough to make me ask the question: How well do we really know ourselves?
The more I think about it, the more I’d like to take a rain check on the topic of me. What I’d like to know more about is the objective reality of things outside myself. How important the world is to me, how I maintain a sense of equilibrium by coming to terms with it. That’s how I’d grasp a clearer sense of who I am.