• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



Page history last edited by dm 15 years, 3 months ago

One can search the brain with a microscope and not find the

mind, and can search the stars with a telescope and not find God.

        -- J. Gustav White


One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.


One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast

to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists,

a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also

just stupid.

        -- J. D. Watson, "The Double Helix"


One day this guy is finally fed up with his middle-class existence and

decides to do something about it.  He calls up his best friend, who is a

mathematical genius.  "Look," he says, "do you suppose you could find some

way mathematically of guaranteeing winning at the race track?  We could

make a lot of money and retire and enjoy life."  The mathematician thinks

this over a bit and walks away mumbling to himself.

    A week later his friend drops by to ask the genius if he's had any

success.  The genius, looking a little bleary-eyed, replies, "Well, yes,

actually I do have an idea, and I'm reasonably sure that it will work, but

there a number of details to be figured out.

    After the second week the mathematician appears at his friend's house,

looking quite a bit rumpled, and announces, "I think I've got it! I still have

some of the theory to work out, but now I'm certain that I'm on the right


    At the end of the third week the mathematician wakes his friend by

pounding on his door at three in the morning.  He has dark circles under his

eyes.  His hair hasn't been combed for many days.  He appears to be wearing

the same clothes as the last time.  He has several pencils sticking out from

behind his ears and an almost maniacal expression on his face.  "WE CAN DO

IT!  WE CAN DO IT!!" he shrieks. "I have discovered the perfect solution!!

And it's so EASY!  First, we assume that horses are perfect spheres in simple

harmonic motion..."


One has to look out for engineers -- they begin with sewing machines

and end up with the atomic bomb.

        -- Marcel Pagnol


One man's "magic" is another man's engineering.  "Supernatural" is a null word.

        -- Robert Heinlein


One man's constant is another man's variable.

        -- A. J. Perlis


One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an advisor...

is to discourage... from expecting too much from mathematics.

        -- N. Wiener


One small step for man, one giant stumble for mankind.


One thing they don't tell you about doing experimental physics is that

sometimes you must work under adverse conditions... like a state of sheer


        -- W. K. Hartmann


Only God can make random selections.


Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.


Optimization hinders evolution.


Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject

-- the actual enemy is the unknown.

        -- Thomas Mann


Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds.  Biochemistry

is the study of carbon compounds that crawl.

        -- Mike Adams


"Our vision is to speed up time, eventually eliminating it."

        -- Alex Schure


Oxygen is a very toxic gas and an extreme fire hazard.  It is fatal in

concentrations of as little as 0.000001 p.p.m.  Humans exposed to the

oxygen concentrations die within a few minutes.  Symptoms resemble very

much those of cyanide poisoning (blue face, etc.).  In higher

concentrations, e.g. 20%, the toxic effect is somewhat delayed and it

takes about 2.5 billion inhalations before death takes place.  The reason

for the delay is the difference in the mechanism of the toxic effect of

oxygen in 20% concentration.  It apparently contributes to a complex

process called aging, of which very little is known, except that it is

always fatal.

However, the main disadvantage of the 20% oxygen concentration is in the

fact it is habit forming.  The first inhalation (occurring at birth) is

sufficient to make oxygen addiction permanent.  After that, any

considerable decrease in the daily oxygen doses results in death with

symptoms resembling those of cyanide poisoning.

Oxygen is an extreme fire hazard.  All of the fires that were reported in

the continental U.S. for the period of the past 25 years were found to be

due to the presence of this gas in the atmosphere surrounding the buildings

in question.

Oxygen is especially dangerous because it is odorless, colorless and

tasteless, so that its presence can not be readily detected until it is

too late.

        -- Chemical & Engineering News February 6, 1956


Parallel lines never meet, unless you bend one or both of them.


Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.


People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.


Philogyny recapitulates erogeny; erogeny recapitulates philogyny.


"Picture the sun as the origin of two intersecting 6-dimensional

hyperplanes from which we can deduce a certain transformational

sequence which gives us the terminal velocity of a rubber duck ..."


Pie are not square.  Pie are round.  Cornbread are square.


Polymer physicists are into chains.


Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.


Power corrupts.  And atomic power corrupts atomically.


Progress means replacing a theory that is wrong with one more subtly wrong.


Proof techniques #1: Proof by Induction.

This technique is used on equations with "_n" in them.  Induction

techniques are very popular, even the military used them.

SAMPLE: Proof of induction without proof of induction.

    We know it's true for _n equal to 1.  Now assume that it's true

for every natural number less than _n.  _N is arbitrary, so we can take _n

as large as we want.  If _n is sufficiently large, the case of _n+1 is

trivially equivalent, so the only important _n are _n less than _n.  We

can take _n = _n (from above), so it's true for _n+1 because it's just

about _n.

    QED.    (QED translates from the Latin as "So what?")


... proper attention to Earthly needs of the poor, the depressed and the

downtrodden, would naturally evolve from dynamic, articulate, spirited

awareness of the great goals for Man and the society he conspired to erect.

        -- David Baker, paraphrasing Harold Urey, in

           "The History of Manned Space Flight"


Prototype designs always work.

        -- Don Vonada


"Protozoa are small, and bacteria are small, but viruses are smaller

than the both put together."


Psychologists think they're experimental psychologists.

Experimental psychologists think they're biologists.

Biologists think they're biochemists.

Biochemists think they're chemists.

Chemists think they're physical chemists.

Physical chemists think they're physicists.

Physicists think they're theoretical physicists.

Theoretical physicists think they're mathematicians.

Mathematicians think they're metamathematicians.

Metamathematicians think they're philosophers.

Philosophers think they're gods.


Quantum Mechanics is a lovely introduction to Hilbert Spaces!

        -- Overheard at last year's Archimedeans' Garden Party


Quantum Mechanics is God's version of "Trust me."


Quark!  Quark!  Beware the quantum duck!


Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.


Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature

cannot be fooled.

        -- R. P. Feynman


Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you

lose your job.  These economic downturns are very difficult to predict,

but sophisticated econometric modeling houses like Data Resources and

Chase Econometrics have successfully predicted 14 of the last 3 recessions.


    "Reintegration complete," ZORAC advised.  "We're back in the

universe again..."  An unusually long pause followed, "...but I don't

know which part.  We seem to have changed our position in space."  A

spherical display in the middle of the floor illuminated to show the

starfield surrounding the ship.

    "Several large, artificial constructions are approaching us,"

ZORAC announced after a short pause.  "The designs are not familiar, but

they are obviously the products of intelligence.  Implications: we have

been intercepted deliberately by a means unknown, for a purpose unknown,

and transferred to a place unknown by a form of intelligence unknown.

Apart from the unknowns, everything is obvious."

        -- James P. Hogan, "Giants Star"


Remember Darwin; building a better mousetrap merely results in smarter mice.


Research is the best place to be: you work your buns off, and if it works

you're a hero; if it doesn't, well -- nobody else has done it yet either,

so you're still a valiant nerd.


Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and think what nobody

else has thought.


Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.

        -- Wernher von Braun


Review Questions

(1) If Nerd on the planet Nutley starts out in his spaceship at 20 KPH,

    and his speed doubles every 3.2 seconds, how long will it be before

    he exceeds the speed of light?  How long will it be before the

    Galactic Patrol picks up the pieces of his spaceship?

(2) If Roger Rowdy wrecks his car every week, and each week he breaks

    twice as many bones as before, how long will it be before he breaks

    every bone in his body?  How long will it be before they cut off

    his insurance?  Where does he get a new car every week?

(3) If Johnson drinks one beer the first hour (slow start), four beers

    the next hour, nine beers the next, etc., and stacks the cans in a

    pyramid, how soon will Johnson's pyramid be larger than King

    Tut's?  When will it fall on him?  Will he notice?


Round Numbers are always false.

        -- Samuel Johnson


Saliva causes cancer, but only if swallowed in small amounts over a long

period of time.

        -- George Carlin


Science and religion are in full accord but science and faith are in complete



Science is built up of facts, as a house is with stones.  But a collection

of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.

        -- Jules Henri Poincar'e


Science is what happens when preconception meets verification.


Science may someday discover what faith has always known.


Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.

        -- William Buckley


Sentient plasmoids are a gas.


Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.


So as your consumer electronics adviser, I am advising you to donate your

current VCR to a grate resident, who will laugh sardonically and hurl it

into a dumpster.  Then I want you to go out and purchase a vast array of

8-millimeter video equipment.

... OK!  Got everything?  Well, *too bad, sucker*, because while you were

gone the electronics industry came up with an even newer format that makes

your 8-millimeter VCR look as technologically advanced as toenail dirt.

This format is called "3.5 hectare" and it will not be made available until

it is outmoded, sometime early next week, by a format called "Elroy", so

*order yours now*.

        -- Dave Barry, "No Surrender in the Electronics Revolution"


Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them

over the horizon.

        -- K. A. Arsdall


Space is big.  You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly

big it is.  I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the

drug store, but that's just peanuts to space.

        -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Space is to place as eternity is to time.

        -- Joseph Joubert


Space tells matter how to move and matter tells space how to curve.

        -- Wheeler


Statistics are no substitute for judgement.

        -- Henry Clay


Statistics means never having to say you're certain.


Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays.  Embezzlement is another matter.


Stuckness shouldn't be avoided.  It's the psychic predecessor of all

real understanding.  An egoless acceptance of stuckness is a key to an

understanding of all Quality, in mechanical work as in other endeavors.

        -- R. Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"


Supervisor: Do you think you understand the basic ideas of Quantum Mechanics?

Supervisee: Ah! Well, what do we mean by "to understand" in the context of

        Quantum Mechanics?

Supervisor: You mean "No", don't you?

Supervisee: Yes.

        -- Overheard at a supervision.


Support bacteria -- it's the only culture some people have!


Take an astronaut to launch.


Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means

for going backwards.

        -- Aldous Huxley


Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.


That's one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.

        -- Neil Armstrong


The  White Rabbit put on his spectacles.

    "Where shall  I  begin, please your Majesty ?" he asked.

    "Begin at the beginning,", the King said, very gravely, "and go on

till you come to the end: then stop."

        -- Lewis Carroll


The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex

facts.  Seek simplicity and distrust it.

        -- Whitehead.


The amount of time between slipping on the peel and landing on the

pavement is precisely 1 bananosecond.


The amount of weight an evangelist carries with the almighty is measured

in billigrahams.


The ark lands after The Flood.  Noah lets all the animals out.  Says he, "Go

and multiply."  Several months pass.  Noah decides to check up on the animals.

All are doing fine except a pair of snakes.  "What's the problem?" says Noah.

"Cut down some trees and let us live there", say the snakes.  Noah follows

their advice.  Several more weeks pass.  Noah checks on the snakes again.

Lots of little snakes, everybody is happy.  Noah asks, "Want to tell me how

the trees helped?"  "Certainly", say the snakes. "We're adders, and we need

logs to multiply."


The astronomer Francesco Sizi, a contemporary of Galileo, argues that

Jupiter can have no satellites:

    There are seven windows in the head, two nostrils, two ears, two

eyes, and a mouth; so in the heavens there are two favorable stars, two

unpropitious, two luminaries, and Mercury alone undecided and indifferent.

From which and many other similar phenomena of nature such as the seven

metals, etc., which it were tedious to enumerate, we gather that the number

of planets is necessarily seven. [...]

    Moreover, the satellites are invisible to the naked eye and

therefore can have no influence on the earth and therefore would be useless

and therefore do not exist.


The best defense against logic is ignorance.


The best rebuttal to this kind of statistical argument came from the

redoubtable John W. Campbell:

    The laws of population growth tell us that approximately half the

    people who were ever born in the history of the world are now

    dead.  There is therefore a 0.5 probability that this message is

    being read by a corpse.


The bigger the theory the better.


The biggest difference between time and space is that you can't reuse time.

        -- Merrick Furst


The bomb will never go off.  I speak as an expert in explosives.

        -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project


The church saves sinners, but science seeks to stop their manufacture.

        -- Elbert Hubbard


The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.


The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

        -- John Muir


The Commandments of the EE:

 (9)    Trifle thee not with radioactive tubes and substances lest thou

    commence to glow in the dark like a lightning bug, and thy wife be

    frustrated and have not further use for thee except for thy wages.

(10)    Commit thou to memory all the words of the prophets which are

    written down in thy Bible which is the National Electrical Code,

    and giveth out with the straight dope and consoleth thee when

    thou hast suffered a ream job by the chief electrician.

(11)    When thou muckest about with a device in an unthinking and/or

    unknowing manner, thou shalt keep one hand in thy pocket.  Better

    that thou shouldest keep both hands in thy pockets than

    experimentally determine the electrical potential of an

    innocent-seeming device.


The Commandments of the EE:

(1)    Beware of lightning that lurketh in an uncharged condenser

    lest it cause thee to bounce upon thy buttocks in a most

    embarrassing manner.

(2)    Cause thou the switch that supplieth large quantities of juice to

    be opened and thusly tagged, that thy days may be long in this

    earthly vale of tears.

(3)    Prove to thyself that all circuits that radiateth, and upon

    which the worketh, are grounded and thusly tagged lest they lift

    thee to a radio frequency potential and causeth thee to make like

    a radiator too.

(4)    Tarry thou not amongst these fools that engage in intentional

    shocks for they are not long for this world and are surely



The Commandments of the EE:

(5)    Take care that thou useth the proper method when thou takest the

    measures of high-voltage circuits too, that thou dost not incinerate

    both thee and thy test meter, for verily, though thou has no company

    property number and can be easily surveyed, the test meter has

    one and, as a consequence, bringeth much woe unto a purchasing agent.

(6)    Take care that thou tamperest not with interlocks and safety devices,

    for this incurreth the wrath of the chief electrician and bring

    the fury of the engineers on his head.

(7)    Work thou not on energized equipment for if thou doest so, thy

    friends will surely be buying beers for thy widow and consoling

    her in certain ways not generally acceptable to thee.

(8)    Verily, verily I say unto thee, never service equipment alone,

    for electrical cooking is a slow process and thou might sizzle in

    thy own fat upon a hot circuit for hours on end before thy maker

    sees fit to end thy misery and drag thee into his fold.


The devil finds work for idle circuits to do.


The devil finds work for idle glands.


The difference between reality and unreality is that reality has so

little to recommend it.

        -- Allan Sherman


The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science

requires reasoning while those other subjects merely require scholarship.

        -- Robert Heinlein


The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.


The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on

weather forecasters.

        -- Jean-Paul Kauffmann


The Encyclopaedia Galactica defines a robot as a mechanical apparatus designed

to do the work of a man.  The marketing division of Sirius Cybernetics

Corporation defines a robot as 'Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With'.

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the

Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as 'a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the

first against the wall when the revolution comes', with a footnote to effect

that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking

over the post of robotics correspondent.

    Curiously enough, an edition of the Encyclopaedia Galactica that

had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in

the future defined the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics

Corporation as 'a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the

wall when the revolution came'.

        -- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"


The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind

of thing.  Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation

of these atoms is talking moonshine.

        -- Ernest Rutherford, after he had split the atom for

           the first time


The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is the most likely to be


        -- William of Occam


The feeling persists that no one can simultaneously be a respectable writer

and understand how a refrigerator works, just as no gentleman wears a brown

suit in the city.  Colleges may be to blame.  English majors are encouraged,

I know, to hate chemistry and physics, and to be proud because they are not

dull and creepy and humorless and war-oriented like the engineers across the

quad.  And our most impressive critics have commonly been such English majors,

and they are squeamish about technology to this very day.  So it is natural

for them to despise science fiction.

        -- Kurt Vonnegut Jr., "Science Fiction"


The following statement is not true.  The previous statement is true.


The Force is what holds everything together.  It has its dark side, and

it has its light side.  It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.


"The four building blocks of the universe are fire, water, gravel and vinyl."

        -- Dave Barry


The function of the expert is not to be more right than other people,

but to be wrong for more sophisticated reasons.

        -- Dr. David Butler, British psephologist


The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.


The goal of science is to build better mousetraps.  The goal of nature

is to build better mice.


The Greatest Mathematical Error

    The Mariner I space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral on 28

July 1962 towards Venus.  After 13 minutes' flight a booster engine would

give acceleration up to 25,820 mph; after 44 minutes 9,800 solar cells

would unfold; after 80 days a computer would calculate the final course

corrections and after 100 days the craft would cirlce the unknown planet,

scanning the mysterious cloud in which it is bathed.

    However, with an efficiency that is truly heartening, Mariner I

plunged into the Atlantic Ocean only four minutes after takeoff.

    Inquiries later revealed that a minus sign had been omitted from

the instructions fed into the computer.  "It was human error", a launch

spokesman said.

    This minus sign cost L4,280,000.

        -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"


The herd instinct among economists makes sheep look like independent thinkers.


The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they

are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is generally

understood.  Indeed, the world is ruled by little else.

        -- John Maynard Keyes


"The identical is equal to itself, since it is different."

        -- Franco Spisani


The instruments of science do not in themselves discover truth.  And there are

searchings that are not concluded by the coincidence of a pointer and a mark.

        -- Fred Saberhagen, "The Berserker Wars"


The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets.

        -- L. Zadeh


The light of a hundred stars does not equal the light of the moon.


The Man Who Almost Invented The Vacuum Cleaner

    The man officially credited with inventing the vacuum cleaner is

Hubert Cecil Booth.  However, he got the idea from a man who almost

invented it.

    In 1901 Booth visited a London music-hall.  On the bill was an

American inventor with his wonder machine for removing dust from carpets.

    The machine comprised a box about one foot square with a bag on top.

After watching the act -- which made everyone in the front six rows sneeze

-- Booth went round to the inventor's dressing room.

    "It should suck not blow," said Booth, coming straight to the

point.  "Suck?", exclaimed the enraged inventor.  "Your machine just moves

the dust around the room," Booth informed him.  "Suck?  Suck?  Sucking is

not possible," was the inventor's reply and he stormed out.  Booth proved

that it was by the simple expedient of kneeling down, pursing his lips and

sucking the back of an armchair.  "I almost choked," he said afterwards.

        -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"


The marvels of today's modern technology include the development of a

soda can, when discarded will last forever ... and a $7,000 car which

when properly cared for will rust out in two or three years.


The meek shall inherit the earth; the rest of us will go to the stars.


The meek shall inherit the earth; the rest of us, the Universe.


The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.


The moon is made of green cheese.

        -- John Heywood


The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.


The more they over-think the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain.


The most advantageous, pre-eminent thing thou canst do is not to exhibit

nor display thyself within the limits of our galaxy, but rather depart

instantaneously whence thou even now standest and flee to yet another rotten

planet in the universe, if thou canst have the good fortune to find one.

        -- Carlyle


The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new

discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..."

        -- Isaac Asimov


The nation that controls magnetism controls the universe.

        -- Chester Gould/Dick Tracy


The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.

        -- John Kenneth Galbraith


The only justification for our concepts and systems of concepts is that they

serve to represent the complex of our experiences; beyond this they have

no legitimacy.

        -- Albert Einstein


The only perfect science is hind-sight.


The only person who always got his work done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe.


The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social

sciences' is: some do, some don't.

        -- Ernest Rutherford


The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite

of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

        -- Niels Bohr


The perversity of nature is nowhere better demonstrated by the fact that, when

exposed to the same atmosphere, bread becomes hard while crackers become soft.


The problem ... is that we have run out of dinosaurs to form oil with.

Scientists working for the Department of Energy have tried to form oil using

other animals; they've piled thousands of tons of sand and Middle Eastern

countries on top of cows, raccoons, haddock, laboratory rats, etc., but so

far all they have managed to do is run up an enormous bulldozer-rental bill

and anger a lot of Middle Eastern persons.  None of the animals turned into

oil, although most of the laboratory rats developed cancer.

        -- Dave Barry, "Postpetroleum Guzzler"


The purpose of Physics 7A is to make the engineers realize that they're

not perfect, and to make the rest of the people realize that they're not



The rate at which a disease spreads through a corn field is a precise

measurement of the speed of blight.


The reason that every major university maintains a department of

mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.


The rule on staying alive as a forecaster is to give 'em a number or

give 'em a date, but never give 'em both at once.

        -- Jane Bryant Quinn


The Shuttle is now going five times the sound of speed.

        -- Dan Rather, first landing of Columbia


The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and

tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will

have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy... neither its pipes nor

its theories will hold water.


The solution of problems is the most characteristic and peculiar sort

of voluntary thinking.

        -- William James


The solution of this problem is trivial and is left as an exercise for

the reader.


The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.

        -- Peer


The speed of anything depends on the flow of everything.


The spirit of Plato dies hard.  We have been unable to escape the philosophical

tradition that what we can see and measure in the world is merely the

superficial and imperfect representation of an underlying reality.

        -- S. J. Gould, "The Mismeasure of Man"


The startling truth finally became apparent, and it was this: Numbers

written on restaurant checks within the confines of restaurants do not

follow the same mathematical laws as numbers written on any other pieces

of paper in any other parts of the Universe.  This single statement took

the scientific world by storm.  So many mathematical conferences got held

in such good restaurants that many of the finest minds of a generation

died of obesity and heart failure, and the science of mathematics was put

back by years.

        -- Douglas Adams


The study of non-linear physics is like the study of non-elephant biology.


"The subspace _W inherits the other 8 properties of _V. And there aren't

even any property taxes."

        -- J. MacKay, Mathematics 134b


The sum of the Universe is zero.


The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed from available

data.  Our authority is Isaiah 30:26, "Moreover, the light of the Moon

shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold,

as the light of seven days."  Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much

radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition seven times seven (49) times

as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or fifty times in all.  The light we

receive from the Moon is one ten-thousandth of the light we receive from the

Sun, so we can ignore that.  With these data we can compute the temperature

of Heaven.  The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where

the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation,

i.e., Heaven loses fifty times as much heat as the Earth by radiation.  Using

the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E)^4 = 50, where E is the absolute

temperature of the earth (~300K), gives H as 798K (525C).  The exact

temperature of Hell cannot be computed, but it must be less than 444.6C, the

temperature at which brimstone or sulphur changes from a liquid to a gas.

Revelations 21:8 says "But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their

part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."  A lake of molten

brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point,

or 444.6C  (Above this point it would be a vapor, not a lake.)  We have,

then, that Heaven, at 525C is hotter than Hell at 445C.

        -- "Applied Optics", vol. 11, A14, 1972


The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.

        -- Aldo Leopold


The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood

of bean counters.

        -- Alan Kay


The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility.  And

vice versa.


The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

        -- Harlan Ellison


The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.


The universe does not have laws -- it has habits, and habits can be broken.


The universe is all a spin-off of the Big Bang.


The universe is an island, surrounded by whatever it is that surrounds



The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination -- but the

combination is locked up in the safe.

        -- Peter DeVries


The Universe is populated by stable things.

        -- Richard Dawkins


The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.

        -- Sagan


The universe, they said, depended for its operation on the balance of four

forces which they identified as charm, persuasion, uncertainty and


        -- Terry Pratchett, "The Light Fantastic"


The University of California Statistics Department; where mean is normal,

and deviation standard.


The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be

done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.

        -- E. Hubbard


The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly.  They were just the first

not to crash.


Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green.

        -- Goethe


There *__is* no such thing as a civil engineer.


There are no data that cannot be plotted on a straight line if the axis

are chosen correctly.


"There are three principal ways to lose money: wine, women, and engineers.

While the first two are more pleasant, the third is by far the more certain."

        -- Baron Rothschild, ca. 1800


There are three schools of magic.  One:  State a tautology, then ring the

changes on its corollaries; that's philosophy.  Two:  Record many facts.

Try to find a pattern.  Then make a wrong guess at the next fact; that's

science.  Three:  Be aware that you live in a malevolent Universe controlled

by Murphy's Law, sometimes offset by Brewster's Factor; that's engineering.


There are two kinds of solar-heat systems: "passive" systems collect the

sunlight that hits your home, and "active" systems collect the sunlight that

hits your neighbors' homes, too.

        -- Dave Barry, "Postpetroleum Guzzler"


There can be no twisted thought without a twisted molecule.

        -- R. W. Gerard


There is a building with four floors.  On the first floor, there

is a convention of architects.  On the second floor, there is a

vinyl manufacturing plant.  On the third floor there is a fast food

stand, and on the fourth floor there is a library.

Q:    What would happen if a librarian traveled down in a small

    elevator with one other person from each floor?

A:    The elevator would be full.


There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what

the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be

replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.  There is another

theory which states that this has already happened.

        -- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"


There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been

originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet

has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a

beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are

being, evolved.

        -- Darwin


There is no choice before us. Either we must Succeed in providing the

rational coordination of impulses and guts, or for centuries civilization

will sink into a mere welter of minor excitements. We must provide a

Great Age or see the collapse of the upward striving of the human race.

        -- Alfred North Whitehead


There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.

        -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923


There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it.

        -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"


There is no royal road to geometry.

        -- Euclid


There is, in fact, no reason to believe that any given natural phenomenon,

however marvelous it may seem today, will remain forever inexplicable.

Soon or late the laws governing the production of life itself will be

discovered in the laboratory, and man may set up business as a creator

on his own account.  The thing, indeed, is not only conceivable; it is

even highly probable.

        -- H. L. Mencken, 1930


    There was a mad scientist (a mad... social... scientist) who kidnapped

three colleagues, an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician, and locked

each of them in seperate cells with plenty of canned food and water but no

can opener.

    A month later, returning, the mad scientist went to the engineer's

cell and found it long empty.  The engineer had constructed a can opener from

pocket trash, used aluminum shavings and dried sugar to make an explosive,

and escaped.

    The physicist had worked out the angle necessary to knock the lids

off the tin cans by throwing them against the wall.  She was developing a good

pitching arm and a new quantum theory.

    The mathematician had stacked the unopened cans into a surprising

solution to the kissing problem; his dessicated corpse was propped calmly

against a wall, and this was inscribed on the floor:

    Theorem: If I can't open these cans, I'll die.

    Proof: assume the opposite...


There was a writer in 'Life' magazine ... who claimed that rabbits have

no memory, which is one of their defensive mechanisms.  If they recalled

every close shave they had in the course of just an hour life would become


        -- Kurt Vonnegut


There was an old Indian belief that by making love on the hide of

their favorite animal, one could guarantee the health and prosperity

of the offspring conceived thereupon.  And so it goes that one Indian

couple made love on a buffalo  hide.  Nine months later, they were

blessed with a healthy baby son.  Yet another couple huddled together

on the hide of a deer and they too were blessed with a very healthy

baby son.  But a third couple, whose favorite animal was a hippopotamus,

were blessed with not one, but TWO very healthy baby sons at the conclusion

of the nine month interval.  All of which proves the old theorem that:

The sons of the squaw of the hippopotamus are equal to the sons of

the squaws of the other two hides.


There's a whole WORLD in a mud puddle!

        -- Doug Clifford


There's no future in time travel.


There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking


        -- John von Neumann


They don't know how the world is shaped.  And so they give it a shape, and

try to make everything fit it.  They separate the right from the left, the

man from the woman, the plant from the animal, the sun from the moon. They

only want to count to two.

        -- Emma Bull, "Bone Dance"


Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.


This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough



This is not the age of pamphleteers. It is the age of the engineers.  The

spark-gap is mightier than the pen.  Democracy will not be salvaged by men

who talk fluently, debate forcefully and quote aptly.

        -- Lancelot Hogben, Science for the Citizen, 1938


This is the theory that Jack built.

This is the flaw that lay in the theory that Jack built.

This is the palpable verbal haze that hid the flaw that lay in...


This isn't true in practice -- what we've missed out is Stradivarius's

constant.  And then the aside: "For those of you who don't know, that's

been called by others the fiddle factor..."

        -- From a 1B Electrical Engineering lecture.


This place just isn't big enough for all of us.  We've got to find a way

off this planet.


This universe shipped by weight, not by volume.  Some expansion of the

contents may have occurred during shipment.


This was a Golden Age, a time of high adventure, rich living, and hard

dying... but nobody thought so.  This was a future of fortune and theft,

pillage and rapine, culture and vice... but nobody admitted it.

        -- Alfred Bester, "The Stars My Destination"


Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.


Those who can, do; those who can't, write.

Those who can't write work for the Bell Labs Record.


... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage

from beginning to end.

        -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"


Three great scientific theories of the structure of the universe are the

molecular, the corpuscular and the atomic.  A fourth affirms, with

Haeckel, the condensation or precipitation of matter from ether -- whose

existence is proved by the condensation or precipitation ... A fifth

theory is held by idiots, but it is doubtful if they know any more about

the matter than the others.

        -- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"


Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know

what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.

        -- Bertrand Russell


Time is an illusion perpetrated by the manufacturers of space.


Time is nature's way of making sure that everything doesn't happen at once.

Space is nature's way of making sure that everything doesn't happen to you.


TIRED of calculating components of vectors?  Displacements along direction of

force getting you down?  Well, now there's help.  Try amazing "Dot-Product",

the fast, easy way many professionals have used for years and is now available

to YOU through this special offer.  Three out of five engineering consultants

recommend "Dot-Product" for their clients who use vector products.  Mr.

Gumbinowitz, mechanical engineer, in a hidden-camera interview...

    "Dot-Product really works!  Calculating Z-axis force components has

    never been easier."

Yes, you too can take advantage of the amazing properties of Dot-Product.  Use

it to calculate forces, velocities, displacements, and virtually any vector

components.  How much would you pay for it?  But wait, it also calculates the

work done in Joules, Ergs, and, yes, even BTU's.  Divide Dot-Product by the

magnitude of the vectors and it becomes an instant angle calculator!  Now, how

much would you pay?  All this can be yours for the low, low price of $19.95!!

But that's not all!  If you order before midnight, you'll also get "Famous

Numbers of Famous People" as a bonus gift, absolutely free!  Yes, you'll get

Avogadro's number, Planck's, Euler's, Boltzmann's, and many, many, more!!

Call 1-800-DOT-6000.  Operators are standing by.  That number again...

1-800-DOT-6000.  Supplies are limited, so act now.  This offer is not

available through stores and is void where prohibited by law.


To converse at the distance of the Indes by means of sympathetic contrivances

may be as natural to future times as to us is a literary correspondence.

        -- Joseph Glanvill, 1661


To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.

        -- Thomas Edison


Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity?

And where does it go after it leaves the toaster?

        -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"


Top scientists agree that with the present rate of consumption, the earth's

supply of gravity will be exhausted before the 24th century. As man

struggles to discover cheaper alternatives, we need your help. Please...


Follow these simple suggestions:

(1)  Walk with a light step.  Carry helium balloons if possible.

(2)  Use tape, magnets, or glue instead of paperweights.

(3)  Give up skiing and skydiving for more horizontal sports like curling.

(4)  Avoid showers .. take baths instead.

(5)  Don't hang all your clothes in the closet ... Keep them in one big pile.

(6)  Stop flipping pancakes


Torque is cheap.


Two is not equal to three, even for large values of two.


Two men are in a hot-air balloon.  Soon, they find themselves lost in a

canyon somewhere.  One of the three men says, "I've got an idea.  We can

call for help in this canyon and the echo will carry our voices to the

end of the canyon.  Someone's bound to hear us by then!"

    So he leans over the basket and screams out, "Helllloooooo!  Where

are we?"  (They hear the echo several times).

    Fifteen minutes later, they hear this echoing voice: "Helllloooooo!

You're lost!"

    The shouter comments, "That must have been a mathematician."

    Puzzled, his friend asks, "Why do you say that?"

    "For three reasons.  First, he took a long time to answer, second,

he was absolutely correct, and, third, his answer was absolutely useless."


Two percent of zero is almost nothing.


Two wrights don't make a rong, they make an airplane.  Or bicycles.


UFOs are for real: the Air Force doesn't exist.


Understanding is always the understanding of a smaller problem

in relation to a bigger problem.

        -- P. D. Ouspensky


Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two,

opulence is when you have three -- and paradise is when you have none.

        -- Doug Larson


We are all agreed that your theory is crazy.  The question which divides us is

whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.  My own feeling

is that it is not crazy enough.

        -- Niels Bohr


We are each entitled to our own opinion, but no one is entitled to his

own facts.

        -- Patrick Moynihan


We are sorry.  We cannot complete your call as dialed.  Please check

the number and dial again or ask your operator for assistance.

This is a recording.


We can defeat gravity.  The problem is the paperwork involved.


We can predict everything, except the future.


We cannot command nature except by obeying her.

        -- Sir Francis Bacon


We dedicate this book to our fellow citizens who, for love of truth, take from

their own wants by taxes and gifts, and now and then send forth one of

themselves as dedicated servant, to forward the search into the mysteries and

marvelous simplicities of this strange and beautiful Universe, Our home.

        -- "Gravitation", Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler


"We don't care.  We don't have to.  We're the Phone Company."


We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.


We don't know who it was that discovered water, but we're pretty sure

that it wasn't a fish.

        -- Marshall McLuhan


We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids?

        -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission


We have a equal opportunity Calculus class -- it's fully integrated.


We laugh at the Indian philosopher, who to account for the support

of the earth, contrived the hypothesis of a huge elephant, and to support

the elephant, a huge tortoise.  If we will candidly confess the truth, we

know as little of the operation of the nerves, as he did of the manner in

which the earth is supported: and our hypothesis about animal spirits, or

about the tension and vibrations of the nerves, are as like to be true, as

his about the support of the earth.  His elephant was a hypothesis, and our

hypotheses are elephants.  Every theory in philosophy, which is built on

pure conjecture, is an elephant; and every theory that is supported partly

by fact, and partly by conjecture, is like Nebuchadnezzar's image, whose

feet were partly of iron, and partly of clay.

        -- Thomas Reid, "An Inquiry into the Human Mind", 1764


... we must be wary of granting too much power to natural selection

by viewing all basic capacities of our brain as direct adaptations.

I do not doubt that natural selection acted in building our oversized

brains -- and I am equally confident that our brains became large as

an adaptation for definite roles (probably a complex set of interacting

functions).  But these assumptions do not lead to the notion, often

uncritically embraced by strict Darwinians, that all major capacities

of the brain must arise as direct products of natural selection.

        -- S. J. Gould, "The Mismeasure of Man"


We must believe that it is the darkest before the dawn of a beautiful

new world.  We will see it when we believe it.

        -- Saul Alinsky


... we must counterpose the overwhelming judgment provided by consistent

observations and inferences by the thousands.  The earth is billions of

years old and its living creatures are linked by ties of evolutionary

descent.  Scientists stand accused of promoting dogma by so stating, but

do we brand people illiberal when they proclaim that the earth is neither

flat nor at the center of the universe?  Science *has* taught us some

things with confidence!  Evolution on an ancient earth is as well

established as our planet's shape and position.  Our continuing struggle

to understand how evolution happens (the "theory of evolution") does not

cast our documentation of its occurrence -- the "fact of evolution" --

into doubt.

        -- Stephen Jay Gould, "The Verdict on Creationism",

           The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. XII No. 2.


We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a

clever but highly unmotivated trick.

        -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"


We who revel in nature's diversity and feel instructed by every animal tend to

brand Homo sapiens as the greatest catastrophe since the Cretaceous extinction.

        -- S. J. Gould


We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical

problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.


We've sent a man to the moon, and that's 29,000 miles away.  The center

of the Earth is only 4,000 miles away.  You could drive that in a week,

but for some reason nobody's ever done it.

        -- Andy Rooney


Weinberg, as a young grocery clerk, advised the grocery manager to get

rid of rutabagas which nobody ever bought.  He did so. "Well, kid, that

was a great idea," said the manager. Then he paused and asked the killer

question, "NOW what's the least popular vegetable?"

Law: Once you eliminate your #1 problem, #2 gets a promotion.

        -- Gerald Weinberg, "The Secrets of Consulting"


Wernher von Braun settled for a V-2 when he coulda had a V-8.


"What I've done, of course, is total garbage."

        -- R. Willard, Pure Math 430a


What is algebra, exactly?  Is it one of those three-cornered things?

        -- J. M. Barrie


What is mind?  No matter.  What is matter?  Never mind.

        -- Thomas Hewitt Key, 1799-1875


What is now proved was once only imagin'd.

        -- William Blake


What is research but a blind date with knowledge?

        -- Will Harvey


What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out,

which is the exact opposite.

        -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928


What the deuce is it to me?  You say that we go around the sun.  If we went

around the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or my work.

        -- Sherlock Holmes, "A Study in Scarlet"


What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying.

        -- Nikita Khruschev


What the world *really* needs is a good Automatic Bicycle Sharpener.


When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute.

But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute -- and it's longer than any

hour.  That's relativity.

        -- Albert Einstein


When Alexander Graham Bell died in 1922, the telephone people interrupted

service for one minute in his honor.  They've been honoring him intermittently

ever since, I believe.

        -- The Grab Bag


When some people discover the truth, they just can't understand why

everybody isn't eager to hear it.


When speculation has done its worst, two plus two still equals four.

        -- S. Johnson


"When the going gets tough, the tough get empirical."

        -- Jon Carroll


When the Universe was not so out of whack as it is today, and all the

stars were lined up in their proper places, you could easily count them

from left to right, or top to bottom, and the larger and bluer ones were

set apart, and the smaller yellowing types pushed off to the corners as

bodies of a lower grade ...

        -- Stanislaw Lem, "Cyberiad"


When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the

plane will fly.

        -- Donald Douglas


When you are about to do an objective and scientific piece of investigation

of a topic, it is well to gave the answer firmly in hand, so that you can

proceed forthrightly, without being deflected or swayed, directly to the goal.

        -- Amrom Katz


When you know absolutely nothing about the topic, make your forecast by

asking a carefully selected probability sample of 300 others who don't

know the answer either.

        -- Edgar R. Fiedler


Where are the calculations that go with a calculated risk?



    Oh, dear, where can the matter be

    When it's converted to energy?

    There is a slight loss of parity.

    Johnny's so long at the fair.


Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to

examine the laws of heat.

        -- Christopher Morley


    While the engineer developed his thesis, the director leaned over to

his assistant and whispered, "Did you ever hear of why the sea is salt?"

    "Why the sea is salt?" whispered back the assistant.  "What do you


    The director continued: "When I was a little kid, I heard the story of

`Why the sea is salt' many times, but I never thought it important until just

a moment ago.  It's something like this: Formerly the sea was fresh water and

salt was rare and expensive.  A miller received from a wizard a wonderful

machine that just ground salt out of itself all day long.  At first the miller

thought himself the most fortunate man in the world, but soon all the villages

had salt to last them for centuries and still the machine kept on grinding

more salt.  The miller had to move out of his house, he had to move off his

acres.  At last he determined that he would sink the machine in the sea and

be rid of it.  But the mill ground so fast that boat and miller and machine

were sunk together, and down below, the mill still went on grinding and that's

why the sea is salt."

    "I don't get you," said the assistant.

        -- Guy Endore, "Men of Iron"


White dwarf seeks red giant for binary relationship.


Why do mathematicians insist on using words that already have another

meaning?  "It is the complex case that is easier to deal with."  "If it

doesn't happen at a corner, but at an edge, it nonetheless happens at a



Why don't you fix your little problem... and light this candle?

        -- Alan Shepherd, the first man into space, Gemini program


With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once

build a nuclear balm?


With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand

miles closer to globular cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules, and

still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no

such thing as progress.

        -- Ransom K. Ferm


Without life, Biology itself would be impossible.


Xerox does it again and again and again and ...


Xerox never comes up with anything original.


Ya'll hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some

rays and became a tangent ?


"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."


    "Yes, let's consider," said Bruno, putting his thumb into his

mouth again, and sitting down upon a dead mouse.

    "What do you keep that mouse for?" I said.  "You should either

bury it or else throw it into the brook."

    "Why, it's to measure with!" cried Bruno.  "How ever would you

do a garden without one?  We make each bed three mouses and a half

long, and two mouses wide."

    I stopped him as he was dragging it off by the tail to show me

how it was used...

        -- Lewis Carroll, "Sylvie and Bruno"


    "Yo, Mike!"

    "Yeah, Gabe?"

    "We got a problem down on Earth.  In Utah."

    "I thought you fixed that last century!"

    "No, no, not that.  Someone's found a security problem in the physics

program.  They're getting energy out of nowhere."

    "Blessit!  Lemme look...  <tappity clickity tappity>  Hey, it's

there all right!  OK, just a sec...  <tappity clickity tap... save... compile>

There, that ought to patch it.  Dist it out, wouldja?"

        -- Cold Fusion, 1989


You are a taxi driver.  Your cab is yellow and black, and has been in

use for only seven years.  One of its windshield wipers is broken, and

the carburetor needs adjusting.  The tank holds 20 gallons, but at the

moment is only three-quarters full.  How old is the taxi driver?"


You can not get anything worthwhile done without raising a sweat.

        -- The First Law Of Thermodynamics

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth.

        -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

You can not win the game, and you are not allowed to stop playing.

        -- The Third Law Of Thermodynamics


You can take all the impact that science considerations have on funding

decisions at NASA, put them in the navel of a flea, and have room left

over for a caraway seed and Tony Calio's heart.

        -- F. Allen


You can't cheat the phone company.


You cannot have a science without measurement.

        -- R. W. Hamming


You know you've landed gear-up when it takes full power to taxi.


You mean you didn't *know* she was off making lots of little phone companies?


You should never bet against anything in science at odds of more than

about 10^12 to 1.

        -- Ernest Rutherford


You should not use your fireplace, because scientists now believe that,

contrary to popular opinion, fireplaces actually remove heat from houses.

Really, that's what scientists believe.  In fact many scientists actually

use their fireplaces to cool their houses in the summer.  If you visit a

scientist's house on a sultry August day, you'll find a cheerful fire

roaring on the hearth and the scientist sitting nearby, remarking on how

cool he is and drinking heavily.

        -- Dave Barry, "Postpetroleum Guzzler"


You will never amount to much.

        -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10


It is the theory which decides what can be observed.

        -- Albert Einstein


God is subtle, but he is not malicious.

        -- Albert Einstein


Dopeler effect: the tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they

come at you rapidly.

        -- Greg Oetjen of Lorton, VA in the Washington Post

           "Style Invitational Report from Week 278" published

           August 2, 1998



Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.