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In Memoriam

Image credits:  1. Aristide Maillol, Head of a Woman   2. Aldo Calo, Sculpture   3. Arnaldo Pomodoro,
The Book of Signs   4. Auguste Rodin, The Thinker   5. Francois Morellet, Sphere   (click to enlarge)



Science and technology, and the various forms of art, all unite humanity in a single and interconnected system. As science progresses, the worldwide cooperation of scientists and technologists becomes more and more of a special and distinct intellectual community of friendship, in which, in place of antagonism, there is growing up a mutually advantageous sharing of work, a coordination of efforts, a common language for the exchange of information, and a solidarity, which are in many cases independent of the social and political differences of individual states.

Zhores Aleksandrovich Medvedev
The Medvedev Papers, 1970

Why does this magnificient applied science which saves work and makes life easier bring us so little happiness? The simple answer runs: Because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it.

Albert Einstein
in a speech at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, 1931



It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.

Niels Bohr
in The Cosmic Code by Heinz R. Pagels (1982)

We live in a scientific age, yet we assume that knowledge of science is the prerogative of only a small number of human beings, isolated and priestlike in their laboratories. This is not true. The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is a part of the reality of living; it is the way, the how and the why for everything in our experience.

Rachel Carson
in a speech, 1952

Remember, then, that it [science] is the guide of action; that the truth which it arrives at is not that which we can ideally contemplate without error, but that which we may act upon without fear; and you cannot fail to see that scientific thought is not an accompaniment or condition of human progress, but human progress itself.

William Klingdon Clifford,
Aims and Instruments of Scientific Thought (1872)

The first man of science was he who looked into a thing, not to learn whether it furnished him with food, or shelter, or weapons, or tools, or armaments, or playwiths but who sought to know it for the gratification of knowing.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
in A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan L. Mackay (1991)

Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art.

Will Durant,
The Story of Philosophy (1926)

Science is not to be regarded merely as a storehouse of facts to be used for material purposes, but as one of the great human endeavors to be ranked with arts and religion as the guide and expression of man's fearless quest for truth.

Sir Richard Arman Gregory
in A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan. L Mackay (1991)

Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves; it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning.

Werner Heisenberg
Physics and Philosophy (1959)

Science is the topography of ignorance.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Medical Essays (1883)

"The scientific method," Thomas Henry Huxley once wrote, "is nothing but the normal working of the human mind." That is to say, when the mind is working; that is to say further, when it is engaged in correcting its mistakes. Taking this point of view, we may conclude that science is not physics, biology, or chemistry––is not even a "subject"––but a moral imperative drawn from a larger perspective whose purpose is to give perspective, balance and humility to learning.

Neil Postman
The End of Education (1995)

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. Its goal is to find out how the world works, to seek what regularities there may be, to penetrate to the connections of things––from sub-atomic particles, which may be the constituents of all matter, to living organisms, the human social community and thence to the cosmos as a whole.

Carls Sagan
Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979)

Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated.

George Santayana
The Life of Reason (1905-06)

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

Adam Smith
The Wealth of Nations (1776)

The aims of scientific thought are to see the general in the particular and the eternal in the transitory.

Alfred North Whitehead
in A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan L. Mackay (1991)



We are compounded of dust and the light of a star. The creative element in the mind of man . . . emerges in as mysterious a fashion as those elementary particles which leap into momentary existence in great cyclotrons, only to vanish again like infinitesimal ghosts.

Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)
Anthropologist, Educator, Writer

This universe of which we human beings are particles may be defined as a living, dynamic process of unfolding. It is a breathing universe, its respiration being only one of the many rhythms of its life.

It is evolution itself. Although what we observe may seem to be a community of separate, independent units, in actuality these units are made up of subunits, each with a life of its own, and the subunits constitute smaller living entities. At no level in the hierarchy of nature is independence a reality. For that which lives and constitutes matter, whether organic or inorganic, is dependent on discrete entities that, gathered together, form aggregates of new units which interact in support of one another and become an unfolding event, in constant motion, with ever-increasing complexity and intricacy of their organization.

The unity of nature, the unity of knowledge, and the unity of humanity are but three aspects of a single reality. Each aspect helps to justify the others.

Ruth Nanda Anshen
Philospher, Educator, Writer, Founder of the World Series –
Perspectives in Humanism: The Future of Tradition

Man has reached his present state through the process of evolution. The last great step in evolution was the mutational process that doubled the size of the brain, about one million years ago; this lead to the origin of man. It is this change in the brain that permits the inheritance of acquired characteristics of a certain sort-the inheritance of knowledge, of learning, through communication from one human being to another. . . . Man's great power of thinking, remembering, and communicating are responsible for the evolution of civilization.

Linus Pauling (1901-1994)
Scientist, Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1954,
Nobel Peace Prize 1962

We live in a scientific age, yet we assume that knowledge of science is the prerogative of only a small number of human beings, isolated and priestlike in their laboratories. This is not true. The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the way, the how and the why for everything in our experience.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
Biologist, Writer

True science and true religion are twin-sisters, and the separation of either from the other is sure to prove the death of both. Science prospers exactly in proportion as it is religious; and religion flourishes in exact proportion to the scientific depth and firmness of its bases. Evolution excludes creation and all other kinds of supernatural intervention. "Learn what is true in order to do what is right" is the whole summing up of the whole duty of man.

T(homas) H(enry) Huxley (1825-1895)
Biologist, Educator,Writer

There are three ideas which seem to me to stand out above all others in the influence they have exerted and are destined to exert upon the development of the human race. . . . The first of these and the most important of the three, was the gift of religion to the race; the other two sprang from the womb of science. They are the following: 1. The idea of the Golden Rule; 2. The idea of natural law; 3. The idea of age-long growth, or evolution.

Robert Millikan (1868-1953)
Physicist, Nobel Prize 1923

The biologist . . . knows that life as a whole is a ceaseless change, that the accomplishments even of natural evolution far surpasses any other type of progress that he could have imagined possible, and that there is no sign of a physical limit yet.

Hermann Joseph Muller (1890-1967)
Scientist, Nobel Prize 1946



My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.

Albert Einstein
quoted in his obituary in The New York Times, April 19, 1955

Religion is a way of life and attitude to the universe. It brings man into closer touch with the inner nature of reality. Statements of fact made in its name are untrue in detail, but often contain some truth at their core. Science is also a way of life and an attitude to the universe. It is concerned with everything but the nature of reality. Statements of fact made in its name are generally right in detail, but can only reveal the form and not the real nature of existence. The wise man regulates his conduct by the theories of both religion and science. But he regards these theories not as statements of fact, but as art forms.

J.B.S. Haldane
"Science and Theology as Art Forms,"
Possible Worlds and Other Papers (1927)

People have always wanted answers to the big questions. Where did we come from? How did the world begin? What is the meaning and design behind it all? The creation accounts of the past seem less credible. They have been replaced by a variety of superstitions, ranging from New Age to Star Trek. But real science can be far stranger than science fiction and much more satisfying.

Stephen W. Hawking
The Sunday Telegraph, July 26, 1998

Fundamental science is a universal good that all people must be able to cultivate in complete freedom from every form of international servitude or intellectual colonialism. Basic research must be free with regard to political economic powers, which must cooperate in its development without impeding its creativity or subjugating it to their own ends. Like any other truth, scientific truth must render account only to itself and to the supreme truth that is God, creator of man and all things.

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)
in Science, March 1980.

The next great task of science is to create a religion for mankind.

John Morley
in A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan L. Mackay (1991)

To be happy in this world, especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely as an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life flowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future.

Bertrand Russel
The Conquest of Happiness (1930)


(Please note: The different segments of Great Thoughts are being compiled over time. If you know of additional science or knowledge related Great Thoughts from different locations of the world that would be appropriate for this page, please send a message to:

A message from the Rt. Hon. Lester B. Pearson and the Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien.

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