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Eric Temple Bell Quotes
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The so-called obvious was repeatedly scrutinized from every angle and was frequently found to be not obvious but false. "Obvious" is the most dangerous word in mathematics.
Eric Temple Bell
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Out of fifty mathematical papers presented in brief at such a meeting, it is a rare mathematician indeed who really understands what more than half a dozen are about.
Eric Temple Bell
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Fashion as king is sometimes a very stupid ruler. As was observed a little way back, the kernel of Plücker's theory of geometric dimensionality is that the dimensionality of a given space is not an absolute constant, but depends upon the elements, accepted as irreducible, in terms of which the space is described.
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The mistakes and unresolved difficulties of the past in mathematics have always been the opportunities of its future; and should analysis ever appear to be without or blemish, its perfection might only be that of death.
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Some, of my unmathematical friends have incautiously urged me to include a note about the origin of modern calculating machines. This is the proper place to do so, as the Queen of queens has enslaved a few of these infernal things to do some of her more repulsive drudgery. What I shall say about these marvelous aids to the feeble human intelligence will be little indeed, for two reasons: I have always hated machinery, and the only machine I ever understood was a wheelbarrow, and that but imperfectly.
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It is the perennial youthfulness of mathematics itself which marks it off with a disconcerting immortality from the other sciences.
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Science makes no pretension to eternal truth or absolute truth; some of its rivals do. That science is in some respects inhuman may be the secret of its success in alleviating human misery and mitigating human stupidity.
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Simplicity may have merits, but credibility is not necessarily one of them.
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This would appear to put at least part of the Theory of Demonstration in a category with the efforts of beginners in Geometry: To prove that A equals B: let A equal B; therefore A equals B.
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The tensor calculus that cost Einstein an effort to master is now a regular part of an undergraduate course in the better technical schools. The subject has been so thoroughly emulsified that even an eighteen-year-old can swallow it without regurgitating. But this does not prove that wither his brain or his stomach is stronger than Einstein's was.
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The statistical method is social mathematics par excellence.
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For my own part I have swallowed mathematics enough in my life to be immune to just one more dose, and I shall continue to get smallpox vaccinations whenever I contemplate a vacation in any of the filthier parts of the North American continent.
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Mathematics has a light and wisdom of its own, above any possible applications to science, and it will richly reward any intelligent human being to catch a glimpse of what mathematics means to itself. This is not the old doctrine of art for art's sake; it is art for humanity's sake.
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If indeed, as Hilbert asserted, mathematics is a meaningless game played with meaningless marks on paper, the only mathematical experience to which we can refer is the making of marks on paper.
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All measurements in science are statistical in character.
Eric Temple Bell
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An expert logician will not necessarily be a passable mathematician for all his skill in logic, any more than a scholarly prosodist will be a respectable poet for all his mastery of meter.
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The straight line of the geometers does not exist in the material universe. It is a pure abstraction, an invention of the imagination or, if one prefers, an idea of the Eternal Mind.
Eric Temple Bell
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Mathematics by itself has seldom got very far in the exploration of nature, as is attested by the numerous attempts of pure mathematicians of the past and present to resolve the universe with pencil and paper.
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Pick the assumptions to pieces till the stuff they are made of is exposed to plain view - this is the cardinal rule for understanding the basis of our beliefs.
Eric Temple Bell
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Wisdom was not born with us, nor will it perish when we descend into the shadows with a regretful backward glance that other eyes than ours are already lit by the dawn of a new and truer mathematics.
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The only royal road to elementary geometry is ingenuity.
Eric Temple Bell
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Before proceeding I must apologize for slaying the already slain and elaborating the obvious.
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We shall leave to the antiquarians the difficult and delicate task of restoring the roses to the cheeks of mathematical mummies.
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The root of these troubles seems to be the unimaginative lack of a clearly recognized objective. — If the aim is merely to create new theories which many find intensely interesting and even beautiful, then the abstract method keeps on reaching its goal.
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If mathematics is indeed the science of self-evident things, mathematicians are a phenomenally stupid lot to waste the tons of good paper they do in proving the fact.
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Quote of the day
That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material.
Swami Vivekananda
Eric Temple Bell
Creative Commons
Born:
February 7, 1883
Died:
December 21, 1960
(aged 77)
Bio:
Eric Temple Bell was a Scottish-born mathematician and science fiction writer who lived in the United States for most of his life. He published non-fiction using his given name and fiction as John Taine.
Known for:
Men of Mathematics (1937)
The magic of numbers (1946)
The last problem
Mathematics, queen and servant of science (1951)
The development of mathematics (1940)
Most used words:
mathematics
science
obvious
mathematicians
abel
human
truth
years
assumptions
Eric Temple Bell on Wikipedia
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