A quote I am pondering

Natural selection is a mechanism for generating an exceedingly high degree of improbability.

R.A. Fisher

Many theories of the ancient world seem terribly childish today, a hodge-podge of fables and false comparisons.But our theories will seem childish five-hundred years from now.Every theory is based on some analogy, and sooner or later the theory fails because the analogy turns out to be false. A theory in its day helps to solve the problems of the day.

Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man

Mathematics is amazingly compressible: you may struggle a long time, step by step, to work through the same process or idea from several approaches. But once you really understand it and have the mental perspective to see it as a whole, there is often a tremendous mental compression. You can file it away, recall it quickly and completely when you need it, and use it as just one step in some other mental process. The insight that goes with this compression is one of the real joys of mathematics.

William Thurston

To me success means effectiveness in the world, that I am able to carry my ideas and values into the world – that I am able to change it in positive ways.

Maxine Hong Kingston

Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray


Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own


The echo is, to some extent, an original sound, and therein is the magic and charm of it. It is not merely a repetition of what was worth repeating in the bell, but partly the voice of the wood; the same trivial words and notes sung by a wood-nymph.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Light griefs are loquacious, but the great are dumb.


What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.

-Herbert A Simon, Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World

Conflict may be painful, but the painless solution does not exist in any case and the pursuit of it leads to the painful outcome of mindlessness and pointlessness; the apotheosis of the ostrich.

– Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian


There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.

—Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea


Could it be … that questions are more important than answers? … Could it be that questions are the remedy for solitude? After all, we have learned from history that people are united by questions. It is the answers that divide them.

Elie Wiesel