My favorite quotes (most are science related):

These quotes are primarily intended for prospective students to get a clearer handle on my philosophy and viewpoint (the first is my favorite and most relevant):

Politeness is the poison of all good collaboration in science.  The soul of collaboration is perfect candor, rudeness if need be.  Its prerequisite is parity of standing in science, for if one figure is too much senior to the other, that’s when the serpent politeness creeps in.  A good scientist values criticism almost higher than friendship: no, in science criticism is the height and measure of friendship.

–Francis Crick in a BBC interview

There are no applied sciences…there are only applications of science and this is a very different matter … The application of science is very easy to anyone who is the master of the theory of it.

–Louis Pasteur (1871) Revise Scientifique

All models are wrong, but some are useful

–George E.P. Box (1979)

Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.

–Henri Poincare (1905)

Philosophy is written in this great book of the Universe which is continually open before our eyes but we cannot read it without having first learnt the language and the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics and the characters are triangles, circles and other geometrical shapes without the means of which it is humanly impossible to decipher a single word; without which we are wandering in vain through a dark labyrinth.


Quirks of natural history will defeat any general theory.

–Chris Harley (sitting on the lawn at the 2000 ESA meeting)

Mathematics … was repugnant to me … [but] I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics; for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense.

–Charles Darwin (in his autobiography)

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.

–Mahatma Ghandi

Another from Ghandi that’s a bit more personal:

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.

–Mahatma Ghandi

And a final one with a past (thank goodness) political tone (in reference to the infamous year 2000, which precipitated a sorry state in the history of our country; ooops I wrote that before 2016; it would seem that history likes to repeat itself, give or take a month and 16 years).  In any case, in 1555, it has been said that Nostradamus wrote (apparently this is a hoax, but I still like it):

Come the millennium, month 12,
In the home of greatest power,
The village idiot will come forth
To be acclaimed the leader.