Peter Alfeld, --- Department of Mathematics, --- College of Science --- University of Utah

Favorite Quotes

Alphabetical by Author

  1. Friendship is nonlinear. Chris Alfeld
  2. DOS is a Beetle, much used, familiar, and clunky. Unix is an F-18 . Chris Alfeld
  3. Little brains ... have only room for thoughts of bread and butter. Roald Amundsen in "The South Pole".
  4. Question: How would you like me to cut your hair? Answer: Silently. Lost in antiquity.
  5. In mathematics the art of asking questions is more valuable than solving problems. Title of Georg Cantor's Ph.D. thesis (translated from Latin).
  6. I offer nothing but blood, sweat, toil, and tears. Winston Churchill, addressing the British people upon declaring war on Germany.
  7. Sir, if I was married to you I would poison your tea! (A forgotten enemy to Winston Churchill.) Madam, if I was married to you I would drink it! Winston Churchill's response.
  8. Democracy is the worst form of government, with the exception of all others. Winston Churchill.
  9. Becoming sufficiently familiar with something is a substitute for understanding it. John Conway , in a talk Knots and Numbers, Tangles and Bangles , May 15, 1996, University of Utah Frontiers of Science Lecture.
  10. 40 minutes of continuous country music an hour - it adds up to well over 1,000 minutes a day! Slogan of KKAT, a Salt Lake country music station, repeated several times a day (December 1998).
  11. Fortunately, creative minds forget dogmatic philosophical beliefs whenever adherence to them would impede constructive achievement. For scholars and layman alike it is not philosophy but active experience in mathematics itself that alone can answer the question: What is Mathematics? Courant and Robbins (in "What is Mathematics").
  12. A year ago we were standing at the edge of a precipice. Since then we have taken a large step forward. Effect of a too literal translation of a speech by Mao Ze Dong.
  13. Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you that mine are still greater. Albert Einstein
  14. I have little patience with scientists who pick a board of wood, find its thinnest part, and drill a great many holes where the drilling is easy. Albert Einstein
  15. Many writers have acquired the dexterity of spreading a few critical thoughts over several hundred pages. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1st edition, 1771, v.1,, in the article on "abridgment". p. 985.
  16. Life is too short, and so crowded with cares, that but little time is left for any single man to employ himself in unfolding the mysteries of nature. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1st edition, 1771, v.2, p. 985.
  17. Eventually you reach the point where you have to draw the line. Euclid's Last Theorem (Network Humor, source unknown).
  18. Classification of mathematical problems as linear and nonlinear is like classification of the Universe as bananas and non-bananas. (Network Humor, source unknown).
  19. I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. Richard Feynman
  20. I couldn't do it. I couldn't reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don't really understand it. Richard Feynman (on why spine one-half particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics).
  21. The paradox is only a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality ought to be. Richard Feynman
  22. If you treat individuals as they are they will remain as they are, but if you treat them as if they were what they ought to be and could be, they will become what they ought to be and could be. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
  23. The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers. R.W. Hamming.
  24. Botany is simple. I divide plants into two kinds: those that you can eat and those you cannot eat. Heinrich Heine.
  25. A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for. Grace Brewster Murray Hopper. (The use of the word "bug" is also due to Grace Hopper. She traced a computer problem to a dead bug in the hardware and taped that bug into her notebook.)
  26. University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. Henry Kissinger.
  27. Being able to recognize the negation of a statement involving a quantifier is one of the most important skills in logic. For instance, consider the statement "All dogs are brown." In order for this statement to be false, you do not have to show that all dogs are not brown, you must simply find at least one dog that is not brown. So, the negation of the statement is "Some dogs are brown." (page A45 of the third edition of Larson, Hostetler, and Heyd, Intermediate Algebra, Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001.
  28. I have climbed so many mountains/just to reach the other side. Patty Loveless. (The opening lines of the lead song of "When fallen Angles fly", the 1995 Country Music album of the year, a very beautiful album indeed.)
  29. I try to contemplate the cosmos. Patty Loveless (in the same album).
  30. The trouble with the truth / is it always begs for more. Patty Loveless in "The trouble with the truth", from the 1996 album by the same name.
  31. I think I may fairly make two postulata. First, That food is necessary to the existence of man. Secondly, That the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state. Thomas Malthus, in An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798.
  32. ... alas! alas! life is full of disappointments; as one reaches one ridge there is always another and a higher one beyond which blocks the view. Fridtjof Nansen (in "The First Crossing of Greenland")
  33. A vulgar Mechanick can practice what he has been taught or seen done, but if he is in an error he knows not how to find it out and correct it, and if you put him out of his road, he is at a stand; Whereas he that is able to reason nimbly and judiciously about figure, force and motion, is never at rest till he gets over every rub. Isaac Newton to Nathaniel Hawes, 25 May 1694, quoted in Westfall's biography .
  34. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is. Richard M. Nixon
  35. A wise man knows everything, a shrewd one, everybody. Peking Noodle Company
  36. Our intelligence is finite, so probably there must come a time at which we approach an inherent human intellectual limit and progress grinds to a halt. Is there such a limit? Is this it? University of Utah Physics Professor Richard Price as quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune of March 22, 1996. (He was talking in the context of quantum gravity.)
  37. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  38. Sacred cows make the best hamburger. Marine General Jack Sheehan, quoted in Newsweek of July 14, 1997, p. 35.
  39. In every game there must be losers and winners. Part of the art of playing a game well is to be a " good" loser or a gracious winner. Let the other fellow be the good loser. As for you, just accept your victory casually and naturally, as befits a player who has finished reading this entire book. Alfred Sheinwold in 5 Weeks to winning Bridge
  40. Logic is in the eye of the logician. Gloria Steinem.
  41. He loves mathematics, and he loves his students. An anonymous student in an evaluation of a course I taught.
  42. Because someone with a foreign accent told us so. An anonymous student, in response to the question Why do we multiply matrices this way?
  43. It's a cosmic law. Another anonymous student, in response to the question Why do we multiply matrices this way?
  44. There are three kinds of mathematicians, those who can count and those who can't. University of Utah Math Professor Don Tucker (holding up four fingers).
  45. It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. Mark Twain.
  46. Always do right- this will gratify some and astonish the rest. Mark Twain.
  47. The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. Mark Twain.
  48. She [the boat] shuddered as if she had hit a continent. Mark Twain (in Old Times on the Mississippi.) Now, that's vivid writing!

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