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Quotes of the day: Freeman Dyson
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Published Tuesday, December 15, 2015 @ 12:00 AM EST
Dec 15 2015

Freeman John Dyson FRS (b. December 15, 1923) is an English-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician, known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson is a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.

Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century.

Collective responsibility brings a lowering of moral standards.

Committees do harm merely by existing.

I like people who are working on practical things and who are working in teams. It's not so important to get the glory. It's much more important to get something that works. It's a better way to live.

I see a bright future for the biotechnology industry when it follows the path of the computer industry, the path that von Neumann failed to foresee, becoming small and domesticated rather than big and centralized.

If we had a reliable way to label our toys good and bad, it would be easy to regulate technology wisely. But we can rarely see far enough ahead to know which road leads to damnation. Whoever concerns himself with big technology, either to push it forward or to stop it, is gambling in human lives.

If you don't have a nasty obituary you probably didn't matter.

In trial and error, the error is the true essential.

It is better to be wrong than to be vague.

It is characteristic of all deep human problems that they are not to be approached without some humor and some bewilderment.

It is our task, both in science and in society at large, to prove the conventional wisdom wrong and to make our unpredictable dreams come true.

It's better to get mugged than to live a life of fear.

Lucky individuals in each generation find technology appropriate to their needs.

Successful technologies often begin as hobbies. Jacques Cousteau invented scuba diving because he enjoyed exploring caves. The Wright brothers invented flying as a relief from the monotony of their normal business of selling and repairing bicycles.

Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life it is perhaps the greatest of God's gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of sciences.

The glory of science is to imagine more than we can prove.

The military establishment is (...) an organization which seems to have been expressly designed to make it possible for people to do things together which nobody in his right mind would do alone.

The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.

The PhD system is the real root of the evil of academic snobbery. People who have PhDs consider themselves a priesthood, and inventors generally don't have PhDs.

The public knows that human beings are fallible. Only people blinded by ideology fall into the trap of believing in their own infallibility.

The purpose of thinking about the future is not to predict it but to raise people's hopes.

The question that will decide our destiny is not whether we shall expand into space. It is: shall we be one species or a million? A million species will not exhaust the ecological niches that are awaiting the arrival of intelligence.

The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple.

There is a great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use.

We do not need to have an agreed set of goals before we do something ambitious!

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(December 15 is also the birthday of J. Paul Getty.)


Categories: Freeman Dyson, Quotes of the day


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