- Inchworm, Inchworm,
Measuring the Marigolds,
You and your arithmetic,
Will certainly go far.
Measuring the Marigolds,
Seems to me you'd stop and see,
How beautiful they are.
—Frank Loesser, "The Inch Worm", from the musical Hans Christian AndersonI see miracles all around me,
Stop and look around, it's all astounding,
Water, fire, air and dirt,
Fucking magnets, how do they work?
And I don't wanna talk to a scientist,
Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed!
—Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, "Miracles", from the album Bang! Pow! Boom!''Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine -
Unweave a rainbow ...
—John KeatsThe wonderful, inconceivably intricate tapestry is being taken apart strand by strand; each thread is being pulled out, torn up, and analyzed...
— Erwin ChargaffIt is said that science will dehumanise people and turn them into numbers. This is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.
Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.'
I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died at Auschwitz, to stand here by the pond as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.
—Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent Of Man (youtube video)The same thrill, the same awe and mystery, come again and again when we look at any problem deeply enough. With more knowledge comes deeper, more wonderful mystery, luring one on to penetrate deeper still. Never concerned that the answer may prove disappointing, but with pleasure and confidence we turn over each new stone to find unimagined strangeness leading on to more wonderful questions and mysteries—certainly a grand adventure!
—Richard Feynman (from The Value of Science)I have a friend who's an artist, and he sometimes takes a view which I don't agree with. He'll hold up a flower and say, "Look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. But then he'll say, "I, as an artist, can see how beautiful a flower is. But you, as a scientist, take it all apart and it becomes dull." I think he's kind of nutty. [...] There are all kinds of interesting questions that come from a knowledge of science, which only adds to the excitement and mystery and awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.
—Richard Feynman (complete quote and video recording)Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere". I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part... What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?
—Richard FeynmanIf the wonder's gone when the truth is known, there never was any wonder to begin with.
—Dr. HouseIt is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.
—Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot…after so many years immersed in the science of graphics, he [John Carmack] had achieved an almost Zen-like understanding of his craft. In the shower, he would see a few bars of light on the wall and think, Hey, that’s a diffuse specular reflection from the overhead lights reflected off the faucet. Rather than detaching him from the natural world, this viewpoint only made him appreciate it more deeply. ‘These are things I find enchanting and miraculous,’ he said, ‘I don’t have to be at the Grand Canyon to appreciate the way the world works. I can see that in reflections of light in my bathroom.’Nothing is more offensive to the modern mind than mystery
—Flannery O'ConnorThe word "mundane" has come to mean "boring and dull", and it really shouldn't; it should mean the opposite, because it comes from the Latin "mundus" meaning "the world", and the world is anything but dull. The world is wonderful. There's real poetry in the real world, science is the poetry of reality
—Richard Dawkins, The Enemies of ReasonPerson #1: The problem with you scientists is that you take the wonder and beauty out of everything by trying to analyze it.
Person #2: DUDE!
Person #2: My plasmoidal slime molds [...]. Amazing, huh?
Person #1: It looks like dog barf.
Person #2: Hah, yeah! F. Septica is nicknamed "Dog Vomit Slime Mold". Cool, huh?
Person #1: Okay, nevermind: what's wrong with scientists is that you do see wonder and beauty in everything.
Person #1: Oh God, it's moving!
Person #2: It wants to hug you! SO cute!
— Beauty, XKCD''
The power of the universe
Into a single equation
It's a beautiful piece of science
It's a beautifully elegant theory
On a sand-beach long ago.
He bounded and enclosed it
With angles thus and so.
His set of solemn greybeards
Nodded and argued much
Of arc and of circumference,
Diameter and such.
A silent child stood by them
From morning until noon
Because they drew such charming
Round pictures of the moon.
He calculated all the height and width and density
For insurance purposes
— Grandaddy, "The Group Who Couldn't Say"