Quotes with mathematics
In the company of friends, writers can discuss their books, economists the state of the economy, lawyers their latest cases, and businessmen their latest acquisitions, but mathematicians cannot discuss their mathematics at all. And the more profound their work, the less understandable it is.
Even when I was studying mathematics, physics, and computer science, it always seemed that the problem of consciousness was about the most interesting problem out there for science to come to grips with.
Mathematics expresses values that reflect the cosmos, including orderliness, balance, harmony, logic, and abstract beauty.
In 1962, I commented that I am by no means sure that I could write 'Jupiter Five' today; it involved twenty or thirty pages of orbital calculations and should by rights be dedicated to Professor G. C. McVittie, my erstwhile tutor in applied mathematics. (I had better hasten to add that he bears no slightest resemblance to the professor in the story.)
Don't talk to me of your Archimedes' lever. He was an absent-minded person with a mathematical imagination. Mathematics command all my respect, but I have no use for engines. Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.
Some Reminiscences (1912)
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?
In my opinion the answer to this question is, briefly, this: – As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.
There is only one thing which is more unreasonable than the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics, and this is the unreasonable ineffectiveness of mathematics in biology.
The downside of this communal wisdom is that you don't have to kill bees to destroy a colony. Anything that affects bees’ memory, learning, senses, appetite, digestion, instincts, or life span can be enough to throw those feedback loops off course. Skew enough of them, and the beautiful mathematics of the hive break down.
Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis (2008)
Mathematics says the sum value of a network increases as the square of the number of members. In other words, as the number of nodes in a network increases arithmetically, the value of the network increases exponentially. Adding a few more members can dramatically increase the value of the network.
New Rules for the New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World (1999)
Don't wait for your opportunity. Make it,-- make it as the shepherd-boy Ferguson made his when he calculated the distances of the stars with a handful of glass beads on a string. Make it as George Stephenson made his when he mastered the rules of mathematics with a bit of chalk on the grimy sides of the coal wagons in the mines. Make it, as Napoleon made his in a hundred "impossible" situations. Make it, as all leaders of men, in war and in peace, have made their chances of success. Golden opportunities are nothing to laziness, but industry makes the commonest chances golden.
Pushing to the Front or, Success Under Difficulties (1894)
I like mathematics because it is not human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental universe -- because, like Spinoza's God, it won't love us in return.
Letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell (March, 1912)
The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences (1960)
Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundation either. It leaves everything as it is. It also leaves mathematics as it is, and no mathematical discovery can advance it. A "leading problem of mathematical logic" is for us a problem of mathematics like any other.