Gleanings from the Past #75

Coining New Words Carl Sagan Physicists had to invent words and phrases for concepts far removed from everyday experience. It was their fashion to avoid pure neologisms and instead to evoke, even if feebly, some analogous commonplace. The alternative was to name discoveries and equations after one another. This they did also. But if you […]

Read More

Quotable #75: Communication

“O! what a thing it is, in a time of danger, and in the presence of death, the shining of a face upon a face! I have heard it broached that orders should be given in great new ships by electric telegraph. I admire machinery as much as any man, and am as thankful to […]

Read More

Quotable #74: Collecting

“Is this not the collector’s exquisite pleasure, that his desire should know no bounds, should reach out into the infinite, should never know full possession which disappoints by its very completeness. O what joy to be able to postpone the fulfillment of desire to infinity!” — Georges Rodenbach, The Bells of Bruges, 1897 “Sometimes, looking […]

Read More

Quotable #73: Ideas and Force

“On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées” — Victor Hugo, Histoire d’un Crime, 1852 (It literally translates to, “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.” A more popular paraphrased version of this is, “One cannot resist an idea whose time has […]

Read More

Quotable #72: We Can’t Know Everything

“A person who thinks that he knows everything is not well informed.” — Chinese Proverb “As the island of knowledge grows, the surface that makes contact with mystery expands. When major theories are overturned, what we thought was certain knowledge gives way, and knowledge touches upon mystery differently. This newly uncovered mystery may be humbling […]

Read More

Quotable #71: Sleight of Hand

As lookers-on feel most delight, That least perceive the Juggler’s Slight, And still the less they understand, The more th’ admire his Slight of Hand. — Samuel Butler, Hudibras, 1684

Read More

Pun of the Weak: A Few Pebbles of Wisdom

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that.” — George Carlin, Doin’ It Again, 1990 “There are four dimensions to most things we buy these days: length, width, height, and debt.” — Anon., The Fifth Wheel, Vol. 33, January 1977 “There’s nothing wrong with being shallow as long […]

Read More

Quotable #70: Indifference

“Indifference to all the actions and passions of mankind was not supposed to be such a distinguished quality at that time, I think. I have known it very fashionable indeed. I have seen it displayed with such success that I have encountered some fine ladies and gentlemen who might as well have been born caterpillars.” […]

Read More

Quotable #69: Luggage

“Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?” — Erma Bombeck “I went to the airport. I had three pieces of luggage. I said that I want this piece to go to Cleveland, this piece to Toronto and this piece to Florida. The airline agent said, ‘We […]

Read More

Gleanings from the Past #68

Spectrum Newton was probably responsible for the concept that there are seven primary colours in the spectrum—he had a strong interest in musical harmonies and, since there are seven distinct notes in the musical scale, he divided up the spectrum into spectral bands with widths corresponding to the ratios of the small whole numbers found […]

Read More