A certain competitiveness is intrinsic to research, but institutional
structures that encourage competitiveness should be viewed with caution.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity,
and I'm not sure about the former.
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time
to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
A theorem's formulation for provability is not necessarily
the same as its formulation for applicability.
Most [people] discover that they have often be working in the
without realizing that it could be so designated.
The worst thing you can do is to completely solve a problem.
The following "Zen Maxims for survival in a modern university" are stolen
from Phil Pollett:
- Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
- It may be that your
sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
- Before you criticize someone, you should
walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
- Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
- If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again,
it was probably worth it.
- If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
(I have thought about it independently too and practice it!
Alas, many people
around me don't. Therefore, they have to spend a lot of
time remembering why they have told that someone said to someone
else that the other person didn't say what had to be said. This, actually,
serves one purpose: it is a good exercise for politicians (interpreted
- Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it;
not having it, to confess your ignorance.
(Kong Fuzi = Confucius)
The law of large numbers works: if, in interacting with someone for a number
of years you have obtained nothing of interest from them then chances
are that this person has done nothing interesting.
When asking a question, you must have a basis of understanding. Thus, you
may not go to a seminar on general relativity and ask a question of the
form "is relativity related to quantum mechanics" without having some
knowledge basis for both.
(Paraphrasing Richard Feynman)
When aspiring to become an olympic athlete, you need to have evaluated your
capacities beforehand or do so at some stage. Likewise, if you're a student
of mathematics or science; know thyself.
You're not buying your right to be an athlete or a scientist.
Political correctness can be as deleterious as religious fundamentalism.
Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud,
adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs;
he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail,
thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.
There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear
bright until they speak.
Support bacteria - they're the only culture some people have.
The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate
filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think
for themselves, and who don't know how to be submissive,
and so on - because they're dysfunctional to the institutions.