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Famous science/mathematical related quotes

  1. Apr 4, 2012 #1
    Hello all,

    I've been looking for a quote that I heard a while back that I want to use, i've searched as much as possible but i'm unable to find it!

    The quote is along the lines of 'to fully understand something one must be able to express it numerically', i was certain it was a quote from either Newton or Kelvin but have had no luck finding the exact quote.

    A link to, or the quote itself would be really appreciated.



    p.s. sorry if this is in the wrongs section, couldn't decide were to put it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2012 #2


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    Welcome to PF!

    Hello Nick! Welcome to PF! :smile:

    Are you thinking of Galileo's quote? …

    Science is written in this greatest book (I mean this whole universe) which stays open for us ceaselessly before our eyes: but no-one can understand it if he does not first learn to understand the language and the letters in which it is written.
    The book is written in the language of mathematics, whose letters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures, and he who does not understand these letters is helpless to truly understand a single word that he sees.​
    … GALILEO GALILEI, Saggiatore (Opere VI)​
  4. Apr 4, 2012 #3


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    Hey Tiny-tim

    Nice quote, havent seen that one before

    my fave saying, i dont know if it has a specific origin tho....

    Mathematics is the language of science

  5. Apr 5, 2012 #4
    Hi Tiny Tim, thanks for the reply. Although that is a great quote it wasn't the one I'm thinking of. I've trawled through google but can't find it, starting to wonder if I've just made it up.... but then again it was a really good quote so I doubt it!

    I'll keep on having a look and report back if I find it.

    Thanks for your help

  6. Apr 5, 2012 #5
    "With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk."
    - Attributed to von Neumann by Enrico Fermi, as quoted by Freeman Dyson in "A meeting with Enrico Fermi" in Nature 427 (22 January 2004) p. 297

    I use it to annoy my friend who is writing a model for neutron stars with 4 free parameters.
  7. Apr 5, 2012 #6


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    "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

    This quote is usually attributed to Einstein, but it's also attributed to a sign on the wall of Einstein's office. Sort of an appropriate twist to the story of this quote.

    Alas, the probability that this was the quote you had in mind may not be particularly high. :frown:
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
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