Linus Pauling on the Role of Numbers in Science: A Request for Reference

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In summary, there is an anecdote about Linus Pauling giving a lecture where a student pointed out a numerical error. Pauling responded by saying "numbers are just placeholders for ideas." This quote is not among the commonly cited quotes from Pauling, but it can be found in a few anecdotal sources online.
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Trying2Learn
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Request for reference
Hello!

I am hoping someone can find me a reference for this anecdote.

I have a vague memory of reading this somewhere (about ten years ago) and would love to have a reference (I could have it all wrong).

But here goes...

Linus Pauling was giving a lecture when a student raised his hand to point out a numerical error Pauling had made.

Pauling responded by saying something like, "No matter... numbers are just placeholders for ideas."

Has anyone heard of this, before? And, if so, a reference to an exact quote?
 
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I have read a dozen of quotations from Pauling now, e.g.
If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away.
but the one with the placeholders was not among them.
 
  • #3
Trying2Learn said:
Summary:: Request for reference

Has anyone heard of this, before? And, if so, a reference to an exact quote?

Google searching the phrase and associating it with Pauling generates a couple hits, but they are pretty anecdotal...

https://statanalytica.com/blog/arithmetic-vs-mathematics/

The most evident distinction is that number-crunching is about numbers and science is about hypothesis. In school, I have a striking memory of Linus Pauling¹ conveying a visitor address and subsequent to scribbling hypothetical science all more than three chalkboards, an understudy lifted his hand and brought up that multiple times 8 had been duplicated wrong in one of the previous advances.

Pauling’s answer was, “Goodness, that… numbers are only placeholders for the idea.” And, he just waved away the way that the numerical end was clearly not precise. Presently, that was in the sixties before the abundant access to adding machines and PCs, so his point is considerably increasingly legitimate today.
There is a "1" that looks like a pointer to a reference about Pauling, but I'm not finding the reference at the bottom of that web page...
 

Related to Linus Pauling on the Role of Numbers in Science: A Request for Reference

1. What is the context of the Linus Pauling quote on math?

The quote, "The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas," was said by Linus Pauling, a renowned chemist and peace activist, in the context of scientific research and problem-solving.

2. What does the quote mean?

The quote suggests that having numerous ideas and perspectives is crucial for developing a good idea. In the field of math, this can mean considering different approaches and techniques to solve a problem.

3. How does this quote apply to math?

In math, having a variety of ideas and approaches is essential for solving complex problems and developing new theories. It encourages creative thinking and avoids limiting oneself to a single solution.

4. What is the significance of this quote in the scientific community?

This quote is often used to emphasize the importance of open-mindedness and critical thinking in scientific research. It also highlights the value of collaboration and sharing ideas with others.

5. How can this quote be applied in other fields besides math?

This quote can be applied in any field that requires problem-solving and innovation, such as engineering, technology, and business. It emphasizes the importance of considering multiple perspectives and ideas to come up with the best solution.

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