My favourite quotation :-

 

“Can it be that all the great scientists of the past were really playing a game, a game in which the rules are written not by man but by God? … When we play, we do not ask why we are playing—we just play.  Play serves no moral code except that strange code which, for some unknown reason, imposes itself on the play. … You will search in vain through scientific literature for hints of motivation.  And as for the strange moral code observed by scientists, what could be stranger than an abstract regard for truth in a world which is full of concealment, deception and taboos?  … In submitting to your consideration the idea that the human mind is at its best when playing, I am myself playing, and that makes me feel that what I am saying may have in it an element of truth.”    J. L. Synge

 

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Some other interesting quotations (in no particular order) :-

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“The average annual income of leading research mathematicians (those, say, with at least three articles in the Annals of Mathematics) is about 10,000,000 USD.” – J. S. Milne

 

“I looked him straight in the eyes and said “I have a B. Sc”.” – Gil Kalai

 

 “One of such “obvious” things I learnt from Dima Kazhdan … Kurosh subgroup freedom theorem follows from the fact that the covering of a graph is again a graph … Until that moment the group theory was to me a slippery formalism impossible to hold steady in my hand … I am certain there are lots of “omitted in view of their triviality” remarks nobody ever said to me, something basic and simple I have never understood. … you can not learn everything from the books.  Only rare authors … have the clarity of mind as well as the courage to pinpoint something essential that is obvious to the initiated and with no way to guess by an outsider.” – Misha Gromov  

 

“No apriori invariants here!  I was so disappointed, that in a pique I threw my entire singularities notebook overboard into the North Sea.” – Dennis Sullivan

 

“We live in a mathematical world which is more and more monocultural.  We proclaim principles to say which mathematics is important and which isn’t.  I try to defend diversity.  I believe it is crucial to let schools blossom.  This is very important for the health of Mathematics.” – Alain Connes

 

“Perhaps the most celebrated rediscovery of Poincaré’s theories is Einstein’s principle of relativity.  Poincaré had published 10 years earlier, in 1895, a paper “on measurement of time” in a philosophical journal.  There he had clearly explained that the Galilean or Newtonian notions of absolute space and absolute time have no empirical definitions, simultaneity being explicitly dependent on the way the clocks are synchronised.  According to Poincaré, the only scientific way to avoid this theoretical inconvenience is to postulate the complete independence of the true laws of nature from the arbitrariness of the coordinate systems used to describe experiments.  In his paper Poincaré avoided the mathematical formulae (well known to him), in order not to intimidate the philosophers with no mathematical background.  Minkowski, being a teacher of Einstein, and a friend of Poincaré, had early suggested to Einstein that he should study Poincaré’s theory, and Einstein did (though never referring to this until a 1945 article).  The mathematical part of the “special theory of relativity” was also published by Poincaré earlier than Einstein (including the famous formula E = mc2).  However, Poincaré never claimed any priority, meeting Einstein at Solvay conferences and being extremely friendly to him and willing to help him.” – V. I. Arnol’d  

 

“There is hardly anything in common between the proofs of Smale and Perelman of the Poincaré conjecture.  Why the statements look so similar?  Is it the same “Poincaré conjecture” they have proved?  Probably, the answer is “no” which raises another question: what is the high dimensional counterpart of the Hamilton-Perelman 3D-structure?” – Misha Gromov

 

“The mathematics that one teaches or applies (the mathematics in books) is all beautifully and satisfactorily arranged; a love for such mathematics does not make a research mathematician.  He must live with disorganized facts imbedded in a sea of mud.  He must expend much fruitless effort, and be content with slow progress.” – Norman Steenrod

 

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Our other side:-

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“Same with the name, Operation Geronimo.  The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders.  It’s like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk … It’s as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes Jew and Gypsy.”  Noam Chomsky

“… the ratio of native survivorship in the Americas following European contact was less than half of what the human survivorship ratio would be in the United States today if every single white person and every single black person died. The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world. … far from the heroic and romantic heraldry that customarily is used to symbolize the European settlement of the Americas, the emblem most congruent with reality would be a pyramid of skulls.” – David Stannard  

 “Let me say only this much to the moral issue involved: Suppose Germany had developed two bombs before we had any bombs. And suppose Germany had dropped one bomb, say, on Rochester and the other on Buffalo, and then having run out of bombs she would have lost the war. Can anyone doubt that we would then have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and that we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them?” – Leo Szilard

 

“You know, I keep saying this, the most successful secession movement in India is the secession of the middle and upper classes to outer space. They have their own universe, their own andolan, their own Jessica Lal, their own media, their own controversies, and they’re disconnected from everything else. For them, what I write comes like an outrage. Ki yaar yeh kyaa bol rahi hai? [What the hell is she saying?] They don’t realize that they are the ones who have painted themselves into a corner.” – Arundhati Roy

 

“The new Indian P.M. had adopted and executed a barbaric policy of justice through reprisals, and is guilty of 10,000 murders which were committed in Delhi alone (the nationwide figure is around 20,000) from November 1, 1984 to November 5, 1984.” – A Singh

 

“What happened after the ghastly Godhra carnage on February 27 [2002] …is nothing short of genocide as defined by the United Nations … The extent of planning and preparation and therefore state complicity cannot be over-emphasised.  The Chief Minister Narendra Modi is himself culpable of sanctioning mass murder …” – Teesta Setalvad

 

 

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