The great science minds of history have provided inspirational quotes on their findings, philosophy, and understanding of the world around us. These quotes have inspired generations of young explorers, eager to learn more about the world and motivated toward betterment.
When you need a bit more motivation than normal we have all that you need. From Einstein to Newton to Galileo, the great minds of science touch on all you need to inspire you to achieve more.
To inspire is to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence. The scientists below have left an invaluable influence in the trajectory of my life and career. Some quotes I have read over and over throughout my adult life and each time they impart a fuller sense of meaning and understanding. These are the quotes worth exalting, these are the quotes worth remembering.
Inspirational Quotes From Inspirational Scientists
We are in many ways unimaginably small within this universe, yet uniquely special. We have the power to go to space, are self aware, and masters of our own destiny. Yet we are on a small planet circling a very average star, spiraling around a massive galaxy of hundreds of billions of stars. That galaxy, on top of that, is just one of billions of galaxies. Yet we are alive today, and that is a gift no one can undervalue.
Scientists are an interesting breed of people, they are creative, adventurers, critical, and pragmatic. This may not be the initial subset of people you would look to for inspiration. However, think for an instance of the motivation required to tackle the great intellectual challenges of our time. Scientists are driven by constant curiosity and inspired to find truth.
1. I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. — Isaac Newton
The Isaac Newton (1642 — 1727) quote above, from Memoirs of the Life, Writing, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1885) by Sir David Brewster speaks to the depth of what we have left to discover. This world is grand and there lies an ocean of undiscovered findings that are waiting for eager and curious minds.
2. Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. – Albert Einstein
This quote, first appearing in Ego, Hunger, and Aggression: a Revision of Freud’s Theory and Method by Frederick S. Perls. Einstein (1879 — 1955) is known to have clashed with popular thinking and the limited imagination of fellow scientists and the public.
3. Life cannot have had a random beginning … The trouble is that there are about 2000 enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10^40,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. – Fred Hoyle
Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 — 2001), an astronomer, was known for controversial stances on scientific matters and contribution to stellar nucleosynthesis. He often rejected the Big Bang Theory and instead favored a steady state university theory.
4. It is strange that only extraordinary men make the discoveries, which later appear so easy and simple. – Georg C. Lichtenberg
Georg Lichtenberg (1742 — 1799) was a German experimental physicist known for satire. Science is built upon previous knowledge, which is incredible that what is now common sense mathematics was once never before discovered or thought of.
5. There may be babblers, wholly ignorant of mathematics, who dare to condemn my hypothesis, upon the authority of some part of the Bible twisted to suit their purpose. I value them not, and scorn their unfounded judgment. — Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 — 1543) was a Polish renaissance mathematician and astronomer known for proposing that the Sun, in fact, is the center of the universe. Nicolaus’ inspirational quote is ripe with anger and condemnation. This reminds us that religion and science have always lived in parallel, sometimes symbiotically, sometimes not.
6. There is no law except the law that there is no law. – John Archibald Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler (1911 — 2008) was an American theoretical physicist largely credited for reviving dialogue in general relativity. Here, John Wheeler reminds us that in nature and human imagination, anything is possible.
7. We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within. – Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould (1941 — 2002) was an American paleontologist and an expert in evolutionary biology. Dr. Gould developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium, whereby long periods of stability are punctuated by rare occurrences of branching evolution.
8. Falsity in intellectual action is intellectual immorality. – Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin
Thomas Chamberlin’s inspirational quote above was given during the 1888 University of Michigan Annual Commencement. Thomas Chamberlin (1843 — 1928) was an influential geologist who founded the Journal of Geology.
9. The black holes of nature are the most perfect macroscopic objects there are in the universe: the only elements in their construction are our concepts of space and time. – Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
This quote from Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910 — 1995) appears in his book Mathematical Theory of Black Hole. Chandrasekhar was an Indian-American astrophysicist and awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983 for his mathematical theory on the structure and evolution of stars.
10. The saddest aspect of life right now is that gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. â€• Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov (1920 — 1992) was an American biochemist and author. Asimov was a prolific science fiction and popular science writer. Here Asimov speaks to the limitations of wisdom in our society and our valuation of information over understanding. Asimov’s quote is as timely today as it ever was.
11. Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. â€• Albert Einstein
Here, we have Einstein’s (1879 — 1955) iconic quote about the relationship between religion and science. Perfectly concise yet powerfully motivational. Much of science is not devoid of religion and the sense of purpose it imparts.
12. A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. â€• Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin (1809 — 1882) was a naturalist and geologist who pioneered the field of evolutionary biology. Want to accomplish as much as Darwin did in his lifetime, adhere to his advice and don’t waste one single hour of your time.
13. The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it. â€• Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s (1958 — present) quote from The Colbert Report distinguishes the difference between opinion and fact. Science, as a base, is always true, it is interpretation that imparts human error. Whether you believe in science or not is irrelevant.
14. Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. â€• Marie Curie
Marie Curie (1867 — 1934) was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in 1903 for her contributions to physics. She was again awarded the 1911 Nobel Prize for her contributions to chemistry. Although we may fear the unknown, it should not limit our desire to understand the unknown.
15. You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself. – Galileo
Galileo Galilei (1564 — 1642) was an Italian astronomer, mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. Galileo’s quote is one echoed for generations that one must learn something for themselves. Your mom may have told you the burner was hot as a kid but you eventually tested it for yourself.
16. Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein (1879 — 1955) appears again in his 1929 interview with The Saturday Evening Post. The full quote reads “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
17. Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion? — Oliver Heaviside
Oliver Heaviside (1850 — 1925) was an English mathematician and physicist working primarily in the electrical engineering field. The quote above is in reference to Heaviside using mathematical operators that were not yet clearly defined by the mathematics community.
18. If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants. â€• Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (1642 — 1727) wrote the quote above in his letter to rival Robert Hooke in 1676. Nothing is done in a vacuum, we must all stand on our forefathers to better ourselves and the world around us. Tackling the challenges of the world today will require that more than ever.
19. Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. – Edwin Powell Hubble
Edwin Hubble (1889 — 1953) was an American astronomer known for his significant contribution to astronomy including Hubble’s Law. Hubble is known and regarded as one of the most influential observational cosmologists within the 20th century. This inspirational quote delivers the sense of adventure that even scientist seeks, and adventure of the mind. Questions and curiosity become scientific pursuits of the mind.
20. One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away. â€• Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking (1942 — present) gave this piece of advice to his children during a June 2010 interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC News. In many ways this quote by one of my heroes has sculpted my life. I’ll always remember to look at the stars, continue to fill my life with valuable work, and love my wife. Stephen Hawking has ALS, which has gradually left Hawking paralyzed through decades. He is bound to a wheel chair and communicates using speech device relying on Hawking’s cheek muscle.
An Inspirational Book
If you’re not inspired out and you haven’t yet read The Power Of Positive Thinking, I highly recommend purchasing it or getting a copy from your local library. This self-help book by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was published in 2003 and profoundly impacted my life, goals, and outlook of my life. Although Peale does rely on religious-based practices, you do not have to be religious to employ the same strategy. Alter the strategy to fit who you are.
This book discusses channeling positive thought and action and not letting negativity and cynicism get in the way. If you find yourself overwhelmed by situations that are present every day, this book allows for positive thinking to defeat negative thoughts and help you aspire to the goals you set forth for yourself. No one owns your mood or thoughts beyond you, this book teaches you how to take control of how situations and people affect your mood. If you do not allow your outlook to be affected by others, you can focus on positive thought and your goals.
This book has brought many dedicated believers and has transformed many people’s lives. If you’re looking for inspiration and motivation, the first thing to do in my opinion is to quell doubt and cynicism. Let me know in the comments below if you have other books you enjoy that have impacted you. It helps to hear what other people found helpful and what the people use in their daily life.
An Inspirational TED Talk
Lastly, I’ll leave you with one of the best TED talks I have ever watched by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School. Cuddy’s TED talk has been viewed more than 32 million times and is the second most viewed TED talk of all time.
Cuddy has spent her life studying how people judge other people and influence each other. She researches stereotypes, discrimination, and much more. In her TED talk Cuddy reveals the power pose and how important postures demonstrating confidence actually affect our mood, testosterone, and cortisol levels in our brain. One’s mood can be altered and influenced not only by positive thinking, but also power poses and confident stances. This is a must watch for those looking for a bit more motivation!
That wraps up some of the most inspirational quotes from scientists around the world and from generations past and present. I hope this has offered some inspiration to you and sparked your imagination. It sure has sparked mine.
This article was written by Trevor Nace from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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