All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Just as the largest library, badly arranged, is not so useful as a very moderate one that is well arranged, so the greatest amount of knowledge, if not elaborated by our own thoughts, is worth much less than a far smaller volume that has been abundantly and repeatedly thought over.
Talent works for money and fame; the motive which moves genius to productivity is, on the other hand, less easy to determine. It isn’t money, for genius seldom gets any. It isn’t fame: fame is too uncertain and, more closely considered, of too little worth. Nor is it strictly for its own pleasure, for the great exertion involved almost outweighs the pleasure. It is rather an instinct of a unique sort by virtue of which the individual possessed of genius is impelled to express what he has seen and felt in enduring works without being conscious of any further motivation. It takes place, by and large, with the same sort of necessity as a tree brings forth fruit, and demands of the world no more than a soil on which the individual can flourish.
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.
Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.
Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.
Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.
Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.
In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.
We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes.
We build too many walls and not enough bridges.
It is the weight, not numbers of experiments that is to be regarded.
A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.
If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been due more to patient attention, than to any other talent.
If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.
Leonardo da Vinci
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Scientific discovery and scientific knowledge have been achieved only by those who have gone in pursuit of it without any practical purpose whatsoever in view.