Eric Temple Bell Quotes and Sayings  Page 1

“The pursuit of pretty formulas and neat theorems can no doubt quickly degenerate into a silly vice, but so can the quest for austere generalities which are so very general indeed that they are incapable of application to any particular.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Euclid taught me that without assumptions there is no proof. Therefore, in any argument, examine the assumptions.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Obvious is the most dangerous word in mathematics.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“The mistakes and unresolved difficulties of the past in mathematics have always been the opportunities of its future.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“The longer mathematics lives the more abstract  and therefore, possibly also the more practical  it becomes.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Poincaré [was] the last man to take practically all mathematics, pure and applied, as his province. ... Few mathematicians have had the breadth of philosophic vision that Poincaré had, and none in his superior in the gift of clear exposition.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“The only royal road to elementary geometry is ingenuity.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Poincaré was a vigorous opponent of the theory that all mathematics can be rewritten in terms of the most elementary notions of classical logic; something more than logic, he believed, makes mathematics what it is.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“If "Number rules the universe" as Pythagoras asserted, Number is merely our delegate to the throne, for we rule Number.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Nevertheless, the consuming hunger of the uncritical mind for what it imagines to be certainty or finality impels it to feast upon shadows in the prevailing famine of substance.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“If indeed, as Hilbert asserted, mathematics is a meaningless game played with meaningless marks on paper, the only mathematical experience to which we can refer is the making of marks on paper.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Science makes no pretension to eternal truth or absolute truth.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“In his wretched life of less than twentyseven years Abel accomplished so much of the highest order that one of the leading mathematicians of the Nineteenth Century could say without exaggeration, "Abel has left mathematicians enough to keep them busy for five hundred years." Asked how he had done all this in the six or seven years of his working life, Abel replied, "By studying the masters, not the pupils."”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Time makes fools of us all. Our only comfort is that greater shall come after us.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“[As a young teenager] Galois read [Legendre's] geometry from cover to cover as easily as other boys read a pirate yarn.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Even stranger things have happened; and perhaps the strangest of all is the marvel that mathematics should be possible to a race akin to the apes.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“I have always hated machinery, and the only machine I ever understood was a wheelbarrow, and that but imperfectly.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Abstractness, sometimes hurled as a reproach at mathematics, is its chief glory and its surest title to practical usefulness. It is also the source of such beauty as may spring from mathematics.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Guided only by their feeling for symmetry, simplicity, and generality, and an indefinable sense of the fitness of things, creative mathematicians now, as in the past, are inspired by the art of mathematics rather than by any prospect of ultimate usefulness.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“It is the perennial youthfulness of mathematics itself which marks it off with a disconcerting immortality from the other sciences.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“If a lunatic scribbles a jumble of mathematical symbols it does not follow that the writing means anything merely because to the inexpert eye it is indistinguishable from higher mathematics.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Wherever groups disclosed themselves, or could be introduced, simplicity crystallized out of comparative chaos.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Fashion as King is sometimes a very stupid ruler.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“The full impact of the Lobachevskian method of challenging axioms has probably yet to be felt. It is no exaggeration to call Lobachevsky the Copernicus of Geometry [as did Clifford], for geometry is only a part of the vaster domain which he renovated; it might even be just to designate him as a Copernicus of all thought.”
 Eric Temple Bell 
“Any impatient student of mathematics or science or engineering who is irked by having algebraic symbolism thrust upon him should try to get along without it for a week.”
 Eric Temple Bell