Matthew C. Berntsen

Words of Wisdom and Foolery:

Quotation, n. - The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Comments by Professors, Friends, Etc.
Computers Philosophy Intelligence, Etc.
Science Religion Humor/Other
Time Reality, Etc. Me Blabbing

Many thanks to Mark Colgan for many of the raw quotations.

Professors, Friends, Etc.

We are all teachers. We are all students. We are all dumbasses.
Richard Fleming, Philosophy Dept., Bucknell University. January 31, 2005

You don't look a bear or a New Yorker in the eye.
Bitsy, December 28, 2004

Be quiet while I'm screwing... up the class.
L. Felipe Perrone, Computer Science Dept., Bucknell University. October 30, 2004

In Portuguese we have a saying: When one donkey speaks, all the others lower their ears - It doesn't make any sense in English!
L. Felipe Perrone, Computer Science Dept., Bucknell University. October 13, 2004

I think the only thing you should eat while drunk is toast. And a little burnt at that. I hear it helps with the hangover the next day.
L. Felipe Perrone, Computer Science Dept., Bucknell University. April 21, 2004

What's the difference between and Engineer and an Arts Major?
The BS!
Chad Parker. March 05, 2004

One of the things that I'm most happy about with my life right now is that I don't have to study physics.
L. Felipe Perrone, Computer Science Dept., Bucknell University. February 2, 2004

Whats a PIPO queue?
Erica Mroz. December 11, 2003

That just messes up the compiler optimizator.
L. Felipe Perrone, Computer Science Dept., Bucknell University. November 3, 2003

All the stuff we do in this class is fake.
J. Bowen, Physics Dept., Bucknell University. October 29, 2004

I'm getting the sense that you guys learned something. I didn't expect that.
L. Felipe Perrone, Computer Science Dept., Bucknell University. October 2, 2003

So you want to calculate an upper bound? Sure, fine, but first double the doubt!!
Mike Frey, Mathematics Dept., Bucknell University. October, 2003.



The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.
~ E. W. Dijkstra

Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn't have to experience it.
~ Max Frisch

Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1 1/2 tons.
~ Popular Mechanics, March 1949

I think there's a world market for maybe five computers.
~ Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM (1943)

There is no reason why anyone would want to have a computer in their home.
~ Ken Olsen, President of Digital Equipment Corporation (1977)

640 K [of RAM] ought be enough for anybody.
~ Bill Gates (1981)

Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature.
~ Rich Kulawiec

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.
~ Rich Cook

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
~ Pablo Picasso

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.
~ Wernher von Braun



Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty - some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain.
~Richard Feynman

Science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths.
~ Karl Popper

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it) but "That's funny..."
~ Isaac Asimov

Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.
~ Henri Poincaré, Science and Hypothesis

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it.
~ Albert Einstein

The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.
~ Steven Weinberg

One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid.
~ James D. Watson, The Double Helix

We have a habit in writing articles published in scientific journals to make the work as finished as possible, to cover up all the tracks, to not worry about the blind alleys or describe how you had the wrong idea first, and so on. So there isn't any place to publish, in a dignified manner, what you actually did in order to get to do the work.
~ Richard Feynman, Nobel Lecture

Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.
~ Max Planck

Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science.
~ Edwin P Hubble

No point is more central than this, that empty space is not empty. It is the seat of the most violent physics.
~ John A. Wheeler

For every difficult question, there is an answer that is clear and simple and wrong.
~ George Bernard Shaw



When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity.
~ Albert Einstein

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.
~ Hector Berlioz

Time goes, you say? Ah no! Alas, Time stays, we go.
~ Henry Austin Dobson, The Paradox of Time

I've been on a calendar, but never on time.
~ Marilyn Monroe

Time travel, by its very nature, was invented in all periods of history simultaneously.
~ Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy



Cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).
~ René Descartes, Discours de la Méthode

Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum (I think that I think, therefore I think that I am).
~ Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary



Is man one of God's blunders? Or is God one of man's blunders?
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means.
~ George Bernard Shaw

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.
~ Seneca the Younger

The Bible is a wonderful source of inspiration for those who don't understand it.
~ George Santayana

What is the nature of God? His nature is entirely dependent upon the age or culture that has reinvented him.
~ Solomon Skink


Reality, Etc.

When you have eliminated the impossible, what ever remains, however improbable must be the truth.
~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

Reality: what a concept.
~ Robin Williams

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
~ Albert Einstein

1500 years ago, everybody 'knew' that the earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody 'knew' that the earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you 'knew' that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll 'know' tomorrow.
~ Men in Black.

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is truer.
~ Frederic Raphael

I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there.
~ Richard Feynman

The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.
~ Albert Einstein

But I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn't frighten me.
~ Richard Feynman, Interviewed on PBS

There are many questions which fools can ask that wise men cannot answer.
~ George Poly

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
~ Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Space ... is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.
~ Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
~ Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving, revolving at 900 miles an hour. It's orbiting at 90 miles a second, so it's reckoned, the Sun which is the source of all our power. The Sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see, are moving at a million miles a day, in the outer spiral arm at 40 thousand miles an hour of a Galaxy we call the Milky Way. The Galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars, it's a hundred thousand light years side to side. It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light years thick but out by us it's just three thousand light years wide. It's thirty-thousand light years from Galactic Central Point, We go round every two hundred million years. And our galaxy is only one of millions and billions in this amazing and expanding Universe... ...The Universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding in all of the directions it can whiz. As fast as it can go, the speed of light you know, twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is. So remember when you're feeling very small and insecure how amazingly unlikely is your birth, and pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space, 'cause there's bugger-all down here on earth.
~ Monty Python, The Meaning of Life

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
~Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.
~ Carl Sagan



Humour is just another defence against the universe.
~ Mel Brooks

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
~ Johann Sebastian Bach

If you want to drive a cryptographer crazy, send her a page of random text.
~ Mark Shirey

Living on Earth may be expensive, but it includes an annual free trip around the Sun.
~ Anonymous

I remember once going to see him [Srinivasa Ramanujan] when he was lying ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. "No," he replied, "it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.
~ Godfrey Hardy, Ramanujan

God gave us a penis and a brain, but not enough blood to use both at the same time.
~ Robin Williams


Intelligence, Etc.

Research is to teaching as Sin is to confession. If you haven't done much of the former you won't have much to say in the latter.
~ Source Unknown

Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.
~ Elbert Hubbard

I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.
~ Richard Feynman

When you steal from one author, it's plagarism. When you steal from many, it's research.
~ Wilson Mizner

Only two things are certain: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not certain about the universe.
~ Albert Einstein

Personally, I don't think there's intelligent life on other planets. Why should other planets be any different from this one.
~ Bob Monkhouse

If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.
~ Albert Einsten

The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.
~ Albert Einstein


Me Blabbing

And now for some of my own foolery:
I'll expand on these, or delete them as I see fit from time to time, as, afterall, I am human and thus my views are relative and tend to change over time.

"Life in black and white is boring. Such a life is the logical end to the rational way of thought; systematized to the point that it denies spontaneity beyond that which is predicted. Life, rather, manifests itself as a continuous stinging together of moments of gray."

"It occurred to me today that if God is all-knowing, people cannot be held responsible for what they do. If God knows everything, then He knows the future. If God can know the future, then it is set. If there future is set, then there is predestination. If there is predestination, then people are not truly making choices. If people are not making choices, then they are not accountable for their actions. If people cannot be held accountable for their actions, then law, society, and God's vindictiveness are unfounded. If that, then what?"
This is a pleasant reminder that religion tends to follow the mythological path and is not intended to be logical. Remind me to watch out for zebra crossings.


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