Here I collect some quotations on General Relativity, and science in general, which are particularly dear to me.

### Max Born

The foundation of General Relativity appeared to me then, and it still does, the greatest feat of human thinking about nature, the most amazing combination of philosophical penetration, physical intuition, and mathematical skill. […]. It appealed to me like a great work of art.

*Max Born, Bern’s Colloquium, 1955. Available in: Max Born, Physics in My Generation, Springer-Verlag New York (1968)*

### Thomas Gold

Here we have a case that allowed one to suggest that the relativists with their sophisticated works were not only magnificent cultural ornaments but might actually be useful in science! Everyone is pleased: the relativists who feel they are being appreciated, who are suddenly experts in a field they hardly knew existed; the astrophysicists for having enlarged their domain by the annexation of another subject: general relativity. It is all very pleasing, so let us hope it is right!

*Thomas Gold, after-dinner speech at the 1st Symposium of Relativistic Astrophysics (Dallas TX, 1963). Available in Israel W, Dark stars: the evolution of an idea, Three Hundred Years of Gravitation, pp 199–276 (1987)*

### Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

In my entire scientific life, extending over forty-five years, the most shattering experience has been the realization that an exact solution of Einstein’s equations of general relativity, discovered by the New Zealand mathematician, Roy Kerr, provides the absolutely exact representation of untold numbers of massive black holes that populate the universe. This shuddering before the beautiful, this incredible fact that a discovery motivated by a search after the beautiful in mathematics should find its exact replica in Nature, persuades me to say that beauty is that to which the human mind responds at its deepest and most profound.

*S. Chandrasekhar, Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science, Chicago University Press (1987)*

### Isaac Newton

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, 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.

*Available in: David Brewster, Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855)*

### Donald Lynden-Bell

Our other excuse for leaving out high order correlations is that only a fool tries the harder problem when he does not understand the simplest special case.

*Lynden-Bell, D. & Wood, R., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 138, p.495 (1968)*

### Dire Straits

He got the action, he got the motion.

*Dire Straits, Walk of Life (1985). They understood Hamiltonian mechanics pretty well.*

### James Watt

I saw a workman and expected no more — but was surprised to find a philosopher […] Every thing became to him the beginning of a new and serious study — every thing became Science in his hands

*John Robinson (1739-1805) writing about his first meeting with James Watt*

### Carl Sagan

There are naive questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.

*Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.*

**John Archibald Wheeler**

Never make a calculation until you know the answer. Make an estimate before every calculation, try a simple physical argument (symmetry! invariance! conservation!) before every derivation, guess the answer to every paradox and puzzle. Courage: No one else needs to know what the guess is. Therefore make it quickly, by instinct. A right guess reinforces this instinct. A wrong guess brings the refreshment of surprise. In either case life as a spacetime expert, however long, is more fun!

*John Archibald Wheeler, in “Spacetime Physics*“* by Edwin F. Taylor*

**Bruce Springsteen**

And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car

*Bruce Springsteen, Growin’ up (1973). A cosmologist, uh?*

**Thomas Stearns Eliot**

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, unremembered gate

When the last of earth left to discover

Is that which was the beginning;

At the source of the longest river

The voice of the hidden waterfall

*T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding (1942).*

### Željko Ivezić *et al*.

It is often said that it takes a 2σ result to convince a theorist that his theory is correct, a 5σ result to convince an observer that an effect is real, and a 10σ result to convince a theorist that his theory is wrong.

*Željko Ivezić, Andrew J. Connolly, Jacob T. VanderPlas, and Alexander Gray Statistics,” Data Mining, and Machine Learning in Astronomy: A Practical Python Guide for the Analysis of Survey Data”, Princeton University press. *

**Ersilia Vaudo ***et al.*

*et al.*

Hidden in the perfection of the spherical shapes of the celestial bodies that shimmer and float in nothingness is the work of gravity, the first and greatest of designers. A craftsman whose hand tirelessly shapes the contents of the Universe to which we belong, determined in his quest for perfection.

*“Unknown Unknowns” exhibition, edited by Vaudo et al., Milan 2022. *

**Francis Galton**

I know of scarcely anything so apt to impress the imagination as the wonderful form of cosmic order expressed by the “Law of Frequency of Error”. The law would have been personified by the Greeks and deified, if they had known of it. It reigns with serenity and in complete self-effacement, amidst the wildest confusion. The huger the mob, and the greater the apparent anarchy, the more perfect is its sway. It is the supreme law of Unreason. Whenever a large sample of chaotic elements are taken in hand and marshaled in the order of their magnitude, an unsuspected and most beautiful form of regularity proves to have been latent all along.

*Sir Francis Galton, Natural Inheritance (1889). Now we call it central limit theorem.*