|MAIN||Cheap Thoughts||Cheap Thoughts Index||Cheap Thoughts on Science||Really Cheap Thoughts Index|
Explaining the unknown by means of the unobservable is always a perilous
Why grass is green,
or why our blood is red
Are mysteries which
none have reach'd unto.
John Donne, "Of the Progress of the Soul. The Second Anniversary"
There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, A Diary of a Writer (1876)
If we want to solve a problem that we have never solved before, we must leave
the door to the unknown ajar.
Richard Feynman, "The Value of Science" (speech at NAS meeting, 1955)
reprinted in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short
Works of Richard P. Feynman (Jeffrey Robbins, ed., 1999)
Scientist to colleague: "I'm not afraid of the unknown. The stuff we
already know is what scares me!"
Bob Goddard, St. Louis Globe-Democrat
If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to
be sought out, and difficult.
It is the duty of human understanding to understand that there are things
which it cannot understand, and what those things are. Human understanding has
vulgarly occupied itself with nothing but understanding, but if it would only
take the trouble to understand itself at the same time it would simply have to
posit the paradox.
Soren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Soren Kierkegaard: A Selection
(edited and translated by Alexander Dru, 1854)
"The unexpected is what makes life possible."
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there
it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops.
H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)
In making one discovery we never fail to get an incomplete knowledge of
others of which we previously had no idea, so that we cannot solve one problem
without finding new ones.
Joseph Priestly, Experiments and Observations (1774)
There is nothing hidden between Heaven and Earth.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. Try to love the
Rainer Maria Rilke, letter, 1903
For myself, I like a universe that includes much that is unknown and, at the
same time, much that is knowable. A universe in which everything is known would
be static and dull, as boring as the heaven of some weak-minded theologians. A
universe that is unknowable is no fit place for a thinking being. The ideal
universe for us is one very much like the universe we inhabit. And I would guess
that this is not really much of a coincidence.
Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979)
"Can We Know The Universe? Reflections On A Grain Of Salt"
It is the characteristic of a weak and diseased mind to fear the unfamiliar.
Seneca, Moral Epistles
There's no such thing as the unknown, only things temporarily hidden,
temporarily not understood.
James T. Kirk, "The Corbomite Maneuver"
STAR TREK: The Original Series
Instruments only register those things they are designed to register. Space
still contains infinite unknowns.
Spock, "The Naked Time"
STAR TREK: The Original Series
"A mystery is only a mystery as long as it remains uninvestigated,
"I love a mystery, Data, but this one will have to wait ..."
Data and Picard, "Lonely Among Us"
STAR TREK: The Next Generation
It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery
of the world is the visible, not the invisible.
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
The four points of the compass are logic, knowledge, wisdom, and the unknown.
Some do bow in that final direction. Others advance upon it. To bow before the
one is to lose sight of the three. I may submit to the unknown, but never to the
Roger Zelazny, Lord of Light