Mathematics - Quotes from Science Fiction
21.02.2012, 21:47
Mathematics - Quotes from Science Fiction

A lot of quotations carefully collected from a very big amount of books and divided by categories.
Have fun reading it, this is really interesting and breathtaking!


The function of man's highest faculty, his reason, consists precisely of the continuous limitation of infinity, the breaking up of infinity into convenient, easily digestible portions - differentials. This is precisely what lends my field, mathematics, its divine beauty.
- Yevgeny Zamiatin, We (1924), translated by Mirra Ginsburg (1972)

Neither mathematics nor death ever makes a mistake.
- Yevgeny Zamiatin, We (1924), translated by Mirra Ginsburg (1972)

Figures are sharp things, Jones. Don't juggle them, you'll get cut.
- Robert A. Heinlein, Starman Jones (1953)

He was well on the way to inventing differential calculus when his mother called him down to breakfast.
- Poul Anderson, BrainWave (1954)

''If you had high hopes, how would you know how high they were? And did you know that narrow escapes come in all different widths? Would you travel the whole wide world without ever knowing how wide it was? And how could you do anything at long last,'' he concluded, waving his arms over his head, ''without knowing how long the last was? Why, numbers are the most beautiful and valuable things in the world.''
- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)

If everything, everything were known, statistical estimates would be unnecessary. The science of probability gives mathematical expression to our ignorance, not to our wisdom.
- Samuel R. Delany, ''Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones'' (1969)

Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.
- Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love (1973)

If a book were written all in numbers, it would be true. It would be just. Nothing said in words ever came out quite even. Things in words got twisted and ran together, instead of staying straight and fitting together. But underneath the words, at the center, like the center of the Square, it all came out even. Everything could change, yet nothing would be lost. If you saw the numbers you could see that, the balance, the pattern. You saw the foundations of the world. And they were solid.
- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)

There were vast areas of the Midwest intricately geometrized with squares, rectangles, and circles by those with agricultural or urban predilections; and, as here, vast areas of the Southwest in which the only sign of intelligent life was an occasional straight line heading between mountains and across deserts. Are the worlds of more advanced civilizations totally geometrized, entirely rebuilt by their inhabitants? Or would the signature of a really advanced civilization be that they left no sign at all?
- Carl Sagan, Contact (1985)

Magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.
- Terry Pratchett, Mort (1987)

If we envision the entire System of Mathematics as a great Engine for proving theorems, then we must say, through the agency of the Modus, that such an Engine lives, and could indeed prove its own life, should it develop the capacity to look upon itself.
- William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, The Difference Engine (1991)
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