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"Everything you can imagine is real."— Pablo Picasso

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Nov
2nd
Sat
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My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold and anything else is just a waste of time.
Cormac McCarthy, an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, interviewed by John Jurgensen in Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009.
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Genius is often only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it — so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success.

As the tide goes clear out, so it comes clear in. In business sometimes prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.
Elbert Hubbard, was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher (1856-1915), as quoted from Electrical Review (c. 1895), this was later published as part of various works by Hubbard, including FRA Magazine : A Journal of Affirmation (1915)
Aug
28th
Wed
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I can only meditate when I am walking,’ wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the fourth book of his Confessions, ‘when I stop I cease to think; my mind only works with my legs.’ Søren Kierkegaard speculated that the mind might function optimally at the pedestrian pace of three miles per hour, and in a journal entry describes going out for a wander and finding himself ‘so overwhelmed with ideas’ that he ‘could scarcely walk’. Christopher Morley wrote of Wordsworth as ‘employ[ing] his legs as an instrument of philosophy’ and Wordsworth of his own ‘feeling intellect’. Nietzsche was typically absolute on the subject — ‘Only those thoughts which come from walking have any value’ — and Wallace Stevens typically tentative: ‘Perhaps / The Truth depends on a walk around a lake.
Robert Macfarlane, British travel writer, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, Hamish Hamilton, 2012 (via invisiblestories)
Apr
10th
Tue
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" "Whenever I tackled the impossible or the miraculous, I remembered the magician Rene Lavand, who had only one arm. Poet and extraordinary card manipulator, he baffled fellow illusionists by concluding his brilliant demonstrations with, “What I just showed you can also be done with two hands!” “
Philippe Petit, French high-wire artist who gained fame for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, New York, on 7 August 1974, Man on Wire, Skyhorse Publishing, 2002, p. 236.
Mar
8th
Thu
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Who or what inspires you?"

— “I must admit that I often read my own articles in scientific journals and inspire myself.
Eoin Colfer, Irish writer, The Artemis Fowl Files, Hyperion Books For Children, 2004.
Jan
9th
Mon
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Nature may reach the same result in many ways. Like a wave in the physical world, in the infinite ocean of the medium which pervades all, so in the world of organisms, in life, an impulse started proceeds onward, at times, may be, with the speed of light, at times, again, so slowly that for ages and ages it seems to stay, passing through processes of a complexity inconceivable to men, but in all its forms, in all its stages, its energy ever and ever integrally present.

A single ray of light from a distant star falling upon the eye of a tyrant in bygone times may have altered the course of his life, may have changed the destiny of nations, may have transformed the surface of the globe, so intricate, so inconceivably complex are the processes in Nature. In no way can we get such an overwhelming idea of the grandeur of Nature than when we consider, that in accordance with the law of the conservation of energy, throughout the Infinite, the forces are in a perfect balance, and hence the energy of a single thought may determine the motion of a universe.
Nikola Tesla, Serbian-American inventor, mechanical and electrical engineer. He was an important contributor to the birth of commercial electricity (1856-1943), The inventions, researches and writings of Nikola Tesla, Barnes & Noble, 1992, p. 298.
Dec
27th
Tue
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Coral reefs are sometimes called “the cities of the sea”, and part of the argument is that we need to take the metaphor seriously: the reef ecosystem is so innovative because it shares some defining characteristics with actual cities. These patterns of innovation and creativity are fractal: they reappear in recognizable form as you zoom in and out, from molecule to neuron to pixel to sidewalk. Whether you’re looking at original innovations of carbon-based life, or the explosion of news tools on the web, the same shapes keep turning up. (…)

When life gets creative, it has a tendency to gravitate toward certain recurring patterns, whether those patterns are self-organizing, or whether they are deliberately crafted by human agents.
— Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, cited in ‘To understand is to perceive patterns’ - B. Fuller, Powell, Johnson, West, Kurzweil & video narration by J. Silva
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“What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

— Sir Isaac Newton in a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676

Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.”

Bernard of Chartres, a twelfth-century French Neo-Platonist philosopher, paraphrased by John of Salisbury in the 12th century. (Illustration and inspiration: TYWKIWDBI (“Tai-Wiki-Widbee”).
Dec
18th
Sun
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“It’s not true that you should first think up an idea for a better world and only then “put it into practice,” but, rather, through the fact of your existence in the world, you create the idea or manifest it — create it, as it were, from the “material of the world,” articulate it in the “language of the world.
Václav Havel, Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician. Former President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic, (1936-2011), Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala (English translation by Paul Wilson), 1990, Ch. 1 : Growing Up “Outside”, p. 12. (Photo)
Nov
19th
Sat
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No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.
James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century (1882-1941) in a letter to his brother, cited in Peter Hartshorn, James Joyce and Trieste, Greenwood Press, 1997, p.43.
Nov
17th
Thu
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He would conclude that nothing was real except chance.
Paul Auster, American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning, City of Glass, Penguin, 1987
Nov
11th
Fri
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How did Einstein’s musical practice inform his scientific work


“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” — Albert Einstein

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge. (…) All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration. (…) At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.”
— Albert Einstein cited in Paul Schilpp, 1979, Albert Einstein: Autobiographical Notes

The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception."
— A. Einstein stated to Shinichi Suzuki, musical historian and instructor cited in Shinichi Suzuki, 1969. “Nurtured by Love. A New Approach to Education”, p.90.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
A. Einstein cited in Alice Calaprice, 2000, The Expanded Quotable Einstein” p. 10, 22, 287.

“Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties.”
Hans Einstein, Einstein’s son cited in Ronald W. Clark, 1971. “Einstein. The Life and Times”, p106.

“After playing piano, he would get up saying ‘There, now I’ve got it’, something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.”
Einstein’s sister Maja, cited in Jamie Sayen, 1985. ”Einstein in America”, p26.

Einstein recognized an unexplainable connection between music and his science, and notes that Einstein’s mentor, Ernst Mach had indicated that music and the aural experience were the organ to describe space.”
— Einstein’s close friend Alexander Mozskowski cited in Robert Mueller, 1967 unknown work, p171.

Inspired by Quora question: How did Einstein’s musical practice inform his scientific work?

See also:

☞ Brian Foster, Einstein and his love of music (pdf), physicsweb, Jan, 2005
☞ Arthur I. Miller, A Genius Finds Inspiration in the Music of Another, NYT, Jan 31, 2006.
Sep
29th
Thu
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The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
Edwin Schlossberg, American designer, author and artist, cited in Tim O’Reilly, Birth of the global mind, Financial Times, Sept 23, 2011
Jul
25th
Mon
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Malleability of Vague Information as a Performance Booster

"As William James pointed out, vagueness is not without virtues. Sometimes, precision is dangerous, a closed door keeping us from imagining new possibilities. Vagueness is that door flung wide open, a reminder that we don’t yet know the answer, that we might still get better, that we have yet to fail.”

Jonah Lehrer, In Praise Of Vagueness, Wired, July 21, 2011

“Is the eternal quest for precise information always worthwhile? Our research suggests that, at times, vagueness has its merits. Not knowing precisely how they are progressing lets people generate positive expectancies that allow them to perform better. The fuzzy boundaries afforded by vague information allow people to distort that information in a favorable manner. This latitude positively influences behavior by affecting outcome expectancies.

Conversely, the very nature of precise information prevents people from distorting it and forces them to be objective about their expectancies, which in turn may have a less positive influence on performance. (…)

The malleability of vague information allows people to interpret it in the manner they desire, so that they can generate positive response expectancies and, thereby, perform better. (…) Hence, on certain occasions, precise information is not as helpful as vague information in boosting performance.” “
— H. Mishra, A. Mishra, B. Shiv, In Praise of Vagueness: Malleability of Vague Information as a Performance Booster (pdf), Department of Marketing, University of Utah, and Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, aps, Psychological Science, XX(X) 1-6, 2011
Jul
15th
Fri
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One evening, contrary to my custom, I drank black coffee and could not sleep. Ideas rose in crowds; I felt them collide until pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination. By the next morning I had established the existence of a class of Fuchsian functions, those which came from the hypergeometric series; I had only to write out the results, which took but a few hours.
Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science (1854-1912), The Foundations of Science, 1908