Director's Quotations Page

The three latest quotations:

and one of the arguments of this book is that economics has encouraged ways of thinking that made crises more probable. Economists have brought the problem upon themselves by pretending that they can forecast.

Mervyn King

The most fruitful areas for the growth of the sciences were those which had been neglected as a no-man's land between the various established fields.

Norbert Wiener

Ironically, the cracking of the genetic code, together with other developments, has ushered in a very different era in biology, that of big data. Computers now burst at the seams with DNA and protein sequences that derive from the whole genomes of thousands of species sequenced by automated machines. Many biologists use sophisticated statistics in an attempt to infer patterns from these data. Increasingly, biologists seem drawn to such inference, however indirect, and fewer seem captivated by the ideal of the decisive experiment. These indirect approaches have certainly yielded valuable insights and it would be absurd to doubt that they will continue to do so. Big data provide important new tools to biology and medicine. But the larger lesson of Life’s Greatest Secret is one that may be worth remembering. When scientists require definitive answers, not merely suggestive patterns, they require experiments that are decisive and, if all goes well, beautiful.

H. Allen Orr