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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Transitional Year 2008-2009!

It's so odd to end a year in the middle of the week... feels somewhat evolutionary to have one year merge seamlessly into another.

I doubt the air will smell any different between 23:59:59 tonight and 0:00:00 the next morning.

But come to think of it, human new years are just social constructs anyway.

Planet Earth doesn't care which point of its orbit is marked as the beginning and end - it simply continues on its orbital cycle.

Plants and animals may be more sensitive to the seasons, but they don't usually care about the exact day that a year turns.

Like last year, I wish that I can throw a nice party to give something back to regular Fresh Brainz readers, but for now I can only offer a gift of words - a compilation of all the Weekly Obscure Quotes from the past 2+ years!

I hope that you will find them provocative, curious or just plain amusing.



1. "The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned." - Fred Brooks

2. “A man of books is to be pitied truly. I mean a man of nothing but books. He finds in his library beautiful theories of life and codes of morality and goodness, and as he goes out into the world he is sadly disappointed to find nothing of them there.” - Henry Hill

3. “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” - Henry Thoreau

4. “Silly is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do until you can get silly again.”- Mike Myers

5. “Someone once said that because something hasn't been published yet, it can't be worthwhile doing. That is the complete antithesis of what I believe.” - Andrew Montgomery Thomson

6. “You know, I get the feeling intelligent life is inferior to microbial life. You can find microbes almost anywhere--hundreds of feet below ground, in thermal vents, Apollo space capsules--and here we are, huddled together in a few temperate zones drifting on glorified islands, looking up at the stars with parasite ridden eyes and wondering why nobody else bothered with our way of life.” – Baratos

7. “So... what do you actually do in the lab? Transfer liquids from one tube into another tube?” - Anonymous admin staff

8. “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” – James D. Nicoll

9. “But in the end, will a Nature paper keep you warm at night? Will you end up looking back at your life and wishing you had told that person you loved them or spent more time with your kids? I wonder: if I want a rich personal life, am I destined to be mediocre?”- Mhairi Dupré

10. “Whenever I see food advertised as ‘all natural’ or ‘100% organic’ (more glittering generalities), I think to myself that feces are also ‘all natural’ and I sure don’t want to eat them.” – Ronald B. Standler

11. “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” - Muriel Rukeyser

12. “Faith is a fine invention, For gentlemen who see; But microscopes are prudent, In an emergency.” – Emily Dickinson

13. “Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the muses.” – Amy Tan

14. “You guess at everything. You guess the script will be good, that the actors you chose will be right. You guess that you’ll have enough money to finish the picture, and after every scene you guess that this is the scene that will work. It’s a hell of a way to spend millions of dollars.” – Irvin Kershner

15. “In the end, I hope there's a little note somewhere that says I designed a good computer.” - Steve Wozniak

16. “I don’t strive to be a world-class newspaper columnist. I only write in the tiny hope of being read, and potentially snorted at or argued with.” – Tan Shzr Ee

17. “If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

18. “Scientific theories of human nature may be discomforting or unsatisfying, but they are not illegitimate. And serious attempts to frame them will reflect the origins of the human mind in biological and cultural evolution, without reference to a divine creation.” – Nature (editorial 14 June 2007)

19. “Basically if you can explain one thing and its opposite using the same data you don't have an explanation.” - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

20. “We were certainly never given dominion over micro-organisms and will never get that... because they rule.” - Christopher Hitchens

21. “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” – Philip K. Dick

22. “You can't have everything. Where would you put it?” – Steven Wright

23. “It would be pretty funny if they started charging people with ‘misuse of organs.’ If I breathe in and out to the tune of Jingle Bells is that a misuse of my lungs? Perhaps Thio Li-Ann could supply us with a list of acceptable uses for all the organs of the body. And surely kissing is a misuse of the mouth. If you hug someone thats a misuse of the hands. Hands are for drowning kittens.” – Oli (from

24. “We are not what we dream. We are what we do. And that all we have is action. And that we can really only learn from experience.” – Wayne Coyne

25. “Being stupid and seeing clearly is better than being brilliant and delusional.” – Aaron (Duplicitous Primates)

26. “Why does the CSI team examine the crime scene in darkness, at night?” – Dr. Christopher Syn (Forensic scientist, HSA)

27. “I mean, gasp, Mass Effect promotes a xenoerotic lifestyle and our impressionable young kids are going to start flagging down UFOs and make out with hot alien chicks. Tentacles and all.” – Rat in the Lab

28. “Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.” – William Faulkner

29. “The best gift a Fairy Godmother can give her new born godchild is a wee bit of misfortune.” – medieval Scots proverb

30. “I think we need to stop assuming that the general public just won't understand what these animals were and take a paragraph or two to explain where they fit into the scheme of things rather than saying ‘It's a raccoon-deer-rat-thing’.” – Brian Switek on the Indohyus

31. “For a feminist to still believe in God is like a freed slave still living on the plantation.” – Matthew Chapman

32. “It's like the movie Groundhog Day. Scientists spend the whole day explaining to the creationist why the theory of evolution is firmly evidenced, and yet they wake up the next day back on the same beginning square they started on. Sonny and Cher blare from the radio as the creationist begins yammering about why evolution is a theory in crisis. It's as if they're chronic amnesiacs. Every day they wake up knowing today is the day evolution is going to fall, and every day they're wrong. Yet they never learn why.” – H. Humbert

33. “The bottom line is that the world is round, humans evolved from an extinct species, and Elvis is dead.” – Gerald Weissmann

34. “Research with very few exceptions is really the job for young people. Largely because, as I've said, they contain the required ignorance that is necessary for this.” – Sydney Brenner

35. “Everyone knows scientists insist on using complex terminology to make it harder for True Christians to refute their claims. Deoxyribonucleic Acid, for example... sounds impressive, right? But have you ever seen what happens if you put something in acid? It dissolves! If we had all this acid in our cells, we'd all dissolve! So much for the Theory of Evolution, Check MATE! ” – EnemyPartyII (

36. “For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.” – Albert Camus

37. “The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” – Carl Sagan

38. “Adjusting my breasts for every shot. Yes, they gave me these things to put in my costumes - they looked like cutlets, chicken cutlets - to make me voluptuous. They're sort of rubberized, horrible, medical-looking things, and between takes I'd take them out and leave them on some table, and I couldn't even remember to put my boobs back in. They were turning up everywhere.” – Kate Beckinsale

39. “I sometimes ask myself how it came about that I was the one to develop the theory of relativity. The reason, I think, is that a normal adult never stops to think about problems of space and time. These are things which he has thought about as a child. But my intellectual development was retarded, as a result of which I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up.” – Albert Einstein

40. “I wanted to be a geneticist, understand the gene and through that, understand life. So I had, you know, a hero in a distance. He wasn't a baseball player; he was Linus Pauling. And so I applied to Caltech... and they turned me down.” – James Watson

41. “I didn't have the heart to finish off those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do it. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute.” – Franz Stigler

42. “A fishnet is made up of a lot more holes than strings, but you can't therefore argue that the net doesn't exist. Just ask the fish.” – Jeffrey Kluger

43. “People who boast about their IQ are losers.” – Stephen Hawking

44. “To send a child to university at seven is like you are not regarding him as a human being, but as a performing monkey.” – Joan Freeman

45. “We should not take ourselves so seriously. We will all be forgotten.”- Peter Courtland Agre

46. “The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information’s journey is the last few inches – the space between a person’s eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived?” – David Brooks

47. “To err is human, to arr is pirate.” – Seen on a T-shirt

48. “You can't just mop up a floor when the tub is overflowing; you have to work at shutting off the tap, too.” – Optimus Primate

49. “Real science is hard. Real medicine involves giving bad news---really bad news. You share the joys of your patients, but also their pain, suffering, and death. It's a package deal, unless you make wild promises, conflating false hope with true compassion.” – Peter A. Lipson

50. “Even from so simple a beginning, small happenstances of history may lead populations along different evolutionary paths. A potentiated cell took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Zachary D. Blount and colleagues

51. “Scratch any cynic and you’ll find a disappointed idealist.” – George Carlin

52. “I’m fairly sure if they took porn off the Internet, there’d only be one website left, and it’d be called Bring Back The Porn.” – Dr. Perry Cox (Scrubs)

53. “It's not about having people enjoy the Olympics. If nobody came that would be a successful Olympics. It's theatre. The foreigners are there as props but the fewer the better.” – Anne Stevenson-Yang

54. “Without theories to organize and interpret facts, without the power of general explanations, we are left with just piles of case studies. Moreover, we are without the frameworks that enable us to make predictions about any particular case.” – Sean B. Carroll

55. “Nobody but men have hippopotamuses in their brains; so, if a hippopotamus was discovered in an ape's brain, why it would not be one, you know, but something else.” – Charles Kingsley

56. “It's our ability to perceive somebody else's interior motivations, the rewards and punishment systems inside their head. One could argue that some of the greatest political monsters in the world had terrific "Theory of Mind" skills. They motivated people primarily through fear, not through inspiration. You can actually show that fear causes a specific kind of stress, sometimes called "learned helplessness." In an increasingly knowledge-based business setting, limiting someone's intellectual power in the belief it will increase their productivity is like tying the legs of a marathon runner in the belief it will make him run faster.” – John Medina

57. “In a globalised, knowledge-based economy that is increasingly dependent on knowledge creation and innovation rather than merely on the goods and services of an industrial age, it is necessary to develop a science-literate society that is adaptable to change and able to make informed decisions.” – Leo Tan

58. “Save your strength. There'll be another time.” – Han Solo (The Empire Strikes Back)

59. “Let the guy be a little fallible. Those are the ones I am interested in watching when I go to the movies. I want to see the flaws, the dirt under the fingernails. If he is invulnerable, how can you identify with this guy?” – Brendan Fraser

60. “My lack of experience did not blind me from realizing that the truth was a bit too, well, truthful. It was never going to be more effective than my rehearsed version. Sixty resumes were sent out. Only one responded with an interview opportunity. With my job hunt not looking very promising, I wasn’t gonna risk it by being righteous. I needed the job. Little did I realise I had already understood the first commandment of Advertising – Thou shalt speak the Truth sparingly.” – Pat Law

61. “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.” – Joseph Heller (Catch-22)


And remember... the Sterling Pound is at a historic low and is severely undervalued with potential big gains on retracement.*

Have a great New Year 2009!

*That's a non sequitur, not a financial advice. Just sayin'.


angry doc said...

"If we had all this acid in our cells, we'd all dissolve!"

Epic FAIL.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Oooh an orange!

*nom nom nom nom*



Teck said...

Happy New Year, Leng Hiong!

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Thank you Teck! Have a great year ahead and take more awesome Astro photos!

Amused said...

Lovely quotes :D

Edgar said...

Happy New Year! Hahaha nice collection you got there, love'em.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Amused:

Welcome to Fresh Brainz!

To Edgar:

Thanks and Happy New Year!