Archive for the 'Research' Category

December 28, 2016

“I soon discovered that my best comfort was attained if I simply went on in my vision further and further, getting new impressions all the time, and so I began to travel; of course, in my mind. Every night (and sometimes during the day), when alone, I would start on my journeys — see new places, cities and countries; live there, meet people and make friendship and acquaintances… This I did constantly until I was seventeen, when my thoughts turned seriously to invention. Then I observed to my delight that I could visualize with the greatest facility. I need no models, drawings or experiments. I could picture them all as real in my mind… I do not rush into actual work. When I get an idea, I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements and operate the device in my mind. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in thought or test it in my shop.”
~ Tesla


December 28, 2016

“The thing of course, is to make yourself alive. Most people remain all of their lives in a stupor. The point of being an artist is that you may live. You won’t arrive. It is an endless search.”
~ Sherwood Anderson

December 28, 2016

“If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

December 28, 2016

University libraries are empty, at least in the sciences. Just study rooms for students, nothing more. And it’s not because “everything is online”. It’s because researchers systematically stay in their own field, methodically read the latest, incremental, self-referential improvements. They rarely try to pick up a textbook in a completely different discipline, to fish for connections and metaphors, to get inspiration from the unusual problems, language, and graphs. Few of them go back to read the classics,  the very foundations of their own field, to feel how their discipline looked like when it wasn’t understood. I like to dream that the next fundamental breakthrough in science will begin in a library.

December 28, 2016

“Basil puts everything that is charming in him into his work. The consequence is that he has nothing left for life but his prejudices, his principles, and his common sense. The only artists I have ever known, who are personally delightful, are bad artists. Good artists exist solely in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.”
~ Wilde

Leonardo’s to do list

December 26, 2016

[Calculate] the measurement of Milan and suburbs.

[Find] a book that treats of Milan and its churches, which is to be had at the stationer’s on the way to Cordusio.

[Discover] the measurement of Corte Vecchio [the courtyard in the duke’s palace].

[Discover] the measurement of the castello [the duke’s palace itself].

Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle.

Get Messer Fazio [a professor of medicine and law in Pavia] to show you about proportion.

Get the Brera friar [at the benedictine monastery to Milan] to show you De Ponderibus [a medieval text on mechanics].

[Talk to] Giannino, the bombardier, re. the means by which the tower of Ferrara is walled without loopholes [no one really knows what Da Vinci meant by this].

Ask Benedetto Potinari [a florentine merchant] by what means they go on ice in Flanders.

Draw Milan.

Ask Maestro Antonio how mortars are positioned on bastions by day or night.

[Examine] the crossbow of mastro Giannetto.

Find a master of hydraulics and get him to tell you how to repair a lock, canal and mill in the lombard manner.

[Ask about] the measurement of the sun promised me by maestro Giovanni Francese.

Try to get Vitolone [the medieval author of a text on optics] which is in the Library at Pavia, which deals with the mathematic.

December 26, 2016

The Carmina Burana, the clerici vagantes of the 12th century… they may perhaps be taken as the forerunners of the humanists — the same unstable existence, the same free and more than free views of life, and the germs at all events of the same pagan tendencies in their poetry… They clearly felt themselves a wholly new element in society, because they began to think, and soon to feel, as the ancients thought and felt… The appointments were as a rule made only for a certain time, sometimes for only half a year, so that teachers were forced to lead a wandering life, like actors… One and the same teacher could be connected with a great variety of institutions… The natural alliance between the despot and the scholar, each relying solely on his personal talent…

December 26, 2016

“People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results” ~ Albert Einstein

December 26, 2016

“Il modo di pensare scientifico possiede un’ulteriore caratteristica. I concetti che usa per costruire i suoi sistemi coerenti non esprimono delle emozioni. Per lo scienziato esiste solo l’essere, non il desiderio, il valore, il bene, il male, l’aspirazione. Finché restiamo nel dominio della scienza vera e propria, non possiamo mai incontrare una frase del tipo “Tu non mentirai”. Vi e’ come un freno puritano nello scienziato che cerca la verità: egli si tiene lontano da tutto ciò che è di carattere volontaristico o emotivo. Detto per inciso, questo tratto è il risultato di un lento processo, proprio del pensiero moderno occidentale.”
~ Einstein

December 26, 2016

“For an ambitious youth, the fame and the brilliant position of the humanists were a perilous temptation; it seemed to him that he too ‘through inborn pride could no longer regard the low and common things of life’. He was thus led to plunge into a life of excitement and vicissitude, in which exhausting studies, tutorships, secretaryships, professorships, offices in princely households, mortal enemies and perils, luxury and beggary, boundless admiration and boundless contempt, followed confusely one upon the other, and in which the most solid worth and learning were often pushed aside by superficial impudence.

But the worst of all, was, that the position of the humanist was almost uncompatible with a fixed home, since it either made frequent changes of dwelling necessary for a livelihood, or so affected the mind of the individual that he could never be happy for long in one place. He grew tired of the people, and had no peace among the enmities which he excited, while the people themselves in their turn demanded something new.

Much as this life reminds us of the Greek sophists of the empire, as described to us by Philostratus, yet the position of sophists was more favorable. They often had money, or could more easily do without it than the humanists, and as professional teachers of rhetoric, rather than men of learning, their life was freer and simpler. But the scholar of the Renaissance was forced to combine great learning with the power of resisting the influence of ever-changing pursuits and situations. Add to this the deadening effect of licentious excess, and — since do what he might, the worst was believed of him — a total indifference to the moral laws recognized by others.

Such men can hardly be conceived to exist without an inordinate pride. They needed it, if only to keep their heads above the water, and were confirmed in it by the admiration which alternated with hatred in the treatment they received from the world. They are the most striking examples and victims of an unbridled subjectivity.”

~ “The civilization of the Renaissance in Italy”, Burckhardt.