„What I have achieved has been largely a matter of chance. Many problems I thought about at length with no success. With other problems, there was the inspiration—indeed, some that astound me today. Certainly the best times were when I was alone with mathematics, free of ambition and of pretense, and indifferent to the world.“

—  Robert Langlands, "Mathematical retrospections," 2013, p. 142
Robert Langlands Foto
Robert Langlands
kanadischer Mathematiker 1936

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„When I was young, I thought I was the best formalist of my time. I thought I was a revolutionary. When the big problems would come, I would solve them and write about them. The big problems came and passed by, others solved them and wrote about them. I was a classicist and not a revolutionary.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli Austrian physicist, Nobel prize winner 1900 - 1958
As quoted in Faust in Copenhagen (2007) by Gino Segrè, p. 130.5, which cites The Historical Development of Quantum Theory (1982) by Jagdish Mehra and Helmut Rechenberg, vol 1 of 4, p. xxiv, and Inward Bound (1986) by Abraham Pais, p. 186

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„How it happened that I in particular discovered the relativity theory, it seemed to lie in the following circumstance. The normal adult never bothers his head about space-time problems. Everything there is to be thought about it, in his opinion, has already been done in early childhood. I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I only began to wonder about space and time when I was already grown up. In consequence I probed deeper into the problem than an ordinary child would have done.“

—  Albert Einstein German-born physicist and founder of the theory of relativity 1879 - 1955
Attributed in posthumous publications, In Carl Seelig's Albert Einstein: A Documentary Biography (1956), Seelig reports that Einstein said this to James Franck, p. 71 http://books.google.com/books?id=VCbPAAAAMAAJ&q=%22how+it+happened%22#search_anchor. I sometimes ask myself how did it come 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. 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. Naturally, I could go deeper into the problem than a child with normal abilities. Variant translation which appears in Einstein: The Life and Times by Ronald W. Clark (1971), p. 27 http://books.google.com/books?id=6IKVA0lY6MAC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA27#v=onepage&q&f=false

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„The dramatic problems of today's complex world can only inspire a humble approach.“

—  António Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations 1949
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