Terence Tao’s Collection of Quotes

Source: Terence Tao’s website, date indeterminate

To see things in the seed, that is genius. (Lao-tzu)

Talent is like a marksman who hits a target that others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target others cannot even see. (Schopenhauer).


  • Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music still in them. (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
  • Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. (Norman Cousins)
  • Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been”. (John Greenleaf Whittier)
  • You see things; and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?” (George Bernhard Shaw)
  • One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar. (Helen Keller)
  • To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive. (Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. (Leonardo da Vinci)


  • The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. (Henri Bergson)
  • Worse than being blind, is to see and have no vision. (Helen Keller)
  • Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. (Mahatma Gandhi)
  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” but “That’s funny…” (Isaac Asimov)
  • The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. (Niels Bohr)
  • There are two rules for success. (1) Never tell everything you know. (Roger Lincoln)
  • When a thing has been said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it. (Anatole France)
  • Next to being witty yourself, the best thing is to quote another’s wit. (C.N. Bovee)
  • A witty saying proves nothing. (Voltaire)
  • Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it. (George Santayana)

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