Category: quotes

  • No one would ever conceive

    No one would ever conceive

    I believe that no one who is familiar, either with mathematical advances in other fields, or with the range of special biological conditions to be considered, would ever conceive that everything could be summed up in a single mathematical formula, however complex. R.A. Fisher (1932) quoted in the preface to Foundations of Mathematical Genetics by…

  • On “true” models

    On “true” models

    Before starting the description of the probability distributions, we want to impose on the reader the essential feature that a model is an interpretation of a real phenomenon that fits its characteristics to some degree of approximation rather than an explanation that would require the model to be “true”. In short, there is no such…

  • Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch

    Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch

    Think of this: when they present you with a watch, they are gifting you with a tiny flowering hell, a wreath of roses, a dungeon of air. They aren’t simply wishing the watch on you, and many more, and we hope it will last you, it’s a good grand, Swiss, seventeen rubies; they aren’t just…

  • The art of losing

    The art of losing

    Very few things last forever. Forever used to mean a hundred or a thousand years—even the universe had a beginning and will have an end; today it could mean three, five years. One of the reasons things last so long (or so little) is the need for self-consistency. Consistency can be good when we are…

  • Idea fishing, idea growing

    This month I started working for the School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, where I am supposed to teach, supervise and research all sort of nifty things. One of the things with research is that one needs constant change and permanent challenges. For a while I stepped outside research because I was feeling tired, but…