# Brian Hayes (scientist)

American scientist, columnist and author

**Brian Hayes** (born 10 December 1949) is an American scientist, columnist and author. He is a senior writer and regular columnist for the magazine *American Scientist*, and was editor in chief for the magazine from 1990 to 1992.

## Quotes

edit*Group Theory in the Bedroom* (2008)

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- I discovered that the computer is not like the violin; it doesn't take inborn genius or a lifetime of practice to get sweet music out of it.
- Preface, p. x

- It's all done with gears. Also pinions, snails, arbors; pawls and ratchets; and cam followers; cables, levers, bell cranks, and pivots.
- Chapter 1, Clock Of Ages, p. 7

- The fact is, winding and dusting and fixing somebody else's clock is boring.
- Chapter 1, Clock Of Ages, p. 18

- Fretting about a dearth of randomness seems like worrying that humanity might use up its last reserves of ignorance.
- Chapter 2, Random Resources, p. 23

- The fact that randomness requires a physical rather than a mathematical source is noted by almost everyone who writes on the subject, and yet the oddity of this situation is not much remarked.
- Chapter 2, Random Resources, p. 35

- The condensation of all property in the hands of one individual is an economic catastrophe-something like the formation of a black hole in astrophysics. It's obviously bad news for the majority of the people, who are left penniless. But even if you happen to be the big winner, your victory may prove hollow. Although you have all the riches in the world, you can't buy a thing, because no one else has goods to sell.
- Chapter 3, Follow The Money, p. 47

- After a few more centuries, perhaps the poorest billion will even be able to afford the $10.00 buffet.
- Chapter 3, Follow The Money, p. 61

- Compared with the elegant inventions of the theorists, nature's code seemed a bit of a kludge.
- Chapter 4, Inventing The Genetic Code, p. 66

- If saving human lives is the great desideratum, then there is more to be gained by the prevention of drowning, and auto wrecks than by the abolition of war.
- Chapter 5, Statistics Of Deadly Quarrels, p. 89

- A retired physicist reading the
*Encyclopedia Britannica*can do just so much toward securing world peace.- Chapter 5, Statistics Of Deadly Quarrels, p. 101 (On: Lewis Fry Richardson)

**Empires come and go; so do ideologies and even religions, but war marches on through it all.**- Chapter 5, Statistics Of Deadly Quarrels, p. 103

**How can we measure the effects if we can't even count the dead to the nearest million?**- Chapter 5, Statistics Of Deadly Quarrels, p. 105

- I am reminded of those prodigies who spent years of their lives calculating digits of the decimal expansion of - a task that is now a mere warm-up exercise for computer software. I cannot help wandering which of my labors will appear equally quaint and pathetic to some future reader who ransacks libraries for old volumes like this one.
- Chapter 7, On The Teeth Of Wheels, p. 138

- The whirling gears of progress have put the gear makers out of work.
- Chapter 7, On The Teeth Of Wheels, p. 139

- By the way, the = notation was invented by Robert Recorde (1510-1558). He choose two parallel lines as a symbol of equality " because noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle."
- Chapter 11, Identity Crisis, p. 203

- The integers, the rationals, and the irrationals, taken together, make up the continuum of
*real*numbers. It's called a continuum because the numbers are packed together along the real number line with no empty spaces between them.- Chapter 11, Identity Crisis, p. 206 (See also: George Cantor)

- A big advantage of the serial-number approach to identity is that things stay the same even as they change.
- Chapter 11, Identity Crisis, p. 213

- In 1948 John Archibald Wheeler, in a telephone conversation with his student Richard Feynman, proposed the delightful hypothesis that there is just one electron in the universe.
- Chapter 11, Identity Crisis, p. 215

- The absence of a golden rule for mattress flipping is a disappointment, but it does not pertend the demise of civilization. We can adapt; we can learn to live with it.
- Chapter 12, Group Theory In The Bedroom, p. 229

- I'm not a mathematician, but I've been hanging around with some of them long enough to know how the game is played.
- Chapter 12, Group Theory In The Bedroom, p. 232

- I'm not a gambling person, but I've been around long enough and I know how to play it.
- Chapter 14, Maths In Love, p. 124