Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Environmental extremists ... wouldn’t let you build a house unless it looked like a bird’s nest.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Sir Martin Rees Quotes

Thumbnail of Sir Martin Rees (source)
Sir Martin Rees
(23 Jun 1942 - )

English cosmologist and astrophysicist who became Astronomer Royal in 1995. He studied the distribution of quasars, which he proposed drew their power from huge black holes.


Science Quotes by Sir Martin Rees (9 quotes)


Charles Darwin [is my personal favorite Fellow of the Royal Society]. I suppose as a physical scientist I ought to have chosen Newton. He would have won hands down in an IQ test, but if you ask who was the most attractive personality then Darwin is the one you'd wish to meet. Newton was solitary and reclusive, even vain and vindictive in his later years when he was president of the society.
— Sir Martin Rees
From interview with Graham Lawton, 'One Minute with Martin Rees', in New Scientist (12 Dec 2009), 204, No. 2738.
Science quotes on:  |  Attractive (4)  |  Choice (40)  |  Charles Darwin (216)  |  Favorite (8)  |  Fellow (6)  |  IQ (4)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)  |  Personal (16)  |  Personality (19)  |  President (5)  |  Royal Society (7)  |  Solitary (5)  |  Vain (15)

God invented space so that not everything had to happen in Princeton.
— Sir Martin Rees
In Our Cosmic Habitat (2003), Preface, ix. Written as a frivolous companion to the aphorism, “Time is nature's way to keep everything from happening all at once.”
Science quotes on:  |  Everything (38)  |  God (234)  |  Happen (8)  |  Invention (174)  |  Princeton (2)  |  Space (68)

I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms that we can't conceive. And there could, of course, be forms of intelligence beyond human capacity—beyond as much as we are beyond a chimpanzee.
— Sir Martin Rees
As quoted by Robin McKie in 'Aliens Can't Hear Us, Says Astronomer', The Guardian (27 Jan 2010), reporting on “a special meeting on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence” on 26 Jan 2010.
Science quotes on:  |  Capacity (15)  |  Chimpanzee (5)  |  Conceive (3)  |  Form (70)  |  Human (168)  |  Intelligence (76)  |  Life (460)

If we ever establish contact with intelligent aliens living on a planet around a distant star … They would be made of similar atoms to us. They could trace their origins back to the big bang 13.7 billion years ago, and they would share with us the universe's future. However, the surest common culture would be mathematics.
— Sir Martin Rees
In 'Take Me to Your Mathematician', New Scientist (14 Feb 2009), 201, No. 2695.
Science quotes on:  |  Alien (16)  |  Atom (164)  |  Big Bang (24)  |  Billion (24)  |  Common (44)  |  Culture (44)  |  Extraterrestrial Life (16)  |  Future (110)  |  Intelligence (76)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Share (11)  |  Universe (291)  |  Year (69)

In the beginning there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The universe exists because we are aware of it.
— Sir Martin Rees
In 'The Anthropic Universe', New Scientist (6 Aug 1987), 46.
Science quotes on:  |  Awareness (14)  |  Beginning (71)  |  Billion (24)  |  Existence (150)  |  Observation (264)  |  Observer (10)  |  Probability (56)  |  Universe (291)  |  Year (69)

It's better to read first rate science fiction than second rate science—it's a lot more fun, and no more likely to be wrong.
— Sir Martin Rees
Lecture at Wired 2013 (18 Oct 2013).
Science quotes on:  |  Better (41)  |  Fun (15)  |  Likely (4)  |  Read (32)  |  Science Fiction (12)  |  Wrong (50)

It’s becoming clear that in a sense the cosmos provides the only laboratory where sufficiently extreme conditions are ever achieved to test new ideas on particle physics. The energies in the Big Bang were far higher than we can ever achieve on Earth. So by looking at evidence for the Big Bang, and by studying things like neutron stars, we are in effect learning something about fundamental physics.
— Sir Martin Rees
From editted transcript of BBC Radio 3 interview, collected in Lewis Wolpert and Alison Richards, A Passion For Science (1988), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Big Bang (24)  |  Condition (68)  |  Cosmos (23)  |  Energy (103)  |  Evidence (83)  |  Extreme (17)  |  Fundamental (59)  |  Idea (226)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Learning (130)  |  Neutron Star (2)  |  New (107)  |  Particle (45)  |  Physics (156)  |  Study (157)  |  Test (46)

Most educated people are aware that we're the outcome of nearly 4 billion years of Darwinian selection, but many tend to think that humans are somehow the culmination. Our sun, however, is less than halfway through its lifespan. It will not be humans who watch the sun's demise, 6 billion years from now. Any creatures that then exist will be as different from us as we are from bacteria or amoebae.
— Sir Martin Rees
Lecture (2006), reprinted as 'Dark Materials'. As cited in J.G. Ballard, 'The Catastrophist', collected in Christopher Hitchens, Arguably: Selected Essays (2011), 353
Science quotes on:  |  Amoeba (13)  |  Aware (4)  |  Bacteria (17)  |  Billion (24)  |  Creature (51)  |  Culmination (2)  |  Charles Darwin (216)  |  Difference (135)  |  Education (177)  |  Existence (150)  |  Lifespan (5)  |  Natural Selection (57)  |  Outcome (6)  |  Person (38)  |  Sun (115)  |  Watch (16)  |  Year (69)

The physicist is like someone who’s watching people playing chess and, after watching a few games, he may have worked out what the moves in the game are. But understanding the rules is just a trivial preliminary on the long route from being a novice to being a grand master. So even if we understand all the laws of physics, then exploring their consequences in the everyday world where complex structures can exist is a far more daunting task, and that’s an inexhaustible one I'm sure.
— Sir Martin Rees
In Lewis Wolpert and Alison Richards, A Passion For Science (1988), 37.
Science quotes on:  |  Chess (13)  |  Complexity (51)  |  Consequence (44)  |  Everyday (5)  |  Existence (150)  |  Game (28)  |  Law (273)  |  Move (10)  |  Novice (2)  |  Observation (264)  |  Physicist (74)  |  Physics (156)  |  Route (4)  |  Rule (52)  |  Structure (104)  |  Task (32)  |  Trivial (14)  |  Understanding (231)  |  Watching (5)  |  World (231)


See also:
  • todayinsci icon 23 Jun - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Rees's birth.
  • todayinsci icon Video: Earth in its Final Century - Martin Rees talk (2005, 18 min).
  • todayinsci icon Martin Rees - context of quote The physicist is like someone who's watching people playing chess - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • todayinsci icon Martin Rees - context of quote The physicist is like someone who's watching people playing chess - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • todayinsci icon Martin Rees - context of quote Cosmos…laboratory…to test new ideas on particle physics - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • todayinsci icon Martin Rees - context of quote Cosmos…laboratory…to test new ideas on particle physics - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • book icon Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning, by Martin Rees. - book suggestion.
  • booklist icon Booklist for Martin Rees.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Custom Quotations Search - custom search within only our quotations pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
Author Icon
who invites your feedback

Today in Science History

Most Popular

Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton