# Karl Friedrich Gauss

## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on humility and reality

We must admit with humility that, while number is purely a product of our minds, space has a reality outside our minds, so that we cannot completely prescribe its properties a priori.

Source: Letter to Bessel, 1830.

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## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on art, laws, and nature

His second motto: Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy laws my services are bound. . . .

Source: W. Shakespeare King Lear.

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## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on effort, grace, and success

Finally, two days ago, I succeeded - not on account of my hard efforts, but by the grace of the Lord. Like a sudden flash of lightning, the riddle was solved. I am unable to say what was the conducting thread that connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible.

Source: H. Eves Mathematical Circles Squared, Boston: Prindle, Weber and Schmidt, 1972.

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## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on practice and theory

Theory attracts practice as the magnet attracts iron.

Source: Foreword of H.B. Lübsen's geometry textbook.

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## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on satisfaction, time, words, and writing

You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length.

Source: G. Simmons Calculus Gems, New York: McGraw Hill inc., 1992.

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## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on certainty, faults, mathematics, and people

It may be true that people who are merely mathematicians have certain specific shortcomings; however, that is not the fault of mathematics, but is true of every exclusive occupation.

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## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on death and wives

While working, when informed that his wife is dying: Ask her to wait a moment - I am almost done.

Source: Men of Mathematics, by E. T. Bell

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## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on confession, interest, and work

A reply to Olbers' attempt in 1816 to entice him to work on Fermat's Theorem. I confess that Fermat's Theorem as an isolated proposition has very little interest for me, because I could easily lay down a multitude of such propositions, which one could neither prove nor dispose of. []

Source: J. R. Newman (ed.) The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956. p. 312.

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## A Quote by Karl Friedrich Gauss on conviction and necessity

I am coming more and more to the conviction that the necessity of our geometry cannot be demonstrated, at least neither by, nor for, the human intellect. . . . Geometry should be ranked, not with arithmetic, which is purely aprioristic, but with mechanics.

Source: Quoted in J. Koenderink Solid Shape, Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press, 1990.

Contributed by: Zaady