amantonio (amantonio) wrote,

The Art Of Doing Science And Engineering - Richard Hamming

In science if you know what you are doing you should not be doing it.
In engineering if you do not know what you are doing you should not be doing it.

It is well known the drunken sailor who staggers to the left or right with n independent random steps will, on the average, end up about sqrt(n) steps from the origin. But if there is a pretty girl in one direction, then his steps will tend to go in that direction and he will go a distance proportional to n. In a lifetime of many, many independent choices, small and large, a career with a vision will get you a distance proportional to n, while no vision will get you only the distance sqrt(n). In a sense, the main difference between those who go far and those who do not is some people have a vision and the others do not and therefore can only react to the current events as they happen.

I am preaching the message that, with apparently only one life to live on this earth, you ought to try to make significant contributions to humanity rather than just get along through life comfortably — that the life of trying to achieve excellence in some area is in itself a worthy goal for your life. It has often been observed the true gain is in the struggle and not in the achievement — a life without a struggle on your part to make yourself excellent is hardly a life worth living. This, it must be observed, is an opinion and not a fact, but it is based on observing many people’s lives and speculating on their total happiness rather than the moment to moment pleasures they enjoyed. Again, this opinion of their happiness must be my own interpretation as no one can know another’s life. Many reports by people who have written about the “good life” agree with the above opinion. Notice I leave it to you to pick your goals of excellence, but claim only a life without such a goal is not really living but it is merely existing—in my opinion. In ancient Greece Socrates (469–399) said: The unexamined life is not worth living.
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