EDWIN H. LAND QUOTES

American scientist and inventor (1909-1991)

This is the most exciting part of being human. It is using our brains in the highest way. Otherwise we are just healthy animals.

EDWIN H. LAND, "What It Took: Intuition, Goo", LIFE Magazine, January 25, 1963

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Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

EDWIN H. LAND, attributed, Visions: Readings for a Changing World

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If you are able to state a problem, it can be solved.

EDWIN H. LAND, LIFE Magazine, October 27, 1972

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One of the best ways to keep a great secret is to shout it.

EDWIN H. LAND, address to Polaroid Corporation employees at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, February 5, 1960

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The great contribution of science is to demonstrate that a person can regard the world as chaos, but can find in himself a method of perceiving, within that chaos, small arrangements of order, that out of himself, and out of the order that previous scientists have generated, he can make things that are exciting and thrilling to make, that are deeply spiritual contributions to himself and to his friends. The scientist comes to the world and says, "I do not understand the divine source, but I know, in a way that I don't understand, that out of chaos I can make order, out of loneliness I can make friendship, out of ugliness I can make beauty."

EDWIN H. LAND, address at MIT, "Generation of Greatness: The Idea of a University in an Age of Science", May 22, 1957

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We think of photography as the intersection of science and art.

EDWIN H. LAND, attributed, Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land

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I say that our system of tests and grades, as it now exists, is one source of the low yield of great men from our universities. The marking system is a traumatic experience from which most students emerge with a deep determination never to get into a situation where they can be marked again. They just won't ever again take a chance.

EDWIN H. LAND, address at MIT, "Generation of Greatness: The Idea of a University in an Age of Science", May 22, 1957

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Tags: education


Science is a method to keep yourself from kidding yourself.

EDWIN H. LAND, attributed, QFINANCE: The Ultimate Resource

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The bottom line is in Heaven.

EDWIN H. LAND, speech at Polaroid Corporation shareholders' meeting, April 26, 1977

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An invention that is quickly accepted will turn out to be a rather trivial alteration of something that has already existed.

EDWIN H. LAND, attributed, Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land

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One feels, when among our young students, that they are honest and honorable and full of ideals, that they come to the door of our universities with the dream of being our colleagues; that if we could provide them intimate leadership there would be no discipline to which they would not subject themselves and no task so arduous in the pursuit of knowledge and science that they would not devote themselves fully to it. But if we imply, as I believe we do by our present attitude, that we do not have this kind of faith in them, then their own strength wanes and they cannot believe the best of themselves.

EDWIN H. LAND, address at MIT, "Generation of Greatness: The Idea of a University in an Age of Science", May 22, 1957

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Our society is changing so rapidly that none of us can know what it is or where it is going.

EDWIN H. LAND, testimony, The Public Television Act of 1967: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Communications

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Tags: society


You cannot separate the composition from the life of the moment. It is all one thing, to be decided in a split second while you're living through it.

EDWIN H. LAND, attributed, Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land

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It is a curious property of research activity that after the problem has been solved the solution seems obvious.

EDWIN H. LAND, address at the Franklin Institute, 1937

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You must expect failure after failure after failure before you succeed.

EDWIN H. LAND, attributed, Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land

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All you have learned from history is old ways of making mistakes. There is nothing that history can tell you about what we must do tomorrow. Only what we must not do.

EDWIN H. LAND, address to Polaroid Corporation employees at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, February 5, 1960

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When Arthur Ashe plays tennis, his purpose each day is to play the game in a way he has never played it before. It may be a backhand he uses, one that he may never have used before in that circumstance. His play is a fresh integration of his world at the instant of action. A really great scientist has the whole past at his disposal. At any instant he is rebuilding the world, molecule by molecule, in his subconscious. That is what you want in an athlete or a scientist.

EDWIN H. LAND, LIFE Magazine, October 27, 1972

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An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. Scientists made a great invention by calling their activities hypotheses and experiments. They made it permissible to fail repeatedly until in the end they got the results they wanted. In politics or government, if you made a hypothesis and it didn't work out, you had your head cut off.

EDWIN H. LAND, "A Genius and His Magic Camera", LIFE Magazine, October 27, 1975

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There's no scientist I know who wouldn't rather be a charlatan. And when circumstances allow you to be both, why it's great fun!

EDWIN H. LAND, attributed, Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land

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It's not that we need new ideas, but we need to stop having old ideas.

EDWIN H. LAND, attributed, Platform Ecosystems: Aligning Architecture, Governance, and Strategy

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Tags: ideas