Edwin Herbert Land

Edwin Herbert

American Inventor, Physicist, Inventor One Step Photography Process

Author Quotes

In my opinion, neither organisms nor organizations evolve slowly and surely into something better, but drift until some small change occurs which has immediate and overwhelming significance. The special role of the human being is not to wait for these favorable accidents but deliberately to introduce the small change that will have great significance. To treat young men like men; to use modern recording techniques to capture the moment of exciting teaching; to gather ninety great men out of our one-hundred and seventy million — these, in retrospect, will seem like small changes indeed if they succeed in building a generation of greatness.

There are areas where untrained people may work effectively and with limited equipment. Our pupil doesn't need a big laboratory to do this, he needs freedom; he needs encouragement.

I believe that each young person is different from any other who has ever lived, as different as his fingerprints: that he could bring to the world a wonderful and special way of solving unsolved problems, that in his special way, he can be great. Now don't misunderstand me. I recognize that this merely great person, as distinguished from the genius, will not be able to bridge from field to field. He will not have the ideas that shorten the solution of problems by hundreds of years. He will not suddenly say that mass is energy, that is genius. But within his own field he will make things grow and flourish; he will grow happy helping other people in his field, and to that field he will add things that would not have been added, had he not come along.

You always start with a fantasy. Part of the fantasy technique is to visualize something as perfect. Then with the experiments you work back from the fantasy to reality, hacking away at the components.

Ordinarily when we talk about the human as the advanced product of evolution and the mind as being the most advanced product of evolution, there is an implication that we are advanced out of and away from the structure of the exterior world in which we have evolved, as if a separate product had been packaged, wrapped up, and delivered from a production line. The view I am presenting proposes a mechanism more and more interlocked with the totality of the exterior. This mechanism has no separate existence at all, being in a thousand ways united with and continuously interacting with the whole exterior domain. In fact there is no exterior red object with a tremendous mind linked to it by only a ray of light. The red object is a composite product of matter and mechanism evolved in permanent association with a most elaborate interlock. There is no tremor in what we call the "outside world" that is not locked by a thousand chains and gossamers to inner structures that vibrate and move with it and are a part of it. The reason for the painfulness of all philosophy is that in the past, in its necessary ignorance of the unbelievable domains of partnership that have evolved in the relationship between ourselves and the world around us, it dealt with what indeed have been a tragic separation and isolation. Of what meaning is the world without mind? The question cannot exist.

Our society is changing so rapidly that none of us can know what it is or where it is going. All of us who are mature feel that there are historic principles of behavior and morality, of things that we all believe in that are being lost, not because young people couldn't believe in them, but because there is no language for translating them into contemporary terms. The search for that language, the search for the ways to tell young people what we know as we grow older — the permanent and wonderful things about life — will be one of the great functions of this system. We are losing this generation. We all know that. We need a way to get them back.

The world is a scene changing so rapidly that it takes every bit of intuitive ability you have, every brain cell each one of you has, to make the sensible decision about what to do next. You cannot rely upon what you have been taught. 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.

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

We live in a world changing so rapidly that what we mean frequently by common sense is doing the thing that would have been right last year.

[A significant invention] must be startling, unexpected. It must come to a world that is not prepared for it.

The second great product of industry should be the rewarding life for every person.

Industry is best at the intersection of science and art.

If you dream of something worth doing and then simply go to work on it and don't think anything of personalities, or emotional conflicts, or of money, or of family distractions; if you think of, detail by detail, what you have to do next, it is a wonderful dream even though the end is a long way off, for there are about five thousand steps to be taken before we realize it; and [when you] start taking the first ten, and ... twenty after that, it is amazing how quickly you get through through the four thousand [nine hundred] and ninety. The last ten steps you never seem to work out. But you keep on coming nearer to giving the world something.

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

A premature attempt to explain something that thrills you will destroy your perceptivity rather than increase it, because your tendency will be to explain away rather than seek out.

The most important thing about power is to make sure you don't have to use it.

Science is a method to keep yourself from kidding yourself.

Politeness is the poison of collaboration.

Marketing is what you do when your product is no good.

Its not that we need new ideas, but we need to stop having old ideas.

Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.

Study is the bane of boyhood, the oil of youth, the indulgence of manhood, and restorative of old age.

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Edwin Herbert
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American Inventor, Physicist, Inventor One Step Photography Process