Posted in D L Williams, Philosophy

DW’s Favorite Quotes (and Why)

A work in progress

I continue to read and be impacted by the thoughts of others.

He who loves to read, and knows how to reflect, has laid by a perpetual feast for his old age. (Uncle Esek, “Scribner’s Monthly”, September 1880)

No idea who Uncle Esek is, but I have been infinitely blessed by the ability to read and reflect. I was extremely proud of my children when they read their first chapter books. I announced that from that day onward they would never be bored!

The underlying physical laws necessary for the mathematical theory of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known, and the difficulty is only that the exact application of these laws leads to equations much too complicated to be soluble. It therefore becomes desirable that approximate practical methods of applying quantum mechanics should be developed, which can lead to an explanation of the main features of complex atomic systems without too much computation. ( , Quantum mechanics of many-electron systems, P. A. M. Dirac, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 

This is the charge that I have taken up in preparing a manuscript that teaches Spectroscopy in One Dimension. The book proposal is 90% completed, and I aim to send it to the publisher in late August.

Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in [sic]. (Leonardo DaVinci)

This was an epiphany for me. I realized that a huge percentage (>90%?) of my students could not learn chemistry because they did not desire the CHEMICAL KNOWLEDGE. They desired a grade, a checked box on their transcript, a degree, or a future job, but NONE of those things will help them with point groups, wave functions, phase diagrams, etc. To learn CHEMISTRY they have to desire CHEMISTRY. A large part of my job as a professor is awakening the desire for CHEMISTRY, thus opening their ability to RETAIN what they STUDY.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, 1948)

So much could be written about this quote, but it will get political very quickly. I’ll pare it down to one question. Are policies being made because they actually (with evidence and data) produce good outcomes, or are policies being made because they make the policy makers FEEL good?

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” (C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry? 1945)

Christianity is a World View as is Naturalism, Deism, Confucianism, etc. World Views are lenses through which one sees EVERYTHING. What is your world view? Why do you have it? How did you get it? Do you have reasons for keeping it? And what would it take for you to change it?

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (Jesus of Nazareth, John 16:33)

I love this quote even though it promises suffering. The best quotes tell you something true. They are like an accurate compass. They point North ALL THE TIME, and as long as you have North, you can get un-lost.



Dr. Darren L. Williams (@pchem4all) is an Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry at Sam Houston State University. When he is not blending solvents, he is tinkering with contact angle measurements, FTIR microspectroscopy, etc. . He welcomes your comments and questions by phone (936-294-1529) and by email (williams “at”

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