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Quotable MIT

Famous words of Institute alumni and faculty

MIT may be more famous for its mathematical genius than its rhetorical brilliance. Yet alumni and faculty have contributed a mighty share to the wit and wisdom of our culture, whether as writers (did you know that Hugh Lofting, Doctor Dolittle’s creator, studied civil engineering at MIT?), architects, social scientists, politicians, businesspeople, astronauts, or, of course, engineers and scientists explaining their innovations. My 2006 book, The Yale Book of Quotationsincludes gems such as

“Magnificent desolation.”
-Buzz Aldrin, ScD ‘63, during the first moon walk, July 20, 1969; quoted in the New York Times the following day

“Form ever follows function.”
-Louis H. Sullivan, Class of 1874, “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered” (1896)

“I never saw a Purple Cow, I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow, I’d rather see than be one!

-Gelett Burgess, Class of 1887, “The Purple Cow” (1895)

Click here for more MIT quotations and photos of their authors.

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