Help me create a concise motto on science.
July 27, 2010 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Yet-another-latin-translation-filter: Help me create a concise motto on science.

I'm toying with the idea of a coat-of-arms, tattoo, or other symbolism regarding adherence to science as the best way to understand the world. I've asked about images before, so now I'm looking for short Latin (or Italian a la Galileo? Some other language?) translations. Here are some concepts I'd like to consider conveying:

"Nothing without proof, all things with proof". (I'm close to something I really like here, but I need a really concise way of talking about scientific open-mindedness).

"All knowledge through science".
"Follow knowledge wherever it leads".

I've read the List of latin phrases at wiki and some of the phrases are ok..."scientia vincere tenebras" ("Conquering darkness by science") is close. I'd especially like a concept that plays on the idea of changing one's worldview based on credible evidence. It doesn't have to involve the word "science", and it doesn't necessarily have to be latin. Let's have it, MeFites!
posted by RobotNinja to Science & Nature (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ex scientia, omnia

From science, everything
posted by inturnaround at 7:00 AM on July 27, 2010

changing one's worldview based on credible evidence.

"If the glove does not fit, you must acquit."

This is maybe too glib of an answer, but this is as simple and as accurate a summation of science as you are going to find. You got to hand it to Johnny Cochran. Faced with gobs of scientific evidence, he took the core basic principle of scientific method - that theory must be supported by experimental result - and used it to turn the evidence to his advantage. If even one valid experiment produces an result contrary to the theory, the theory - however appealing - has to be wrong.
posted by three blind mice at 7:29 AM on July 27, 2010

"Beauty and elegance"

Paul Dirac had an idea that any mathematical or scientific theory requires 'beauty and elegance'
posted by chicago2penn at 7:34 AM on July 27, 2010

This page, linked to by verstegan in response to an earlier AskMe question, discusses Royal Society's motto, and lists some of the phrases that were considered.

I like omnia probate "test everything" and nullius in verba "on the words of no one" (the one they actually use).
posted by nangar at 8:39 AM on July 27, 2010

Response by poster: Ah yes, I meant to include "Nullius in verba" as the closest existing motto to what I'm seeking. Now if there was a clever way to combine that with the alternate sentiment, something like "Only on the word of nature".
posted by RobotNinja at 9:31 AM on July 27, 2010

What would the Latin translation be for "Start by admitting you might be wrong"? That's how I think about science.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:51 PM on July 27, 2010

Omnia probate is, if you take it in isolation and weigh it, about equivalent to your "Nothing without proof, all things with proof." It means "test everything," but also "test everything" / "test all things" - implying both skepticism and openness. (The Latin stem proba- is the origin of English words 'proof" and "probability.")

A slight variation of this phrase might be more explicit: omnia probanda sunt "everything / all things are to be / should be tested / examined / proven." This can be shortened to omnia probanda "everything to be tested" - the ambiguity is the same as in English - or probanda omnia "to be tested - everything."

Now if there was a clever way to combine that with the alternate sentiment, something like "Only on the word of nature"

I can't come up with a succinct way of saying that in Latin. Everything I can think of is awkward, and I don't want that to end end up on anybody's arm or body. Maybe somebody else can.
posted by nangar at 1:23 PM on July 27, 2010

Probare has other meanings that won't help you. Not always straightforward, Latin.

(I saw OJ "try on" that glove. Please. Like my child putting on mittens when she was three. Half on half off. They fit, you just had to tug.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:52 PM on July 27, 2010

Expiri might be better than probare. As in omnia expertanda?
posted by oinopaponton at 7:56 PM on July 27, 2010

Oops, *experanda. No "t."
posted by oinopaponton at 8:04 PM on July 27, 2010

IndigoJones is right about probare, and experiri might be better for the meaning "try," "test." (But it's experienda, not experanda.)

These guys get recommended a lot on AskMe for short Latin translations. You might give them a try, if you're not in too much of a rush, and you want to make sure it comes out saying what you want.
posted by nangar at 11:05 AM on July 28, 2010

But it's experienda, not experanda.
My bad. Grumble grumble future passive.

posted by oinopaponton at 11:19 AM on July 28, 2010

experiri, or possibly examinare, to weigh or consider
posted by IndigoJones at 6:27 PM on July 28, 2010

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