Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.
— Frank Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso: The Real Frank Zappa Book , 1989, page 239
Actually, I think the claim is that hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, since it’s so simple. Its abundance is a result of that simplicity.
Physics in 2010 would probably go for dark matter as even more plentiful than hydrogen, but so little is known about dark matter. As we learn more about dark matter, we could discover Zappa was a physics theorist before his time. It’s a short line from Zappa to Zwicky.
I’m relieved to have a credible source for the quote — I had found it attributed to Einstein, another case of Darrell’s Law of Quote Misattribution (“any good quote whose source is unknown will be attributed to Jefferson, Lincoln or Einstein; consequently any quote attributed to those people should be sourced before being taken as accurate”).
A couple more I’d like to put to bed, both attributed to Einstein:
- “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits” (from a coffee mug I got years ago at the late Shakespeare, Beethoven & Co.).
- “Coffee makes me smart” (from another coffee mug).
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