Mathematician David Hilbert had inscribed on his tombstone, “Wir mussen wissen. Wir warden wissen.”  He was German, in case you thought this was going to be a note about typographical errors made in granite.

“We must know.  We will know.”  That’s the translation, and a powerful commentary on mankind’s need — mandate, even — to advance the boundaries of knowledge. 


It is said that the word “nerd” originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the cool kids who somehow managed to find their way to and into MIT characterized the uncool kids as knurds.  Knurd, you will note, is drunk spelled backward.  Therefore it was trendy to be drunk, whereas it was the sign of ultimate and irreversible squaredom to study, achieve, graduate with honors, and get a job.