What Would You Tell the Future?

Physicist Richard Feynman once said that if all knowledge about physics was about to expire the one sentence he would tell the future is that “Everything is made of atoms”. What one sentence would you tell the future about your own area, whether it’s entrepreneurship, hedge funds, venture capital, or something else?

Examples: An economist might say that “People respond to incentives”. I had an engineering professor years ago who said all of that field could be reduced to “F=MA and you can’t push on a rope”.

[via Emanuel Derman]


  1. Well, I’m not sure what I’d say, but it wouldn’t be a simple sentence. I’d definitely use a run-on sentence and probably even a semi-colon so I could cover more material. :)

  2. “The value of a financial instrument is the sum of future cash flows, discounted to the present.”

  3. For IT, a single compound noun phrase will will do quite nicely:
    “Simple designs, cheap components, and open specifications.”

  4. “Bodily contact with very tiny mortal organisms that live almost everywhere (including in our animal bodies) and require a special lens to see is one of the most common causes of why people get sick.”
    That took a lot of time to figure out because of the lack of tools and the usual supernatural explanations. People would be very incentivized to build the lens, find bacteria and see that the body is made up of similar things, see their effects, diminish the supernatural causes, and develop techniques (vaccines, pasteurization) and practices (washing hands before surgery) so as to reduce the causes and save 10^8 lives.

  5. One sentence? My field of expertise? For the future?
    “Have you tried rebooting?”
    You can guess what I do.

  6. Franklin Stubbs says:

    “Stick that meat on the fire, it’ll taste better.”

  7. IT
    “Don’t trust your backups”

  8. “Flames sell games.”

  9. your consciousness knows everything that your mind doesn’t know yet

  10. “The future is a choice.”

  11. It’s about getting the best creative product to the right consumer and having a damn good time doing it.
    -Advertising Account Kid

  12. You can’t make an infinite amount of money in trading without taking an infinite amount of risk

  13. Of all the water on earth, only one percent is drinkable, so it is a resource to be cherished not squandered.
    – Water industry operations manager.

  14. There is no inevitability provided there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening. (Strategist, quoting Leibnitz)

  15. Politics will cure us or kill us, and politics is a matter of attention.

  16. “Cats like to eat spaghetti.”

  17. “If it needs more than one sentence to explain its probably wrong”.