14 Technical Disciplines Summarized in a Single Iconic Phrase

Thomas Smith on 2019-12-12

Can you capture a whole field of study in one sentence or less?

Credit: CDC

Technical and artistic professions are hard! People spend years of their lives — and hundreds of thousands of dollars — learning their chosen profession in great detail.

But after all that study and specialization, can you summarize a profession in a single phrase or quote? Perhaps something that’s often repeated as gospel, taught to everyone entering the field from day one, or shared with a wary smile between long-time practitioners? Or perhaps a fundamental assumption that underlies all the field’s other activities?

Let’s try! Here are 14 disciplines — technical and artistic — summarized in a single quote or phrase.


Credit: CDC

“Neurons that fire together wire together”

Data Science

Credit: NLM

“If you could give me cleaner data…”

Computer Science

Credit: Gado Images

“=, ==, if, while, for”


Credit: CDC

“The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”


Credit: NYPL

“Live truthfully under imaginary circumstances


Credit: CDC

“Fungi have chitin in their cell walls”


Credit: CDC

“Lower the carrying capacity of the environment”

Stage Tech

Credit: Gado Images

“Actors will trip on spike tape. Dancers will trip on the place where spike tape used to be”


Credit: Gado Images

“Treat others as you’d have them treat you”

Transportation Engineering

Credit: Gado Images

“Induced demand”

Sociocultural Anthropology

Credit: Gado Images

“Participant observer”

Space Exploration

Credit: NASA

“Dear Lord, please don’t let me F*** up


Credit: Gado Images

“F8 and be there

Civil Engineering

Credit: CDC

“The solution to pollution is dilution”