Sometimes you think “huh?”

Shimon Peres, ex-PM and ex-President of Israel, who died just two years ago, put out fascinating if coy memoirs in 1995. I spotted the following memorable quote:

I use the term “engineering” advisedly: there is a difference between the scientist and the engineer, akin perhaps to the difference between a lover and a husband.

Surely, since my book often contrasts engineers and scientists, I can use this, I thought. But no, the simile is too opaque. What does Peres mean?


Peres, Shimon. 1995. Battling for Peace: Memoirs. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, p. 136


  • Engineers focus on what is, while scientists focus on what might be. Engineers are problem solvers, trained to define a problem, identify and evaluate possible solutions, then move on. The longer I spend with engineers, the more I marvel at this strength and weakness in how they contribute. I think Peres’s observation is very apt and insightful, this from a PM of a country that has proved adept at addressing and dealing with in some cases existential problems. Many Israeli ‘solutions’ are effective, but many of them are inelegant.

    • I read Peres’s autobiography/memoirs strictly for his crucial role in the 50s and 60s re Israel’s nuclear strategy, and I can’t pretend to appreciate him fully, but from my limited reading he comes across as most savvy and human. I should read more about him.