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I am new to this portion of stack exchange and am not sure if this type of question is allowed, but after seeing this, I assume it is.

A while back, I remember reading a quote about math that said something along the lines of “Before you know the answer, it is impossible; once you do, it’s trivial”. I think the quote even used the terms “trivial” and “impossible”, but I can’t find it again.

The closest I’ve found is “In mathematics, there are only two kinds of proofs: Trivial ones, and undiscovered ones”, but that’s not it as the actual quote used “impossible”.

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    $\begingroup$ "After physicists prove a big result they think it is fantastic but after mathematicians prove a big result they think it is trivial", Szpiro; "Not only is every mathematical problem solved, but eventually, every mathematical problem is proved trivial", Rota, The Pernicious Influence of Mathematics upon Philosophy; "Mathematicians can prove only trivial theorems, because every theorem that's proved is trivial", Feynman, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Sep 12, 2022 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ Feynman's version is sometimes paraphrased as "There are two types of true mathematical propositions: trivial ones, and those which have not yet been proven." I've also heard "Mathematical theorems are either trivial or false", etc. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Sep 12, 2022 at 5:16

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I believe you're referring to this particular quote:

“All of physics is either impossible or trivial. It is impossible until you understand it, and then it becomes trivial.” - Ernest Rutherford

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you have a citation for this? $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2022 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, I don't have an official source for the quote. I've seen it in passing on numerous occasions over the years -- it used to be written on our physics club T-shirts 20 years ago. It could be apocryphal since a keyword search of the quote brings up countless quotation websites with no citation. The quote is commonly used, so it's possible OP stumbled across it. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew R.
    Sep 13, 2022 at 15:00

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