... QUOTATIONS ...

What scientists and others have said about scientists and science

Like science itself, the quotations here are not absolute truths;
they are expressions of belief based upon knowledge and experience.


About Isaac Newton

Alexander Pope (English Satirist) 1688 - 1744
"Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, "Let Newton be" and all was light."

Justus von Liebig (German Chemist) 1803 - 1873
"From one sublime genius - NEWTON - more light has proceeded than the labour of a thousand years preceding had been able to produce."

A historical perspective

AsimovIsaac Asimov (American Biochemist) 1920 - 1992
"During the century after Newton, it was still possible for a man of unusual attainments to master all fields of scientific knowledge. But by 1800, this had become entirely impracticable." (1965)

LiebigJustus von Liebig (German Chemist) 1803 - 1873
"In the progressive growth of astronomy, physics or mechanical science was developed, and when this had been, to a certain degree, successfully cultivated, it gave birth to the science of chemistry."

"But it must not be forgotten that ... glass and porcelain were manufactured, stuffs dyed and metals separated from their ores by mere empirical processes of art, and without the guidance of correct scientific principles."

"Only about seventy years ago was chemistry, like a grain of seed from a ripe fruit, separated from the other physical sciences. With Black, Cavendish and Priestley, its new era began. Medicine, pharmacy, and the useful arts, had prepared the soil upon which this seed was to germinate and to flourish."


Pondering on science, how it is done:

Georges Cuvier (French Zoologist) 1769 - 1832
"The observer listens to nature: the experimenter questions and forces her to reveal herself."

EinsteinAlbert Einstein (German/American Physicist) 1879 - 1955
"The mere formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill."

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Philosopher) 1803 - 1882
"Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of our science."

MaxwellJames Clerk Maxwell (Scottish Physicist/Mathematician) 1831 - 1879
"It was a great step in science when men became convinced that, in order to understand the nature of things, they must begin by asking, not whether a thing is good or bad, noxious or beneficial, but of what kind it is? And how much is there of it?"

HelmholtzHerman von Helmholtz (German Physiologist) 1821 - 1894
"Any pride I might have held in my conclusions was perceptibly lessened by the fact that I knew that the solution of these problems had almost always come to me as the gradual generalization of favorable examples, by a series of fortunate conjectures, after many errors."

Theodore von Karman (Hungarian/American Aeronautical Engineer) 1881 - 1963
"Scientists study the world as it is, engineers create the world that never has been."

Gordon L. Glegg (American Engineer)
"A scientist can discover a new star but he cannot make one. He would have to ask an engineer to do it for him."

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Hungarian Biochemist) 1893 - 1986
"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."

HenryJoseph Henry (American Physicist) 1797 - 1878
"The seeds of great discovery are constantly floating around us, but they only take root in minds well prepared to receive them."

Thomas Henry Huxley (English Biologist) 1825 - 1895
"The great tragedy of science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."

Isaac Newton (English Physicist) 1642 - 1727
"To myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

PasteurLouis Pasteur (French Chemist) 1822 - 1895
"In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind."

Jules Henrie Poincare (French Mathematician) 1854 - 1912
"Science is facts. Just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts. But a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science."

About scientists

CurieMarie Curie (Polish Physicist) 1867 - 1934
"I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale."(1933)

MedawarP. B. Medawar (British Zoologist) 1915 - 1987
"A scientist must be freely imaginative and yet skeptical, creative and yet a critic. ... There is poetry in science, but also a lot of bookkeeping."

"Among scientists are collectors, classifiers and compulsive tidiers-up; many are detectives by temperament and many are explorers, some are artists and others artisans. There are poet-scientists and philosopher-scientists and even a few mystics ... and most people who are in fact scientists could easily have been something else instead."

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