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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index A > Henry Brooks Adams Quotes

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Henry Brooks Adams
(16 Feb 1838 - 27 Mar 1918)

American historian and man of letters who won a Pulitzer Prize for his autobiographical work, The Education of Henry Adams (1919) and authored other biographical works. He wrote an essay, 'The Rule of Phase Applied to History' (1909) which was published postumously as A Letter to American Teachers of History (1919). In it, he drew an upon the idea of entropy (the universal tendency to the dissipation of mechanical energy) in the second law of thermodynamics to make an analogy with the progressive evolution in human history toward some state of perfection. He was great grandson of President John Adams.

Science Quotes by Henry Brooks Adams (13 quotes)

[After viewing the Palace of Electricity at the 1900 Trocadero Exposition in Paris]
[Saint-Gaudens and Matthew Arnold] felt a railway train as power; yet they, and all other artists, constantly complained that the power embodied in a railway train could never be embodied in art. All the steam in the world could not, like the Virgin, build Chartres.
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Brooks Adams: An Autobiography (1919), 388.
Science quotes on:  |  Energy (103)

A teacher effects eternity; [s]he can never tell where [her] his influence stops.
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography? (1918), 300.
Science quotes on:  |  Influence (47)  |  Teacher (54)

After Gibbs, one the most distinguished [American scientists] was Langley, of the Smithsonian. … He had the physicist's heinous fault of professing to know nothing between flashes of intense perception. … Rigidly denying himself the amusement of philosophy, which consists chiefly in suggesting unintelligible answers to insoluble problems, and liked to wander past them in a courteous temper, even bowing to them distantly as though recognizing their existence, while doubting their respectibility.
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography? (1918), 377.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (96)  |  Fault (13)  |  Gibbs_Willard (3)  |  Insoluble (4)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Perception (21)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Physicist (74)  |  Problem (180)  |  Scientist (237)

All experience is an arch to build upon.
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Adams (1907, 1918), 87.
Science quotes on:  |  Arch (3)  |  Build (23)  |  Experience (132)

Chaos often breeds life when order breeds habit.
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Adams (1907, 1918), 249.
Science quotes on:  |  Breed (8)  |  Chaos (33)  |  Habit (42)  |  Life (460)

Energy is the inherent effort of every multiplicity to become unity.
— Henry Brooks Adams
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (1904, 1913), 332.
Science quotes on:  |  Become (11)  |  Effort (40)  |  Energy (103)  |  Inherent (17)  |  Unity (16)

Laplace would have found it child's-play to fix a ratio of progression in mathematical science between Descartes, Leibnitz, Newton and himself
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography? (1918), 491.
Science quotes on:  |  Renι Descartes (32)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (45)  |  Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (24)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)  |  Progress (200)  |  Series (18)

Man has mounted science, and is now run away with. I firmly believe that before many centuries more, science will be the master of men. The engines he will have invented will be beyond his strength to control. Someday science may have the existence of mankind in its power, and the human race commit suicide, by blowing up the world. Not only shall we be able to cruise in space, but I'll be hanged if I see any reason why some future generation shouldn't walk off like a beetle with the world on its back, or give it another rotary motion so that every zone should receive in turn its due portion of heat and light.
— Henry Brooks Adams
Letter to Charles Francis Adams Jr., London, 11 April 1862. In J. C. Levenson, E. Samuels, C. Vandersee and V. Hopkins Winner (eds.), The Letters of Henry Adams: 1858-1868 (1982), Vol. 1, 290.

Man is an imperceptible atom always trying to become one with God.
— Henry Brooks Adams
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (1904, 1913), 332.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (164)  |  God (234)  |  Man (258)  |  Try (34)

Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Adams (1907, 1918), 379.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (16)  |  Astonishment (14)  |  Education (177)  |  Fact (325)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Inert (2)  |  Nothing (89)

Practical politics consists in ignoring facts.
— Henry Brooks Adams
In The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography (1906, 1918), 373.
Science quotes on:  |  Consist (8)  |  Fact (325)  |  Ignoring (2)  |  Politics (52)  |  Practical (30)

[Adams] supposed that, except musicians, everyone thought Beethoven a bore, as every one except mathematicians thought mathematics a bore.
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Brooks Adams: An Autobiography (1919), 80.
Science quotes on:  |  Mathematics (367)

[P]olitical and social and scientific values … should be correlated in some relation of movement that could be expressed in mathematics, nor did one care in the least that all the world said it could not be done, or that one knew not enough mathematics even to figure a formula beyond the schoolboy s=(1/2)gt2. If Kepler and Newton could take liberties with the sun and moon, an obscure person ... could take liberties with Congress, and venture to multiply its attraction into the square of its time. He had only to find a value, even infinitesimal, for its attraction.
— Henry Brooks Adams
The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography? (1918), 376.
Science quotes on:  |  Attraction (19)  |  Congress (6)  |  Formula (29)  |  Johannes Kepler (43)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Moon (78)  |  Motion (64)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)  |  Politics (52)  |  Society (84)  |  Sun (115)  |  Time (170)


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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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