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Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
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Derek Ager
(21 Apr 1923 - 8 Feb 1993)

English geologist and writer who served a term as President of the British Geologocal Association. He wrote books that analyzed geological processes in an entertaining and readable manner accessible to non-experts.

Derek Ager
“The earth, like the life of a soldier”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

Thumbnail photo of a volcanic fissure of Pu'u'O'o. Credit G.E. Ulrich on July 18, 1986, U.S. Geological Survey.
Pu'u'O'o, Hawaii (source)
“The history of any one part of the earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror. ”
— Derek Ager
In The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record (1973).

More Derek Ager quotes on science >>

In Derek Ager’s book, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, the subject quote comes from his concluding paragraph:

“The final conclusion I come to therefore is that, though the theories of plate tectonics now provide us with a modus operandi, they still seem to me to be a periodic phenomenon. Nothing is world-wide, but everything is episodic. In other words, the history of any one part of the earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror.”

In his Preface, he gave his rationale for writing the book: “because the ideas it contains have been fermenting in my brain for years and I had to write them down,” as his personal “commentary on the general pattern of earth history.” He admitted, “it is stratigraphy looked at by a non-stratigrapher.” Here, in his opening of the book, he made his first reference to a soldier when justifying his interpretations as a non-stratigrapher:

“I can offer the excuse that the non-combatant usually has a clearer picture of the battle than the soldiers actually engaged in the fighting.”

Text by Webmaster with quotes from The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record (1973), pages 100 and xiii. (source)


See also:
  • Science Quotes by Derek Ager.
  • Derek Ager - context of quote “The earth, like the life of a soldier” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • The New Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History, by Derek Ager. - book suggestion.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: 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) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
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James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
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Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


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