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John N. Bahcall
(30 Dec 1934 - 17 Aug 2005)

American astrophysicist who pioneered the development of neutrino astrophysics in the early 1960s. He theorized that neutrinos (subatomic particles that have no charge and exceedingly weak interaction with matter) can be used to understanding how stars shine.

John N. Bahcall
“We're about to learn something important”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

“Every time we get slapped down, we can say, ‘Thank you Mother Nature,’ because it means we're about to learn something important.”
— John N. Bahcall
As quoted in Time (6 Mar 1995)

More John N. Bahcall quotes on science >>

In their March 1990 cover story eight-page article, “Unraveling Universe” in Time magazine, Michael D. Lemonick and J. Madeleine Nash presented then recent work by several scientists which did not appear to fit into previous beliefs about how the cosmos works, its age, and the dark-matter problem.

In wrapping up their description of the conflicts, the authors asked, “Will a crucial new observation tie up the loose ends in cosmology? Or do theorists need a fundamentally new framework for understanding the universe?” and provided an answer from Princeton astrophysicist David Spergel that it’s a lot easier to add bells and whistles like cosmic strings or a cosmological constant to existing theories than to come up with something as powerful as relativity.

The authors concluded on an optimistic note that, “As they search for answers, the noisy clash of egos and the confusion of conflicting claims may be taken as signs that science is alive and well and likely on the cusp of a major new insight.” They summed it up with the quote from John Bahcall of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton:

“Every time we get slapped down, we can say, ‘Thank you Mother Nature,’ because it means we’re about to learn something important.”

Context by Webmaster, with quotes from Michael D. Lemonick and J. Madeleine Nash, 'Unraveling Universe', Time (6 Mar 1990), 145, No. 9, 76-84.

See also:
  • Science Quotes by John N. Bahcall.
  • 30 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Bahcall's birth.
  • John N. Bahcall - context of quote “We're about to learn something important” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • John N. Bahcall - context of quote “We should do astronomy because it is beautiful” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • John N. Bahcall - context of quote “We should do astronomy because it is beautiful” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • John N. Bahcall - context of quote “The most important discoveries” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • John N. Bahcall - context of quote “The most important discoveries” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • John Bahcall - Statement to House Subcommittee concerning Hubble Space Telescope flaw (13 Jul 1990).
  • Neutrino Astrophysics, by John N. Bahcall. - 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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