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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Lewis M. Branscomb Quotes

Lewis M. Branscomb
(17 Aug 1926 - )

American physicist, executive and writer who was hired by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (1951) and was appointed to head it in 1969. He also served as a government policy adviser, wrote several books on science policy, and served a term as president of the American Physical Society (1979).

Science Quotes by Lewis M. Branscomb (7 quotes)

I distinguish two kinds of "applied" research: problem-solving research — government or commercially initiated, centrally managed and institutionally coupled to a plan for application of the results, useful science—investigator-initiated, competitively evaluated and widely communicated. Then we have basic science—useful also, also investigator-initiated, competitively evaluated and widely communicated.
— Lewis M. Branscomb
In Confessions of a Technophile (1994), 31.
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Is what you are doing fun? Of course, physics is also fun—indeed it is an enjoyable way of life. One reason physics is fun is that each element of progress transforms an area of ignorance into knowledge, but it also creates, as a by-product, an amount of new and additional ignorance in excess of that which was reduced to understanding. Thus, the volume of delicious ignorance we produce is ever-expanding, like our exponentially exploding universe.
— Lewis M. Branscomb
In 'Physics and the APS in 1979', Physics Today (Apr 1980), 33, No. 4, 50.
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It is not always the truth that tells us where to look for new knowledge. We don’t search for the penny under the lamp post where the light is. We know we are more likely to find it out there in the darkness. My favorite way of expressing this notion to graduate students who are trying to do very hard experiments is to remind them that “God loves the noise as much as he does the signal.”
— Lewis M. Branscomb
In 'Physics and the APS in 1979', Physics Today (Apr 1980), 33, No. 4, 50.
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Let me suggest to you a simple test one can apply to scientific activities to determine whether or not they can constitute the practice of physics. Is what you are doing beautiful? Many beautiful things are created without the use of physical knowledge, but I know of no really worthwhile physics that isn’t beautiful. Indeed, one of the most distressing symptoms of scientific illiteracy is the impression so often given to school children that science is a mechanistic activity subject to algorithmic description.
— Lewis M. Branscomb
In 'Physics and the APS in 1979', Physics Today (Apr 1980), 33, No. 4, 50.
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Science is, perhaps, some kind of cosmic apple juice from the Garden of Eden. Those of it are doomed to carry the burden of original sin.
— Lewis M. Branscomb
As quoted in Norman C. Harris, Updating Occupational Education (1973), 105. Also in News Summaries (9 Apr 1971), as cited in Bill Swainson (ed.),The Encarta Book of Quotations (2000), 134.
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Unavoidably, physics is usually expensive, and too many physicists find themselves with outdated or incomplete apparatus. The average factory worker in the United States has his productivity supported by a capital investment of $25,000 in machines and equipment. If physicists engaged in small science were as well supported as the average factory worker, they would share a total of Ύ billion dollars of depreciated equipment. I seriously doubt that they are that well supported.
— Lewis M. Branscomb
In 'Physics and the APS in 1979', Physics Today (Apr 1980), 33, No. 4, 50.
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Were we in danger of stopping [the experiment] when we liked the answer? I realized then, as I have often said since, that nature does not “know” what experiment a scientist is trying to do. “God loves the noise as much as the signal.”
— Lewis M. Branscomb
In Confessions of a Technophile (1994), 45, with embedded quote by Branscomb cited in footnote as from 'Physics and the APS in 1979', Physics Today (Apr 1980), 33, No. 4, 49.
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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
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

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- 90 -
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- 40 -
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