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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > Christopher Columbus Quotes

Christopher Columbus
(1451 - 20 May 1506)

Italian explorer.



No quotes by this name.

Quotes by others about Christopher Columbus (13)

The role of hypothesis in research can be discussed more effectively if we consider first some examples of discoveries which originated from hypotheses. One of the best illustrations of such a discovery is provided by the story of Christopher Columbus’ voyage; it has many of the features of a classic discovery in science. (a) He was obsessed with an idea—that since the world is round he could reach the Orient by sailing West, (b) the idea was by no means original, but evidently he had obtained some additional evidence from a sailor blown off his course who claimed to have reached land in the west and returned, (c) he met great difficulties in getting someone to provide the money to enable him to test his idea as well as in the actual carrying out of the experimental voyage, (d) when finally he succeeded he did not find the expected new route, but instead found a whole new world, (e) despite all evidence to the contrary he clung to the bitter end to his hypothesis and believed that he had found the route to the Orient, (f) he got little credit or reward during his lifetime and neither he nor others realised the full implications of his discovery, (g) since his time evidence has been brought forward showing that he was by no means the first European to reach America.
The Art of Scientific Investigation (1950), 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Difficulty (113)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Error (230)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Idea (440)  |  Research (517)

It is impossible not to feel stirred at the thought of the emotions of man at certain historic moments of adventure and discovery—Columbus when he first saw the Western shore, Pizarro when he stared at the Pacific Ocean, Franklin when the electric spark came from the string of his kite, Galileo when he first turned his telescope to the heavens. Such moments are also granted to students in the abstract regions of thought, and high among them must be placed the morning when Descartes lay in bed and invented the method of co-ordinate geometry.
Quoted in James Roy Newman, The World of Mathematics (2000), Vol. 1, 239.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (43)  |  Adventure (36)  |  René Descartes (43)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Emotion (62)  |  Benjamin Franklin (81)  |  Galileo Galilei (101)  |  Heaven (118)  |  Invention (283)  |  Kite (2)  |  Moment (61)  |  Pacific Ocean (3)  |  Shore (11)  |  Spark (18)  |  String (17)  |  Student (131)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Thought (374)

We see it [the as-yet unseen, probable new planet, Neptune] as Columbus saw America from the coast of Spain. Its movements have been felt, trembling along the far-reaching line of our analysis with a certainty hardly inferior to that of ocular demonstration.
Address to the British Association, Southampton (10 Sep 1845). Quoted in Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society (1847), 16, 400.
Science quotes on:  |  America (74)  |  Analysis (123)  |  Certainty (97)  |  Coast (11)  |  Demonstration (51)  |  Far-Reaching (4)  |  Feeling (79)  |  Inferior (14)  |  Movement (65)  |  Neptune (8)  |  New (340)  |  Ocular (2)  |  Planet (199)  |  Spain (3)  |  Tremble (5)

The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the clown.
In Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1980), 34.
Science quotes on:  |  Robert Fulton (7)  |  Genius (186)  |  Implication (14)  |  Laughter (22)  |  Orville Wright (6)

Arithmetic must be discovered in just the same sense in which Columbus discovered the West Indies, and we no more create numbers than he created the Indians.
The Principles of Mathematics (1903), 451.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (68)  |  Creation (211)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Indian (17)  |  Number (179)

Dilbert: You joined the “Flat Earth Society?”
Dogbert: I believe the earth must be flat. There is no good evidence to support the so-called “round earth theory.”
Dilbert: I think Christopher Columbus would disagree.
Dogbert: How convenient that your best witness is dead.
Dilbert comic strip (9 Oct 1989).
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Convenience (25)  |  Death (270)  |  Disagreement (11)  |  Earth (487)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Flat (13)  |  Flat Earth (3)  |  Join (15)  |  Support (63)  |  Theory (582)  |  Witness (18)

Dogbert: So, Since Columbus is dead, you have no evidence that the earth is round.
Dilbert: Look. You can Ask Senator John Glenn. He orbited the earth when he was an astronaut.
Dogbert: So, your theory depends on the honesty of politicians.
Dilbert: Yes... no, wait...
Dilbert comic strip (10 Oct 1989).
Science quotes on:  |  Astronaut (22)  |  Death (270)  |  Dependence (32)  |  Earth (487)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Flat Earth (3)  |  John Glenn, Jr. (31)  |  Honesty (16)  |  Orbit (58)  |  Politician (22)  |  Round (15)  |  Theory (582)

I beg to present Columbus as a man of science and a man of faith. As a scientist, considering the time in which he lived, he eminently deserves our respect. Both in theory and in practice he was one of the best geographers and cosmographers of the age.
Address, in Chicago (12 Oct 1892). In E.S. Werner (ed.), Werner's Readings and Recitations (1908), 71.
Science quotes on:  |  Geographer (3)  |  Man Of Science (27)

The gentleman [Mr. Taber] from New York says [agricultural research] is all foolish. Yes; it was foolish when Burbank was experimenting with wild cactus. It was foolish when the Wright boys went down to Kitty Hawk and had a contraption there that they were going to fly like birds. It was foolish when Robert Fulton tried to put a boiler into a sail boat and steam it up the Hudson. It was foolish when one of my ancestors thought the world was round and discovered this country so that the gentleman from New York could become a Congressman. (Laughter.) ... Do not seek to stop progress; do not seek to put the hand of politics on these scientific men who are doing a great work. As the gentleman from Texas points out, it is not the discharge of these particular employees that is at stake, it is all the work of investigation, of research, of experimentation that has been going on for years that will be stopped and lost.
Speaking (28 Dec 1932) as a member of the 72nd Congress, early in the Great Depression, in opposition to an attempt to eliminate a small amount from the agricultural appropriation bill. As quoted in 'Mayor-Elect La Guardia on Research', Science (1933), New Series, 78, No. 2031, 511.
Science quotes on:  |  Agriculture (62)  |  Ancestor (35)  |  Bird (96)  |  Boat (13)  |  Boiler (6)  |  Cactus (3)  |  Contraption (2)  |  Employee (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Flight (45)  |  Foolishness (8)  |  Robert Fulton (7)  |  Government (85)  |  Hand (103)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Kitty Hawk (2)  |  Loss (62)  |  Men Of Science (97)  |  New York (14)  |  Politics (77)  |  Progress (317)  |  Research (517)  |  Researcher (17)  |  Scientific Progress (12)  |  Stop (56)  |  Technology (199)  |  Orville Wright (6)  |  Wilbur Wright (9)  |  Year (214)

Ode to The Amoeba
Recall from Time's abysmal chasm
That piece of primal protoplasm
The First Amoeba, strangely splendid,
From whom we're all of us descended.
That First Amoeba, weirdly clever,
Exists today and shall forever,
Because he reproduced by fission;
He split himself, and each division
And subdivision deemed it fitting
To keep on splitting, splitting, splitting;
So, whatsoe'er their billions be,
All, all amoebas still are he.
Zoologists discern his features
In every sort of breathing creatures,
Since all of every living species,
No matter how their breed increases
Or how their ranks have been recruited,
From him alone were evoluted.
King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba
And Hoover sprang from that amoeba;
Columbus, Shakespeare, Darwin, Shelley
Derived from that same bit of jelly.
So famed is he and well-connected,
His statue ought to be erected,
For you and I and William Beebe
Are undeniably amoebae!
(1922). Collected in Gaily the Troubadour (1936), 18.
Science quotes on:  |  Abyss (20)  |  Amoeba (20)  |  William Beebe (5)  |  Billion (52)  |  Breed (18)  |  Chasm (7)  |  Creature (127)  |  Charles Darwin (284)  |  Division (27)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Fission (7)  |  Herbert Hoover (13)  |  Jelly (2)  |  Life (917)  |  Matter (270)  |  Ode (2)  |  Poem (85)  |  Primal (4)  |  Protoplasm (12)  |  Reproduction (57)  |  William Shakespeare (90)  |  Mary Shelley (9)  |  Species (181)  |  Split (11)  |  Statue (9)  |  Zoologist (10)

Physical investigation, more than anything besides, helps to teach us the actual value and right use of the Imagination—of that wondrous faculty, which, left to ramble uncontrolled, leads us astray into a wilderness of perplexities and errors, a land of mists and shadows; but which, properly controlled by experience and reflection, becomes the noblest attribute of man; the source of poetic genius, the instrument of discovery in Science, without the aid of which Newton would never have invented fluxions, nor Davy have decomposed the earths and alkalies, nor would Columbus have found another Continent.
Presidential Address to Anniversary meeting of the Royal Society (30 Nov 1859), Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (1860), 10, 165.
Science quotes on:  |  Alkali (6)  |  America (74)  |  Continent (39)  |  Sir Humphry Davy (45)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Element (129)  |  Error (230)  |  Experience (268)  |  Genius (186)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  Ramble (2)  |  Wilderness (28)

Some of my youthful readers are developing wonderful imaginations. This pleases me. Imagination has brought mankind through the Dark Ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams—day dreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain-machinery whizzing—are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization. A prominent educator tells me that fairy tales are of untold value in developing imagination in the young. I believe it.
Opening paragraph of preface, 'To My Readers', The Lost Princess of Oz (1917), 13.
Science quotes on:  |  America (74)  |  Apt (7)  |  Automobile (19)  |  Belief (400)  |  Betterment (4)  |  Brain (181)  |  Child (189)  |  Civilization (155)  |  Create (98)  |  Dark Ages (10)  |  Develop (55)  |  Discover (115)  |  Dream (92)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Eye (159)  |  Fairy Tale (6)  |  Foster (2)  |  Benjamin Franklin (81)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Invent (30)  |  Machine (133)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Please (10)  |  Present (103)  |  Prominent (5)  |  Reader (22)  |  Reality (140)  |  State (96)  |  Steam Engine (41)  |  Telephone (21)  |  Untold (4)  |  Value (180)  |  Whiz (2)  |  Woman (94)  |  Wonderful (37)  |  World (667)  |  Young (72)  |  Youth (57)

Cezanne is the Christopher Columbus of a new continent of form.
In Art (1958), 139.
Science quotes on:  |  Continent (39)  |  Form (210)  |  New (340)


See also:
  • 20 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Columbus's death.

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 EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

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