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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > Arthur Holly Compton Quotes

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Arthur Holly Compton
(10 Sep 1892 - 15 Mar 1962)

American physicist.

Science Quotes by Arthur Holly Compton (9 quotes)

At your next breath each of you will probably inhale half a dozen or so of the molecules of Caesar’s last breath.
— Arthur Holly Compton
'Assault on Atoms' (Read 23 Apr 1931 at Symposium—The Changing World) Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (1931), 70, No. 3, 219.
Science quotes on:  |  Breath (30)  |  Caesar_Julius (2)  |  Inhale (2)  |  Last (19)  |  Molecule (127)  |  Probably (29)

It is hard to think of fissionable materials when fashioned into bombs as being a source of happiness. However this may be, if with such destructive weapons men are to survive, they must grow rapidly in human greatness. A new level of human understanding is needed. The reward for using the atom’s power towards man’s welfare is great and sure. The punishment for its misuse would seem to be death and the destruction of the civilization that has been growing for a thousand years. These are the alternatives that atomic power, as the steel of Daedalus, presents to mankind. We are forced to grow to greater manhood.
— Arthur Holly Compton
Atomic Quest: A Personal Narrative (1956), xix.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Bomb (101)  |  Fission (7)  |  War (149)

It is primarily through the growth of science and technology that man has acquired those attributes which distinguish him from the animals, which have indeed made it possible for him to become human.
— Arthur Holly Compton
In The Human Meaning of Science (1940), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquire (22)  |  Animal (325)  |  Attribute (26)  |  Distinguish (35)  |  Growth (115)  |  Man (348)  |  Possible (112)  |  Primarily (10)  |  Science (1741)  |  Technology (205)

The scientist is society’s scout who goes far into nature’s new territory and brings back a report of what lies there.
— Arthur Holly Compton
Statement prepared for a dinner-symposium on 'Previews of Industrial Progress in the Next century', held in Chicago (25 May 1935), the evening preceding the reopening of the Century of Progress Exposition. In Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., 'Science and Industry in the Coming Century', The Scientific Monthly (Jul 1934), 39, No. 1, 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Far (106)  |  Nature (1081)  |  New (380)  |  Report (31)  |  Scientist (459)  |  Scout (3)  |  Society (195)  |  Territory (14)

The scientist who recognizes God knows only the God of Newton. To him the God imagined by Laplace and Comte is wholly inadequate. He feels that God is in nature, that the orderly ways in which nature works are themselves the manifestations of God's will and purpose. Its laws are his orderly way of working.
— Arthur Holly Compton
The Human Meaning of Science (1940), 69.
Science quotes on:  |  Auguste Comte (13)  |  God (474)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (50)  |  Nature (1081)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (261)

The story is told of Lord Kelvin, a famous Scotch physicist of the last century, that after he had given a lecture on atoms and molecules, one of his students came to him with the question, “Professor, what is your idea of the structure of the atom.”
“What,” said Kelvin, “The structure of the atom? Why, don’t you know, the very word ‘atom’ means the thing that can’t be cut. How then can it have a structure?”
“That,” remarked the facetious young man, “shows the disadvantage of knowing Greek.”
— Arthur Holly Compton
As described in 'Assault on Atoms' (Read 23 Apr 1931 at Symposium—The Changing World) Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (1931), 70, No. 3, 219.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (265)  |  Century (103)  |  Cut (36)  |  Disadvantage (9)  |  Facetious (2)  |  Greek (46)  |  Idea (457)  |  Baron William Thomson Kelvin (50)  |  Know (394)  |  Lecture (54)  |  Molecule (127)  |  Physicist (132)  |  Professor (40)  |  Question (327)  |  Scottish (2)  |  Story (62)  |  Structure (193)  |  Student (140)  |  Word (235)

Though much new light is shed by ... studies in radioactivity, the nucleus of the atom, with its hoard of energy, thus continues to present us with a fascinating mystery. ... Our assault on atoms has broken down the outer fortifications. We feel that we know the fundamental rules according to which the outer part of the atom is built. The appearance and properties of the electron atmosphere are rather familiar. Yet that inner citadel, the atomic nucleus, remains unconquered, and we have reason to believe that within this citadel is secreted a great treasure. Its capture may form the main objective of the physicists’ next great drive.
— Arthur Holly Compton
'Assault on Atoms' (Read 23 Apr 1931 at Symposium—The Changing World) Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (1931), 70, No. 3, 229.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (78)  |  Assault (9)  |  Atmosphere (69)  |  Atom (265)  |  Belief (421)  |  Built (7)  |  Capture (9)  |  Citadel (4)  |  Drive (44)  |  Electron (67)  |  Energy (200)  |  Familiar (27)  |  Fascinating (19)  |  Fortification (4)  |  Fundamental (124)  |  Great (355)  |  Hoard (2)  |  Inner (29)  |  Main (17)  |  Mystery (133)  |  Nucleus (31)  |  Objective (51)  |  Outer (7)  |  Physicist (132)  |  Property (96)  |  Radioactivity (26)  |  Reason (343)  |  Remain (82)  |  Rule (140)  |  Study (349)  |  Treasure (37)

Typical of the fundamental scientific problems whose solution should lead to important industrial consequences are, for example, the release of atomic energy, which experiment has shown to exist in quantities millions of times greater than is liberated by combustion.
— Arthur Holly Compton
An early speculation on using the amount of energy that could be released from uranium atoms. In a letter to Henry Ford (18 May 1931). He recorded earlier thoughts on the subject in his Research Notebook, entry for 23 Jul 1930, in Arthur H. Compton Notebooks, Washington University, St. Louis, and AIP. Cited by Stanley Coben, in 'The Scientific Establishment and the Transmission of Quantum Mechanics to the United States, 1919-32', The American Historical Review (Apr 1971), 76, No. 2, 466.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Energy (21)  |  Combustion (10)  |  Consequence (81)  |  Exist (105)  |  Experiment (548)  |  Fundamental (124)  |  Greater (36)  |  Industry (96)  |  Liberate (9)  |  Million (96)  |  Problem (382)  |  Quantity (36)  |  Release (17)  |  Scientific (181)  |  Solution (175)  |  Typical (10)

Yet is it possible in terms of the motion of atoms to explain how men can invent an electric motor, or design and build a great cathedral? If such achievements represent anything more than the requirements of physical law, it means that science must investigate the additional controlling factors, whatever they may be, in order that the world of nature may be adequately understood. For a science which describes only the motions of inanimate things but fails to include the actions of living organisms cannot claim universality.
— Arthur Holly Compton
The Human Meaning of Science (1940), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (265)  |  Enquiry (75)  |  Law (425)

See also:

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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