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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index G > William Gilbert Quotes

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William Gilbert
(24 May 1544 - 10 Dec 1603)

English physician and physician.


Science Quotes by William Gilbert (7 quotes)

A lodestone is a wonderful thing in very many experiments, and like living things. And one of its remarkable virtues in that which the ancients considered to be a living soul in the sky, in the globes and in the stars, in the sun and in the moon.
— William Gilbert
In De Magnete. Cited in Gerrit L. Verschuur, Hidden Attraction (1996), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancient (71)  |  Consideration (67)  |  Experiment (548)  |  Globe (45)  |  Life (993)  |  Likeness (7)  |  Lodestone (5)  |  Moon (174)  |  Remarkable (34)  |  Sky (108)  |  Soul (151)  |  Star (310)  |  Sun (252)  |  Virtue (55)  |  Wonder (152)

In like manner, the loadstone has from nature its two poles, a northern and a southern; fixed, definite points in the stone, which are the primary termini of the movements and effects, and the limits and regulators of the several actions and properties. It is to be understood, however, that not from a mathematical point does the force of the stone emanate, but from the parts themselves; and all these parts in the whole—while they belong to the whole—the nearer they are to the poles of the stone the stronger virtues do they acquire and pour out on other bodies. These poles look toward the poles of the earth, and move toward them, and are subject to them. The magnetic poles may be found in very loadstone, whether strong and powerful (male, as the term was in antiquity) or faint, weak, and female; whether its shape is due to design or to chance, and whether it be long, or flat, or four-square, or three-cornered or polished; whether it be rough, broken-off, or unpolished: the loadstone ever has and ever shows its poles.
— William Gilbert
On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies and on the Great Magnet the Earth: A New Physiology, Demonstrated with many Arguments and Experiments (1600), trans. P. Fleury Mottelay (1893), 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Magnetism (26)

In the discovery of hidden things and the investigation of hidden causes, stronger reasons are obtained from sure experiments and demonstrated arguments than from probable conjectures and the opinions of philosophical speculators of the common sort...
— William Gilbert
De Magnete (1600). In William Gilbert and P. Fleury Mottelay (trans.), William Gilbert of Colchester, physician of London: On the load stone and magnetic bodies (1893), xlvii.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (242)  |  Common (96)  |  Conjecture (25)  |  Demonstrate (28)  |  Discovery (601)  |  Experiment (548)  |  Hidden (35)  |  Investigation (124)  |  Obtain (26)  |  Opinion (150)  |  Philosopher (134)  |  Probable (14)  |  Reason (343)

Look for knowledge not in books but in things themselves.
Non ex libris solum,sed ex rebus ipsis scientiam quaeritis.
— William Gilbert
In De Magnete, Magnetisque Corporibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure, On the Magnet, Magnetic Bodies, and the Great Magnet Earth (1600). As translated in John Daintith, Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists (2009), 291. A more literal translation is “Not only in books but in things themselves look for knowledge,” as translated by P. Fleury Mottelay (1893) in De Magnete (1958), xlix. Original Latin in De Magnete (1600), Praefatio, unpaginated second page of preface.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (163)  |  Book (188)  |  Knowledge (1148)  |  Observation (421)  |  Research (530)  |  Self-Taught (5)

Since the discovery of secret things and in the investigation of hidden causes, stronger reasons are obtained from sure experiments and demonstrated arguments than from probable conjectures and the opinions of philosophical speculators of the common sort; therefore to the end that the noble substance of that great loadstone, our common mother (the earth), still quite unknown, and also the forces extraordinary and exalted of this globe may the better be understood, we have decided first to begin with the common stony and ferruginous matter, and magnetic bodies, and the parts of the earth that we may handle and may perceive with the senses; then to proceed with plain magnetic experiments, and to penetrate to the inner parts of the earth.
— William Gilbert
On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies and on the Great Magnet the Earth: A New Physiology, Demonstrated with many Arguments and Experiments (1600), trans. P. Fleury Mottelay (1893), Author's Preface, xlvii.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (548)  |  Magnetism (26)

The magnetic force is animate, or imitates a soul; in many respects it surpasses the human soul while it is united to an organic body.
— William Gilbert
In De Magnete. Cited in Gerrit L. Verschuur, Hidden Attraction (1996), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  Animation (3)  |  Body (206)  |  Force (208)  |  Human (472)  |  Imitation (17)  |  Magnetism (26)  |  Organic (49)  |  Respect (61)  |  Soul (151)  |  Surpassing (7)  |  Uniting (4)

The magnet’s name the observing Grecians drew
From the magnetic region where it grew.
— William Gilbert
Lucretius, as quoted by William Gilbert in De Magnete. Cited in Gerrit L. Verschuur, Hidden Attraction (1996), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Greece (7)  |  Growth (115)  |  Magnet (8)  |  Name (124)  |  Observation (421)  |  Region (26)



Quotes by others about William Gilbert (2)

Gilbert shall live, till Load-stones cease to draw,
Or British Fleets the boundless Ocean awe.
'Of Miscellany Poems To my Honor’d Friend Dr. Charleton On his Learned and Useful Works; But more particularly his Treatise of Stone-Heng, By him restored to the true Founders', collected in Poetical Miscellanies: The Fifth Part (1704), 39. (Dr Walter Charleton was physician in ordinary to King Charles I. His treatise on Stonehenge was published in 1663.)
Science quotes on:  |  Magnetism (26)  |  Poem (86)

Mahomet’s tombe at Mecha is said strangely to hang up, attracted by some invisible Loadstone, but the Memory of this Doctor will never fall to the ground, which his incomparable Book ‘De Magnete’ will support to Eternity.
In The History of the The Worthies of England (1662, 1840), Vol. 1, 515.
Science quotes on:  |  Attract (16)  |  Book (188)  |  Doctor (100)  |  Eternity (48)  |  Fall (99)  |  Ground (66)  |  Hang (20)  |  Incomparable (8)  |  Invisible (33)  |  Lodestone (5)  |  Mecca (2)  |  Memory (88)  |  Strange (67)  |  Support (67)  |  Tomb (7)


See also:
  • 24 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Gilbert's birth.

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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