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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index G > Jesse L. Greenstein Quotes

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Jesse L. Greenstein
(15 Oct 1909 - 21 Oct 2002)

American astronomer who was a co-discoverer of quasars, and studied over 500 white dwarf stars.

Science Quotes by Jesse L. Greenstein (6 quotes)

[In high school,] I continued interest in experiments in physics related to astronomy and spectroscopy. I remember building various gadgets involved with the spectrograph in country houses that we rented in the summer, well before going to college. About 1923 our school radio club erected a giant-antenna and communicated with Australia by voice, which was I think early for radio amateurs. I had an early interest in radio. I remember back in summer camp hearing radio stations with an old crystal detector with coils I had wound when I was only nine or ten. Thus, I had an interest in radio at the beginning of radio astronomy in the United States [1933].
— Jesse L. Greenstein
Oral History Transcript of interview with Dr. Jesse Greenstein by Paul Wright (31 Jul 1974), on website of American Institute of Physics.
Science quotes on:  |  Amateur (22)  |  Astronomy (251)  |  Coil (4)  |  Experiment (736)  |  High School (15)  |  Interest (416)  |  Physics (564)  |  Radio (60)  |  Radio Astronomy (3)

At the age of three I began to look around my grandfather’s library. My first knowledge of astronomy came from reading and looking at pictures at that time. By the time I was six I remember him buying books for me. … I think I was eight, he bought me a three-inch telescope on a brass mounting. It stood on a table. … So, as far back as I can remember, I had an early interest in science in general, astronomy in particular.
— Jesse L. Greenstein
Oral History Transcript of interview with Dr. Jesse Greenstein by Paul Wright (31 Jul 1974), on website of American Institute of Physics.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (509)  |  Astronomy (251)  |  Back (395)  |  Book (413)  |  Early (196)  |  First (1302)  |  General (521)  |  Grandfather (14)  |  Interest (416)  |  Knowledge (1647)  |  Library (53)  |  Look (584)  |  Looking (191)  |  Particular (80)  |  Picture (148)  |  Reading (136)  |  Remember (189)  |  Telescope (106)  |  Think (1122)  |  Time (1911)

I remember chemistry, which I never took again, a good high school chemistry course. I passed first in New York in the College Entrance Board examination in chemistry that year, almost broke into tears because I didn’t get a hundred percent. I only got ninety-eight point six, or whatever it was, something very high. But not perfect, and therefore disturbing.
— Jesse L. Greenstein
From transcript of oral history interview by Jesse Wright, Niels Bohr Library & Archives (31 Jul 1974). Greenstein graduated from high school, and entered Harvard University, at age fifteen.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (376)  |  High School (15)

In a certain sense I made a living for five or six years out of that one star [υ Sagittarii] and it is still a fascinating, not understood, star. It’s the first star in which you could clearly demonstrate an enormous difference in chemical composition from the sun. It had almost no hydrogen. It was made largely of helium, and had much too much nitrogen and neon. It’s still a mystery in many ways … But it was the first star ever analysed that had a different composition, and I started that area of spectroscopy in the late thirties.
— Jesse L. Greenstein
Oral History Transcript of interview with Dr. Jesse Greenstein by Paul Wright (31 Jul 1974), on website of American Institute of Physics, about his research on strange shell stars. As quoted in J. B. Hearnshaw, The Analysis of Starlight: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Astronomical Spectroscopy (1986, 1990), 362. Hearnshaw footnoted that Berman earlier analysed the peculiar star R CrB (1935).
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In a sense Shapley’s telling me that space was transparent, which I shouldn’t have believed, illustrates a fundamental problem in science, believing what people tell you. Go and find it out for yourself. That same error has persisted in my life and in many other people’s. Authorities are not always authorities on everything; they often cling to their own mistakes.
— Jesse L. Greenstein
Oral History Transcript of interview with Dr. Jesse Greenstein by Paul Wright (31 Jul 1974), on website of American Institute of Physics.
Science quotes on:  |  Authority (99)  |  Belief (615)  |  Clinging (3)  |  Error (339)  |  Everything (489)  |  Find (1014)  |  Fundamental (264)  |  Illustration (51)  |  Life (1870)  |  Mistake (180)  |  Other (2233)  |  People (1031)  |  Problem (731)  |  Sense (785)  |  Harlow Shapley (13)  |  Space (523)  |  Tell (344)  |  Transparent (16)

Knowing how hard it is to collect a fact, you understand why most people want to have some fun analyzing it.
— Jesse L. Greenstein
Quoted in Fortune (May 1960), as cited in Maxine Block, Anna Herthe Rothe and Marjorie Dent Candee, Current Biography Yearbook 1963 (1964), 161.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (244)  |  Collection (68)  |  Fact (1257)  |  Fun (42)  |  Hard (246)  |  Knowing (137)  |  Knowledge (1647)  |  Most (1728)  |  People (1031)  |  Understand (648)  |  Understanding (527)  |  Want (504)  |  Why (491)

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  • 15 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Greenstein'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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