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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index H > Edwin Powell Hubble Quotes

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Edwin Powell Hubble
(20 Nov 1889 - 28 Sep 1953)

American astronomer.


Science Quotes by Edwin Powell Hubble (14 quotes)

Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
In The Nature of Science, and Other Lectures (1954), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Adventure (36)  |  Equipment (26)  |  Exploration (93)  |  Five (14)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sense (240)  |  Universe (563)

From our home on the Earth, we look out into the distances and strive to imagine the sort of world into which we were born. Today, we have reached far into space. Our immediate neighborhood we know rather intimately. But with increasing distance our knowledge fades The search will continue. The urge is older than history. It is not satisfied and will not be suppressed.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
In 'From Our Home On The Earth', The Land (1946), 5, 145. As cited on the webpage of the Edwin Powell Hubble Papers.
Science quotes on:  |  Continue (38)  |  Distance (54)  |  Earth (487)  |  Fade (5)  |  History (302)  |  Home (58)  |  Imagine (40)  |  Increase (107)  |  Intimately (4)  |  Know (321)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Neighborhood (7)  |  Old (104)  |  Satisfied (14)  |  Search (85)  |  Urge (10)  |  World (667)

Mathematicians deal with possible worlds, with an infinite number of logically consistent systems. Observers explore the one particular world we inhabit. Between the two stands the theorist. He studies possible worlds but only those which are compatible with the information furnished by observers. In other words, theory attempts to segregate the minimum number of possible worlds which must include the actual world we inhabit. Then the observer, with new factual information, attempts to reduce the list further. And so it goes, observation and theory advancing together toward the common goal of science, knowledge of the structure and observation of the universe.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
Lecture to Sigma Xi, 'The Problem of the Expanding Universe' (1941), printed in Sigma Xi Quarterly (1942), 30, 104-105. Reprinted in Smithsonian Institution Report of the Board of Regents (1943), 97, 123. As cited by Norriss S. Hetherington in 'Philosophical Values and Observation in Edwin Hubble's Choice of a Model of the Universe', Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (1982), 13, No. 1, 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Actual (34)  |  Advance (123)  |  Attempt (94)  |  Common (92)  |  Compatibility (4)  |  Consistency (21)  |  Exploration (93)  |  Fact (609)  |  Goal (81)  |  Inclusion (5)  |  Infinite (88)  |  Information (102)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Logic (187)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Minimum (10)  |  Number (179)  |  Observation (418)  |  Observer (33)  |  Reduction (35)  |  Science (1699)  |  Segregation (2)  |  Structure (191)  |  Study (331)  |  System (141)  |  Theorist (24)  |  Theory (582)  |  Universe (563)  |  World (667)

Observations always involve theory.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Involve (27)  |  Observation (418)  |  Theory (582)

Past time is finite, future time is infinite.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
The Observational Approach to Cosmology (1937), 62.
Science quotes on:  |  Infinity (59)  |  Time (439)

Positive, objective knowledge is public property. It can be transmitted directly from one person to another, it can be pooled, and it can be passed on from one generation to the next. Consequently, knowledge accumulates through the ages, each generation adding its contribution. Values are quite different. By values, I mean the standards by which we judge the significance of life. The meaning of good and evil, of joy and sorrow, of beauty, justice, success-all these are purely private convictions, and they constitute our store of wisdom. They are peculiar to the individual, and no methods exist by which universal agreement can be obtained. Therefore, wisdom cannot be readily transmitted from person to person, and there is no great accumulation through the ages. Each man starts from scratch and acquires his own wisdom from his own experience. About all that can be done in the way of communication is to expose others to vicarious experience in the hope of a favorable response.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
The Nature of Science and other Lectures (1954), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Value (180)

Science deals with judgments on which it is possible to obtain universal agreement. These judgments do not concern individual facts and events, but the invariable association of facts and events known as the laws of science. Agreement is secured by observation and experiment—impartial courts of appeal to which all men must submit if they wish to survive. The laws are grouped and explained by theories of ever increasing generality. The theories at first are ex post facto—merely plausible interpretations of existing bodies of data. However, they frequently lead to predictions that can be tested by experiments and observations in new fields, and, if the interpretations are verified, the theories are accepted as working hypotheses until they prove untenable. The essential requirements are agreement on the subject matter and the verification of predictions. These features insure a body of positive knowledge that can be transmitted from person to person, and that accumulates from generation to generation.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
From manuscript on English Science in the Renaissance (1937), Edwin Hubble collection, Box 2, Huntington Library, San Marino, California. As cited by Norriss S. Hetherington in 'Philosophical Values and Observation in Edwin Hubble's Choice of a Model of the Universe', Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (1982), 13, No. 1, 41. (Hetherington comments parenthetically that the references to court, judgment and appeal may be attributable to his prior experiences as a Rhodes Scholar reading Roman law at Oxford, and to a year's practice as an attorney in Louisville, Kentucky.)
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  Agreement (29)  |  Appeal (30)  |  Association (15)  |  Court (16)  |  Data (100)  |  Event (97)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Generality (22)  |  Generation (111)  |  Impartiality (3)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Obervation (3)  |  Plausibility (6)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Science (1699)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Survival (49)  |  Test (96)  |  Theory (582)  |  Transmission (23)  |  Verification (20)

Science is the one human activity that is truly progressive. The body of positive knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
The Realm of the Nebulae (1936), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Progression (9)  |  Science (1699)

The explorations of space end on a note of uncertainty. And necessarily so. … We know our immediate neighborhood rather intimately. With increasing distance our knowledge fades, and fades rapidly. Eventually, we reach the dim boundary—the utmost limits of our telescopes. There, we measure shadows, and we search among ghostly errors of measurement for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
In Realm of the Nebulae: The Silliman Memorial Lectures Series (1936), 201-202. The lecture series was delivered at Yale University in Fall 1935.
Science quotes on:  |  Boundary (27)  |  Dim (4)  |  Distance (54)  |  End (141)  |  Error (230)  |  Exploration (93)  |  Fade (5)  |  Ghost (20)  |  Increase (107)  |  Intimately (4)  |  Know (321)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Landmark (6)  |  Limit (86)  |  Measure (70)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Neighborhood (7)  |  Shadow (35)  |  Space (154)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Uncertainty (37)  |  Utmost (8)

The explorations of space end on a note of uncertainty. And necessarily so. … We know our immediate neighborhood rather intimately. With increasing distance, our knowledge fades, and fades rapidly. Eventually, we reach the dim boundary—the utmost limits of our telescopes. There, we measure shadows, and we search among ghostly errors of measurement for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial. The search will continue. Not until the empirical resources are exhausted, need we pass on to the dreamy realms of speculation.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
From conclusion of The Silliman Memorial Lectures Series delivered at Yale University (Fall 1935). Collected in The Realm of the Nebulae (1936), 201-202.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Limit (86)  |  Observation (418)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Telescope (74)

The history of astronomy is a history of receding horizons.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
The Realm of the Nebulae (1936), 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  History (302)  |  Horizon (13)

The scientist explores the world of phenomena by successive approximations. He knows that his data are not precise and that his theories must always be tested. It is quite natural that he tends to develop healthy skepticism, suspended judgment, and disciplined imagination.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
In Commencement Address, California Institute of Technology (10 Jun 1938), 'Experiment and Experience'. Collected in abridged form in The Huntington Library Quarterly (Apr 1939), 2, No. 3, 245
Science quotes on:  |  Approximation (16)  |  Data (100)  |  Develop (55)  |  Discipline (38)  |  Exploration (93)  |  Healthy (17)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Precise (17)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Skepticism (18)  |  Successive (14)  |  Suspend (7)  |  Tend (23)  |  Test (96)  |  Theory (582)  |  World (667)

Wisdom cannot be directly transmitted, and does not readily accumulate through the ages.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
From manuscript on English Science in the Renaissance (1937), Edwin Hubble collection, Box 2, Huntington Library, San Marino, California. As cited by Norriss S. Hetherington in 'Philosophical Values and Observation in Edwin Hubble's Choice of a Model of the Universe', Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (1982), 13, No. 1, 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  Science History (3)  |  Transmission (23)  |  Wisdom (151)

[A scientist] naturally and inevitably … mulls over the data and guesses at a solution. [He proceeds to] testing of the guess by new data—predicting the consequences of the guess and then dispassionately inquiring whether or not the predictions are verified.
— Edwin Powell Hubble
From manuscript on Francis Bacon as a scientist (1942), Edwin Hubble collection, Box 2, Huntington Library, San Marino, California. As cited by Norriss S. Hetherington in 'Philosophical Values and Observation in Edwin Hubble's Choice of a Model of the Universe', Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (1982), 13, No. 1, 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Consequence (76)  |  Data (100)  |  Dispassionate (4)  |  Guess (36)  |  Inevitability (8)  |  Inquiry (33)  |  New (340)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Solution (168)  |  Test (96)  |  Verification (20)



Quotes by others about Edwin Powell Hubble (3)

Hubble's observations suggested that there was a time, called the big bang, when the universe was infinitesimally small and infinitely dense. Under such conditions all the laws of science, and therefore all ability to predict the future, would break down. If there were events earlier than this time, then they could not affect what happens at the present time. Their existence can be ignored because it would have no observational consequences. One may say that time had a beginning at the big bang, in the sense that earlier times simply would not be defined. It should be emphasized that this beginning in time is very different from those that had been considered previously. In an unchanging universe a beginning in time is something that has to be imposed by some being outside the universe; there is no physical necessity for a beginning. One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could still imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!
A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (1988), 8-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Big Bang (38)  |  God (454)  |  Time (439)  |  Universe (563)

Scientists come in two varieties, hedgehogs and foxes. I borrow this terminology from Isaiah Berlin (1953), who borrowed it from the ancient Greek poet Archilochus. Archilochus told us that foxes know many tricks, hedgehogs only one. Foxes are broad, hedgehogs are deep. Foxes are interested in everything and move easily from one problem to another. Hedgehogs are only interested in a few problems that they consider fundamental, and stick with the same problems for years or decades. Most of the great discoveries are made by hedgehogs, most of the little discoveries by foxes. Science needs both hedgehogs and foxes for its healthy growth, hedgehogs to dig deep into the nature of things, foxes to explore the complicated details of our marvelous universe. Albert Einstein and Edwin Hubble were hedgehogs. Charley Townes, who invented the laser, and Enrico Fermi, who built the first nuclear reactor in Chicago, were foxes.
In 'The Future of Biotechnology', A Many-Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe (2007), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Archilochus (3)  |  Broad (18)  |  Complication (20)  |  Deep (81)  |  Detail (65)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Albert Einstein (535)  |  Enrico Fermi (17)  |  Fox (8)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Hedgehog (2)  |  Invention (283)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Laser (4)  |  Marvel (24)  |  Problem (362)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Charles Townes (3)  |  Trick (19)  |  Universe (563)  |  Variety (53)

Picture yourself during the early 1920's inside the dome of the [Mount Wilson Observatory]. … [Milton] Humason is showing [Harlow] Shapley stars he had found in the Andromeda Nebula that appeared and disappeared on photographs of that object. The famous astronomer very patiently explains that these objects could not be stars because the Nebula was a nearby gaseous cloud within our own Milky Way system. Shapley takes his handkerchief from his pocket and wipes the identifying marks off the back of the photographic plate.
Of course, Hubble came along in 1924 and showed that it was just these Cepheid variable stars in the Andromeda Nebula which proved it was a separate galaxy system.
In Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies (1998), 168. Arp writes that this was “a piece of real history which I happen to know because it was told to me by one of the participants. It dramatically illustrate the critical role of discordant evidence.”
Science quotes on:  |  Andromeda (2)  |  Appearance (77)  |  Disappearance (21)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Galaxy (38)  |  Handkerchief (2)  |  Identification (11)  |  Mark (28)  |  Milky Way (19)  |  Mount Wilson (2)  |  Nebula (15)  |  Object (110)  |  Observatory (11)  |  Photograph (17)  |  Selection Effect (2)  |  Separate (46)  |  Harlow Shapley (13)  |  Star (251)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Variable (9)  |  Wipe (6)


See also:
  • 20 Nov - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Hubble'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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