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Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “A change in motion is proportional to the motive force impressed and takes place along the straight line in which that force is impressed.”
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George Iles
(1852 - 1942)

author and populariser of science who wrote articles for Popular Science Monthly with topics including mathematics, physics and heredity. He also published several books on science and invention, as well as editing a series of short autobiographies, and Canadian Stories. Outside of his written record, it seems little remains known about him.

George Iles
“Superstition is a premature explanation”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

“A superstition is a premature explanation that overstays its time. ”
— George Iles
In Canadian Stories (1918)

More George Iles quotes on science >>

George Iles ended his book Canadian Stories with a chapter of his own aphorisms as 'Jottings from a Notebook'. Many are collected on the Science Quotes by George Iles page. About the subject quote above, being a random thought complete in itself, there is no more context to give. But there are some other entries in his 'Jottings' that do not appear on the quotes page worth commenting upon.

“Nobody ever did people any good by standing aloof. If the pencils of an electric lamp are to shine they must first touch and then keep close together.”

Engraving of a Brush Arc Lamp
Arc Lamp (source)

For this quote to make sense to a modern reader, it must be realized that in his time, people would still be familiar with one of the early form of electric illumination - the arc light. This required two pointed pencil-like carbon rods, connected to each pole of a source of high-current electricity. These lamps had an adjustment to bring the points sufficiently close that an arc would spark across the gap. As the tips of the carbon rods burned away, the rods would be advanced to maintain the arc. A mechanism of some kind built into the lamp would take care of this so that a brilliant, steady light would continue to be produced. When Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent filament lamps, which turned on and off with the flick of a switch, arc lamps were quickly replaced.

“Nothing cools so fast as undue enthusiasm. Water that has boiled freezes sooner than any other.”

This idea, about boiled water freezing faster than fresh water, shows that this conundrum was current even when this book was published a century ago. It remains a favorite try-at-home school experiment, and a subject for serious research papers.

“Degree is much: the whole Atlantic might be lukewarm and never boil us a potato.”

Another scientific notion based on the difference between heat and temperature. Cooking a potato needs a boiling temperature, and a certain amount of heat. By comparison, the Atlantic Ocean contains a vast amount of heat energy (which interacts with the atmosphere), yet its temperature is nowhere near boiling. Just as well for swimmers at the beach!

Text by Webmaster, with quotes from chapter 'Jottings from a Note-book', in George Iles, Canadian Stories (1918), 168. (source)

See also:
  • Science Quotes by George Iles.
  • George Iles - context of quote “A lens of ice will focus a solar beam” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • George Iles - context of quote “A lens of ice will focus a solar beam” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • George Iles - context of quote “Superstition is a premature explanation” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: 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) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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