(source) 
Baron William Thomson Kelvin
(26 Jun 1824  17 Dec 1907)

William Thomson Kelvin
“I have no satisfaction in formulas”
Illustrated Quote  Large (800 x 400 px)
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This quote comes from the seventh of the series of lectures Kelvin gave in the United States in 1884, at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, on topics concerning molecular dynamics and the wave theory of light. Specifically, in this lecture, Kelvin went through mathematical description, first on Lagrange’s analysis of the oscillation of a linear system for bodies connected in series and then he considered the propagation of disturbances in an elastic solid. He must have densely filled the chalkboard with equations which fill a number of pages in the printed record of his lectures.
At one point, having laid out a series of descriptive equations, he remarked how it was his habit to visualize the arithmetic results of any formulas he was investigating. In this case, without actually doing the numerous calculation, he realized the “exceeding rapidity of convergence of the formulas.” He explained in a passing remark:
“I have no satisfaction in formulas unless I feel their arithmetical magnitude—at all events when formulas are intended for definite dynamical or physical problems. So that if I do not exactly calculate the formulas, I would like to know how I could calculate them and express the order of the magnitudes concerned in them.”
 Science Quotes by Baron William Thomson Kelvin.
 26 Jun  short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Kelvin's birth.
 Lord Kelvin Biography  one of the earliest pages written for this site.
 A Kelvin Biography  with more background on Kelvin’s early scholarship in mathematics and his life’s work, from Famous Men of Science.
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Make a mechanical model”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Make a mechanical model”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Many of the greatest advances”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Many of the greatest advances”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “The rewards of accurate measurement”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “The rewards of accurate measurement”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “I have no satisfaction in formulas”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Mathematics is … etherealisation of common sense”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Mathematics is … etherealisation of common sense”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Measure … and express in numbers”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Measure … and express in numbers”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Imaginary difficulty of making a change”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Imaginary difficulty of making a change”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Questions of personal priority”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Questions of personal priority”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Science is not antagonistic to religion”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Science is not antagonistic to religion”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Simplification of modes of proof”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Simplification of modes of proof”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Mathematics is the only true metaphysics”  Medium image (500 x 250 px)
 William Thomson Kelvin  context of quote “Mathematics is the only true metaphysics”  Large image (800 x 400 px)
 Excellent Kelvin Biography history at the BBC education site for the Local Heroes TV series.
 Construction details for "Kelvin's Thunderstorm"  Lord Kelvin's waterdrop electrostatic generator..
 Kelvin at three different ages  a photo gallery across his life.
 Collection of pictures of Kelvin at different ages  at the MacTutor site.
 Informative Biography of Kelvin  with additional resources at the MacTutor site.
 History of Submarine Cables  a 150 Year History of Submarine Cables.
 Timeline of Atlantic Cables  1856 to 2015.
 Lord Kelvin's Conjecture Disproved  A modern improvement on Kelvin's 1887 geometrical conjecture.
 Degrees Kelvin: A Tale of Genius, Invention, and Tragedy, by David Lindley.  book suggestion.
 Booklist for William Thomson.