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Who said: “God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.”
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Thumbnail of Baron William Thomson Kelvin (source)
Baron William Thomson Kelvin
(26 Jun 1824 - 17 Dec 1907)

Irish physicist, mathematician and engineer , born as William Thomson in Ireland, he became an influential physicist, mathematician and engineer who has been described as the Newton of his era.


William Thomson Kelvin
“Mathematics is … etherealisation of common sense”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

[[pic2]]“Do not imagine that mathematics is harsh and crabbed, and repulsive to common sense. It is merely the etherealisation of common sense.”
— William Thomson Kelvin
From address at Birmingham (1883).

More William Thomson Kelvin quotes on science >>

In his Presidential Address to the Birmingham and Midland Institute, delivered in the Town Hall, Birmingham on 3 Oct 1883, Lord Kelvin spoke on his topic of “The Six Gateways of Knowledge.” He went on to develop answers to the question with which he opened his talk: “What are the means by which the human mind acquires knowledge of external matter?” His lecture title was a reflection of the how

“John Bunyan likens the human soul to a citadel on a hill, self-contained, having no means of communication with the outer world, except by five gates—Eye Gate, Ear Gate, Mouth Gate, Nose Gate, and Feel Gate. Bunyan clearly was in want of a word here. He uses ‘feel’ in the sense of ‘touch’; a designation which to this day is so commonly used, that I can scarcely accuse it of being incorrect. At the same time, the more correct and distinct designation undoubtedly is, the sense of touch.”

Kelvin designated six senses by dividing the sense of touch into two: a sense of roughness and a sense of heat.

Later in his talk, Kelvin referred to the important of graphical illustration, employed both in mathematical graphs of physical phenomena (such as the variation of air pressure with time representing sound) and in such realms as business.

“Do not imagine that mathematics is harsh and crabbed, and repulsive to common sense. It is merely the etherealisation of common sense.”

As an example, he said,

“in a thousand counting-houses and business offices in Birmingham and London, and Glasgow and Manchester, a curve, as Professor Cayley pointed out, is regularly used to show to the eye a function of one independent variable. The function of one independent variable most important in Liverpool perhaps may be the price of cotton.”

Text by Webmaster with quote from 'The Six Gateways of Knowledge', Presidential Address to the Birmingham and Midland Institute, Birmingham (3 Oct 1883), collected in Popular Lectures and Addresses (1891), Vol. 1, 280. (source)


See also:

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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