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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index K > Baron William Thomson Kelvin Quotes > Mathematics

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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.


Baron William Thomson Kelvin Quotes on Mathematics (8 quotes)

>> Click for 53 Science Quotes by Baron William Thomson Kelvin

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Do not imagine that mathematics is harsh and crabbed, and repulsive to common sense. It is merely the etherealisation of common sense.
— Baron William Thomson Kelvin
'The Six Gateways of Knowledge', Presidential Address to the Birmingham and Midland Institute, Birmingham (3 Oct 1883). In Popular Lectures and Addresses (1891), Vol. 1, 280.
Science quotes on:  |  Common (436)  |  Common Sense (130)  |  Do (1908)  |  Harsh (8)  |  Imagine (165)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Merely (316)  |  Repulsive (7)  |  Sense (770)

Mathematics is the only good metaphysics.
— Baron William Thomson Kelvin
Quoted in E. T. Bell, Men of Mathematics, xvii.
Science quotes on:  |  Good (889)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Metaphysics (50)

Mathematics is the only true metaphysics.
— Baron William Thomson Kelvin
Silvanus Phillips Thompson, Life of Lord Kelvin (1910), 10. In Robert Édouard Moritz, Memorabilia Mathematica; Or, The Philomath's Quotation-book (1914)
Science quotes on:  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Metaphysics (50)

Nothing can be more fatal to progress than a too confident reliance upon mathematical symbols; for the student is only too apt to take the easier course, and consider the formula and not the fact as the physical reality.
— Baron William Thomson Kelvin
In William Thomson and Peter Guthrie Tait, Treatise on Natural Philosophy (1867), Vol. 1, viii.
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The life and soul of science is its practical application, and just as the great advances in mathematics have been made through the desire of discovering the solution of problems which were of a highly practical kind in mathematical science, so in physical science many of the greatest advances that have been made from the beginning of the world to the present time have been made in the earnest desire to turn the knowledge of the properties of matter to some purpose useful to mankind.
— Baron William Thomson Kelvin
From 'Electrical Units of Measurement', a lecture delivered at the Institution of Civil Engineers, London (3 May 1883), Popular Lectures and Addresses Vol. 1 (1891), 86-87.
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There can be but one opinion as to the beauty and utility of this analysis of Laplace; but the manner in which it has been hitherto presented has seemed repulsive to the ablest mathematicians, and difficult to ordinary mathematical students.[Co-author with Peter Guthrie Tait.]
— Baron William Thomson Kelvin
In William Thomson Baron Kelvin, Peter Guthrie Tait, Treatise on Natural Philosophy (1879), Vol. 1, Preface, vii.
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[Referring to Fourier’s mathematical theory of the conduction of heat] … Fourier's great mathematical poem…
— Baron William Thomson Kelvin
In W. Thomson and P. G. Tait, Treatise on Natural Philosophy. Reprinted as Principles of Mechanics and Dynamics (2000), 470.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (242)  |  Conduction (8)  |  Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier (17)  |  Great (1575)  |  Heat (174)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Poem (96)  |  Theory (972)

~~[Misquote]~~ Fourier is a mathematical poem.
— Baron William Thomson Kelvin
Seen in various books and on the web. This seems to be a misquote based on Kelvin’s reference to Fourier’s mathematical theory of the conduction of heat as “Fourier's great mathematical poem.” More information on the latter quote on the Lord Kelvin Quotes page on this website.
Science quotes on:  |  Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier (17)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Poem (96)


See also:

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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