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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index K > Nicholas Kurti Quotes

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Nicholas Kurti
(14 May 1908 - 24 Nov 1998)

Hungarian-British physicist and chef who researched in ultra-low temperature physics, and in a record-breaking nuclear cooling experiments that came within a millionth of a degree of absolute zero. He had a side interest in food science, combining his hobby as a chef with a study of the physics and chemistry of cooking, for which he coined the term molecular gastronomy.


Science Quotes by Nicholas Kurti (4 quotes)

I built the solenoid and with great expectations late one evening I pressed the switch which sent a current of 40 amperes through the coil. The result was spectacular—a deafening explosion, the apparatus disappeared, all windows were blown in or out, a wall caved in, and thus ended my pioneering experiment on liquid hydrogen cooled coils! [Recalling the result of his experiment, on 31 Mar 1930, to maximize the magnetic field by cooling the coils of an electromagnet in liquid hydrogen to reduce their resistance.]
— Nicholas Kurti
'Magnets I have Known', Lecture Notes in Physics (1983), 177, 542-548. Quoted from his memoirs in M.J.M. Leask, 'Obituary: Professor Nicholas Kurti', The Independent (27 Nov 1998).
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Apparatus (68)  |  Biography (242)  |  Cooling (10)  |  Current (118)  |  Disappear (82)  |  End (590)  |  Expectation (65)  |  Experiment (696)  |  Explosion (44)  |  Field (365)  |  Great (1575)  |  Hydrogen (75)  |  Late (118)  |  Liquid (50)  |  Magnetic (44)  |  Magnetic Field (7)  |  Reduce (95)  |  Research (677)  |  Resistance (40)  |  Result (678)  |  Spectacular (18)  |  Through (849)  |  Wall (67)  |  Window (58)

I think I have been much of my life an irritant. But some people say that something good came out of my research, something valuable that could be regarded as a pearl, and I can assure those who worked with me it was you who made the pearls and I was merely the grain of sand, the irritant to produce the pearls.
— Nicholas Kurti
Recalling how, when increasingly in demand to serve on committees, upon attempting to resign from one, he was told by the chairman “We want you as an irritant.” Remark at a luncheon, quoted in Obituary, 'Nicholas Kurti, C. B. E. 14 May 1908-24 November 1998', by J.H. Sanders, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Nov 2000), 46, 309.
Science quotes on:  |  Committee (16)  |  Good (889)  |  Grain (50)  |  Life (1799)  |  Merely (316)  |  Pearl (7)  |  People (1005)  |  Regard (304)  |  Research (677)  |  Sand (62)  |  Say (984)  |  Something (719)  |  Think (1086)  |  Value (368)  |  Work (1351)

I think it is a sad reflection on our civilization that while we can and do measure the temperature in the atmosphere of Venus we do not know what goes on inside our soufflιs.
[Remark made while demonstrating the progress of cooking a Soufflι ΰ la Chartreuse, demonstrating its progress with thermocouples and chart recorders.]
— Nicholas Kurti
Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution, ‘The Physicist in the Kitchen’. In Proceedings of the Royal Institution (1969), 42/199, 451–67. Cited in article on Kurti by Ralph G. Scurlock in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Science quotes on:  |  Atmosphere (103)  |  Chemistry (355)  |  Civilization (206)  |  Cooking (12)  |  Do (1908)  |  Know (1519)  |  Measure (233)  |  Progress (468)  |  Reaction (104)  |  Reflection (91)  |  Sadness (35)  |  Temperature (79)  |  Think (1086)  |  Venus (20)

On one occasion committee members were asked by the chairman, who was also in charge of the project, to agree that a certain machine be run at a power which was ten percent lower than the design value. [Franz Eugen] Simon objected, arguing that “design value” should mean what it said. Thereupon the chairman remarked, “Professor Simon, don’t you see that we are not talking about science, but about engineering, which is an art.” Simon was persistent: “What would happen if the machine were run at full power?” “It might get too hot.” “But, Mr. Chairman,” came Simon’s rejoinder, “Can’t artists use thermometers?”
— Nicholas Kurti
(1908). From N. Kurti, 'Franz Eugen Simon', Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Nov 1958), 4, 247.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (657)  |  Artist (90)  |  Ask (411)  |  Certain (550)  |  Charge (60)  |  Design (196)  |  Engineering (176)  |  Happen (275)  |  Heat (174)  |  Hot (60)  |  Machine (259)  |  Mean (809)  |  Object (422)  |  Occasion (85)  |  Persistent (18)  |  Power (747)  |  Professor (129)  |  Project (73)  |  Rejoinder (2)  |  Run (174)  |  Science (3880)  |  Science And Art (186)  |  See (1082)  |  Talking (76)  |  Thermometer (11)  |  Use (766)  |  Value (368)


See also:
  • 14 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Kurti'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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