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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index L > Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky Quotes

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Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky
(1 Dec 1792 - 24 Feb 1856)

Russian mathematician.

Science Quotes by Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky (2 quotes)

In geometry I find certain imperfections which I hold to be the reason why this science, apart from transition into analytics, can as yet make no advance from that state in which it came to us from Euclid.
As belonging to these imperfections, I consider the obscurity in the fundamental concepts of the geometrical magnitudes and in the manner and method of representing the measuring of these magnitudes, and finally the momentous gap in the theory of parallels, to fill which all efforts of mathematicians have so far been in vain.
— Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky
In Geometric Researches on the Theory of Parallels (1840), as translated by George Bruce Halstead (new ed. 1914) 11.
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There is no branch of mathematics, however abstract, which may not some day be applied to phenomena of the real world.
— Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky
As quoted, without source, in D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, On Growth and Form (1942), Vol. 1, 10. If you know the primary source, please contact Webmaster.
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Quotes by others about Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky (6)

The analytical geometry of Descartes and the calculus of Newton and Leibniz have expanded into the marvelous mathematical method—more daring than anything that the history of philosophy records—of Lobachevsky and Riemann, Gauss and Sylvester. Indeed, mathematics, the indispensable tool of the sciences, defying the senses to follow its splendid flights, is demonstrating today, as it never has been demonstrated before, the supremacy of the pure reason.
In 'What Knowledge is of Most Worth?', Presidential address to the National Education Association, Denver, Colorado (9 Jul 1895). In Educational Review (Sep 1895), 10, 109.
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The full impact of the Lobatchewskian method of challenging axioms has probably yet to be felt. It is no exaggeration to call Lobatchewsky the Copernicus of Geometry,* for geometry is only a part of the vaster domain which he renovated; it might even be just to designate him as a Copernicus of all thought.
In Men of Mathematics (1937), 306. [It was William Kingdom Clifford who first specified that the originality of Lobachevsky’s geometry had a revolutionary effect in mathematics akin to the Copernican revolution in astronomy. * Note the absense of quotation marks. As far as I can find, so far, Clifford, himself, did not use the explicit phrase “Corpernicus of Geometry.” Please make contact if you find a primary source for Clifford writing that exact phase. Other quote collections that are copying each other with a parenthetical “[as did Clifford]” are NOT “primary sources.” That parenthetical remark AFAIK is not even attributed to Clifford, as verbatim, in the text of Bell’s book, at least not the one I checked. So far, I attribute the invention of that exact phrase to Bell, as his chapter title. It might, however, be in a paper by Clifford, or a transcript of a lecture, or a colleague’s recollection — none of which, so far, have I found —Webmaster]
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Mathematical theories have sometimes been used to predict phenomena that were not confirmed until years later. For example, Maxwell’s equations, named after physicist James Clerk Maxwell, predicted radio waves. Einstein’s field equations suggested that gravity would bend light and that the universe is expanding. Physicist Paul Dirac once noted that the abstract mathematics we study now gives us a glimpse of physics in the future. In fact, his equations predicted the existence of antimatter, which was subsequently discovered. Similarly, mathematician Nikolai Lobachevsky said that “there is no branch of mathematics, however abstract, which may not someday be applied to the phenomena of the real world.”
In 'Introduction', The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics (2009), 12.
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Copernicus and Lobatchewsky were both of Slavic origin. Each of them has brought about a revolution in scientific ideas so great that it can only be compared with that wrought by the other. And the reason of the transcendent importance of these two changes is that they are changes in the conception of the Cosmos. … Now the enormous effect of the Copernican system, and of the astronomical discoveries that have followed it, is … the change effected by Copernicus in the idea of the universe. But there was left another to be made. For the laws of space and motion…. So, you see, there is a real parallel between the work of Copernicus and … the work of Lobatchewsky.
In 'The Postulates of Time And Space', Lectures and Essays (1901) Vol. 1, 354-359.
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Criticism of first principles which Aristotle and Ptolemy and Galen underwent waited longer in Euclid’s case than in theirs, it came for him at last. What Vesalius was to Galen, what Copernicus was to Ptolemy, that was Lobatchewsky to Euclid. There is, indeed, a somewhat instructive parallel between … Copernicus and Lobatchewsky.
In 'The Postulates of Time And Space', Lectures and Essays (1901), Vol. 1, 356.
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Who made me the genius I am today,
The mathematician that others all quote?
Who’s the professor that made me that way,
The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat?
One man deserves the credit;
One man deserves the blame,
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach…
I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me the secret of success in mathematics:
Let no one else’s work evade your eyes.
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes.
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize —
Only be sure always to call it please “research”.
And ever since I meet this man, my life is not the same.
And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name. Oy!
Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach…
In lyrics of his song 'Lobachevski' recorded on his first album Songs by Tom Lehrer (1953). First performed as part a musical revue, The Physical Revue (1951–1952).
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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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