Celebrating 20 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, ... finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell ... whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > James Clerk Maxwell Quotes > Vibration

Thumbnail of James Clerk Maxwell (source)
James Clerk Maxwell
(13 Jun 1831 - 5 Nov 1879)

Scottish mathematician and physicist whose researches united electricity and magnetism into the concept of the electro-magnetic field.


James Clerk Maxwell Quotes on Vibration (4 quotes)

>> Click for 53 Science Quotes by James Clerk Maxwell

>> Click for James Clerk Maxwell Quotes on | Atom | Energy | Equation | Experiment | Gas | Law | Light | Matter | Molecule | Poem | Science | Symbol | Theory |

Any opinion as to the form in which the energy of gravitation exists in space is of great importance, and whoever can make his opinion probable will have, made an enormous stride in physical speculation. The apparent universality of gravitation, and the equality of its effects on matter of all kinds are most remarkable facts, hitherto without exception; but they are purely experimental facts, liable to be corrected by a single observed exception. We cannot conceive of matter with negative inertia or mass; but we see no way of accounting for the proportionality of gravitation to mass by any legitimate method of demonstration. If we can see the tails of comets fly off in the direction opposed to the sun with an accelerated velocity, and if we believe these tails to be matter and not optical illusions or mere tracks of vibrating disturbance, then we must admit a force in that direction, and we may establish that it is caused by the sun if it always depends upon his position and distance.
— James Clerk Maxwell
Letter to William Huggins (13 Oct 1868). In P. M. Hannan (ed.), The Scientific Letters and Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (1995), Vol. 2, 1862-1873, 451-2.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Apparent (84)  |  Comet (61)  |  Conceive (99)  |  Demonstration (114)  |  Depend (228)  |  Direction (175)  |  Distance (163)  |  Disturbance (31)  |  Effect (394)  |  Energy (346)  |  Equality (31)  |  Exception (73)  |  Exist (444)  |  Experimental (192)  |  Fact (1212)  |  Facts (553)  |  Fly (146)  |  Force (488)  |  Form (960)  |  Gravitation (71)  |  Gravity (133)  |  Great (1575)  |  Illusion (66)  |  Importance (287)  |  Inertia (14)  |  Kind (557)  |  Legitimate (25)  |  Mass (157)  |  Matter (801)  |  Method (506)  |  Most (1729)  |  Must (1526)  |  Negative (63)  |  Observation (560)  |  Observed (149)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Optical (11)  |  Physical (508)  |  Position (77)  |  Proportionality (2)  |  Purely (110)  |  See (1082)  |  Single (354)  |  Space (501)  |  Speculation (126)  |  Stride (15)  |  Sun (387)  |  Track (40)  |  Universality (22)  |  Velocity (48)  |  Vibration (20)  |  Way (1216)  |  Whoever (42)  |  Will (2354)

But in the heavens we discover by their light, and by their light alone, stars so distant from each other that no material thing can ever have passed from one to another; and yet this light, which is to us the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds, tells us also that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds as those which we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time. Each molecule, therefore, throughout the universe, bears impressed on it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the double royal cubit of the Temple of Karnac ... the exact quantity of each molecule to all others of same kind gives it, as Sir John Herschel has well said, the essential character of a manufactured article and precludes the idea of its being external and self-existent.
— James Clerk Maxwell
'Molecules', 1873. In W. D. Niven (ed.), The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (1890), Vol. 2, 375-6.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Alone (312)  |  Arcturus (4)  |  Bear (159)  |  Being (1278)  |  Character (243)  |  Discover (553)  |  Distance (163)  |  Earth (998)  |  Essential (200)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Execute (7)  |  Existence (460)  |  Find (999)  |  Heaven (258)  |  Heavens (125)  |  Sir John Herschel (23)  |  Hydrogen (75)  |  Idea (845)  |  Impress (65)  |  Impressed (38)  |  Kind (557)  |  Light (609)  |  Material (353)  |  Metric System (6)  |  Molecule (174)  |  Other (2236)  |  Pass (238)  |  Precisely (92)  |  Quantity (132)  |  Royal (56)  |  Self (267)  |  Sole (49)  |  Stamp (36)  |  Star (430)  |  Stars (304)  |  System (537)  |  Tell (340)  |  Temple (42)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Throughout (98)  |  Time (1877)  |  Universe (861)  |  Vibration (20)  |  World (1778)

In the heavens we discover [stars] by their light, and by their light alone ... the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds ... that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time. Each molecule therefore throughout the universe bears impressed upon it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the royal cubit of the Temple of Karnac.
[Footnote: Where Maxwell uses the term “molecule” we now use the term “atom.”]
— James Clerk Maxwell
Lecture to the British Association at Bradford (1873), 'Atoms and Molecules'. Quoted by Ernest Rutherford, in 'The Constitution of Matter and the Evolution of the Elements', The Popular Science Monthly (Aug 1915), 112.
Science quotes on:  |  Alone (312)  |  Arcturus (4)  |  Atom (358)  |  Bear (159)  |  Cubit (2)  |  Discover (553)  |  Earth (998)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Execute (7)  |  Existence (460)  |  Find (999)  |  Heaven (258)  |  Heavens (125)  |  Hydrogen (75)  |  Impress (65)  |  Impressed (38)  |  Kind (557)  |  Light (609)  |  Maxwell (42)  |  Measurement (174)  |  Metric System (6)  |  Molecule (174)  |  Precisely (92)  |  Royal (56)  |  Small (479)  |  Sole (49)  |  Spectroscopy (11)  |  Stamp (36)  |  Star (430)  |  Stars (304)  |  System (537)  |  Temple (42)  |  Term (349)  |  Throughout (98)  |  Time (1877)  |  Universe (861)  |  Use (766)  |  Vibration (20)  |  Wavelength (8)  |  World (1778)

My theory of electrical forces is that they are called into play in insulating media by slight electric displacements, which put certain small portions of the medium into a state of distortion which, being resisted by the elasticity of the medium, produces an electromotive force ... I suppose the elasticity of the sphere to react on the electrical matter surrounding it, and press it downwards.
From the determination by Kohlrausch and Weber of the numerical relation between the statical and magnetic effects of electricity, I have determined the elasticity of the medium in air, and assuming that it is the same with the luminiferous ether I have determined the velocity of propagation of transverse vibrations.
The result is
193088 miles per second
(deduced from electrical & magnetic experiments).
Fizeau has determined the velocity of light
= 193118 miles per second
by direct experiment.
This coincidence is not merely numerical. I worked out the formulae in the country, before seeing Webers [sic] number, which is in millimetres, and I think we have now strong reason to believe, whether my theory is a fact or not, that the luminiferous and the electromagnetic medium are one.
— James Clerk Maxwell
Letter to Michael Faraday (19 Oct 1861). In P. M. Harman (ed.), The Scientific Letters and Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (1990), Vol. 1, 1846-1862, 684-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (349)  |  Being (1278)  |  Calculation (128)  |  Call (769)  |  Certain (550)  |  Coincidence (19)  |  Country (251)  |  Determination (78)  |  Direct (225)  |  Displacement (9)  |  Distortion (13)  |  Effect (394)  |  Elasticity (8)  |  Electric (76)  |  Electrical (57)  |  Electricity (160)  |  Electromagnetism (18)  |  Ether (35)  |  Experiment (696)  |  Fact (1212)  |  Force (488)  |  Formula (98)  |  Insulating (3)  |  Friedrich Wilhelm Georg Kohlrausch (2)  |  Light (609)  |  Light Wave (2)  |  Magnetic (44)  |  Matter (801)  |  Media (13)  |  Merely (316)  |  Number (701)  |  Numerical (39)  |  Portion (84)  |  Propagation (14)  |  Reason (744)  |  Result (678)  |  Seeing (142)  |  Small (479)  |  Speed Of Light (17)  |  Sphere (116)  |  State (491)  |  Strong (174)  |  Suppose (156)  |  Theory (972)  |  Think (1086)  |  Velocity (48)  |  Vibration (20)  |  Work (1351)


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
Quotations by: Albert Einstein Isaac Newton Lord Kelvin Charles Darwin Srinivasa Ramanujan Carl Sagan Florence Nightingale Thomas Edison Aristotle Marie Curie Benjamin Franklin Winston Churchill Galileo Galilei Sigmund Freud Robert Bunsen Louis Pasteur Theodore Roosevelt Abraham Lincoln Ronald Reagan Leonardo DaVinci Michio Kaku Karl Popper Johann Goethe Robert Oppenheimer Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: Atomic  Bomb Biology Chemistry Deforestation Engineering Anatomy Astronomy Bacteria Biochemistry Botany Conservation Dinosaur Environment Fractal Genetics Geology History of Science Invention Jupiter Knowledge Love Mathematics Measurement Medicine Natural Resource Organic Chemistry Physics Physician Quantum Theory Research Science and Art Teacher Technology Universe Volcano Virus Wind Power Women Scientists X-Rays Youth Zoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


by Ian Ellis
who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.