Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > A.A. Michelson Quotes

Thumbnail of A.A. Michelson (source)
A.A. Michelson
(19 Dec 1852 - 9 May 1931)

German-American physicist.


Science Quotes by A.A. Michelson (6 quotes)

The generalized theory of relativity has furnished still more remarkable results. This considers not only uniform but also accelerated motion. In particular, it is based on the impossibility of distinguishing an acceleration from the gravitation or other force which produces it. Three consequences of the theory may be mentioned of which two have been confirmed while the third is still on trial: (1) It gives a correct explanation of the residual motion of forty-three seconds of arc per century of the perihelion of Mercury. (2) It predicts the deviation which a ray of light from a star should experience on passing near a large gravitating body, the sun, namely, 1".7. On Newton's corpuscular theory this should be only half as great. As a result of the measurements of the photographs of the eclipse of 1921 the number found was much nearer to the prediction of Einstein, and was inversely proportional to the distance from the center of the sun, in further confirmation of the theory. (3) The theory predicts a displacement of the solar spectral lines, and it seems that this prediction is also verified.
— A.A. Michelson
Studies in Optics (1927), 160-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Arc (5)  |  Confirmation (15)  |  Consequence (76)  |  Corpuscle (8)  |  Deviation (11)  |  Eclipse (16)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Gravitation (27)  |  Light (246)  |  Mercury (39)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  Photograph (17)  |  Relativity (50)  |  Result (250)  |  Star (251)  |  Theory (582)

The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote.
— A.A. Michelson
In Light Waves and Their Uses (1903), 23-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (591)  |  Established (6)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Important (124)  |  Law (418)  |  New (340)  |  Physical Science (54)  |  Remote (27)  |  Supplant (2)

The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote. Nevertheless, it has been found that there are apparent exceptions to most of these laws, and this is particularly true when the observations are pushed to a limit, i.e., whenever the circumstances of experiment are such that extreme cases can be examined. Such examination almost surely leads, not to the overthrow of the law, but to the discovery of other facts and laws whose action produces the apparent exceptions. As instances of such discoveries, which are in most cases due to the increasing order of accuracy made possible by improvements in measuring instruments, may be mentioned: first, the departure of actual gases from the simple laws of the so-called perfect gas, one of the practical results being the liquefaction of air and all known gases; second, the discovery of the velocity of light by astronomical means, depending on the accuracy of telescopes and of astronomical clocks; third, the determination of distances of stars and the orbits of double stars, which depend on measurements of the order of accuracy of one-tenth of a second-an angle which may be represented as that which a pin's head subtends at a distance of a mile. But perhaps the most striking of such instances are the discovery of a new planet or observations of the small irregularities noticed by Leverrier in the motions of the planet Uranus, and the more recent brilliant discovery by Lord Rayleigh of a new element in the atmosphere through the minute but unexplained anomalies found in weighing a given volume of nitrogen. Many other instances might be cited, but these will suffice to justify the statement that “our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.”
— A.A. Michelson
In Light Waves and Their Uses (1903), 23-4. Michelson had some years earlier referenced “an eminent physicist” that he did not name who had “remarked that the future truths of physical science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals,” near the end of his Convocation Address at the Dedication of the Ryerson Physical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, 'Some of the Objects and Methods of Physical Science' (4 Jul 1894), published in University of Chicago Quarterly Calendar (Aug 1894), 3, No.2, 15. Also
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Air (151)  |  Angle (15)  |  Anomaly (6)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Atmosphere (63)  |  Circumstance (48)  |  Clock (26)  |  Decimal (11)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Element (129)  |  Examination (60)  |  Exception (33)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Gas (46)  |  Improvement (67)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Irregularity (10)  |  Law (418)  |  Limit (86)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Nitrogen (18)  |  Observation (418)  |  Overthrow (4)  |  Physical Science (54)  |  Practical (93)  |  Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh (8)  |  Result (250)  |  Speed Of Light (11)  |  Star (251)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Uranus (2)  |  Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier (4)  |  Volume (13)

The nature of the atoms, and the forces called into play in their chemical union; the interactions between these atoms and the non-differentiated ether as manifested in the phenomena of light and electricity; the structures of the molecules and molecular systems of which the atoms are the units; the explanation of cohesion, elasticity, and gravitation—all these will be marshaled into a single compact and consistent body of scientific knowledge.
— A.A. Michelson
In Light Waves and Their Uses? (1902), 163.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Body (193)  |  Call (68)  |  Chemical (72)  |  Cohesion (5)  |  Compact (3)  |  Consistent (10)  |  Elasticity (2)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Ether (24)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Force (194)  |  Gravitation (27)  |  Interaction (28)  |  Light (246)  |  Manifest (11)  |  Molecular (3)  |  Molecule (125)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Play (60)  |  Scientific Knowledge (5)  |  Single (72)  |  Structure (191)  |  System (141)  |  Union (16)  |  Unit (25)

The velocity of light is one of the most important of the fundamental constants of Nature. Its measurement by Foucault and Fizeau gave as the result a speed greater in air than in water, thus deciding in favor of the undulatory and against the corpuscular theory. Again, the comparison of the electrostatic and the electromagnetic units gives as an experimental result a value remarkably close to the velocity of light–a result which justified Maxwell in concluding that light is the propagation of an electromagnetic disturbance. Finally, the principle of relativity gives the velocity of light a still greater importance, since one of its fundamental postulates is the constancy of this velocity under all possible conditions.
— A.A. Michelson
Studies in Optics (1927), 120.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (151)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Condition (119)  |  Constancy (4)  |  Constant (40)  |  Corpuscle (8)  |  Electromagnetic (2)  |  Electrostatic (4)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Jean-Bernard-Lιon Foucault (3)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Importance (183)  |  James Clerk Maxwell (75)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Postulate (23)  |  Principle (228)  |  Propagation (9)  |  Relativity (50)  |  Result (250)  |  Speed Of Light (11)  |  Theory (582)  |  Unit (25)  |  Water (244)  |  Wave (55)

While it is never safe to affirm that the future of Physical Science has no marvels in store even more astonishing than those of the past, it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established, and that further advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous applications of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice. It is here that the science of measurement shows its importance—where the quantitative results are more to be desired than qualitative work. An eminent physicist has remarked that the future truths of Physical Science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.
— A.A. Michelson
University of Chicago, Annual Register 1894-1895 (1894), 150. Michelson also incorporated these lines in his address, 'Some of the Objects and Methods of Physical Science', at the opening of the Physics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory at the University of Kansas, reprinted in The Electrical Engineer (1 Jan 1896), 21, No. 400, 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Application (117)  |  Astonishing (7)  |  Decimal (11)  |  Desired (5)  |  Established (6)  |  Future (229)  |  Grand (15)  |  Importance (183)  |  Marvel (24)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Past (109)  |  Phenomena (8)  |  Physical Science (54)  |  Principle (228)  |  Qualitative (12)  |  Quantitative (15)  |  Result (250)  |  Rigorous (10)  |  Truth (750)  |  Underlying (14)  |  Work (457)


See also:
  • 19 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Michelson's birth.
  • The Master of Light: A biography of Albert A. Michelson, by Dorothy Michelson Livingston. - book suggestion.

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:
Custom Quotations Search - custom search within only our quotations 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 |

who invites your feedback

- 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

Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.