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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index A > Category: Alps

Alps Quotes (8 quotes)

A man who keeps company with glaciers comes to feel tolerably insignificiant by and by. The Alps and the glaciers together are able to take every bit of conceit out of a man and reduce his self-importance to zero if he will only remain within the influence of their sublime presence long enough to give it a fair and reasonable chance to do its work.
In A Tramp Abroad (1880), 466.
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New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise:
So pleas'd at first, the towring Alps we try,...
In An Essay on Criticism (1711), 15.
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The earth was covered by a huge ice sheet which buried the Siberian mammoths, and reached just as far south as did the phenomenon of erratic boulders. This ice sheet filled all the irregularities of the surface of Europe before the uplift of the Alps, the Baltic Sea, all the lakes of Northern Germany and Switzerland. It extended beyond the shorelines of the Mediterranean and of the Atlantic Ocean, and even covered completely North America and Asiatic Russia. When the Alps were uplifted, the ice sheet was pushed upwards like the other rocks, and the debris, broken loose from all the cracks generated by the uplift, fell over its surface and, without becoming rounded (since they underwent no friction), moved down the slope of the ice sheet.
From Études sur Les Glaciers (1840), as translated by Albert V. Carozzi in Studies on Glaciers: Preceded by the Discourse of Neuchâtel (1967), 166.
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The epoch of intense cold which preceded the present creation has been only a temporary oscillation of the earth’s temperature, more important than the century-long phases of cooling undergone by the Alpine valleys. It was associated with the disappearance of the animals of the diluvial epoch of the geologists, as still demonstrated by the Siberian mammoths; it preceded the uplifting of the Alps and the appearance of the present-day living organisms, as demonstrated by the moraines and the existence of fishes in our lakes. Consequently, there is complete separation between the present creation and the preceding ones, and if living species are sometimes almost identical to those buried inside the earth, we nevertheless cannot assume that the former are direct descendants of the latter or, in other words, that they represent identical species.
From Discours de Neuchâtel (1837), as translated by Albert V. Carozzi in Studies on Glaciers: Preceded by the Discourse of Neuchâtel (1967), lviii.
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The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. ... It was hay that allowed populations to grow and civilizations to flourish among the forests of Northern Europe. Hay moved the greatness of Rome to Paris and London, and later to Berlin and Moscow and New York.
[The year-round growth of green grass in the Mediterranean climate meant that hay was not needed by the Romans. North of the Alps, hay maintained horses and oxen and thus their motive power, and productivity.]
In 'Quick is Beautiful', Infinite in All Directions: Gifford Lectures Given at Aberdeen, Scotland (1988, 2004), 135.
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The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. Nobody knows who invented hay, the idea of cutting grass in the autumn and storing it in large enough quantities to keep horses and cows alive through the winter. All we know is that the technology of hay was unknown to the Roman Empire but was known to every village of medieval Europe. Like many other crucially important technologies, hay emerged anonymously during the so-called Dark Ages. According to the Hay Theory of History, the invention of hay was the decisive event which moved the center of gravity of urban civilization from the Mediterranean basin to Northern and Western Europe. The Roman Empire did not need hay because in a Mediterranean climate the grass grows well enough in winter for animals to graze. North of the Alps, great cities dependent on horses and oxen for motive power could not exist without hay. So it was hay that allowed populations to grow and civilizations to flourish among the forests of Northern Europe. Hay moved the greatness of Rome to Paris and London, and later to Berlin and Moscow and New York. ... Great inventions like hay and printing, whatever their immediate social costs may be, result in a permanent expansion of our horizons, a lasting acquisition of new territory for human bodies and minds to cultivate.
Infinite In All Directions (1988, 2004), 135. The book is a revised version of a series of the Gifford Lectures under the title 'In Praise of Diversity', given at Aberdeen, Scotland.
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[Fossils found in the Secondary formation are] unrefined and imperfect [species and the species in the Tertiary formation] are very perfect and wholly similar to those that are seen in the modern sea. [Thus] as many ages have elapsed during the elevation of the Alps, as there are races of organic fossil bodies embedded within the strata.
Quoted in Francesco Rodolico, 'Arduino', In Charles Coulston Gillispie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1970), Vol. 1, 234.
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[My uncle said to me…] When I read, forty years ago, that shells from Syria were found in the Alps, I say, I admit, with a slightly mocking tone, that these shells were apparently brought by pilgrims who were returning from Jerusalem. M. de Buffon reprimanded me very sharply in his Theory of the Earth, page 281. I did not want to quarrel with him over shells, but I remain of the same opinion, because the impossibility that the sea formed the mountains is evident to me. Some may tell me that porphyry is made of sea urchin spikes, I’ll believe it when I see white marble is made of ostrich feathers.
Voltaire is recounting one of the reasons his uncle (Abbe Ambroise Bazing) had told him, for disputing Buffon’s claim that the sea that made the mountains. Translated by Webmaster from 'La Défense de Mon Oncle: Des montagnes et des Coquilles', collected in Oeuvres complètes: Histoire.- Mélanges historiques (1817), Tome 15, Chap. 19, 133-134. From the original French; “Quand je lus, il y a quarante ans, qu’on avait trouvé dans les Alpes des coquilles de Syrie, je dis, je l’avoue , d’un ton un peu goguenard, que ces coquilles avaient été apparemment apportées par des pélerins qui revenaient de Jérusalem. M. de Buffon m’en reprit très-vertement dans sa Théorie de la terre, page 281. Je n’ai pas voulu me brouiller avec lui pour des coquilles, mais je suis demeuré dans non opinion, parce que l’impossibilité que la mer ait formé les montagnes m’est démontrée. On a beau me dire que le porphyre est fait de pointes d’oursin, je le croirai quand je verrai que le marbre blanc est fait de plumes d’autruche.” [Note: porphyry is a form of igneous rock. Also note, this passage does NOT appear in 'Les Singularités de la Nature', which may be found elsewhere incorrectly cited as the source. —Webmaster]
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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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