Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index A > Category: Assumption

Assumption Quotes (92 quotes)

A great swindle of our time is the assumption that science has made religion obsolete. All science has damaged is the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Jonah and the Whale. Everything else holds up pretty well, particularly lessons about fairness and gentleness. People who find those lessons irrelevant in the twentieth century are simply using science as an excuse for greed and harshness. Science has nothing to do with it, friends.
Through the Looking Glass. In Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain (1986), 206.
Science quotes on:  |  Adam And Eve (4)  |  All (4108)  |  Century (310)  |  Do (1908)  |  Everything (476)  |  Excuse (25)  |  Find (998)  |  Friend (168)  |  Gentleness (3)  |  Great (1574)  |  Greed (14)  |  Lesson (57)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Obsolete (15)  |  People (1005)  |  Religion (361)  |  Science (3879)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Story (118)  |  Swindle (2)  |  Time (1877)  |  Whale (32)

After I had addressed myself to this very difficult and almost insoluble problem, the suggestion at length came to me how it could be solved with fewer and much simpler constructions than were formerly used, if some assumptions (which are called axioms) were granted me. They follow in this order.
There is no one center of all the celestial circles or spheres.
The center of the earth is not the center of the universe, but only of gravity and of the lunar sphere.
All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe.
The ratio of the earth's distance from the sun to the height of the firmament is so much smaller than the ratio of the earth's radius to its distance from the sun that the distance from the earth to the sun is imperceptible in comparison with the height of the firmament.
Whatever motion appears in the firmament arises not from any motion of the firmament, but from the earth's motion. The earth together with its circumjacent elements performs a complete rotation on its fixed poles in a daily motion, while the firmament and highest heaven abide unchanged.
What appears to us as motions of the sun arise not from its motion but from the motion of the earth and our sphere, with which we revolve about the sun like any other planet. The earth has, then, more than one motion.
The apparent retrograde and direct motion of the planets arises not from their motion but from the earth's. The motion of the earth alone, therefore, suffices to explain so many apparent inequalities in the heavens.
'The Commentariolus', in Three Copernican Treatises (c.1510), trans. E. Rosen (1939), 58-9.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Alone (311)  |  Apparent (84)  |  Arise (158)  |  Axiom (63)  |  Call (769)  |  Celestial (53)  |  Circle (110)  |  Comparison (102)  |  Complete (204)  |  Construction (112)  |  Daily (87)  |  Difficult (246)  |  Direct (225)  |  Distance (161)  |  Earth (996)  |  Element (310)  |  Explain (322)  |  Firmament (18)  |  Follow (378)  |  Grant (73)  |  Gravity (132)  |  Heaven (258)  |  Heavens (125)  |  More (2559)  |  Motion (310)  |  Myself (212)  |  Order (632)  |  Other (2236)  |  Perform (121)  |  Planet (356)  |  Point (580)  |  Pole (46)  |  Problem (676)  |  Ratio (39)  |  Retrograde (8)  |  Revolve (25)  |  Rotation (12)  |  Sphere (116)  |  Suggestion (46)  |  Sun (385)  |  Together (387)  |  Universe (857)  |  Whatever (234)

All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.
In On Liberty (1859), 34.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Discussion (72)  |  Infallibility (7)  |  Silence (56)

An author has always great difficulty in avoiding unnecessary and tedious detail on the one hand; while, on the other, he must notice such a number of facts as may convince a student, that he is not wandering in a wilderness of crude hypotheses or unsupported assumptions.
In A Geological Manual (1832), Preface, iii.
Science quotes on:  |  Author (167)  |  Avoid (116)  |  Convince (41)  |  Crude (31)  |  Detail (146)  |  Difficulty (196)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  Great (1574)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Must (1526)  |  Notice (77)  |  Number (699)  |  Other (2236)  |  Student (300)  |  Tedious (14)  |  Unnecessary (23)  |  Unsupported (3)  |  Wander (35)  |  Wilderness (45)

And from this such small difference of eight minutes [of arc] it is clear why Ptolemy, since he was working with bisection [of the linear eccentricity], accepted a fixed equant point… . For Ptolemy set out that he actually did not get below ten minutes [of arc], that is a sixth of a degree, in making observations. To us, on whom Divine benevolence has bestowed the most diligent of observers, Tycho Brahe, from whose observations this eight-minute error of Ptolemy’s in regard to Mars is deduced, it is fitting that we accept with grateful minds this gift from God, and both acknowledge and build upon it. So let us work upon it so as to at last track down the real form of celestial motions (these arguments giving support to our belief that the assumptions are incorrect). This is the path I shall, in my own way, strike out in what follows. For if I thought the eight minutes in [ecliptic] longitude were unimportant, I could make a sufficient correction (by bisecting the [linear] eccentricity) to the hypothesis found in Chapter 16. Now, because they could not be disregarded, these eight minutes alone will lead us along a path to the reform of the whole of Astronomy, and they are the matter for a great part of this work.
Astronomia Nova, New Astronomy (1609), ch. 19, 113-4, Johannes Kepler Gesammelte Werke (1937-), Vol. 3, 177-8.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Accept (191)  |  Acknowledge (33)  |  Alone (311)  |  Arc (12)  |  Argument (138)  |  Astronomy (229)  |  Belief (578)  |  Benevolence (8)  |  Bestow (18)  |  Both (493)  |  Tycho Brahe (23)  |  Build (204)  |  Celestial (53)  |  Correction (40)  |  Degree (276)  |  Difference (337)  |  Diligent (19)  |  Divine (112)  |  Down (456)  |  Error (321)  |  Follow (378)  |  Form (959)  |  Gift (104)  |  God (757)  |  Great (1574)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Last (426)  |  Lead (384)  |  Linear (13)  |  Longitude (6)  |  Making (300)  |  Mars (44)  |  Matter (798)  |  Measurement (174)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Minute (125)  |  Most (1731)  |  Motion (310)  |  Observation (555)  |  Orbit (81)  |  Path (144)  |  Point (580)  |  Ptolemy (17)  |  Reform (22)  |  Regard (305)  |  Set (394)  |  Small (477)  |  Strike (68)  |  Sufficient (128)  |  Support (147)  |  Thought (953)  |  Track (38)  |  Way (1217)  |  Whole (738)  |  Why (491)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)

Artificial intelligence is based on the assumption that the mind can be described as some kind of formal system manipulating symbols that stand for things in the world. Thus it doesn't matter what the brain is made of, or what it uses for tokens in the great game of thinking. Using an equivalent set of tokens and rules, we can do thinking with a digital computer, just as we can play chess using cups, salt and pepper shakers, knives, forks, and spoons. Using the right software, one system (the mind) can be mapped onto the other (the computer).
Machinery of the Mind: Inside the New Science of Artificial Intelligence (1986), 250.
Science quotes on:  |  Artificial Intelligence (8)  |  Brain (270)  |  Chess (25)  |  Computer (127)  |  Digital (10)  |  Do (1908)  |  Equivalent (45)  |  Game (101)  |  Great (1574)  |  Intelligence (211)  |  Kind (557)  |  Matter (798)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Other (2236)  |  Right (452)  |  Rule (294)  |  Salt (46)  |  Set (394)  |  Software (13)  |  Spoon (5)  |  Stand (274)  |  Symbol (93)  |  System (537)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Thinking (414)  |  Token (9)  |  Use (766)  |  World (1774)

As lightning clears the air of impalpable vapours, so an incisive paradox frees the human intelligence from the lethargic influence of latent and unsuspected assumptions. Paradox is the slayer of Prejudice.
In George Edward Martin, The Foundations of Geometry and the Non-Euclidean Plane (1982), 110.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (347)  |  Clear (100)  |  Free (232)  |  Human (1468)  |  Incisive (3)  |  Influence (222)  |  Intelligence (211)  |  Latent (12)  |  Lightning (45)  |  Paradox (50)  |  Prejudice (87)  |  Unsuspected (7)  |  Vapour (16)

Classes and concepts may, however, also be conceived as real objects, namely classes as “pluralities of things” or as structures consisting of a plurality of things and concepts as the properties and relations of things existing independently of our definitions and constructions. It seems to me that the assumption of such objects is quite as legitimate as the assumption of physical bodies and there is quite as much reason to believe in their existence. They are in the same sense necessary to obtain a satisfactory system of mathematics as physical bodies are necessary for a satisfactory theory of our sense perceptions…
In 'Russell's Mathematical Logic', in P.A. Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell (1944), Vol. 1, 137.
Science quotes on:  |  Class (164)  |  Concept (221)  |  Construction (112)  |  Definition (221)  |  Existence (456)  |  Independently (24)  |  Legitimate (25)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Object (422)  |  Obtain (163)  |  Perception (97)  |  Physical (508)  |  Reason (744)  |  Sense (770)  |  Structure (344)  |  System (537)  |  Theory (970)  |  Thing (1915)

Definition of Mathematics.—It has now become apparent that the traditional field of mathematics in the province of discrete and continuous number can only be separated from the general abstract theory of classes and relations by a wavering and indeterminate line. Of course a discussion as to the mere application of a word easily degenerates into the most fruitless logomachy. It is open to any one to use any word in any sense. But on the assumption that “mathematics” is to denote a science well marked out by its subject matter and its methods from other topics of thought, and that at least it is to include all topics habitually assigned to it, there is now no option but to employ “mathematics” in the general sense of the “science concerned with the logical deduction of consequences from the general premisses of all reasoning.”
In article 'Mathematics', Encyclopedia Britannica (1911, 11th ed.), Vol. 17, 880. In the 2006 DVD edition of the encyclopedia, the definition of mathematics is given as “The science of structure, order, and relation that has evolved from elemental practices of counting, measuring, and describing the shapes of objects.” [Premiss is a variant form of “premise”. —Webmaster]
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (124)  |  All (4108)  |  Apparent (84)  |  Application (242)  |  Assign (13)  |  Become (815)  |  Class (164)  |  Concern (228)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Continuous (82)  |  Course (409)  |  Deduction (82)  |  Definition (221)  |  Degenerate (14)  |  Denote (5)  |  Discrete (11)  |  Discussion (72)  |  Employ (113)  |  Field (364)  |  Fruitless (8)  |  General (511)  |  Habitual (3)  |  Include (90)  |  Indeterminate (3)  |  Logic (287)  |  Mark (43)  |  Marked (55)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Matter (798)  |  Method (505)  |  Methods (204)  |  Most (1731)  |  Number (699)  |  Open (274)  |  Option (9)  |  Other (2236)  |  Premise (37)  |  Province (35)  |  Reason (744)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Relation (157)  |  Science (3879)  |  Sense (770)  |  Separate (143)  |  Subject (521)  |  Subject Matter (3)  |  Theory (970)  |  Thought (953)  |  Topic (21)  |  Traditional (15)  |  Use (766)  |  Waver (2)  |  Word (619)

Education must be subversive if it is to be meaningful. By this I mean that it must challenge all the things we take for granted, examine all accepted assumptions, tamper with every sacred cow, and instil a desire to question and doubt.
As quoted, without citation, in Ronald William Clark, The Life of Bertrand Russell (1976), 423.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (191)  |  Accepted (6)  |  All (4108)  |  Challenge (85)  |  Cow (39)  |  Desire (204)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Education (378)  |  Examine (78)  |  Grant (73)  |  Instil (3)  |  Mean (809)  |  Meaningful (17)  |  Must (1526)  |  Question (621)  |  Sacred (45)  |  Sacred Cow (3)  |  Subversive (2)  |  Tamper (6)  |  Thing (1915)

Finally, since I thought that we could have all the same thoughts, while asleep, as we have while we are awake, although none of them is true at that time, I decided to pretend that nothing that ever entered my mind was any more true than the illusions of my dreams. But I noticed, immediately afterwards, that while I thus wished to think that everything was false, it was necessarily the case that I, who was thinking this, was something. When I noticed that this truth “I think, therefore I am” was so firm and certain that all the most extravagant assumptions of the sceptics were unable to shake it, I judged that I could accept it without scruple as the first principle of the philosophy for which I was searching. Then, when I was examining what I was, I realized that I could pretend that I had no body, and that there was no world nor any place in which I was present, but I could not pretend in the same way that I did not exist. On the contrary, from the very fact that I was thinking of doubting the truth of other things, it followed very evidently and very certainly that I existed; whereas if I merely ceased to think, even if all the rest of what I had ever imagined were true, I would have no reason to believe that I existed. I knew from this that I was a substance, the whole essence or nature of which was to think and which, in order to exist, has no need of any place and does not depend on anything material. Thus this self—that is, the soul by which I am what I am—is completely distinct from the body and is even easier to know than it, and even if the body did not exist the soul would still be everything that it is.
Discourse on Method in Discourse on Method and Related Writings (1637), trans. Desmond M. Clarke, Penguin edition (1999), Part 4, 24-5.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (191)  |  All (4108)  |  Awake (19)  |  Body (537)  |  Certain (550)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Completely (135)  |  Contrary (141)  |  Depend (228)  |  Distinct (97)  |  Dream (208)  |  Easier (53)  |  Enter (141)  |  Essence (82)  |  Everything (476)  |  Evidently (26)  |  Exist (443)  |  Extravagant (10)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Firm (47)  |  First (1283)  |  Follow (378)  |  Illusion (66)  |  Immediately (114)  |  Know (1518)  |  Material (353)  |  Merely (316)  |  Mind (1338)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Necessarily (135)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Order (632)  |  Other (2236)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Present (619)  |  Principle (507)  |  Reason (744)  |  Rest (280)  |  Self (267)  |  Shake (41)  |  Something (719)  |  Soul (226)  |  Still (613)  |  Substance (248)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Think (1086)  |  Thinking (414)  |  Thought (953)  |  Time (1877)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Way (1217)  |  Whole (738)  |  Wish (212)  |  World (1774)

For any one who is pervaded with the sense of causal law in all that happens, who accepts in real earnest the assumption of causality, the idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible! Neither the religion of fear nor the social-moral religion can have, any hold on him. A God who rewards and punishes is for him unthinkable, because man acts in accordance with an inner and outer necessity, and would, in the eyes of God, be as little responsible as an inanimate object is for the movements which it makes. Science, in consequence, has been accused of undermining morals—but wrongly. The ethical behavior of man is better based on sympathy, education and social relationships, and requires no support from religion. Man’s plight would, indeed, be sad if he had to be kept in order through fear of punishment and hope of rewards after death.
From 'Religion and Science', The New York Times Magazine, (9 Nov 1930), 1. Article in full, reprinted in Edward H. Cotton (ed.), Has Science Discovered God? A Symposium of Modern Scientific Opinion (1931), 101. The wording differs significantly from the version collected in 'Religion And Science', Ideas And Opinions (1954), 39, giving its source as: “Written expressly for the New York Times Magazine. Appeared there November 9, 1930 (pp. 1-4). The German text was published in the Berliner Tageblatt, November 11, 1930.” This variant form of the quote from the book begins, “The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation….” and is also on the Albert Einstein Quotes page on this website. As for why the difference, Webmaster speculates the book form editor perhaps used a revised translation from Einstein’s German article.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Accept (191)  |  Accused (3)  |  Act (272)  |  All (4108)  |  Behavior (84)  |  Being (1278)  |  Better (486)  |  Causality (11)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Death (388)  |  Education (378)  |  Ethical (34)  |  Event (216)  |  Eye (419)  |  Fear (197)  |  God (757)  |  Happen (274)  |  Hope (299)  |  Idea (843)  |  Impossible (251)  |  Inanimate (16)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Inner (71)  |  Interfere (17)  |  Law (894)  |  Little (707)  |  Man (2251)  |  Moral (195)  |  Movement (155)  |  Necessity (191)  |  Object (422)  |  Order (632)  |  Outer (13)  |  Plight (4)  |  Punish (9)  |  Punishment (14)  |  Relationship (104)  |  Religion (361)  |  Require (219)  |  Responsible (17)  |  Reward (68)  |  Sadness (35)  |  Science (3879)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Sense (770)  |  Sequence (68)  |  Social (252)  |  Support (147)  |  Sympathy (30)  |  Through (849)  |  Undermine (6)  |  Unthinkable (8)  |  World (1774)  |  Wrong (234)

For ourselves, we may take as a basic assumption, clear from a survey of particular cases, that natural things are some or all of them subject to change.
Aristotle
In 'Physics', Book 1, Chapter 2, 185a13, as translated by William Charlton, Physics: Books I and II (1983), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Basic (138)  |  Change (593)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural Law (41)  |  Ourselves (245)  |  Subject (521)  |  Survey (33)  |  Thing (1915)

For terrestrial vertebrates, the climate in the usual meteorological sense of the term would appear to be a reasonable approximation of the conditions of temperature, humidity, radiation, and air movement in which terrestrial vertebrates live. But, in fact, it would be difficult to find any other lay assumption about ecology and natural history which has less general validity. … Most vertebrates are much smaller than man and his domestic animals, and the universe of these small creatures is one of cracks and crevices, holes in logs, dense underbrush, tunnels, and nests—a world where distances are measured in yards rather than miles and where the difference between sunshine and shadow may be the difference between life and death. Actually, climate in the usual sense of the term is little more than a crude index to the physical conditions in which most terrestrial animals live.
From 'Interaction of physiology and behavior under natural conditions', collected in R.I. Bowman (ed.), The Galapagos (1966), 40.
Science quotes on:  |  Actually (27)  |  Air (347)  |  Animal (617)  |  Appear (118)  |  Approximation (31)  |  Climate (97)  |  Condition (356)  |  Crack (15)  |  Creature (233)  |  Crude (31)  |  Death (388)  |  Dense (5)  |  Difference (337)  |  Difficult (246)  |  Distance (161)  |  Domestic (26)  |  Ecology (74)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Find (998)  |  General (511)  |  History (673)  |  Hole (16)  |  Humidity (3)  |  Index (4)  |  Less (103)  |  Lie (364)  |  Life (1795)  |  Little (707)  |  Live (628)  |  Log (5)  |  Man (2251)  |  Measure (232)  |  Mile (39)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Movement (155)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural History (70)  |  Nest (23)  |  Other (2236)  |  Physical (508)  |  Radiation (44)  |  Reasonable (27)  |  Sense (770)  |  Shadow (72)  |  Small (477)  |  Sunshine (10)  |  Temperature (79)  |  Term (349)  |  Terrestrial (61)  |  Tunnel (13)  |  Underbrush (2)  |  Universe (857)  |  Validity (47)  |  Vertebrate (20)  |  World (1774)  |  Yard (7)

Further study of the division phenomena requires a brief discussion of the material which thus far I have called the stainable substance of the nucleus. Since the term nuclear substance could easily result in misinterpretation..., I shall coin the term chromatin for the time being. This does not indicate that this substance must be a chemical compound of a definite composition, remaining the same in all nuclei. Although this may be the case, we simply do not know enough about the nuclear substances to make such an assumption. Therefore, we will designate as chromatin that substance, in the nucleus, which upon treatment with dyes known as nuclear stains does absorb the dye. From my description of the results of staining resting and dividing cells... it follows that the chromatin is distributed throughout the whole resting nucleus, mostly in the nucleoli, the network, and the membrane, but also in the ground-substance. In nuclear division it accumulates exclusively in the thread figures. The term achromatin suggests itself automatically for the unstainable substance of the nucleus. The terms chromatic and achromatic which will be used henceforth are thus explained.
Science quotes on:  |  Absorb (49)  |  All (4108)  |  Being (1278)  |  Brief (36)  |  Call (769)  |  Cell (138)  |  Chemical (292)  |  Chromatic (4)  |  Chromatin (4)  |  Composition (84)  |  Compound (113)  |  Definite (110)  |  Discussion (72)  |  Division (65)  |  Do (1908)  |  Dye (10)  |  Enough (340)  |  Explain (322)  |  Figure (160)  |  Follow (378)  |  Ground (217)  |  Indicate (61)  |  Know (1518)  |  Known (454)  |  Material (353)  |  Membrane (21)  |  Must (1526)  |  Network (21)  |  Nuclear (107)  |  Nucleus (49)  |  Remaining (45)  |  Require (219)  |  Result (677)  |  Study (653)  |  Substance (248)  |  Term (349)  |  Terms (184)  |  Thread (32)  |  Throughout (98)  |  Time (1877)  |  Treatment (130)  |  Whole (738)  |  Will (2355)

Given any domain of thought in which the fundamental objective is a knowledge that transcends mere induction or mere empiricism, it seems quite inevitable that its processes should be made to conform closely to the pattern of a system free of ambiguous terms, symbols, operations, deductions; a system whose implications and assumptions are unique and consistent; a system whose logic confounds not the necessary with the sufficient where these are distinct; a system whose materials are abstract elements interpretable as reality or unreality in any forms whatsoever provided only that these forms mirror a thought that is pure. To such a system is universally given the name MATHEMATICS.
In 'Mathematics', National Mathematics Magazine (Nov 1937), 12, No. 2, 62.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (124)  |  Ambiguous (13)  |  Conform (13)  |  Confound (21)  |  Consistent (48)  |  Deduction (82)  |  Distinct (97)  |  Domain (69)  |  Element (310)  |  Empiricism (21)  |  Form (959)  |  Free (232)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Implication (23)  |  Induction (77)  |  Inevitable (49)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Logic (287)  |  Material (353)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Mirror (41)  |  Name (333)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Objective (91)  |  Operation (213)  |  Operations (107)  |  Pattern (110)  |  Process (423)  |  Provide (69)  |  Pure (291)  |  Reality (261)  |  Sufficient (128)  |  Symbol (93)  |  System (537)  |  Term (349)  |  Terms (184)  |  Thought (953)  |  Transcend (26)  |  Unique (67)  |  Universal (189)  |  Unreality (3)  |  Whatsoever (41)

How do we discover the individual laws of Physics, and what is their nature? It should be remarked, to begin with, that we have no right to assume that any physical law exists, or if they have existed up to now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future. It is perfectly conceivable that one fine day Nature should cause an unexpected event to occur which would baffle us all; and if this were to happen we would be powerless to make any objection, even if the result would be that, in spite of our endeavors, we should fail to introduce order into the resulting confusion. In such an event, the only course open to science would be to declare itself bankrupt. For this reason, science is compelled to begin by the general assumption that a general rule of law dominates throughout Nature.
Max Planck, Walter Henry Johnston, The Universe in the Light of Modern Physics (1931), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Begin (260)  |  Cause (541)  |  Conceivable (28)  |  Confusion (57)  |  Continuation (20)  |  Continue (165)  |  Course (409)  |  Declare (45)  |  Discover (553)  |  Do (1908)  |  Endeavor (67)  |  Event (216)  |  Exist (443)  |  Existence (456)  |  Fail (185)  |  Future (429)  |  General (511)  |  Happen (274)  |  Individual (404)  |  Introduce (63)  |  Law (894)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Objection (32)  |  Occur (150)  |  Open (274)  |  Order (632)  |  Physic (517)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physical Law (14)  |  Physics (533)  |  Reason (744)  |  Result (677)  |  Right (452)  |  Rule (294)  |  Science (3879)  |  Similar (36)  |  Spite (55)  |  Throughout (98)  |  Unexpected (52)  |  Will (2355)

I have always felt that astronomical hypotheses should not be regarded as articles of faith, but should only serve as a framework for astronomical calculations, so that it does not matter whether they were right or wrong, as long as the phenomena can be characterized precisely. For who could possibly be certain as to whether the uneven movement of the sun, if we follow the hypotheses of Ptolemy, can be explained by assuming an epicycle or eccentricity. Both assumptions are plausible. That’s why I would consider it quite desirable for you to tell something about that in the preface. In this way you would appease the Aristotelians and the theologians, whose opposition you dread.
From surviving fragment of a Letter (20 Apr 1541) answering a query from Copernicus as to whether he should publish his book (De Revolutionibus). From the German in Leopold Friedrich Prowe, Nicolaus Coppernicus (1883), Vol. 1, Part 2, 521-522. Translated from Prowe by Webmaster using web resources. Original German: “Hypothesen nicht als Glaubens-Artikel zu betrachten seien, sondern nur als Grundlage für die astronomischen Rechnungen zu dienen hätten, so dass es nicht darauf ankomme, ob sie richtig oder falsch seien, wofern sich nur die Erscheinungen dadurch genau bestimmen liessen. »Denn wer dürfte uns wohl darüber sichere Auskunft geben, ob die ungleiche Bewegung der Sonne, wenn wir den Hypothesen des Ptolemaeus folgen, durch Annahme eines Epicykels oder der Ekcentricität zu erklären sei. Beide Annahmen sind gestattet. Daher würde ich—so schliesst Osiander—es für recht wünschenswerth erachten, wenn Du hierüber in der Vorrede etwas beibrächtest. Auf diese Weise würdest Du die Aristoteliker und die Theologen milder stimmen, von denen Du befürchtest, dass sie heftigen Widerspruch kundthun werden.«” Compare Latin text, from Johannes Kepler, 'Apologia Tychonia', Astronomi Opera Omnia (1858), Vol. 1, 246: “De hypothesibus ego sic sensi semper, non esse articulos fidei, sed fundamenta calculi ita ut, etiamsi falsae sint, modo motuum φαινομενα exacte exhibeant, nihil referat; quis enim nos certiores reddet, an Solis inaequalis motus nomine epicycli an nomine eccentricitatis contingat, si Ptolemaei hypotheses sequamur, cum id possit utrumque. Quare plausibile fore videretur, si hac de re in praefatione nonnihil attingeres. Sic enim placidiores redderes peripatheticos et theologos, quos contradicturos metuis.”
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Allowable (2)  |  Appease (6)  |  Aristotelian (2)  |  Article (22)  |  Astronomy (229)  |  Both (493)  |  Calculation (127)  |  Certain (550)  |  Characterize (20)  |  Consider (416)  |  Desirable (33)  |  Eccentricity (3)  |  Epicycle (4)  |  Explain (322)  |  Faith (203)  |  Fear (197)  |  Follow (378)  |  Framework (31)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Long (790)  |  Matter (798)  |  Movement (155)  |  Opposition (48)  |  Phenomenon (318)  |  Plausible (22)  |  Possibly (111)  |  Precisely (92)  |  Preface (8)  |  Ptolemy (17)  |  Regard (305)  |  Right (452)  |  Something (719)  |  Sun (385)  |  Tell (340)  |  Theologian (22)  |  Vehement (2)  |  Way (1217)  |  Why (491)  |  Wrong (234)

I have no doubt that certain learned men, now that the novelty of the hypotheses in this work has been widely reported—for it establishes that the Earth moves, and indeed that the Sun is motionless in the middle of the universe—are extremely shocked, and think that the scholarly disciplines, rightly established once and for all, should not be upset. But if they are willing to judge the matter thoroughly, they will find that the author of this work has committed nothing which deserves censure. For it is proper for an astronomer to establish a record of the motions of the heavens with diligent and skilful observations, and then to think out and construct laws for them, or rather hypotheses, whatever their nature may be, since the true laws cannot be reached by the use of reason; and from those assumptions the motions can be correctly calculated, both for the future and for the past. Our author has shown himself outstandingly skilful in both these respects. Nor is it necessary that these hypotheses should be true, nor indeed even probable, but it is sufficient if they merely produce calculations which agree with the observations. … For it is clear enough that this subject is completely and simply ignorant of the laws which produce apparently irregular motions. And if it does work out any laws—as certainly it does work out very many—it does not do so in any way with the aim of persuading anyone that they are valid, but only to provide a correct basis for calculation. Since different hypotheses are sometimes available to explain one and the same motion (for instance eccentricity or an epicycle for the motion of the Sun) an astronomer will prefer to seize on the one which is easiest to grasp; a philosopher will perhaps look more for probability; but neither will grasp or convey anything certain, unless it has been divinely revealed to him. Let us therefore allow these new hypotheses also to become known beside the older, which are no more probable, especially since they are remarkable and easy; and let them bring with them the vast treasury of highly learned observations. And let no one expect from astronomy, as far as hypotheses are concerned, anything certain, since it cannot produce any such thing, in case if he seizes on things constructed for another other purpose as true, he departs from this discipline more foolish than he came to it.
Although this preface would have been assumed by contemporary readers to be written by Copernicus, it was unsigned. It is now believed to have been written and added at press time by Andreas Osiander (who was then overseeing the printing of the book). It suggests the earth’s motion as described was merely a mathematical device, and not to be taken as absolute reality. Text as given in 'To the Reader on the Hypotheses in this Work', Copernicus: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (1543), translated by ‎Alistair Matheson Duncan (1976), 22-3. By adding this preface, Osiander wished to stave off criticism by theologians. See also the Andreas Osiander Quotes page of this website.
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (165)  |  All (4108)  |  Astronomer (93)  |  Astronomy (229)  |  Author (167)  |  Available (78)  |  Basis (173)  |  Become (815)  |  Both (493)  |  Calculation (127)  |  Censure (5)  |  Certain (550)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Completely (135)  |  Concern (228)  |  Construct (124)  |  Deserve (65)  |  Different (577)  |  Diligent (19)  |  Discipline (77)  |  Do (1908)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Earth (996)  |  Easy (204)  |  Enough (340)  |  Expect (200)  |  Explain (322)  |  Find (998)  |  Foolish (40)  |  Future (429)  |  Heaven (258)  |  Heavens (125)  |  Himself (461)  |  Ignorant (90)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Judge (108)  |  Known (454)  |  Law (894)  |  Learn (629)  |  Learned (235)  |  Look (582)  |  Matter (798)  |  Merely (316)  |  More (2559)  |  Motion (310)  |  Move (216)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Necessary (363)  |  New (1216)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Novelty (29)  |  Observation (555)  |  Other (2236)  |  Past (337)  |  Philosopher (258)  |  Probability (130)  |  Proper (144)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Reach (281)  |  Reason (744)  |  Record (154)  |  Respect (207)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Revealed (60)  |  Shock (37)  |  Solar System (77)  |  Subject (521)  |  Sufficient (128)  |  Sun (385)  |  Theory (970)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Think (1086)  |  Thoroughly (67)  |  Universe (857)  |  Upset (18)  |  Use (766)  |  Vast (177)  |  Way (1217)  |  Whatever (234)  |  Will (2355)  |  Willing (44)  |  Work (1351)

I think a strong claim can be made that the process of scientific discovery may be regarded as a form of art. This is best seen in the theoretical aspects of Physical Science. The mathematical theorist builds up on certain assumptions and according to well understood logical rules, step by step, a stately edifice, while his imaginative power brings out clearly the hidden relations between its parts. A well constructed theory is in some respects undoubtedly an artistic production. A fine example is the famous Kinetic Theory of Maxwell. ... The theory of relativity by Einstein, quite apart from any question of its validity, cannot but be regarded as a magnificent work of art.
Responding to the toast, 'Science!' at the Royal Academy of the Arts in 1932.)
Quoted in Lawrence Badash, 'Ernest Rutherford and Theoretical Physics,' in Robert Kargon and Peter Achinstein (eds.) Kelvin's Baltimore Lectures and Modern Theoretical Physics: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives (1987), 352.
Science quotes on:  |  Academy (35)  |  According (237)  |  Art (657)  |  Artistic (23)  |  Aspect (124)  |  Best (459)  |  Build (204)  |  Certain (550)  |  Claim (146)  |  Construct (124)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Edifice (26)  |  Einstein (101)  |  Albert Einstein (605)  |  Form (959)  |  Imagination (328)  |  Kinetic (12)  |  Kinetic Theory (7)  |  Magnificent (43)  |  Maxwell (42)  |  James Clerk Maxwell (87)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physical Science (101)  |  Power (746)  |  Process (423)  |  Production (183)  |  Question (621)  |  Regard (305)  |  Relativity (88)  |  Respect (207)  |  Royal (57)  |  Royal Academy (3)  |  Rule (294)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Stately (12)  |  Step (231)  |  Step By Step (11)  |  Strong (174)  |  Theorist (44)  |  Theory (970)  |  Theory Of Relativity (33)  |  Think (1086)  |  Toast (8)  |  Understood (156)  |  Validity (47)  |  Work (1351)

I undertake my scientific research with the confident assumption that the earth follows the laws of nature which God established at creation. … My studies are performed with the confidence that God will not capriciously confound scientific results by “slipping in” a miracle.
Quoted in Lenny Flank, Deception by Design: The Intelligent Design Movement in America (2007), 81. Also seen as cited from Arthur Newell Strahler, Science and Earth History: the Evolution/Creation Controversy (1987), 40-41.
Science quotes on:  |  Confidence (69)  |  Confident (25)  |  Confound (21)  |  Confounding (8)  |  Creation (327)  |  Earth (996)  |  Establish (57)  |  Follow (378)  |  Following (16)  |  God (757)  |  Law (894)  |  Miracle (83)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Perform (121)  |  Performance (48)  |  Research (664)  |  Result (677)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Slip (5)  |  Study (653)  |  Undertake (33)  |  Undertaking (16)  |  Will (2355)

I was led to the conclusion that at the most extreme dilutions all salts would consist of simple conducting molecules. But the conducting molecules are, according to the hypothesis of Clausius and Williamson, dissociated; hence at extreme dilutions all salt molecules are completely disassociated. The degree of dissociation can be simply found on this assumption by taking the ratio of the molecular conductivity of the solution in question to the molecular conductivity at the most extreme dilution.
Letter to Van’t Hoff, 13 April 1887. In J. R. Partington, A History of Chemistry (1961), Vol. 4, 678.
Science quotes on:  |  According (237)  |  All (4108)  |  Completely (135)  |  Conclusion (254)  |  Conductivity (4)  |  Consist (223)  |  Degree (276)  |  Dilution (4)  |  Electrolyte (4)  |  Extreme (75)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Molecule (174)  |  Most (1731)  |  Question (621)  |  Ratio (39)  |  Salt (46)  |  Simple (406)  |  Solution (267)

If we ascribe the ejection of the proton to a Compton recoil from a quantum of 52 x 106 electron volts, then the nitrogen recoil atom arising by a similar process should have an energy not greater than about 400,000 volts, should produce not more than about 10,000 ions, and have a range in the air at N.T.P. of about 1-3mm. Actually, some of the recoil atoms in nitrogen produce at least 30,000 ions. In collaboration with Dr. Feather, I have observed the recoil atoms in an expansion chamber, and their range, estimated visually, was sometimes as much as 3mm. at N.T.P.
These results, and others I have obtained in the course of the work, are very difficult to explain on the assumption that the radiation from beryllium is a quantum radiation, if energy and momentum are to be conserved in the collisions. The difficulties disappear, however, if it be assumed that the radiation consists of particles of mass 1 and charge 0, or neutrons. The capture of the a-particle by the Be9 nucleus may be supposed to result in the formation of a C12 nucleus and the emission of the neutron. From the energy relations of this process the velocity of the neutron emitted in the forward direction may well be about 3 x 109 cm. per sec. The collisions of this neutron with the atoms through which it passes give rise to the recoil atoms, and the observed energies of the recoil atoms are in fair agreement with this view. Moreover, I have observed that the protons ejected from hydrogen by the radiation emitted in the opposite direction to that of the exciting a-particle appear to have a much smaller range than those ejected by the forward radiation.
This again receives a simple explanation on the neutron hypothesis.
'Possible Existence of a Neutron', Letter to the Editor, Nature, 1932, 129, 312.
Science quotes on:  |  Agreement (53)  |  Air (347)  |  Arising (22)  |  Atom (355)  |  Beryllium (3)  |  Charge (59)  |  Collaboration (15)  |  Collision (15)  |  Consist (223)  |  Course (409)  |  Difficult (246)  |  Direction (175)  |  Disappear (82)  |  Electron (93)  |  Energy (344)  |  Exciting (47)  |  Expansion (41)  |  Explain (322)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Formation (96)  |  Forward (102)  |  Greater (288)  |  Hydrogen (75)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Ion (21)  |  Mass (157)  |  Momentum (9)  |  More (2559)  |  Neutron (17)  |  Nitrogen (26)  |  Nucleus (49)  |  Observed (149)  |  Obtain (163)  |  Opposite (104)  |  Other (2236)  |  Particle (194)  |  Process (423)  |  Proton (21)  |  Quantum (117)  |  Radiation (44)  |  Range (99)  |  Receive (114)  |  Result (677)  |  Rise (166)  |  Simple (406)  |  Through (849)  |  Velocity (48)  |  View (488)  |  Work (1351)

In all spheres of science, art, skill, and handicraft it is never doubted that, in order to master them, a considerable amount of trouble must be spent in learning and in being trained. As regards philosophy, on the contrary, there seems still an assumption prevalent that, though every one with eyes and fingers is not on that account in a position to make shoes if he only has leather and a last, yet everybody understands how to philosophize straight away, and pass judgment on philosophy, simply because he possesses the criterion for doing so in his natural reason.
From Phänomenologie des Geistes (1807) as translated by J.B. Baillie in 'Preface', The Phenomenology of Mind (1910), Vol. 1, 67.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (192)  |  All (4108)  |  Amount (151)  |  Art (657)  |  Being (1278)  |  Common Sense (130)  |  Considerable (75)  |  Contrary (141)  |  Criterion (27)  |  Doing (280)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Everybody (70)  |  Eye (419)  |  Finger (44)  |  Handicraft (3)  |  Judgment (132)  |  Last (426)  |  Learn (629)  |  Learning (274)  |  Leather (4)  |  Master (178)  |  Must (1526)  |  Natural (796)  |  Never (1087)  |  Order (632)  |  Pass (238)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Possess (156)  |  Reason (744)  |  Regard (305)  |  Science (3879)  |  Science And Art (184)  |  Shoe (11)  |  Skill (109)  |  Spent (85)  |  Sphere (116)  |  Still (613)  |  Straight (73)  |  Train (114)  |  Trouble (107)  |  Understand (606)

In my opinion progress in science is usually made by dropping assumptions.
As quoted from first-hand conversation by Paul Davies, in About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution (1995, 1996), 199.
Science quotes on:  |  Dropping (8)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Progress (465)  |  Science (3879)  |  Usually (176)

In recent years several new particles have been discovered which are currently assumed to be “elementary,” that is, essentially structureless. The probability that all such particles should be really elementary becomes less and less as their number increases. It is by no means certain that nucleons, mesons, electrons, neutrinos are all elementary particles.
Opening statement, Enrico Fermi and C.N. Yang, 'Are Mesons Elementary Particles?', Physical Review (1949), 76, 1739. As cited in James Gleick, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (1992), 283.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Become (815)  |  Certain (550)  |  Certainty (174)  |  Discover (553)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Electron (93)  |  Elementary (96)  |  Increase (210)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  Meson (3)  |  Neutrino (11)  |  New (1216)  |  Nucleon (5)  |  Number (699)  |  Particle (194)  |  Probability (130)  |  Recent (77)  |  Year (933)

In terms of the way a geologist operates, there is no past until after the assumption of uniformity has been made.
'The Theory of Geology', in C. C. Albritton (ed.), The Fabric of Geology (1963), 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Geologist (75)  |  History (673)  |  Past (337)  |  Term (349)  |  Terms (184)  |  Uniformity (37)  |  Way (1217)

In the Life of Darwin by his son, there is related an incident of how the great naturalist once studied long as to just what a certain spore was. Finally he said, “It is this, for if it isn’t, then what is it?” And all during his life he was never able to forget that he had been guilty of this unscientific attitude, for science is founded on certitude, not assumption.
In Elbert Hubbard (ed. and publ.), The Philistine (May 1908), 26, No. 6, 172.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Attitude (82)  |  Certain (550)  |  Certitude (6)  |  Charles Darwin (303)  |  Forget (115)  |  Forgetting (13)  |  Foundation (171)  |  Great (1574)  |  Guilt (14)  |  Life (1795)  |  Long (790)  |  Naturalist (70)  |  Never (1087)  |  Science (3879)  |  Spore (3)  |  Unscientific (13)

In the modern interpretation of Mendelism, facts are being transformed into factors at a rapid rate. If one factor will not explain the facts, then two are involved; if two prove insufficient, three will sometimes work out. The superior jugglery sometimes necessary to account for the results may blind us, if taken too naively, to the common-place that the results are often so excellently 'explained' because the explanation was invented to explain them. We work backwards from the facts to the factors, and then, presto! explain the facts by the very factors that we invented to account for them. I am not unappreciative of the distinct advantages that this method has in handling the facts. I realize how valuable it has been to us to be able to marshal our results under a few simple assumptions, yet I cannot but fear that we are rapidly developing a sort of Mendelian ritual by which to explain the extraordinary facts of alternative inheritance. So long as we do not lose sight of the purely arbitrary and formal nature of our formulae, little harm will be done; and it is only fair to state that those who are doing the actual work of progress along Mendelian lines are aware of the hypothetical nature of the factor-assumption.
'What are 'Factors' in Mendelian Explanations?', American Breeders Association (1909), 5, 365.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (192)  |  Actual (117)  |  Advantage (134)  |  Arbitrary (26)  |  Backwards (17)  |  Being (1278)  |  Blind (95)  |  Common (436)  |  Distinct (97)  |  Do (1908)  |  Doing (280)  |  Explain (322)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Extraordinary (79)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Factor (46)  |  Facts (553)  |  Fear (197)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Inheritance (34)  |  Interpretation (85)  |  Involved (90)  |  Little (707)  |  Long (790)  |  Lose (159)  |  Gregor Mendel (21)  |  Method (505)  |  Modern (385)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Progress (465)  |  Prove (250)  |  Purely (109)  |  Rapidly (66)  |  Realize (147)  |  Result (677)  |  Ritual (9)  |  Sight (132)  |  Simple (406)  |  State (491)  |  Superior (81)  |  Transform (73)  |  Transformation (69)  |  Two (937)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)

Indeed, not all attacks—especially the bitter and ridiculing kind leveled at Darwin—are offered in good faith, but for practical purposes it is good policy to assume that they are.
From Dream to Discovery: On Being a Scientist (1964), 157
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Attack (84)  |  Bitter (30)  |  Charles Darwin (303)  |  Faith (203)  |  Good (889)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Kind (557)  |  Offer (141)  |  Policy (24)  |  Practical (200)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Ridicule (23)

It is a constant struggle not to let the theory lead the science in the way that is most beneficial to one’s assumptions.
In U.S. News & World Report (1997), 123, 262.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Constant (144)  |  Lead (384)  |  Most (1731)  |  Science (3879)  |  Struggle (105)  |  Theory (970)  |  Way (1217)

It seems to me that the physical constitution of the valley, on which I am reporting, must cast doubt in the minds of those who may have accepted the assumptions of any of the geologic systems hitherto proposed; and that those who delight in science would do better to enrich themselves with empirical facts than take upon themselves the burden of defending and applying general hypotheses.
Della valle vulcanico-marina di Roncà nel Territorio Veronese (1778), trans. Ezio Vaccari, vii-viii.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (191)  |  Better (486)  |  Cast (66)  |  Constitution (76)  |  Delight (108)  |  Do (1908)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Empirical (54)  |  Enrich (24)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  General (511)  |  Geology (220)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Must (1526)  |  Physical (508)  |  Reporting (9)  |  Science (3879)  |  System (537)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Valley (32)

It was not just the Church that resisted the heliocentrism of Copernicus. Many prominent figures, in the decades following the 1543 publication of De Revolutionibus, regarded the Copernican model of the universe as a mathematical artifice which, though it yielded astronomical predictions of superior accuracy, could not be considered a true representation of physical reality: 'If Nicolaus Copernicus, the distinguished and incomparable master, in this work had not been deprived of exquisite and faultless instruments, he would have left us this science far more well-established. For he, if anybody, was outstanding and had the most perfect understanding of the geometrical and arithmetical requisites for building up this discipline. Nor was he in any respect inferior to Ptolemy; on the contrary, he surpassed him greatly in certain fields, particularly as far as the device of fitness and compendious harmony in hypotheses is concerned. And his apparently absurd opinion that the Earth revolves does not obstruct this estimate, because a circular motion designed to go on uniformly about another point than the very center of the circle, as actually found in the Ptolemaic hypotheses of all the planets except that of the Sun, offends against the very basic principles of our discipline in a far more absurd and intolerable way than does the attributing to the Earth one motion or another which, being a natural motion, turns out to be imperceptible. There does not at all arise from this assumption so many unsuitable consequences as most people think.'
from Letter to Christopher Rothman, 20 Jan 1587
Science quotes on:  |  Absurd (59)  |  Accuracy (78)  |  Against (332)  |  All (4108)  |  Anybody (42)  |  Arise (158)  |  Basic (138)  |  Being (1278)  |  Building (156)  |  Certain (550)  |  Church (56)  |  Circle (110)  |  Circular (19)  |  Circular Motion (6)  |  Concern (228)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Consider (416)  |  Contrary (141)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (48)  |  Decade (59)  |  Design (195)  |  Device (70)  |  Discipline (77)  |  Distinguish (160)  |  Distinguished (83)  |  Earth (996)  |  Estimate (57)  |  Exquisite (25)  |  Field (364)  |  Figure (160)  |  Harmony (102)  |  Heliocentric Model (7)  |  Inferior (37)  |  Instrument (144)  |  Master (178)  |  Model (102)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Motion (310)  |  Natural (796)  |  Offend (7)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Outstanding (16)  |  People (1005)  |  Perfect (216)  |  Physical (508)  |  Planet (356)  |  Point (580)  |  Prediction (82)  |  Principle (507)  |  Ptolemy (17)  |  Publication (101)  |  Reality (261)  |  Regard (305)  |  Representation (53)  |  Respect (207)  |  Revolve (25)  |  Science (3879)  |  Solar System (77)  |  Sun (385)  |  Superior (81)  |  Surpass (32)  |  Think (1086)  |  Turn (447)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Universe (857)  |  Way (1217)  |  Well-Established (5)  |  Work (1351)  |  Yield (81)

It was noted long ago that the front row of burlesque houses was occupied predominantly by bald-headed men. In fact, such a row became known as the bald-headed row. It might be assumed from this on statistical evidence that the continued close observation of chorus girls in tights caused loss of hair from the top of the head.
[Disputing a statistical study for the American Cancer Society showing smoking to be a cancer causative.]
In Bess Furman, '2 Cite Extraction of Cigarette Tar', New York Times (26 Jul 1957), 21. The article reported on testimony before the Legal and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee of the House Government Operations Committee.
Science quotes on:  |  Burlesque (2)  |  Cancer (55)  |  Chorus (6)  |  Conclusion (254)  |  Continuing (4)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Front (16)  |  Girl (37)  |  Hair (25)  |  Head (81)  |  House (140)  |  Known (454)  |  Long (790)  |  Loss (110)  |  Observation (555)  |  Occupied (45)  |  Occupy (26)  |  Predominantly (4)  |  Row (9)  |  Smoking (27)  |  Society (326)  |  Statistics (155)  |  Study (653)  |  Top (96)

Magnetic lines of force convey a far better and purer idea than the phrase magnetic current or magnetic flood: it avoids the assumption of a current or of two currents and also of fluids or a fluid, yet conveys a full and useful pictorial idea to the mind.
Diary Entry for 10 Sep 1854. In Thomas Martin (ed.), Faraday's Diary: Being the Various Philosophical Notes of Experimental Investigation (1935), Vol. 6, 315.
Science quotes on:  |  Avoid (116)  |  Better (486)  |  Current (118)  |  Flood (50)  |  Fluid (51)  |  Force (487)  |  Idea (843)  |  Magnetic (44)  |  Magnetism (41)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Nomenclature (146)  |  Phrase (61)  |  Two (937)  |  Useful (250)

Mathematics is not arithmetic. Though mathematics may have arisen from the practices of counting and measuring it really deals with logical reasoning in which theorems—general and specific statements—can be deduced from the starting assumptions. It is, perhaps, the purest and most rigorous of intellectual activities, and is often thought of as queen of the sciences.
Essay,'Private Games', in Lewis Wolpert, Alison Richards (eds.), A Passion for Science (1988), 53.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (210)  |  Arithmetic (136)  |  Counting (26)  |  Deal (188)  |  Deduce (25)  |  General (511)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Logical (55)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Measuring (2)  |  Most (1731)  |  Practice (204)  |  Queen (14)  |  Queen Of The Sciences (6)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Rigorous (48)  |  Science (3879)  |  Specific (95)  |  Starting (2)  |  Statement (142)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Thought (953)

My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.
In Fact and Faith (1934), vi.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (179)  |  Affair (29)  |  Angel (44)  |  Atheist (15)  |  Career (75)  |  Course (409)  |  Devil (31)  |  Dishonest (6)  |  Dishonesty (9)  |  Experiment (695)  |  God (757)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Interfere (17)  |  Interference (21)  |  Justification (48)  |  Practice (204)  |  Profession (99)  |  Professional (70)  |  Say (984)  |  Science And Religion (307)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Set (394)  |  Success (302)  |  Word (619)  |  World (1774)

My story [Lord of the Rings] is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power (exerted for Domination). Nuclear physics can be used for that purpose. But they need not be. They need not be used at all. If there is any contemporary reference in my story at all it is to what seems to me the most widespread assumption of our time: that if a thing can be done, it must be done. This seems to me wholly false.
From Letter draft to Joanna de Bortadano (Apr 1956). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 246, Letter No. 186.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Allegory (7)  |  Atomic Power (9)  |  Contemporary (30)  |  Domination (12)  |  Exert (39)  |  False (100)  |  Lord (93)  |  Lord Of The Rings (6)  |  Most (1731)  |  Must (1526)  |  Need (290)  |  Nuclear (107)  |  Nuclear Physics (5)  |  Physic (517)  |  Physics (533)  |  Power (746)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Reference (33)  |  Story (118)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Time (1877)  |  Wholly (88)  |  Widespread (22)

My “"thinking”" time was devoted mainly to activities that were essentially clerical or mechanical: searching, calculating, plotting, transforming, determining the logical or dynamic consequences of a set of assumptions or hypotheses, preparing the way for a decision or an insight. Moreover ... the operations that fill most of the time allegedly devoted to technical thinking are operations that can be performed more effectively by machines than by men.
From article 'Man-Computer Symbiosis', in IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics (Mar 1960), Vol. HFE-1, 4-11.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (210)  |  Calculate (54)  |  Clerical (2)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Decision (91)  |  Determining (2)  |  Devoted (59)  |  Dynamic (14)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Insight (102)  |  Logical (55)  |  Machine (257)  |  Mechanical (140)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Operation (213)  |  Operations (107)  |  Perform (121)  |  Plotting (2)  |  Preparing (21)  |  Searching (5)  |  Set (394)  |  Technical (43)  |  Thinking (414)  |  Time (1877)  |  Transforming (4)  |  Way (1217)

Never was there a dogma more calculated to foster indolence, and to blunt the keen edge of curiosity, than ... [the] assumption of the discordance between the former and the existing causes of change.
Principles of Geology(1830-3), Vol. 3, 2-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Blunt (5)  |  Cause (541)  |  Change (593)  |  Curiosity (128)  |  Discord (10)  |  Dogma (48)  |  Edge (47)  |  Former (137)  |  Foster (12)  |  Indolence (8)  |  More (2559)  |  Never (1087)

No engineer can go upon a new work and not find something peculiar, that will demand his careful reflection, and the deliberate consideration of any advice that he may receive; and nothing so fully reveals his incapacity as a pretentious assumption of knowledge, claiming to understand everything.
In Railway Property: A Treatise on the Construction and Management of Railways (1866), 247.
Science quotes on:  |  Advice (55)  |  Care (186)  |  Claim (146)  |  Claiming (8)  |  Consideration (139)  |  Deliberate (18)  |  Demand (123)  |  Engineer (121)  |  Everything (476)  |  Find (998)  |  Incapacity (3)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  New (1216)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Peculiar (113)  |  Pretentious (4)  |  Receive (114)  |  Reflection (90)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Revelation (48)  |  Something (719)  |  Understand (606)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)

No man who has not a decently skeptical mind can claim to be civilized. Euclid taught me that without assumptions there is no proof. Therefore, in any argument, examine the assumptions. Then, in the alleged proof, be alert for inexplicit assumptions. Euclid’s notorious oversights drove this lesson home. Thanks to him, I am (I hope!) immune to all propaganda, including that of mathematics itself.
In 'What Mathematics Has Meant to Me', Mathematics Magazine (Jan-Feb 1951), 24, 161.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Alert (13)  |  All (4108)  |  Argument (138)  |  Civilized (18)  |  Claim (146)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Examine (78)  |  Explicit (3)  |  Home (170)  |  Hope (299)  |  Immune (3)  |  Lesson (57)  |  Man (2251)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Notorious (8)  |  Oversight (4)  |  Proof (287)  |  Propaganda (13)  |  Skeptical (20)  |  Teach (277)  |  Thank (46)  |  Thanks (26)

On entering a temple we assume all signs of reverence. How much more reverent then should we be before the heavenly bodies, the stars, the very nature of God!
From Quaestiones Naturales as translated in Charles Singer, From Magic to Science (1958), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Entrance (15)  |  God (757)  |  Heavenly Body (2)  |  More (2559)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Reverence (28)  |  Sign (58)  |  Star (427)  |  Stars (304)  |  Temple (42)

On the most usual assumption, the universe is homogeneous on the large scale, i.e. down to regions containing each an appreciable number of nebulae. The homogeneity assumption may then be put in the form: An observer situated in a nebula and moving with the nebula will observe the same properties of the universe as any other similarly situated observer at any time.
From 'Review of Cosmology,', Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (1948), 107-8; as quoted and cited in Hermann Friedmann, Wissenschaft und Symbol, Biederstein (1949), 472.
Science quotes on:  |  Appreciable (2)  |  Containing (4)  |  Down (456)  |  Form (959)  |  Homogeneity (8)  |  Homogeneous (16)  |  Large (394)  |  Most (1731)  |  Moving (11)  |  Nebula (16)  |  Number (699)  |  Observation (555)  |  Observe (168)  |  Observer (43)  |  Other (2236)  |  Property (168)  |  Region (36)  |  Same (157)  |  Scale (121)  |  Similar (36)  |  Time (1877)  |  Universe (857)  |  Will (2355)

One point at which our magicians attempt their sleight-of-hand is when they slide quickly from the Hubble, redshift-distance relation to redshift-velocity of expansion. There are now five or six whole classes of objects that violate this absolutely basic assumption. It really gives away the game to realize how observations of these crucial objects have been banned from the telescope and how their discussion has met with desperate attempts at suppression.
In 'Letters: Wrangling Over the Bang', Science News (27 Jul 1991), 140, No. 4, 51. Also quoted in Roy C. Martin, Astronomy on Trial: A Devastating and Complete Repudiation of the Big Bang Fiasco (1999), Appendix I, 217.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (145)  |  Attempt (251)  |  Ban (9)  |  Basic (138)  |  Big Bang (39)  |  Class (164)  |  Crucial (9)  |  Discussion (72)  |  Distance (161)  |  Expansion (41)  |  Game (101)  |  Magician (14)  |  Object (422)  |  Observation (555)  |  Point (580)  |  Realize (147)  |  Red-Shift (4)  |  Suppression (9)  |  Telescope (98)  |  Velocity (48)  |  Violate (3)  |  Whole (738)

Owing to his lack of knowledge, the ordinary man cannot attempt to resolve conflicting theories of conflicting advice into a single organized structure. He is likely to assume the information available to him is on the order of what we might think of as a few pieces of an enormous jigsaw puzzle. If a given piece fails to fit, it is not because it is fraudulent; more likely the contradictions and inconsistencies within his information are due to his lack of understanding and to the fact that he possesses only a few pieces of the puzzle. Differing statements about the nature of things, differing medical philosophies, different diagnoses and treatments—all of these are to be collected eagerly and be made a part of the individual's collection of puzzle pieces. Ultimately, after many lifetimes, the pieces will fit together and the individual will attain clear and certain knowledge.
'Strategies of Resort to Curers in South India', contributed in Charles M. Leslie (ed.), Asian Medical Systems: A Comparative Study (1976), 185.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Advice (55)  |  All (4108)  |  Attain (125)  |  Attempt (251)  |  Availability (10)  |  Available (78)  |  Certain (550)  |  Certainty (174)  |  Clarity (47)  |  Collection (64)  |  Conflict (73)  |  Conflicting (13)  |  Contradiction (68)  |  Diagnosis (64)  |  Difference (337)  |  Different (577)  |  Due (141)  |  Eagerness (5)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Fail (185)  |  Failure (161)  |  Few (13)  |  Fit (134)  |  Inconsistency (4)  |  Individual (404)  |  Information (166)  |  Jigsaw (3)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Lack (119)  |  Lifetime (31)  |  Man (2251)  |  Medicine (378)  |  More (2559)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Nature Of Things (29)  |  Order (632)  |  Ordinary (160)  |  Organization (114)  |  Owing (39)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Piece (38)  |  Possession (65)  |  Puzzle (44)  |  Resolution (23)  |  Resolve (40)  |  Single (353)  |  Statement (142)  |  Structure (344)  |  Theory (970)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Think (1086)  |  Thinking (414)  |  Together (387)  |  Treatment (130)  |  Ultimate (144)  |  Ultimately (55)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Will (2355)

Pure mathematics is a collection of hypothetical, deductive theories, each consisting of a definite system of primitive, undefined, concepts or symbols and primitive, unproved, but self-consistent assumptions (commonly called axioms) together with their logically deducible consequences following by rigidly deductive processes without appeal to intuition.
In 'Non-Euclidian Geometry of the Fourth Dimension', collected in Henry Parker Manning (ed.), The Fourth Dimension Simply Explained (1910), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  Appeal (45)  |  Axiom (63)  |  Call (769)  |  Collection (64)  |  Commonly (9)  |  Concept (221)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Consist (223)  |  Consistent (48)  |  Deductive (11)  |  Definite (110)  |  Definitions and Objects of Mathematics (33)  |  Follow (378)  |  Hypothetical (5)  |  Intuition (75)  |  Logic (287)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Primitive (75)  |  Process (423)  |  Pure (291)  |  Pure Mathematics (67)  |  Rigidly (4)  |  Self (267)  |  Self-Consistent (2)  |  Symbol (93)  |  System (537)  |  Theory (970)  |  Together (387)  |  Undefined (3)  |  Unproved (2)

Rational thinking which is free from assumptions ends therefore in mysticism.
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 41
Science quotes on:  |  End (590)  |  Free (232)  |  Mysticism (14)  |  Rational (90)  |  Think (1086)  |  Thinking (414)

Science was false by being unpoetical. It assumed to explain a reptile or a mollusk, and isolated it—which is hunting for life in graveyards. Reptile or mollusk or man or angel only exists in system, in relation.
In 'Letters and Social Aims: Poetry and Imagination', Prose works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1880), Vol. 3, 199.
Science quotes on:  |  Angel (44)  |  Being (1278)  |  Exist (443)  |  Existence (456)  |  Explain (322)  |  Explanation (234)  |  False (100)  |  Graveyard (3)  |  Hunting (23)  |  Life (1795)  |  Man (2251)  |  Mollusk (6)  |  Poetry (143)  |  Relation (157)  |  Reptile (29)  |  Science (3879)  |  System (537)

Science, though apparently transformed into pure knowledge, has yet never lost its character of being a craft; and that it is not the knowledge itself which can rightly be called science, but a special way of getting and of using knowledge. Namely, science is the getting of knowledge from experience on the assumption of uniformity in nature, and the use of such knowledge to guide the actions of men.
In 'On The Scientific Basis of Morals', Contemporary Review (Sep 1875), collected in Leslie Stephen and Frederick Pollock (eds.), Lectures and Essays: By the Late William Kingdon Clifford, F.R.S. (1886), 289.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (327)  |  Being (1278)  |  Call (769)  |  Character (243)  |  Craft (10)  |  Experience (467)  |  Guide (97)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Never (1087)  |  Pure (291)  |  Science (3879)  |  Special (184)  |  Transform (73)  |  Uniformity (37)  |  Use (766)  |  Way (1217)

So I want to admit the assumption which the astronomer—and indeed any scientist—makes about the Universe he investigates. It is this: that the same physical causes give rise to the same physical results anywhere in the Universe, and at any time, past, present, and future. The fuller examination of this basic assumption, and much else besides, belongs to philosophy. The scientist, for his part, makes the assumption I have mentioned as an act of faith; and he feels confirmed in that faith by his increasing ability to build up a consistent and satisfying picture of the universe and its behavior.
From Science and the Nation (1957), 49. Also quoted in Ronald Keast, Dancing in the Dark: The Waltz in Wonder of Quantum Metaphysics (2009), 106.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (152)  |  Act (272)  |  Act Of Faith (4)  |  Anywhere (13)  |  Astronomer (93)  |  Basic (138)  |  Behavior (84)  |  Behaviour (41)  |  Belong (162)  |  Build (204)  |  Cause (541)  |  Confirm (57)  |  Confirmation (22)  |  Consistent (48)  |  Examination (98)  |  Faith (203)  |  Feel (367)  |  Future (429)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Investigate (103)  |  Mention (82)  |  Past (337)  |  Past Present and Future (2)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Physical (508)  |  Picture (143)  |  Present (619)  |  Result (677)  |  Rise (166)  |  Satisfying (5)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Time (1877)  |  Universe (857)  |  Want (497)

SYLLOGISM, n. A logical formula consisting of a major and a minor assumption and an inconsequent. (See LOGIC.)
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  335.
Science quotes on:  |  Formula (98)  |  Humour (116)  |  Logic (287)  |  Major (84)  |  See (1081)  |  Syllogism (8)

The ancients devoted a lifetime to the study of arithmetic; it required days to extract a square root or to multiply two numbers together. Is there any harm in skipping all that, in letting the school boy learn multiplication sums, and in starting his more abstract reasoning at a more advanced point? Where would be the harm in letting the boy assume the truth of many propositions of the first four books of Euclid, letting him assume their truth partly by faith, partly by trial? Giving him the whole fifth book of Euclid by simple algebra? Letting him assume the sixth as axiomatic? Letting him, in fact, begin his severer studies where he is now in the habit of leaving off? We do much less orthodox things. Every here and there in one’s mathematical studies one makes exceedingly large assumptions, because the methodical study would be ridiculous even in the eyes of the most pedantic of teachers. I can imagine a whole year devoted to the philosophical study of many things that a student now takes in his stride without trouble. The present method of training the mind of a mathematical teacher causes it to strain at gnats and to swallow camels. Such gnats are most of the propositions of the sixth book of Euclid; propositions generally about incommensurables; the use of arithmetic in geometry; the parallelogram of forces, etc., decimals.
In Teaching of Mathematics (1904), 12.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Abstract (124)  |  Advance (280)  |  Algebra (113)  |  All (4108)  |  Ancient (189)  |  Arithmetic (136)  |  Assume (38)  |  Axiomatic (2)  |  Begin (260)  |  Book (392)  |  Boy (94)  |  Camel (11)  |  Cause (541)  |  Decimal (20)  |  Devote (35)  |  Devoted (59)  |  Do (1908)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Exceedingly (28)  |  Extract (40)  |  Eye (419)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Faith (203)  |  First (1283)  |  Force (487)  |  Generally (15)  |  Geometry (255)  |  Give (202)  |  Gnat (7)  |  Habit (168)  |  Harm (39)  |  Imagine (164)  |  Incommensurable (2)  |  Large (394)  |  Learn (629)  |  Leave (130)  |  Lifetime (31)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Method (505)  |  Methodical (8)  |  Mind (1338)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Multiplication (43)  |  Multiply (37)  |  Number (699)  |  Orthodox (4)  |  Parallelogram (3)  |  Partly (5)  |  Pedantic (4)  |  Philosophical (23)  |  Point (580)  |  Present (619)  |  Proposition (123)  |  Reason (744)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Require (219)  |  Required (108)  |  Ridiculous (24)  |  Root (120)  |  School (219)  |  Schoolboy (9)  |  Severe (16)  |  Simple (406)  |  Skip (4)  |  Square (70)  |  Square Root (12)  |  Start (221)  |  Strain (11)  |  Stride (15)  |  Student (300)  |  Study (653)  |  Sum (102)  |  Swallow (29)  |  Teacher (143)  |  Teaching of Mathematics (39)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Together (387)  |  Training (80)  |  Trial (57)  |  Trouble (107)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Two (937)  |  Use (766)  |  Whole (738)  |  Year (933)

The assumption of an absolute determinism is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.
Physikalische Abhandlungen und Vorträge (1958), Vol 3, 89. Translated in J. L. Heilbron, The Dilemmas of an Upright Man (1986) 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (145)  |  Absoluteness (4)  |  Determinism (12)  |  Enquiry (87)  |  Essential (199)  |  Foundation (171)  |  Scientific (941)

The assumption we have made … is that marriages and the union of gametes occur at random. The validity of this assumption may now be examined. “Random mating” obviously does not mean promiscuity; it simply means, as already explained above, that in the choice of mates for marriage there is neither preference for nor aversion to the union of persons similar or dissimilar with respect to a given trait or gene. Not all gentlemen prefer blondes or brunettes. Since so few people know what their blood type is, it is even safer to say that the chances of mates being similar or dissimilar in blood type are determined simply by the incidence of these blood types in a given Mendelian population.
[Co-author with Theodosius Dobzhansky]
In Radiation, Genes and Man (1960), 107.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Already (222)  |  Author (167)  |  Aversion (8)  |  Being (1278)  |  Blood (134)  |  Chance (239)  |  Choice (110)  |  Determined (9)  |  Dissimilar (6)  |  Examined (3)  |  Explain (322)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Gamete (5)  |  Gene (98)  |  Gentleman (26)  |  Incidence (2)  |  Know (1518)  |  Marriage (39)  |  Mate (6)  |  Mean (809)  |  Meaning (233)  |  Means (579)  |  Occur (150)  |  People (1005)  |  Person (363)  |  Population (110)  |  Preference (28)  |  Promiscuity (3)  |  Random (41)  |  Respect (207)  |  Safety (54)  |  Say (984)  |  Similar (36)  |  Simplicity (167)  |  Trait (22)  |  Type (167)  |  Union (51)  |  Validity (47)

The assumptions of population thinking are diametrically opposed to those of the typologist. The populationist stresses the uniqueness of everything in the organic world. What is true for the human species,–that no two individuals are alike, is equally true for all other species of animals and plants ... All organisms and organic phenomena are composed of unique features and can be described collectively only in statistical terms. Individuals, or any kind of organic entities, form populations of which we can determine the arithmetic mean and the statistics of variation. Averages are merely statistical abstractions, only the individuals of which the populations are composed have reality. The ultimate conclusions of the population thinker and of the typologist are precisely the opposite. For the typologist, the type (eidos) is real and the variation. an illusion, while for the populationist the type (average) is an abstraction and only the variation is real. No two ways of looking at nature could be more different.
Darwin and the Evolutionary Theory in Biology (1959), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstraction (47)  |  Alike (60)  |  All (4108)  |  Animal (617)  |  Arithmetic (136)  |  Average (82)  |  Characteristic (148)  |  Conclusion (254)  |  Description (84)  |  Determine (144)  |  Diametrically (6)  |  Difference (337)  |  Different (577)  |  Equally (130)  |  Everything (476)  |  Form (959)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Species (9)  |  Illusion (66)  |  Individual (404)  |  Kind (557)  |  Likeness (18)  |  Looking (189)  |  Mean (809)  |  Merely (316)  |  More (2559)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Opposite (104)  |  Opposition (48)  |  Organic (158)  |  Organism (220)  |  Other (2236)  |  Plant (294)  |  Population (110)  |  Precisely (92)  |  Reality (261)  |  Species (401)  |  Statistics (155)  |  Term (349)  |  Terms (184)  |  Thinker (39)  |  Thinking (414)  |  Two (937)  |  Type (167)  |  Ultimate (144)  |  Unique (67)  |  Uniqueness (11)  |  Variation (90)  |  Way (1217)  |  World (1774)

The framing of hypotheses is, for the enquirer after truth, not the end, but the beginning of his work. Each of his systems is invented, not that he may admire it and follow it into all its consistent consequences, but that he may make it the occasion of a course of active experiment and observation. And if the results of this process contradict his fundamental assumptions, however ingenious, however symmetrical, however elegant his system may be, he rejects it without hesitation. He allows no natural yearning for the offspring of his own mind to draw him aside from the higher duty of loyalty to his sovereign, Truth, to her he not only gives his affections and his wishes, but strenuous labour and scrupulous minuteness of attention.
Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1847), Vol. 2, 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Active (76)  |  Affection (43)  |  All (4108)  |  Attention (190)  |  Beginning (305)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Consistent (48)  |  Contradict (40)  |  Contradiction (68)  |  Course (409)  |  Draw (137)  |  Elegance (37)  |  Elegant (36)  |  End (590)  |  Enquiry (87)  |  Experiment (695)  |  Follow (378)  |  Frame (26)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Hesitation (19)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Ingenious (55)  |  Invention (369)  |  Labour (98)  |  Loyalty (9)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Minuteness (8)  |  Natural (796)  |  Observation (555)  |  Occasion (85)  |  Offspring (27)  |  Process (423)  |  Reject (63)  |  Rejection (34)  |  Result (677)  |  Scrupulous (6)  |  Sovereign (5)  |  Strenuous (5)  |  System (537)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Work (1351)  |  Yearning (12)

The fundamental act of medical care is assumption of responsibility. Surgery has assumed responsibility for disease which is largely acute, local or traumatic. This is responsibility for the entire range of injuries and wounds, local infections, benign and malignant tumors, as well as a large fraction of those pathologic processes and anomalies which are localized in the organs of the body. The study of surgery is a study of these diseases, the conditions and details of their care.
Metabolic Care of the Surgical Patient (1959), Preface. In Loyal Davis, David C. Sabiston, Jr., David C. Sabiston, Frederick Christopher, Davis-Christopher Textbook of Surgery (1972), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Act (272)  |  Body (537)  |  Care (186)  |  Condition (356)  |  Detail (146)  |  Disease (328)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Infection (27)  |  Large (394)  |  Organ (115)  |  Range (99)  |  Responsibility (66)  |  Study (653)  |  Surgery (51)  |  Wound (26)

The history of mathematics, as of any science, is to some extent the story of the continual replacement of one set of misconceptions by another. This is of course no cause for despair, for the newly instated assumptions very often possess the merit of being closer approximations to truth than those that they replace.
In 'Consistency and Completeness—A Résumé', The American Mathematical Monthly (May 1956), 63, No.5, 295.
Science quotes on:  |  Approximation (31)  |  Being (1278)  |  Cause (541)  |  Closer (43)  |  Continual (43)  |  Course (409)  |  Despair (40)  |  Extent (139)  |  History (673)  |  History Of Mathematics (7)  |  History Of Science (63)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Merit (50)  |  Misconception (5)  |  Possess (156)  |  Replacement (12)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientific Method (175)  |  Set (394)  |  Story (118)  |  Truth (1057)

The idea of an atom has been so constantly associated with incredible assumptions of infinite strength, absolute rigidity, mystical actions at a distance, and individuality, that chemists and many other reasonable naturalists of modern times, losing all patience with it, have dismissed it to the realms of metaphysics, and made it smaller than ‘anything we can conceive.’ But if atoms are inconceivably small, why are not all chemical actions infinitely swift? Chemistry is powerless to deal with this question, and many others of paramount importance, if barred by the hardness of its fundamental assumptions, from contemplating the atom as a real portion of matter occupying a finite space, and forming not an immeasurably small constituent of any palpable body.
Sir William Thomson and Peter Guthrie Tait, A Treatise on Natural Philosophy (1883), Vol. I, Part 2, 495.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (145)  |  Action (327)  |  All (4108)  |  Atom (355)  |  Body (537)  |  Chemical (292)  |  Chemist (156)  |  Chemistry (353)  |  Conceive (98)  |  Constituent (45)  |  Contemplating (11)  |  Deal (188)  |  Distance (161)  |  Finite (59)  |  Forming (42)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Idea (843)  |  Importance (286)  |  Incredible (41)  |  Individuality (22)  |  Infinite (231)  |  Matter (798)  |  Metaphysics (50)  |  Modern (385)  |  Naturalist (70)  |  Other (2236)  |  Palpable (8)  |  Paramount (10)  |  Patience (56)  |  Portion (84)  |  Question (621)  |  Realm (85)  |  Rigidity (5)  |  Small (477)  |  Space (500)  |  Strength (126)  |  Time (1877)  |  Why (491)

The ingenious but nevertheless somewhat artificial assumptions of [Bohr’s model of the atom], … are replaced by a much more natural assumption in de Broglie’s wave phenomena. The wave phenomenon forms the real “body” of the atom. It replaces the individual punctiform electrons, which in Bohr’s model swarm around the nucleus.
From 'Our Image of Matter', collected in Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, Erwin Schrödinger, Pierre Auger, On Modern Physics (1961), 50. Webmaster note: “punctiform” means composed of points.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Artificial (33)  |  Atom (355)  |  Body (537)  |  Niels Bohr (54)  |  DeBroglie_Maurice (2)  |  Electron (93)  |  Form (959)  |  Individual (404)  |  Ingenious (55)  |  Model (102)  |  More (2559)  |  Natural (796)  |  Nevertheless (90)  |  Nucleus (49)  |  Phenomenon (318)  |  Point (580)  |  Swarm (14)  |  Wave (107)

The key to SETI is to guess the type of communication that an alien society would use. The best guesses so far have been that they would use radio waves, and that they would choose a frequency based on 'universal' knowledge—for instance, the 1420 MHz hydrogen frequency. But these are assumptions formulated by the human brain. Who knows what sort of logic a superadvanced nonhuman life form might use? ... Just 150 years ago, an eyeblink in history, radio waves themselves were inconceivable, and we were thinking of lighting fires to signal the Martians.
Quoted on PBS web page related to Nova TV program episode on 'Origins: Do Aliens Exist in the Milky Way'.
Science quotes on:  |  Alien (34)  |  Best (459)  |  Brain (270)  |  Choose (112)  |  Communication (94)  |  Extraterrestrial Life (20)  |  Fire (189)  |  Form (959)  |  Frequency (22)  |  Guess (61)  |  History (673)  |  Human (1468)  |  Hydrogen (75)  |  Know (1518)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Life (1795)  |  Lifeform (2)  |  Logic (287)  |  Mars (44)  |  Radio (50)  |  SETI (3)  |  Signal (27)  |  Society (326)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Thinking (414)  |  Type (167)  |  Universal (189)  |  Use (766)  |  Wave (107)  |  Year (933)

The kinetic concept of motion in classical theory will have to undergo profound modifications. (That is why I also avoided the term “orbit” in my paper throughout.) … We must not bind the atoms in the chains of our prejudices—to which, in my opinion, also belongs the assumption that electron orbits exist in the sense of ordinary mechanics—but we must, on the contrary, adapt our concepts to experience.
Letter to Niels Bohr (12 Dec 1924), in K. von Meyenn (ed.), Wolfgang Pauli - Wissenschaftliche Korrespondenz (1979), Vol. 1, 188. Quoted and cited in Daniel Greenberger, Klaus Hentschel and Friedel Weinert, Compendium of Quantum Physics: Concepts, Experiments, History and Philosophy (2009), 615.
Science quotes on:  |  Adapt (66)  |  Atom (355)  |  Avoid (116)  |  Belong (162)  |  Chain (50)  |  Classical (45)  |  Classical Theory (2)  |  Concept (221)  |  Contrary (141)  |  Electron (93)  |  Exist (443)  |  Experience (467)  |  Kinetic (12)  |  Mechanic (119)  |  Mechanics (131)  |  Model (102)  |  Modification (55)  |  Motion (310)  |  Must (1526)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Orbit (81)  |  Ordinary (160)  |  Paper (182)  |  Prejudice (87)  |  Profound (104)  |  Sense (770)  |  Term (349)  |  Theory (970)  |  Throughout (98)  |  Why (491)  |  Will (2355)

The living human being seems to consist of nothing more than matter and energy. Spirit is merely an assumption.
Epigraph in Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), 214.
Science quotes on:  |  Being (1278)  |  Consist (223)  |  Energy (344)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Being (175)  |  Living (491)  |  Matter (798)  |  Mere (84)  |  Merely (316)  |  More (2559)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Spirit (265)

The most important thing for us to recall may be, that the crucial quality of science is to encourage, not discourage, the testing of assumptions. That is the only ethic that will eventually start us on our way to a new and much deeper level of understanding.
Concluding sentences of Preface, Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies (1987).
Science quotes on:  |  Crucial (9)  |  Discourage (13)  |  Encourage (40)  |  Ethic (40)  |  Eventually (65)  |  Most (1731)  |  New (1216)  |  Quality (135)  |  Science (3879)  |  Start (221)  |  Test (211)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Understand (606)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Way (1217)  |  Will (2355)

The next time you make an assumption, see what happens when you do the opposite.
As originally composed on Twitter. Posted on the copyblogger web page 'What's the Ultimate Creativity Killer', 21 May 2008.
Science quotes on:  |  Creativity (76)  |  Do (1908)  |  Happen (274)  |  Next (236)  |  Opposite (104)  |  See (1081)  |  Time (1877)

The process of tracing regularity in any complicated, and at first sight confused, set of appearances, is necessarily tentative; we begin by making any supposition, even a false one, to see what consequences will follow from it ; and by observing how these differ from the real phenomena, we learn what corrections to make in our assumption.
A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (1858), 295.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (140)  |  Begin (260)  |  Complicated (115)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Correction (40)  |  Differ (85)  |  First (1283)  |  Follow (378)  |  Learn (629)  |  Making (300)  |  Necessarily (135)  |  Observation (555)  |  Process (423)  |  Regularity (40)  |  See (1081)  |  Set (394)  |  Sight (132)  |  Supposition (50)  |  Tentative (16)  |  Will (2355)

The question whether atoms exist or not... belongs rather to metaphysics. In chemistry we have only to decide whether the assumption of atoms is an hypothesis adapted to the explanation of chemical phenomena... whether a further development of the atomic hypothesis promises to advance our knowledge of the mechanism of chemical phenomena... I rather expect that we shall some day find, for what we now call atoms, a mathematico-mechanical explanation, which will render an account of atomic weight, of atomicity, and of numerous other properties of the so-called atoms.
Laboratory (1867), 1, 303.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (192)  |  Adapt (66)  |  Advance (280)  |  Atom (355)  |  Atomic Weight (6)  |  Belong (162)  |  Call (769)  |  Chemical (292)  |  Chemistry (353)  |  Development (422)  |  Exist (443)  |  Expect (200)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Find (998)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Mechanical (140)  |  Mechanism (96)  |  Metaphysics (50)  |  Numerous (68)  |  Other (2236)  |  Promise (67)  |  Property (168)  |  Question (621)  |  Reaction (104)  |  Render (93)  |  So-Called (71)  |  Weight (134)  |  Will (2355)

The risk of developing carcinoma of the lung increases steadily as the amount smoked increases. If the risk among non-smokers is taken as unity and the resulting ratios in the three age groups in which a large number of patients were interviewed (ages 45 to 74) are averaged, the relative risks become 6, 19, 26, 49, and 65 when the number of cigarettes smoked a day are 3, 10, 20, 35, and, say, 60—that is, the mid-points of each smoking group. In other words, on the admittedly speculative assumptions we have made, the risk seems to vary in approximately simple proportion with the amount smoked.
William Richard Shaboe Doll and Austin Bradford Hill (1897-1991 British medical statistician) 'Smoking and Carcinoma of the Lung', British Medical Journal, 1950, ii, 746.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (499)  |  Amount (151)  |  Become (815)  |  Cancer (55)  |  Cigarette (24)  |  Austin Bradford Hill (2)  |  Increase (210)  |  Large (394)  |  Lung (34)  |  Number (699)  |  Other (2236)  |  Patient (199)  |  Point (580)  |  Proportion (136)  |  Ratio (39)  |  Risk (61)  |  Say (984)  |  Simple (406)  |  Smoking (27)  |  Unity (78)  |  Word (619)

The third [argument of motion is] to the effect that the flying arrow is at rest, which result follows from the assumption that time is composed of moments: if this assumption is not granted, the conclusion will not follow.Arrow paradox
Zeno
Aristotle, Physics, 239b, 30-1. In Jonathan Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle (1984), Vol. 1, 405.
Science quotes on:  |  Argument (138)  |  Arrow (20)  |  Conclusion (254)  |  Continuous (82)  |  Discrete (11)  |  Effect (393)  |  Flying (72)  |  Follow (378)  |  Grant (73)  |  Moment (253)  |  Motion (310)  |  Paradox (50)  |  Rest (280)  |  Result (677)  |  Time (1877)  |  Will (2355)

The universality of parasitism as an offshoot of the predatory habit negatives the position taken by man that it is a pathological phenomenon or a deviation from the normal processes of nature. The pathological manifestations are only incidents in a developing parasitism. As human beings intent on maintaining man's domination over nature we may regard parasitism as pathological insofar as it becomes a drain upon human resources. In our efforts to protect ourselves we may make every kind of sacrifice to limit, reduce, and even eliminate parasitism as a factor in human life. Science attempts to define the terms on which this policy of elimination may or may not succeed. We must first of all thoroughly understand the problem, put ourselves in possession of all the facts in order to estimate the cost. Too often it has been assumed that parasitism was abnormal and that it needed only a slight force to reestablish what was believed to be a normal equilibrium without parasitism. On the contrary, biology teaches us that parasitism is a normal phenomenon and if we accept this view we shall be more ready to pay the price of freedom as a permanent and ever recurring levy of nature for immunity from a condition to which all life is subject. The greatest victory of man over nature in the physical realm would undoubtedly be his own delivery from the heavy encumbrance of parasitism with which all life is burdened.
Parasitism and Disease (1934), 4.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Abnormality (2)  |  Accept (191)  |  All (4108)  |  Attempt (251)  |  Become (815)  |  Being (1278)  |  Biology (216)  |  Burden (27)  |  Condition (356)  |  Contrary (141)  |  Cost (86)  |  Development (422)  |  Deviation (17)  |  Domination (12)  |  Drain (11)  |  Effort (227)  |  Elimination (25)  |  Encumbrance (5)  |  Equilibrium (33)  |  Estimate (57)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  First (1283)  |  Force (487)  |  Freedom (129)  |  Greatest (328)  |  Habit (168)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Being (175)  |  Human Beings (117)  |  Immunity (8)  |  Incident (4)  |  Kind (557)  |  Life (1795)  |  Limit (280)  |  Limitation (47)  |  Maintenance (20)  |  Man (2251)  |  Manifestation (58)  |  More (2559)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Negative (63)  |  Order (632)  |  Ourselves (245)  |  Pathological (21)  |  Pathology (18)  |  Permanent (64)  |  Phenomenon (318)  |  Physical (508)  |  Policy (24)  |  Possession (65)  |  Predator (6)  |  Price (51)  |  Problem (676)  |  Process (423)  |  Protect (58)  |  Protection (36)  |  Realm (85)  |  Recurring (12)  |  Reduce (94)  |  Reduction (51)  |  Regard (305)  |  Resource (63)  |  Sacrifice (50)  |  Science (3879)  |  Subject (521)  |  Succeed (109)  |  Term (349)  |  Terms (184)  |  Thoroughly (67)  |  Understand (606)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Universality (22)  |  Victory (39)  |  View (488)

The use of every organ has been discovered by starting from the assumption that it must have been some use.
In History of the Inductive Sciences (1857), Vol. 3, 385.
Science quotes on:  |  Discover (553)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Must (1526)  |  Organ (115)  |  Start (221)  |  Use (766)

The validity of all the Inductive Methods depends on the assumption that every event, or the beginning of every phenomenon, must have some cause; some antecedent, upon the existence of which it is invariably and unconditionally consequent.
A System of Logic: Ratiocinative and Inductive (1843), Vol. 2, 107.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Antecedent (4)  |  Beginning (305)  |  Cause (541)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Consequent (19)  |  Depend (228)  |  Event (216)  |  Existence (456)  |  Induction (77)  |  Inductive (20)  |  Invariably (35)  |  Method (505)  |  Methods (204)  |  Must (1526)  |  Phenomenon (318)  |  Validity (47)

The very foundation of our science is only an inference; far the whole of it rests an the unprovable assumption that, all through the inferred lapse of time which the inferred performance of inferred geological processes involves, they have been going on in a manner consistent with the laws of nature as we know them now.
'The Value of Outrageous Geological Hypotheses', Science, 1926, 63, 465-466.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Consistent (48)  |  Foundation (171)  |  Geomorphology (3)  |  Inference (45)  |  Involve (90)  |  Know (1518)  |  Law (894)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Performance (48)  |  Rest (280)  |  Science (3879)  |  Through (849)  |  Time (1877)  |  Whole (738)

The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth that the error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cured on one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Badly (32)  |  Cure (122)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Error (321)  |  Exposure (7)  |  First (1283)  |  Identical (53)  |  Maybe (2)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Opposite (104)  |  Simply (53)  |  Sort (49)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Turn (447)  |  Usually (176)  |  World (1774)

There is another approach to the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO origins. This assessment depends on a large number of factors about which we know little, and a few about which we know literally nothing. I want to make some crude numerical estimate of the probability that we are frequently visited by extraterrestrial beings.
Now, there is a range of hypotheses that can be examined in such a way. Let me give a simple example: Consider the Santa Claus hypothesis, which maintains that, in a period of eight hours or so on December 24-25 of each year, an outsized elf visits one hundred million homes in the United States. This is an interesting and widely discussed hypothesis. Some strong emotions ride on it, and it is argued that at least it does no harm.
We can do some calculations. Suppose that the elf in question spends one second per house. This isn't quite the usual picture—“Ho, Ho, Ho,” and so on—but imagine that he is terribly efficient and very speedy; that would explain why nobody ever sees him very much-only one second per house, after all. With a hundred million houses he has to spend three years just filling stockings. I have assumed he spends no time at all in going from house to house. Even with relativistic reindeer, the time spent in a hundred million houses is three years and not eight hours. This is an example of hypothesis-testing independent of reindeer propulsion mechanisms or debates on the origins of elves. We examine the hypothesis itself, making very straightforward assumptions, and derive a result inconsistent with the hypothesis by many orders of magnitude. We would then suggest that the hypothesis is untenable.
We can make a similar examination, but with greater uncertainty, of the extraterrestrial hypothesis that holds that a wide range of UFOs viewed on the planet Earth are space vehicles from planets of other stars.
The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective (1973), 200.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Approach (108)  |  Being (1278)  |  Calculation (127)  |  Consider (416)  |  Crude (31)  |  Debate (38)  |  Depend (228)  |  Derive (65)  |  Do (1908)  |  Earth (996)  |  Elf (6)  |  Emotion (100)  |  Estimate (57)  |  Examination (98)  |  Examine (78)  |  Explain (322)  |  Extraterrestrial Life (20)  |  Greater (288)  |  Home (170)  |  Hour (186)  |  House (140)  |  Hundred (229)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Imagine (164)  |  Interesting (153)  |  Know (1518)  |  Large (394)  |  Literally (30)  |  Little (707)  |  Magnitude (83)  |  Maintain (105)  |  Making (300)  |  Mechanism (96)  |  Nobody (104)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Number (699)  |  Numerical (39)  |  Order (632)  |  Origin (239)  |  Other (2236)  |  Period (198)  |  Picture (143)  |  Plane (20)  |  Planet (356)  |  Probability (130)  |  Propulsion (10)  |  Question (621)  |  Range (99)  |  Reindeer (2)  |  Relativity (88)  |  Result (677)  |  Ride (21)  |  Santa Claus (2)  |  See (1081)  |  Simple (406)  |  Space (500)  |  Spend (95)  |  Spent (85)  |  Star (427)  |  Stars (304)  |  State (491)  |  Straightforward (10)  |  Strong (174)  |  Suppose (156)  |  Test (211)  |  Time (1877)  |  UFO (4)  |  Uncertainty (56)  |  Untenable (5)  |  Vehicle (11)  |  View (488)  |  Want (497)  |  Way (1217)  |  Why (491)  |  Wide (96)  |  Year (933)

These estimates may well be enhanced by one from F. Klein (1849-1925), the leading German mathematician of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. “Mathematics in general is fundamentally the science of self-evident things.” ... If mathematics is indeed the science of self-evident things, mathematicians are a phenomenally stupid lot to waste the tons of good paper they do in proving the fact. Mathematics is abstract and it is hard, and any assertion that it is simple is true only in a severely technical sense—that of the modern postulational method which, as a matter of fact, was exploited by Euclid. The assumptions from which mathematics starts are simple; the rest is not.
Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Science (1952),19-20.
Science quotes on:  |  19th Century (33)  |  Abstract (124)  |  Century (310)  |  Do (1908)  |  Estimate (57)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Evident (91)  |  Exploit (19)  |  Fact (1210)  |  General (511)  |  German (36)  |  Good (889)  |  Hard (243)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Felix Klein (15)  |  Last (426)  |  Lot (151)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Matter (798)  |  Method (505)  |  Modern (385)  |  Paper (182)  |  Rest (280)  |  Science (3879)  |  Self (267)  |  Self-Evident (21)  |  Sense (770)  |  Simple (406)  |  Start (221)  |  Stupid (35)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Ton (21)  |  Waste (101)

Thus, be it understood, to demonstrate a theorem, it is neither necessary nor even advantageous to know what it means. The geometer might be replaced by the logic piano imagined by Stanley Jevons; or, if you choose, a machine might be imagined where the assumptions were put in at one end, while the theorems came out at the other, like the legendary Chicago machine where the pigs go in alive and come out transformed into hams and sausages. No more than these machines need the mathematician know what he does.
From 'Les Mathématiques et la Logique', Science et Méthode (1908, 1920), Livre 2, Chap. 3, Sec. 2, 157. English as in Henri Poincaré and George Bruce Halsted (trans.), 'Mathematics and Logic', Science and Method collected in The Foundations of Science: Science and Hypothesis, The Value of Science, Science and Method (1913), 451. From the French, “Ainsi, c’est bien entendu, pour démontrer un théorème, il n’est pas nécessaire ni même utile de savoir ce qu’il veut dire. On pourrait remplacer le géomètre par le piano à raisonner imaginé par Stanley Jevons; ou, si l’on aime mieux, on pourrait imaginer une machine où l’on introduirait les axiomes par un bout pendant qu’on recueillerait les théorèmes à l’autre bout, comme cette machine légendaire de Chicago où les porcs entrent vivants et d’où ils sortent transformés en jambons et en saucisses. Pas plus que ces machines, le mathématicien n’a besoin de comprendre ce qu’il fait”.
Science quotes on:  |  Advantageous (10)  |  Alive (90)  |  Choose (112)  |  Demonstrate (76)  |  End (590)  |  Geometer (24)  |  Ham (2)  |  Imagine (164)  |  Know (1518)  |  Logic (287)  |  Machine (257)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mean (809)  |  Meaning (233)  |  Means (579)  |  More (2559)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Need (290)  |  Other (2236)  |  Piano (12)  |  Pig (8)  |  Prove (250)  |  Replace (31)  |  Sausage (2)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Transform (73)  |  Understand (606)  |  Understood (156)

Untruth naturally afflicts historical information. There are various reasons that make this unavoidable. One of them is partisanship for opinions and schools … Another reason making untruth unavoidable in historical information is reliance upon transmitters … Another reason is unawareness of the purpose of an event … Another reason is unfounded assumption as to the truth of a thing. … Another reason is ignorance of how conditions conform with reality … Another reason is the fact that people as a rule approach great and high-ranking persons with praise and encomiums … Another reason making untruth unavoidable—and this one is more powerful than all the reasons previously mentioned—is ignorance of the nature of the various conditions arising in civilization. Every event (or phenomenon), whether (it comes into being in connection with some) essence or (as the result of an) action, must inevitably possess a nature peculiar to its essence as well as to the accidental conditions that may attach themselves to it.
In Ibn Khaldûn, Franz Rosenthal (trans.) and N.J. Dawood (ed.), The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (1967, 1969), Vol. 1, 35-36.
Science quotes on:  |  Accidental (27)  |  Action (327)  |  All (4108)  |  Approach (108)  |  Arising (22)  |  Attach (56)  |  Being (1278)  |  Civilization (204)  |  Condition (356)  |  Connection (162)  |  Essence (82)  |  Event (216)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Great (1574)  |  High (362)  |  Historical (70)  |  History (673)  |  Ignorance (240)  |  Information (166)  |  Making (300)  |  Mention (82)  |  More (2559)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Peculiar (113)  |  People (1005)  |  Person (363)  |  Phenomenon (318)  |  Possess (156)  |  Powerful (139)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Reality (261)  |  Reason (744)  |  Result (677)  |  Rule (294)  |  School (219)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Various (200)

We can invent as many theories we like, and any one of them can be made to fit the facts. But that theory is always preferred which makes the fewest number of assumptions.
From interview by S.J. Woolf, 'Einstein’s Own Corner of Space’, New York Times (18 Aug 1929), Sunday Magazine, 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  Fewest (5)  |  Fit (134)  |  Invention (369)  |  Number (699)  |  Preference (28)  |  Theory (970)

We must never assume that which is incapable of proof.
The Physiology of Common Life (1860), Vol. 2, 290.
Science quotes on:  |  Incapable (40)  |  Must (1526)  |  Never (1087)  |  Proof (287)

What intellectual phenomenon can be older, or more oft repeated, than the story of a large research program that impaled itself upon a false central assumption accepted by all practitioners? Do we regard all people who worked within such traditions as dishonorable fools? What of the scientists who assumed that the continents were stable, that the hereditary material was protein, or that all other galaxies lay within the Milky Way? These false and abandoned efforts were pursued with passion by brilliant and honorable scientists. How many current efforts, now commanding millions of research dollars and the full attention of many of our best scientists, will later be exposed as full failures based on false premises?
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Abandon (68)  |  Accept (191)  |  All (4108)  |  Assume (38)  |  Attention (190)  |  Base (117)  |  Best (459)  |  Brilliant (53)  |  Central (80)  |  Command (58)  |  Continent (76)  |  Current (118)  |  Dishonorable (2)  |  Do (1908)  |  Dollar (22)  |  Effort (227)  |  Expose (23)  |  Exposed (33)  |  Failure (161)  |  False (100)  |  Fool (116)  |  Full (66)  |  Galaxies (29)  |  Galaxy (51)  |  Hereditary (7)  |  Honorable (14)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Large (394)  |  Late (118)  |  Lie (364)  |  Material (353)  |  Milky Way (26)  |  Millions (17)  |  More (2559)  |  Old (481)  |  Other (2236)  |  Passion (114)  |  People (1005)  |  Phenomenon (318)  |  Practitioner (20)  |  Premise (37)  |  Program (52)  |  Protein (54)  |  Pursue (58)  |  Regard (305)  |  Repeat (42)  |  Research (664)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Stable (30)  |  Story (118)  |  Tradition (69)  |  Way (1217)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)

When you are criticizing the philosophy of an epoch do not chiefly direct your attention to these intellectual positions which its exponents feel it necessary to defend. There will be some fundamental assumption which adherents of all the various systems of the epoch unconsciously presuppose.
In Science and the Modern World (1925, 2011), 61. This idea can be seen summarized as “All epochs of thought have unconscious assumptions,” but this is not a quote found in these few words in Whitehouse’s writings.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Attention (190)  |  Chiefly (47)  |  Criticize (7)  |  Defend (30)  |  Direct (225)  |  Do (1908)  |  Epoch (45)  |  Exponent (6)  |  Feel (367)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Position (77)  |  Presuppose (15)  |  System (537)  |  Unconsciously (7)  |  Various (200)  |  Will (2355)

When... the biologist is confronted with the fact that in the organism the parts are so adapted to each other as to give rise to a harmonious whole; and that the organisms are endowed with structures and instincts calculated to prolong their life and perpetuate their race, doubts as to the adequacy of a purely physiochemical viewpoint in biology may arise. The difficulties besetting the biologist in this problem have been rather increased than diminished by the discovery of Mendelian heredity, according to which each character is transmitted independently of any other character. Since the number of Mendelian characters in each organism is large, the possibility must be faced that the organism is merely a mosaic of independent hereditary characters. If this be the case the question arises: What moulds these independent characters into a harmonious whole? The vitalist settles this question by assuming the existence of a pre-established design for each organism and of a guiding 'force' or 'principle' which directs the working out of this design. Such assumptions remove the problem of accounting for the harmonious character of the organism from the field of physics or chemistry. The theory of natural selection invokes neither design nor purpose, but it is incomplete since it disregards the physiochemical constitution of living matter about which little was known until recently.
The Organism as a Whole: From a Physiochemical Viewpoint (1916), v-vi.
Science quotes on:  |  According (237)  |  Adapt (66)  |  Arise (158)  |  Biologist (69)  |  Biology (216)  |  Character (243)  |  Chemistry (353)  |  Constitution (76)  |  Design (195)  |  Direct (225)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Endowed (52)  |  Existence (456)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Field (364)  |  Force (487)  |  Harmonious (18)  |  Heredity (60)  |  Incomplete (30)  |  Independently (24)  |  Instinct (88)  |  Known (454)  |  Large (394)  |  Life (1795)  |  Little (707)  |  Living (491)  |  Matter (798)  |  Gregor Mendel (21)  |  Merely (316)  |  Must (1526)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural Selection (96)  |  Number (699)  |  Organism (220)  |  Other (2236)  |  Perpetuate (10)  |  Physic (517)  |  Physics (533)  |  Possibility (164)  |  Principle (507)  |  Problem (676)  |  Prolong (29)  |  Purely (109)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Question (621)  |  Race (268)  |  Remove (45)  |  Rise (166)  |  Selection (128)  |  Structure (344)  |  Theory (970)  |  Viewpoint (12)  |  Whole (738)

While we maintain the unity of the human species, we at the same time repel the depressing assumption of superior and inferior races of men. There are nations more susceptible of cultivation, more highly civilized, more ennobled by mental cultivation than others—but none in themselves nobler than others. All are in like degree designed for freedom.
Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe (1845-62), trans. E. C. Otte (1849), Vol 1, 368.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Civilization (204)  |  Cultivation (35)  |  Degree (276)  |  Design (195)  |  Freedom (129)  |  Human (1468)  |  Inferior (37)  |  Maintain (105)  |  Mental (177)  |  More (2559)  |  Nation (193)  |  Other (2236)  |  Race (268)  |  Species (401)  |  Superior (81)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Time (1877)  |  Unity (78)

While we maintain the unity of the human species, we at the same time repel the depressing assumption of superior and inferior races of men. There are nations more susceptible of cultivation, more highly civilized, more enobled by mental cultivation than others, but none in themselves nobler than others. All are in like degree designed for freedom; a freedom which, in the ruder conditions of society, belongs only to the individual, but which, in social states enjoying political institutions, appertains as a right to the whole body of the community.
In Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe (1850), Vol. 1, 358, as translated by E.C. Otté.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Belong (162)  |  Body (537)  |  Civilized (18)  |  Community (104)  |  Condition (356)  |  Cultivation (35)  |  Degree (276)  |  Depressing (3)  |  Design (195)  |  Freedom (129)  |  Human (1468)  |  Individual (404)  |  Inferior (37)  |  Institution (69)  |  Maintain (105)  |  Mental (177)  |  Mind (1338)  |  More (2559)  |  Nation (193)  |  Noble (90)  |  Other (2236)  |  Political (121)  |  Race (268)  |  Right (452)  |  Social (252)  |  Society (326)  |  Species (401)  |  State (491)  |  Superior (81)  |  Susceptible (8)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Time (1877)  |  Unity (78)  |  Whole (738)

Why, it is asked, since the scientist, by means of classification and experiment, can predict the “action of the physical world, shall not the historian do as much for the moral world”! The analogy is false at many points; but the confusion arises chiefly from the assumption that the scientist can predict the action of the physical world. Certain conditions precisely given, the scientist can predict the result; he cannot say when or where in the future those conditions will obtain.
In 'A New Philosophy of History', The Dial (2 Sep 1915), 148. This is Becker’s review of a book by L. Cecil Jane, The Interpretation of History. Becker refutes Jane’s idea that the value of history lies in whether it consists in furnishing “some clue as to what the future will bring.”
Science quotes on:  |  Action (327)  |  Analogy (71)  |  Arise (158)  |  Ask (411)  |  Certain (550)  |  Chiefly (47)  |  Classification (97)  |  Condition (356)  |  Confusion (57)  |  Do (1908)  |  Experiment (695)  |  False (100)  |  Future (429)  |  Historian (54)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  Moral (195)  |  Morality (52)  |  Obtain (163)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physical World (28)  |  Point (580)  |  Precise (68)  |  Precisely (92)  |  Predict (79)  |  Result (677)  |  Say (984)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Why (491)  |  Will (2355)  |  World (1774)

[Richard P.] Feynman's cryptic remark, “no one is that much smarter ...,” to me, implies something Feynman kept emphasizing: that the key to his achievements was not anything “magical” but the right attitude, the focus on nature's reality, the focus on asking the right questions, the willingness to try (and to discard) unconventional answers, the sensitive ear for phoniness, self-deception, bombast, and conventional but unproven assumptions.
In book review of James Gleick's Genius, 'Complexities of Feynman', Science, 259 (22 Jan 1993), 22
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Achievement (179)  |  Answer (366)  |  Asking (73)  |  Attitude (82)  |  Convention (14)  |  Conventional (30)  |  Cryptic (2)  |  Deception (8)  |  Discard (29)  |  Ear (68)  |  Emphasis (17)  |  Richard P. Feynman (122)  |  Focus (35)  |  Implication (23)  |  Magic (86)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Question (621)  |  Reality (261)  |  Remark (28)  |  Right (452)  |  Self (267)  |  Self-Deception (2)  |  Sensitivity (10)  |  Something (719)  |  Try (283)  |  Unconventional (4)  |  Unproven (5)  |  Willingness (10)

[Science] is not perfect. It can be misused. It is only a tool. But it is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything. It has two rules. First: there are no sacred truths; all assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless. Second: whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised. ... The obvious is sometimes false; the unexpected is sometimes true.
Cosmos (1985), 277.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Applicable (31)  |  Argument (138)  |  Authority (95)  |  Best (459)  |  Discard (29)  |  Everything (476)  |  Examine (78)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  False (100)  |  First (1283)  |  Inconsistent (9)  |  Misuse (13)  |  Must (1526)  |  Obvious (126)  |  Perfect (216)  |  Revise (6)  |  Rule (294)  |  Sacred (45)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientific Method (175)  |  Self (267)  |  Self-Correcting (5)  |  Self-Correction (2)  |  Tool (117)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Two (937)  |  Unexpected (52)  |  Whatever (234)  |  Worthless (21)

[The] erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardised citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.
The American Mercury (24 Apr 1924).
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (165)  |  All (4108)  |  Citizenship (6)  |  Discharge (19)  |  Dissent (7)  |  Down (456)  |  Education (378)  |  Effect (393)  |  Enlighten (29)  |  Enlightened (24)  |  Enlightenment (20)  |  Erroneous (30)  |  Error (321)  |  Fit (134)  |  Independence (34)  |  Individual (404)  |  Intelligence (211)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Originality (19)  |  Possible (552)  |  Public (96)  |  Reduce (94)  |  Reduction (51)  |  Safe (54)  |  Safety (54)  |  Species (401)  |  Spread (83)  |  Standardization (3)  |  Train (114)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Young (227)

[The] first postulate of the Principle of Uniformity, namely, that the laws of nature are invariant with time, is not peculiar to that principle or to geology, but is a common denominator of all science. In fact, instead of being an assumption or an ad hoc hypothesis, it is simply a succinct summation of the totality of all experimental and observational evidence.
'Critique of the Principle of Uniformity', in C. C. Albritton (ed.), Uniformity and Simplicity (1967), 29.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Being (1278)  |  Common (436)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Experimental (192)  |  Fact (1210)  |  First (1283)  |  Geology (220)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Invariant (10)  |  Law (894)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Observational (15)  |  Peculiar (113)  |  Postulate (38)  |  Principle (507)  |  Science (3879)  |  Summation (3)  |  Time (1877)  |  Totality (15)  |  Uniformity (37)

[The] structural theory is of extreme simplicity. It assumes that the molecule is held together by links between one atom and the next: that every kind of atom can form a definite small number of such links: that these can be single, double or triple: that the groups may take up any position possible by rotation round the line of a single but not round that of a double link: finally that with all the elements of the first short period [of the periodic table], and with many others as well, the angles between the valencies are approximately those formed by joining the centre of a regular tetrahedron to its angular points. No assumption whatever is made as to the mechanism of the linkage. Through the whole development of organic chemistry this theory has always proved capable of providing a different structure for every different compound that can be isolated. Among the hundreds of thousands of known substances, there are never more isomeric forms than the theory permits.
Presidential Address to the Chemical Society (16 Apr 1936), Journal of the Chemical Society (1936), 533.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Angle (20)  |  Atom (355)  |  Capability (41)  |  Capable (168)  |  Chemistry (353)  |  Compound (113)  |  Definite (110)  |  Development (422)  |  Different (577)  |  Double (15)  |  Element (310)  |  Extreme (75)  |  First (1283)  |  Form (959)  |  Hundred (229)  |  Isolated (14)  |  Isomer (6)  |  Joining (11)  |  Kind (557)  |  Known (454)  |  Link (43)  |  Linkage (5)  |  Mechanism (96)  |  Molecule (174)  |  More (2559)  |  Never (1087)  |  Next (236)  |  Number (699)  |  Organic (158)  |  Organic Chemistry (40)  |  Other (2236)  |  Period (198)  |  Periodic Table (17)  |  Permit (58)  |  Point (580)  |  Possible (552)  |  Regular (46)  |  Rotation (12)  |  Short (197)  |  Simplicity (167)  |  Single (353)  |  Small (477)  |  Structural (29)  |  Structure (344)  |  Substance (248)  |  Table (104)  |  Tetrahedron (4)  |  Theory (970)  |  Thousand (331)  |  Through (849)  |  Together (387)  |  Valency (4)  |  Whatever (234)  |  Whole (738)


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 EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (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



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