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

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, ... finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell ... whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index A > Category: Audience

Audience Quotes (26 quotes)

[Introducing two perfectly ordinary performers of average stature to a circus audience.]
The Punkwat twins! Brentwood is the world's smallest giant, whilst his brother, Elwood, is the largest midget in the world. They baffle science!
As character Larson E. Whipsnade, circus ring-master, in movie, You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939). As transcribed in Simon Louvish, Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Life and Times of W. C. Fields (1999), 4.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Average (82)  |  Bafflement (3)  |  Brother (43)  |  Circus (3)  |  Giant (67)  |  Height (32)  |  Largest (39)  |  Midget (2)  |  Ordinary (160)  |  Science (3879)  |  Twin (15)  |  Twins (2)  |  Two (937)  |  World (1774)

A lecturer should … give them [the audience] full reason to believe that all his powers have been exerted for their pleasure and instruction.
In Letter to his friend Benjamin Abbott (11 Jun 1813), collected in Bence Jones, Life and Letters of Faraday, Vol. 1, 73. Faraday was age 21, less than a year since completing his bookbinder apprenticeship, and had decided upon “giving up trade and taking to science.” From several letters, various opinions about lecturing were gathered in an article, 'Faraday on Scientific Lecturing', Norman Locker (ed.), Nature (23 Oct 1873), 8, 524.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Belief (578)  |  Exert (39)  |  Instruction (91)  |  Lecturer (12)  |  Pleasure (178)  |  Power (746)  |  Reason (744)  |  Science And Education (15)

A psychiatrist is a man who goes to the Folies-Bergère and looks at the audience.
In Robert Andrews, The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993), 747.
Science quotes on:  |  Look (582)  |  Man (2251)  |  Psychiatrist (15)  |  Quip (80)

Bradley is one of the few basketball players who have ever been appreciatively cheered by a disinterested away-from-home crowd while warming up. This curious event occurred last March, just before Princeton eliminated the Virginia Military Institute, the year’s Southern Conference champion, from the NCAA championships. The game was played in Philadelphia and was the last of a tripleheader. The people there were worn out, because most of them were emotionally committed to either Villanova or Temple-two local teams that had just been involved in enervating battles with Providence and Connecticut, respectively, scrambling for a chance at the rest of the country. A group of Princeton players shooting basketballs miscellaneously in preparation for still another game hardly promised to be a high point of the evening, but Bradley, whose routine in the warmup time is a gradual crescendo of activity, is more interesting to watch before a game than most players are in play. In Philadelphia that night, what he did was, for him, anything but unusual. As he does before all games, he began by shooting set shots close to the basket, gradually moving back until he was shooting long sets from 20 feet out, and nearly all of them dropped into the net with an almost mechanical rhythm of accuracy. Then he began a series of expandingly difficult jump shots, and one jumper after another went cleanly through the basket with so few exceptions that the crowd began to murmur. Then he started to perform whirling reverse moves before another cadence of almost steadily accurate jump shots, and the murmur increased. Then he began to sweep hook shots into the air. He moved in a semicircle around the court. First with his right hand, then with his left, he tried seven of these long, graceful shots-the most difficult ones in the orthodoxy of basketball-and ambidextrously made them all. The game had not even begun, but the presumably unimpressible Philadelphians were applauding like an audience at an opera.
A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Accuracy (78)  |  Accurate (86)  |  Activity (210)  |  Air (347)  |  All (4108)  |  Appreciatively (2)  |  Back (390)  |  Basket (7)  |  Basketball (3)  |  Battle (34)  |  Begin (260)  |  Bradley (2)  |  Cadence (2)  |  Champion (5)  |  Championship (2)  |  Chance (239)  |  Cheer (7)  |  Close (69)  |  Commit (41)  |  Conference (17)  |  Country (251)  |  Court (33)  |  Crescendo (3)  |  Crowd (24)  |  Curious (91)  |  Difficult (246)  |  Disinterest (6)  |  Drop (76)  |  Dropped (17)  |  Eliminate (21)  |  Emotionally (3)  |  Event (216)  |  Exception (73)  |  First (1283)  |  Foot (60)  |  Game (101)  |  Graceful (3)  |  Gradual (27)  |  Gradually (102)  |  Group (78)  |  Hand (143)  |  Hardly (19)  |  High (362)  |  Home (170)  |  Hook (4)  |  Increase (210)  |  Institute (7)  |  Interest (386)  |  Interesting (153)  |  Involve (90)  |  Involved (90)  |  Jump (29)  |  Last (426)  |  Leave (130)  |  Local (19)  |  Long (790)  |  March (46)  |  Mechanical (140)  |  Military (40)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Move (216)  |  Murmur (4)  |  Nearly (137)  |  Net (11)  |  Night (120)  |  Occur (150)  |  Opera (3)  |  Orthodoxy (9)  |  People (1005)  |  Perform (121)  |  Philadelphia (3)  |  Play (112)  |  Player (8)  |  Point (580)  |  Preparation (58)  |  Presumably (3)  |  Princeton (4)  |  Promise (67)  |  Providence (18)  |  Respectively (13)  |  Rest (280)  |  Reverse (33)  |  Rhythm (20)  |  Right (452)  |  Routine (25)  |  Series (149)  |  Set (394)  |  Shoot (19)  |  Southern (3)  |  Start (221)  |  Steadily (6)  |  Still (613)  |  Sweep (19)  |  Team (15)  |  Temple (42)  |  Through (849)  |  Time (1877)  |  Try (283)  |  Two (937)  |  Unusual (37)  |  Virginia (2)  |  Warm (69)  |  Warming (23)  |  Watch (109)  |  Whirl (8)  |  Worn Out (2)  |  Year (933)

Every lecture should state one main point and repeat it over and over, like a theme with variations. An audience is like a herd of cows, moving slowly in the direction they are being driven towards. If we make one point, we have a good chance that the audience will take the right direction; if we make several points, then the cows will scatter all over the field. The audience will lose interest and everyone will go back to the thoughts they interrupted in order to come to our lecture.
In 'Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught', Indiscrete Thoughts (2008), 196.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Back (390)  |  Being (1278)  |  Chance (239)  |  Cow (39)  |  Direction (175)  |  Drive (55)  |  Field (364)  |  Good (889)  |  Herd (15)  |  Interest (386)  |  Interrupt (6)  |  Lecture (105)  |  Lose (159)  |  Main (28)  |  Move (216)  |  Order (632)  |  Point (580)  |  Repeat (42)  |  Right (452)  |  Scatter (6)  |  Slowly (18)  |  State (491)  |  Theme (17)  |  Thought (953)  |  Toward (45)  |  Variation (90)  |  Will (2355)

Good writers indulge their audience; great writers know better.
In The Well-Spoken Thesaurus (2011), 117.
Science quotes on:  |  Better (486)  |  Good (889)  |  Great (1574)  |  Indulge (14)  |  Know (1518)  |  Writer (86)

I believe the universe created us—we are an audience for miracles.
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 7
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (578)  |  Create (235)  |  Miracle (83)  |  Universe (857)

I came into the room, which was half dark, and presently spotted Lord Kelvin in the audience and realised that I was in for trouble at the last part of my speech dealing with the age of the earth, where my views conflicted with his. To my relief, Kelvin fell fast asleep, but as I came to the important point, I saw the old bird sit up, open an eye and cock a baleful glance at me! Then a sudden inspiration came, and I said Lord Kelvin had limited the age of the earth, provided no new source (of energy) was discovered. That prophetic utterance refers to what we are now considering tonight, radium! Behold! the old boy beamed upon me.
Speech at the Royal Institution (1904). Quoted in Arthur S. Eve, Rutherford (1939), 107.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (499)  |  Age Of The Earth (12)  |  Beam (24)  |  Bird (149)  |  Boy (94)  |  Cock (6)  |  Conflict (73)  |  Dark (140)  |  Discover (553)  |  Earth (996)  |  Energy (344)  |  Eye (419)  |  Glance (34)  |  Inspiration (75)  |  Baron William Thomson Kelvin (71)  |  Last (426)  |  Limit (280)  |  Limited (101)  |  Lord (93)  |  New (1216)  |  Old (481)  |  Open (274)  |  Point (580)  |  Radioactivity (30)  |  Radium (25)  |  Relief (30)  |  Saw (160)  |  Speech (61)  |  Sudden (67)  |  Tonight (9)  |  Trouble (107)  |  Utterance (10)  |  View (488)

If you have an idea that you wish your audience to carry away, turn it upside down and inside out, rephrasing it from different angles. Remember that the form in which the thing may appear best to you may not impress half your audience.
Advice to the writer of his first paper for presentation at a scientific meeting. As expressed in quotation marks by Charles Thom in 'Robert Almer Harper', National Academy Biographical Memoirs (1948), 25, 233-234. Also, in Thom's words, “[Harper] added that a miscellaneous audience can not he expected to carry away a lot of separate facts but one good idea, well pictured out, will be remembered by some of them.”
Science quotes on:  |  Angle (20)  |  Appearance (140)  |  Best (459)  |  Carry (127)  |  Different (577)  |  Down (456)  |  Form (959)  |  Half (56)  |  Idea (843)  |  Impress (64)  |  Impression (114)  |  Inside Out (3)  |  Remember (179)  |  Rephrasing (2)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Turn (447)  |  Upside Down (8)  |  Wish (212)

In my view, the proper attitude of a public-service broadcaster is that it should attempt to cover as broad as possible a spectrum of human interest and should measure success by the width of those views. There shouldn’t be all that large a number of gaps in the spectrum; and a major element in the spectrum is scientific understanding. The fact that it doesn’t necessarily get as big an audience as cookery is of no consequence.
From interview with Brian Cox and Robert Ince, in 'A Life Measured in Heartbeats', New Statesman (21 Dec 2012), 141, No. 5138, 33.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Attempt (251)  |  Attitude (82)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Education (378)  |  Element (310)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Gap (33)  |  Human (1468)  |  Interest (386)  |  Large (394)  |  Major (84)  |  Measure (232)  |  Necessarily (135)  |  Number (699)  |  Possible (552)  |  Proper (144)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Service (110)  |  Spectrum (31)  |  Success (302)  |  Understanding (513)  |  View (488)  |  Width (5)

In the fall of 1967, [I was invited] to a conference … on pulsars. … In my talk, I argued that we should consider the possibility that the center of a pulsar is a gravitationally completely collapsed object. I remarked that one couldn't keep saying “gravitationally completely collapsed object” over and over. One needed a shorter descriptive phrase. “How about black hole?” asked someone in the audience. I had been searching for the right term for months, mulling it over in bed, in the bathtub, in my car, whenever I had quiet moments. Suddenly this name seemed exactly right. When I gave a more formal Sigma Xi-Phi Beta Kappa lecture … on December 29, 1967, I used the term, and then included it in the written version of the lecture published in the spring of 1968. (As it turned out, a pulsar is powered by “merely” a neutron star, not a black hole.)
[Although John Wheeler is often identified as coining the term “black hole,” he in fact merely popularized the expression. In his own words, this is his explanation of the true origin: a suggestion from an unidentified person in a conference audience.]
In Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam (2000), 296-297.
Science quotes on:  |  Ask (411)  |  Black Hole (17)  |  Car (71)  |  Completely (135)  |  Conference (17)  |  Consider (416)  |  Descriptive (17)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Expression (175)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Fall (230)  |  Lecture (105)  |  Merely (316)  |  Moment (253)  |  Month (88)  |  More (2559)  |  Name (333)  |  Neutron (17)  |  Neutron Star (3)  |  Nomenclature (146)  |  Object (422)  |  Origin (239)  |  Person (363)  |  Phrase (61)  |  Possibility (164)  |  Power (746)  |  Pulsar (3)  |  Quiet (36)  |  Right (452)  |  Small (477)  |  Spring (133)  |  Star (427)  |  Suddenly (88)  |  Suggestion (46)  |  Term (349)  |  Turn (447)  |  Whenever (81)  |  Word (619)

It’s pretty hard for me to lecture in French. I had to go to the Riviera afterwards to recuperate; I don’t know what the audience had to do.
Referring to his eight lectures to l’Institute Henri Poincaré in May 1939. From Oral History interview with Charles Weiner and Gloria Lubkin, American Institute of Physics (28 Feb 1966). Quoted in his obituary, Brebis Bleaney, 'John Hasbrouck van Vleck Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (1982), 28, 643.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Do (1908)  |  French (20)  |  Hard (243)  |  Know (1518)  |  Lecture (105)

Langmuir is the most convincing lecturer that I have ever heard. I have heard him talk to an audience of chemists when I knew they did not understand more than one-third of what he was saying; but they thought they did. It’s very easy to be swept off one's feet by Langmuir. You remember in [Kipling’s novel] Kim that the water jar was broken and Lurgan Sahib was trying to hypnotise Kim into seeing it whole again. Kim saved himself by saying the multiplication table [so] I have heard Langmuir lecture when I knew he was wrong, but I had to repeat to myself: “He is wrong; I know he is wrong; he is wrong”, or I should have believed like the others.
In 'How to Ripen Time', Journal of Physical Chemistry 1931, 35, 1917.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Broken (56)  |  Chemist (156)  |  Easy (204)  |  Error (321)  |  Himself (461)  |  Rudyard Kipling (8)  |  Know (1518)  |  Irving Langmuir (7)  |  Lecture (105)  |  Lecturer (12)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Multiplication (43)  |  Multiplication Table (16)  |  Myself (212)  |  Novel (32)  |  Other (2236)  |  Remember (179)  |  Seeing (142)  |  Table (104)  |  Thought (953)  |  Trying (144)  |  Understand (606)  |  Water (481)  |  Whole (738)  |  Wrong (234)

Mathematicians always strive to confuse their audiences; where there is no confusion, there is no prestige.
In Mathematics Made Difficult (1971). As quoted in Ian Stewart, Professor Stewart’s Hoard of Mathematical Treasures (2010), 155-156.
Science quotes on:  |  Confuse (19)  |  Confusion (57)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Prestige (14)  |  Strive (46)

Melvin [Calvin]’s marvellous technique for delivering a scientific lecture was unique. His mind must have roamed constantly, especially in planning lectures. His remarkable memory enabled him to formulate a lecture or manuscript with no breaks in the sequence of his thoughts. His lectures usually began hesitatingly, as if he had little idea of how to begin or what to say. This completely disarmed his audiences, who would try to guess what he might have to say. Soon enough, however, his ideas would coalesce, to be delivered like an approaching freight train, reaching a crescendo of information at breakneck speed and leaving his rapt audience nearly overwhelmed.
Co-author with Andrew A. Benson, 'Melvin Calvin', Biographical Memoirs of the US National Academy of Science.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Begin (260)  |  Biography (240)  |  Break (99)  |  Melvin Calvin (11)  |  Coalesce (5)  |  Completely (135)  |  Crescendo (3)  |  Deliver (29)  |  Enough (340)  |  Formulate (15)  |  Freight (3)  |  Guess (61)  |  Hesitation (19)  |  Idea (843)  |  Information (166)  |  Lecture (105)  |  Little (707)  |  Manuscript (9)  |  Marvellous (25)  |  Memory (134)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nearly (137)  |  Overwhelmed (5)  |  Planning (20)  |  Rapt (5)  |  Roam (3)  |  Say (984)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Sequence (68)  |  Soon (186)  |  Speed (65)  |  Technique (80)  |  Thought (953)  |  Train (114)  |  Try (283)  |  Unique (67)  |  Usually (176)

Nature! … She performs a play; we know not whether she sees it herself, and yet she acts for us, the lookers-on.
Jeremy Naydler (ed.), Goethe On Science: An Anthology of Goethe's Scientific Writings (1996), 60
Science quotes on:  |  Act (272)  |  Know (1518)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Perform (121)  |  Play (112)  |  See (1081)

Now of the difficulties bound up with the public in which we doctors work, I hesitate to speak in a mixed audience. Common sense in matters medical is rare, and is usually in inverse ratio to the degree of education.
'Teaching and Thinking' (1894). In Aequanimitas with Other Addresses to Medical Students, Nurses and Practitioners of Medicine (1904), 131.
Science quotes on:  |  Binding (9)  |  Bound (119)  |  Common (436)  |  Common Sense (130)  |  Degree (276)  |  Difficulty (196)  |  Doctor (187)  |  Education (378)  |  Hesitate (22)  |  Hesitation (19)  |  Inverse (7)  |  Matter (798)  |  Medicine (378)  |  Mixed (6)  |  Public (96)  |  Rare (89)  |  Ratio (39)  |  Sense (770)  |  Speak (232)  |  Speaking (119)  |  Usually (176)  |  Work (1351)

Obviously, what our age has in common with the age of the Reformation is the fallout of disintegrating values. What needs explaining is the presence of a receptive audience. More significant than the fact that poets write abstrusely, painters paint abstractly, and composers compose unintelligible music is that people should admire what they cannot understand; indeed, admire that which has no meaning or principle.
In Reflections on the Human Condition (1973), 62.
Science quotes on:  |  Admire (18)  |  Age (499)  |  Common (436)  |  Compose (17)  |  Composer (7)  |  Disintegrate (3)  |  Explain (322)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Fallout (2)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Mean (809)  |  Meaning (233)  |  More (2559)  |  Music (129)  |  Need (290)  |  Obviously (11)  |  Paint (22)  |  Painter (29)  |  People (1005)  |  Poet (83)  |  Presence (63)  |  Principle (507)  |  Receptive (5)  |  Reformation (6)  |  Significant (74)  |  Understand (606)  |  Unintelligible (15)  |  Value (365)  |  Write (230)

One rarely hears of the mathematical recitation as a preparation for public speaking. Yet mathematics shares with these studies [foreign languages, drawing and natural science] their advantages, and has another in a higher degree than either of them.
Most readers will agree that a prime requisite for healthful experience in public speaking is that the attention of the speaker and hearers alike be drawn wholly away from the speaker and concentrated upon the thought. In perhaps no other classroom is this so easy as in the mathematical, where the close reasoning, the rigorous demonstration, the tracing of necessary conclusions from given hypotheses, commands and secures the entire mental power of the student who is explaining, and of his classmates. In what other circumstances do students feel so instinctively that manner counts for so little and mind for so much? In what other circumstances, therefore, is a simple, unaffected, easy, graceful manner so naturally and so healthfully cultivated? Mannerisms that are mere affectation or the result of bad literary habit recede to the background and finally disappear, while those peculiarities that are the expression of personality and are inseparable from its activity continually develop, where the student frequently presents, to an audience of his intellectual peers, a connected train of reasoning. …
One would almost wish that our institutions of the science and art of public speaking would put over their doors the motto that Plato had over the entrance to his school of philosophy: “Let no one who is unacquainted with geometry enter here.”
In A Scrap-book of Elementary Mathematics: Notes, Recreations, Essays (1908), 210-211.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (210)  |  Advantage (134)  |  Alike (60)  |  Art (657)  |  Attention (190)  |  Background (43)  |  Bad (180)  |  Circumstance (136)  |  Circumstances (108)  |  Classroom (10)  |  Command (58)  |  Concentrate (26)  |  Conclusion (254)  |  Connect (125)  |  Count (105)  |  Degree (276)  |  Demonstration (113)  |  Develop (268)  |  Disappear (82)  |  Do (1908)  |  Door (93)  |  Drawing (56)  |  Easy (204)  |  Enter (141)  |  Entrance (15)  |  Experience (467)  |  Expression (175)  |  Feel (367)  |  Foreign (45)  |  Geometry (255)  |  Habit (168)  |  Hear (139)  |  Inseparable (16)  |  Institution (69)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Language (293)  |  Listener (7)  |  Little (707)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Mental (177)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Most (1731)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural Science (128)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Other (2236)  |  Peer (12)  |  Personality (62)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Plato (76)  |  Power (746)  |  Preparation (58)  |  Present (619)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Recede (11)  |  Recitation (2)  |  Result (677)  |  Rigorous (48)  |  School (219)  |  Science (3879)  |  Science And Art (184)  |  Share (75)  |  Simple (406)  |  Speaker (6)  |  Speaking (119)  |  Student (300)  |  Thought (953)  |  Train (114)  |  Unaffected (6)  |  Value Of Mathematics (60)  |  Wholly (88)  |  Will (2355)  |  Wish (212)

Scientists are supposed to make predictions, probably to prove they are human and can be as mistaken as anyone else. Long-range predictions are better to make because the audience to whom the prediction was made is no longer around to ask questions. The alternative... is to make conflicting predictions, so that one prediction may prove right.
'Fossils—The How and Why of Collecting and Storing', Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (1969), 82, 597.
Science quotes on:  |  Alternative (29)  |  Ask (411)  |  Asking (73)  |  Better (486)  |  Conflict (73)  |  Conflicting (13)  |  Human (1468)  |  Long (790)  |  Long-Range (2)  |  Mistake (169)  |  Prediction (82)  |  Proof (287)  |  Prove (250)  |  Question (621)  |  Range (99)  |  Right (452)  |  Scientist (820)

The layman, taught to revere scientists for their absolute respect for the observed facts, and for the judiciously detached and purely provisional manner in which they hold scientific theories (always ready to abandon a theory at the sight of any contradictory evidence) might well have thought that, at [Dayton C.] Miller's announcement of this overwhelming evidence of a “positive effect” [indicating that the speed of light is not independent from the motion of the observer, as Einstein's theory of relativity demands] in his presidential address to the American Physical Society on December 29th, 1925, his audience would have instantly abandoned the theory of relativity. Or, at the very least, that scientists—wont to look down from the pinnacle of their intellectual humility upon the rest of dogmatic mankind—might suspend judgment in this matter until Miller's results could be accounted for without impairing the theory of relativity. But no: by that time they had so well closed their minds to any suggestion which threatened the new rationality achieved by Einstein's world-picture, that it was almost impossible for them to think again in different terms. Little attention was paid to the experiments, the evidence being set aside in the hope that it would one day turn out to be wrong.
Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (1958, 1998), 13. Miller had earlier presented his evidence against the validity of the relativity theory at the annual meeting, 28 Apr 1925, of the National Academy of Sciences. Miller believed he had, by a much-refined and improved repetition of the so-called Michelson-Morley experiment, shown that there is a definite and measurable motion of the earth through the ether. In 1955, a paper by R.S. Shankland, et al., in Rev. Modern Phys. (1955), 27, 167, concluded that statistical fluctuations and temperature effects in the data had simulated what Miller had taken to be he apparent ether drift.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Abandon (68)  |  Absolute (145)  |  Account (192)  |  Announcement (15)  |  Attention (190)  |  Being (1278)  |  Closed (38)  |  Demand (123)  |  Different (577)  |  Down (456)  |  Effect (393)  |  Einstein (101)  |  Albert Einstein (605)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Experiment (695)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  Hope (299)  |  Humility (28)  |  Impossible (251)  |  Instantly (19)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Judgment (132)  |  Layman (21)  |  Light (607)  |  Little (707)  |  Look (582)  |  Mankind (339)  |  Matter (798)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Motion (310)  |  New (1216)  |  Objectivity (16)  |  Observation (555)  |  Observed (149)  |  Overwhelming (30)  |  Physical (508)  |  Picture (143)  |  Positive (94)  |  Provisional (7)  |  Purely (109)  |  Rationality (24)  |  Relativity (88)  |  Respect (207)  |  Rest (280)  |  Result (677)  |  Reverence (28)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Scientific Theory (24)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Set (394)  |  Sight (132)  |  Society (326)  |  Speed (65)  |  Speed Of Light (17)  |  Suggestion (46)  |  Term (349)  |  Terms (184)  |  Theory (970)  |  Theory Of Relativity (33)  |  Think (1086)  |  Thought (953)  |  Threaten (32)  |  Time (1877)  |  Turn (447)  |  World (1774)  |  Wrong (234)

To prove to an indignant questioner on the spur of the moment that the work I do was useful seemed a thankless task and I gave it up. I turned to him with a smile and finished, 'To tell you the truth we don't do it because it is useful but because it's amusing.' The answer was thought of and given in a moment: it came from deep down in my soul, and the results were as admirable from my point of view as unexpected. My audience was clearly on my side. Prolonged and hearty applause greeted my confession. My questioner retired shaking his head over my wickedness and the newspapers next day, with obvious approval, came out with headlines 'Scientist Does It Because It's Amusing!' And if that is not the best reason why a scientist should do his work, I want to know what is. Would it be any good to ask a mother what practical use her baby is? That, as I say, was the first evening I ever spent in the United States and from that moment I felt at home. I realised that all talk about science purely for its practical and wealth-producing results is as idle in this country as in England. Practical results will follow right enough. No real knowledge is sterile. The most useless investigation may prove to have the most startling practical importance: Wireless telegraphy might not yet have come if Clerk Maxwell had been drawn away from his obviously 'useless' equations to do something of more practical importance. Large branches of chemistry would have remained obscure had Willard Gibbs not spent his time at mathematical calculations which only about two men of his generation could understand. With this faith in the ultimate usefulness of all real knowledge a man may proceed to devote himself to a study of first causes without apology, and without hope of immediate return.
A.V. Hill
Quoted in Larry R. Squire (ed.), The History of Neuroscience in Autobiography (1996), Vol. I, 351.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Answer (366)  |  Apology (7)  |  Ask (411)  |  Baby (28)  |  Best (459)  |  Calculation (127)  |  Cause (541)  |  Chemistry (353)  |  Clerk (13)  |  Confession (8)  |  Country (251)  |  Deep (233)  |  Do (1908)  |  Down (456)  |  Enough (340)  |  Equation (132)  |  Faith (203)  |  Finish (59)  |  First (1283)  |  Follow (378)  |  Generation (242)  |  J. Willard Gibbs (8)  |  Good (889)  |  Headline (6)  |  Himself (461)  |  Home (170)  |  Hope (299)  |  Idle (33)  |  Immediate (95)  |  Importance (286)  |  Investigation (230)  |  Know (1518)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Large (394)  |  Man (2251)  |  Maxwell (42)  |  James Clerk Maxwell (87)  |  Moment (253)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Mother (114)  |  Next (236)  |  Obscure (62)  |  Obvious (126)  |  Point (580)  |  Point Of View (80)  |  Practical (200)  |  Proceed (129)  |  Prolong (29)  |  Prove (250)  |  Purely (109)  |  Reason (744)  |  Remain (349)  |  Research (664)  |  Result (677)  |  Return (124)  |  Right (452)  |  Say (984)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Side (233)  |  Smile (31)  |  Something (719)  |  Soul (226)  |  Spent (85)  |  Startling (15)  |  State (491)  |  Sterile (21)  |  Study (653)  |  Task (147)  |  Tell (340)  |  Thought (953)  |  Time (1877)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Turn (447)  |  Two (937)  |  Ultimate (144)  |  Understand (606)  |  Unexpected (52)  |  Use (766)  |  Useful (250)  |  Usefulness (86)  |  View (488)  |  Want (497)  |  Wealth (94)  |  Why (491)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)

When the greatest of American logicians, speaking of the powers that constitute the born geometrician, had named Conception, Imagination, and Generalization, he paused. Thereupon from one of the audience there came the challenge, “What of reason?” The instant response, not less just than brilliant, was: “Ratiocination—that is but the smooth pavement on which the chariot rolls.”
In Lectures on Science, Philosophy and Art (1908), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  American (46)  |  Bear (159)  |  Brilliant (53)  |  Challenge (85)  |  Chariot (9)  |  Conception (154)  |  Constitute (97)  |  Generalization (57)  |  Geometrician (6)  |  Great (1574)  |  Greatest (328)  |  Imagination (328)  |  Instant (45)  |  Less (103)  |  Logician (17)  |  Name (333)  |  Nature Of Mathematics (80)  |  Pause (6)  |  Pavement (2)  |  Power (746)  |  Ratiocination (4)  |  Reason (744)  |  Response (53)  |  Roll (40)  |  Smooth (32)  |  Speak (232)  |  Speaking (119)

Why are atoms so small? ... Many examples have been devised to bring this fact home to an audience, none of them more impressive than the one used by Lord Kelvin: Suppose that you could mark the molecules in a glass of water, then pour the contents of the glass into the ocean and stir the latter thoroughly so as to distribute the marked molecules uniformly throughout the seven seas; if you then took a glass of water anywhere out of the ocean, you would find in it about a hundred of your marked molecules.
What is life?: the Physical Aspect of the Living Cell (1944). Collected in What is Life? with Mind And Matter & Autobiographical Sketches (1967, 1992), 6-7.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (355)  |  Distribute (15)  |  Distribution (50)  |  Example (94)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Find (998)  |  Glass (92)  |  Home (170)  |  Hundred (229)  |  Illustration (48)  |  Impressive (25)  |  Baron William Thomson Kelvin (71)  |  Lord (93)  |  Mark (43)  |  Marked (55)  |  Molecule (174)  |  More (2559)  |  Ocean (202)  |  Sea (308)  |  Size (60)  |  Small (477)  |  Stir (21)  |  Suppose (156)  |  Thoroughly (67)  |  Throughout (98)  |  Water (481)  |  Why (491)

[An audience conditioned by a lifetime of television-watching is so corrupted that] their standards have been systematically lowered over the years. These guys sit in front of their sets and the gamma rays eat the white cells of their brains out!
Spoken by character Isaac Davis (played by Woody Allen) in the movie, Manhattan (1979). Quoted in Eighteen Woody Allen Films Analyzed (2000), 63. Woody Allen directed the movie, which he co-wrote with Marshall Brickman.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (270)  |  Condition (356)  |  Eat (104)  |  Gamma Ray (3)  |  Ray (114)  |  Set (394)  |  Sit (48)  |  Standard (57)  |  Television (30)  |  White (127)  |  Year (933)

[E.H.] Moore was presenting a paper on a highly technical topic to a large gathering of faculty and graduate students from all parts of the country. When half way through he discovered what seemed to be an error (though probably no one else in the room observed it). He stopped and re-examined the doubtful step for several minutes and then, convinced of the error, he abruptly dismissed the meeting—to the astonishment of most of the audience. It was an evidence of intellectual courage as well as honesty and doubtless won for him the supreme admiration of every person in the group—an admiration which was in no wise diminished, but rather increased, when at a later meeting he announced that after all he had been able to prove the step to be correct.
In Obituary, 'Eliakim Hastings Moore', The American Mathematical Monthly (Apr 1933), 40, 191.
Science quotes on:  |  Admiration (59)  |  All (4108)  |  Announce (13)  |  Astonishment (30)  |  Convinced (23)  |  Correct (86)  |  Country (251)  |  Courage (69)  |  Diminish (17)  |  Discover (553)  |  Dismiss (10)  |  Doubtful (29)  |  Doubtless (8)  |  Error (321)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Examine (78)  |  Faculty (72)  |  Gathering (23)  |  Graduate (29)  |  Graduate Student (11)  |  Honesty (25)  |  Increase (210)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Large (394)  |  Meeting (20)  |  Minute (125)  |  Eliakim Hastings Moore (2)  |  Most (1731)  |  Observed (149)  |  Paper (182)  |  Person (363)  |  Present (619)  |  Prove (250)  |  Step (231)  |  Stop (80)  |  Student (300)  |  Supreme (71)  |  Technical (43)  |  Through (849)  |  Topic (21)  |  Way (1217)  |  Wise (131)


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.