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Who said: “I have no satisfaction in formulas unless I feel their arithmetical magnitude.”
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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index C > Category: Cathedral

Cathedral Quotes (27 quotes)

A grove of giant redwoods or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a great or beautiful cathedral. The extermination of the passenger pigeon meant that mankind was just so much poorer; exactly as in the case of the destruction of the cathedral at Rheims. And to lose the chance to see frigate-birds soaring in circles above the storm, or a file of pelicans winging their way homeward across the crimson afterglow of the sunset, or a myriad terns flashing in the bright light of midday as they hover in a shifting maze above the beach—why, the loss is like the loss of a gallery of the masterpieces of the artists of old time.
In A Book-Lover's Holidays in the Open (1916), 316-317.
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A parable: A man was examining the construction of a cathedral. He asked a stone mason what he was doing chipping the stones, and the mason replied, “I am making stones.” He asked a stone carver what he was doing. “I am carving a gargoyle.” And so it went, each person said in detail what they were doing. Finally he came to an old woman who was sweeping the ground. She said. “I am helping build a cathedral.”
...Most of the time each person is immersed in the details of one special part of the whole and does not think of how what they are doing relates to the larger picture.
[For example, in education, a teacher might say in the next class he was going to “explain Young's modulus and how to measure it,” rather than, “I am going to educate the students and prepare them for their future careers.”]
In The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn (1975, 2005), 195.
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Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.
John Muir
As stated in Frederick W. Turner, John Muir: Rediscovering America (2000), 193. Also seen as “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world,” in Thomas N. Taylor, Edith L. Taylor, Michael Krings, Paleobotany: the Biology and Evolution of Fossil Plants (2009), 805. “Between every two pines stood the door to the world's greatest cathedral,” in Robert Adrian de Jauralde Hart, Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape (1996), xi. Please contact Webmaster if you know the primary source and Muir's exact wording.
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Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.
[Muir was aghast that the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite was to be flooded by the O'Shaughnessy Dam to provide water for San Francisco. Muir lost this land conservation battle; the dam was completed in 1914.]
John Muir
Closing remark in The Yosemite (1912), 262.
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Euclid always contemplates a straight line as drawn between two definite points, and is very careful to mention when it is to be produced beyond this segment. He never thinks of the line as an entity given once for all as a whole. This careful definition and limitation, so as to exclude an infinity not immediately apparent to the senses, was very characteristic of the Greeks in all their many activities. It is enshrined in the difference between Greek architecture and Gothic architecture, and between Greek religion and modern religion. The spire of a Gothic cathedral and the importance of the unbounded straight line in modern Geometry are both emblematic of the transformation of the modern world.
In Introduction to Mathematics (1911), 119.
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I am absolutely enraptured by the atmosphere of a wreck. A dead ship is the house of a tremendous amount of life—fish and plants. The mixture of life and death is mysterious, even religious. There is the same sense of peace and mood that you feel on entering a cathedral.
Quoted in 'Sport: Poet of the Depths', Time (28 Mar 1960)
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It is a strange feeling which comes over one as he stands in the centre of the tunnel, and knows that a mighty river is rolling on over his head, and that great ships with their thousands of tons burthen, sail over him. ... There is no single work of Art in London (with the exception of St. Paul's Cathedral) which excites so much curiosity and admiration among foreigners as the Tunnel. Great buildings are common to all parts of Europe, but the world has not such another Tunnel as this. There is something grand in the idea of walking under a broad river—making a pathway dry and secure beneath ships and navies!
[About visiting Brunel's Thames Tunnel, the first in the world under a navigable waterway.]
What I Saw in London: or, Men and Things in the Great Metropolis (1853), 168-169.
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It is good to recall that three centuries ago, around the year 1660, two of the greatest monuments of modern history were erected, one in the West and one in the East; St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and the Taj Mahal in Agra. Between them, the two symbolize, perhaps better than words can describe, the comparative level of architectural technology, the comparative level of craftsmanship and the comparative level of affluence and sophistication the two cultures had attained at that epoch of history. But about the same time there was also created—and this time only in the West—a third monument, a monument still greater in its eventual import for humanity. This was Newton’s Principia, published in 1687. Newton's work had no counterpart in the India of the Mughuls.
'Ideals and Realities' (1975). Reprinted in Ideals and Realities (1984), 48.
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It was a felicitous expression of Goethe’s to call a noble cathedral “frozen music,” but it might even better be called “petrified mathematics.”
In The Teaching of Mathematics in the Elementary and the Secondary School (1906), 44.
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Many an otherwise good cathedral has been ruined by too many gargoyles.
In Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Sciences (1938), 20. Bell’s context is that “Art is usually considered to be not of the highest quality if the desired object is exhibited in the midst of unnecessary lumber.” He is writing about the postulational method and the art of pruning a set of postulates to bare essentials without internal duplication.
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Modern war, even from the consideration of physical welfare, is not creative. Soldiers and civilians alike are supposed to put on mental khaki. … War means the death of that fertile war which consists of the free, restless conflict of ideas. The war which matters is that of the scientist with nature; of the farmer with the tawny desert; of … philosopher against … mob stupidity. Such war is creative. … Inventions that further life and joy; freedom; new knowledge, whether Luther Burbank’s about the breeding of fruits or Einstein's about relativity; great cathedrals and Beethoven's music: these modern mechanical war can destroy but never produce. At its most inventive height, war creates the Maxim gun, the submarine, disseminable germs of disease, life-blasting gases. Spiritually and intellectually, modern war is not creative.
From ‘The Stagnation of War’, in Allen D. Hole (ed.) The Messenger of Peace (Nov 1924), 49, No. 11, 162-163.
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Museums are, in a way, the cathedrals of the modern world, places where sacred issues are expressed and where people come to reflect on them. A museum is also a kind of bridge between the academy and the public.
In The Legacy of the Great War: Ninety Years On (2009), 34.
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Of all man’s works of art, a cathedral is greatest. A vast and majestic tree is greater than that.
In Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit (1887), 8.
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Put three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars.
In 'Our Home in Space.' In R.C. Prasad (ed.), Modern Essays: Studying Language Through Literature (1987), 26.
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Religion shows a pattern of heredity which I think is similar to genetic heredity. ... There are hundreds of different religious sects, and every religious person is loyal to just one of these. ... The overwhelming majority just happen to choose the one their parents belonged to. Not the sect that has the best evidence in its favour, the best miracles, the best moral code, the best cathedral, the best stained-glass, the best music when it comes to choosing from the smorgasbord of available religions, their potential virtues seem to count for nothing compared to the matter of heredity.
From edited version of a speech, at the Edinburgh International Science Festival (15 Apr 1992), as reprinted from the Independent newspaper in Alec Fisher, The Logic of Real Arguments (2004), 82-83.
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Reservations of scenery are the cathedrals of the modern world.
Letter to Boston Metropolitan Park Commission (22 June 1896), in biography by his father, Charles William Eliot, Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect (1902), 655.
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The meaning of geography is as much a sealed book to the person of ordinary intelligence and education as the meaning of a great cathedral would be to a backwoodsman, and yet no cathedral can be more suggestive of past history in its many architectural forms than is the land about us, with its innumerable and marvellously significant geographic forms. It makes one grieve to think of opportunity for mental enjoyment that is last because of the failure of education in this respect.
'Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation', The National Geographic Magazine, 1889, 1, 23.
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The mighty edifice of Government science dominated the scene in the middle of the 20th century as a Gothic cathedral dominated a 13th century landscape. The work of many hands over many years, it universally inspired admiration, wonder and fear.
In Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities (1957, 1964), 375.
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The United States at this moment occupies a lamentable position as being perhaps the chief offender among civilized nations in permitting the destruction and pollution of nature. Our whole modern civilization is at fault in the matter. But we in America are probably most at fault ... We treasure pictures and sculpture. We regard Attic temples and Roman triumphal arches and Gothic cathedrals as of priceless value. But we are, as a whole, still in that low state of civilization where we do not understand that it is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird. Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals'not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements.
'Our Vanishing Wild Life', The Outlook, 25 Jan 1913. In Donald Davidson (Ed.) The Wisdom of Theodore Roosevelt (2003), 19.
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These days malls are the cathedrals of the modern world, and old buildings that had character are gone to allow for econo-worship and peso-pilgrimages.
In Urban Stew: the Manila Menu (2005), 27.
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We don’t understand electricity. We use it. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person with it. … I think talent is like that.
In Maya Angelo and Joanne M. Braxon (ed.), 'An interview with Claudia Tate', I Know why the Caged Bird Sings: A Casebook (1999), 154. Also seen paraphrased as, “Talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.…”. [Many thanks to P.D. for locating the citation, previously unverified here.]
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We may almost say of him [Joseph Aspdin, inventor of Portland Cement] what the epitaph in St. Pauls Cathedral says of Sir Christopher Wren: “If you seek his monument, look around.”
Newspaper
In the Vancouver newspaper, 'The Sun's School Service: Portland Cement', The Vancouver Sun (14 Jan 1937), 12. No writer identified; part of the Sun-Ray Club feature “Conducted by Uncle Ben.”
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We thought of universities as the cathedrals of the modern world. In the middle ages, the cathedral was the center and symbol of the city. In the modern world, its place could be taken by the university.
L.A. Times (21 Jul 1999)
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Yet is it possible in terms of the motion of atoms to explain how men can invent an electric motor, or design and build a great cathedral? If such achievements represent anything more than the requirements of physical law, it means that science must investigate the additional controlling factors, whatever they may be, in order that the world of nature may be adequately understood. For a science which describes only the motions of inanimate things but fails to include the actions of living organisms cannot claim universality.
The Human Meaning of Science (1940), 31.
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You need a plan for everything, whether it’s building a cathedral or a chicken coop. Without a plan you’ll postpone living until you’re dead.
In 'John Goddard: 108 Adventures Down, 19 To Go', Life magazine (1986), 9, 22.
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[About Carlsbad Caverns:] It’s got all the cathedrals of the world in it, with half of ’em hanging upside down.
Syndicated 'Daily Telegram' No. 1496, 'Mr. Rogers, On Mother's Day, Takes ‘Ma’ for a 7-Mile Walk', (10 May 1931). For example, printed in 'Rogers Takes Ma For Underground Hike', The Milwaukee Journal (11 May 1931), 1.
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[Large motorway flyovers] are the cathedrals of the modern world.
Writing about the first four-level motorway interchange, which links the M4 and M5 at Almondsbury. Entry for 22 Jul 1966 in The Castle Diaries 1964-70 (1980), 152. Cited in Brian Howard Harrison, Seeking a role: the United Kingdom, 1951-1970 (2009), 139.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 90 -
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- 80 -
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Bible
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
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- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
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- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
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- 30 -
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- 20 -
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- 10 -
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