Derivative Quotes (6 quotes)
Curves that have no tangents are the rule. Those who hear of curves without tangents, or of functions without derivatives, often think at first that Nature presents no such complications. The contrary however is true. Consider, for instance, one of the white flakes that are obtained by salting a solution of soap. At a distance its contour may appear sharply defined, but as we draw nearer its sharpness disappears. The eye can no longer draw a tangent at any point. The use of a magnifying glass or microscope leaves us just as uncertain, for fresh irregularities appear every time we increase the magnification. An essential characteristic of our flake is that we suspect that any scale involves details that absolutely prohibit the fixing of a tangent.
In reality the origin of the notion of derivatives is in the vague feeling of the mobility of things, and of the greater or less speed with which phenomena take place; this is well expressed by the terms fluent and fluxion, which were used by Newton and which we may believe were borrowed from the ancient mathematician Heraclitus.
In the fall of 1972 President Nixon announced that the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing. This was the first time a sitting president used the third derivative to advance his case for reelection.
We divorced ourselves from the materials of the earth, the rock, the wood, the iron ore; we looked to new materials which were cooked in vats, long complex derivatives of urine which we called plastic. They had no odor of the living, ... their touch was alien to nature. ... [They proliferated] like the matastases of cancer cells.
When we say science we can either mean any manipulation of the inventive and organizing power of the human intellect: or we can mean such an extremely different thing as the religion of science, the vulgarized derivative from this pure activity manipulated by a sort of priestcraft into a great religious and political weapon.
Who has not be amazed to learn that the function y = ex, like a phoenix rising again from its own ashes, is its own derivative?