Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Genius is two percent inspiration, ninety-eight percent perspiration.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index E > Category: Experimenter

Experimenter Quotes (18 quotes)


Question: Explain why, in order to cook food by boiling, at the top of a high mountain, you must employ a different method from that used at the sea level.
Answer: It is easy to cook food at the sea level by boiling it, but once you get above the sea level the only plan is to fry it in its own fat. It is, in fact, impossible to boil water above the sea level by any amount of heat. A different method, therefore, would have to be employed to boil food at the top of a high mountain, but what that method is has not yet been discovered. The future may reveal it to a daring experimentalist.
Genuine student answer* to an Acoustics, Light and Heat paper (1880), Science and Art Department, South Kensington, London, collected by Prof. Oliver Lodge. Quoted in Henry B. Wheatley, Literary Blunders (1893), 178-9, Question 11. (*From a collection in which Answers are not given verbatim et literatim, and some instances may combine several students' blunders.)
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (201)  |  Boiling (3)  |  Cooking (7)  |  Difference (208)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Examination (60)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fat (10)  |  Food (139)  |  Frying (2)  |  Heat (90)  |  Howler (15)  |  Impossibility (50)  |  Method (154)  |  Mountain (111)  |  Plan (69)  |  Question (315)  |  Sea Level (4)

Before an experiment can be performed, it must be planned—the question to nature must be formulated before being posed. Before the result of a measurement can be used, it must be interpreted—nature's answer must be understood properly. These two tasks are those of the theorist, who finds himself always more and more dependent on the tools of abstract mathematics. Of course, this does not mean that the experimenter does not also engage in theoretical deliberations. The foremost classical example of a major achievement produced by such a division of labor is the creation of spectrum analysis by the joint efforts of Robert Bunsen, the experimenter, and Gustav Kirchoff, the theorist. Since then, spectrum analysis has been continually developing and bearing ever richer fruit.
'The Meaning and Limits of Exact Science', Science (30 Sep 1949), 110, No. 2857, 325. Advance reprinting of chapter from book Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography (1949), 110.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (43)  |  Achievement (128)  |  Answer (201)  |  Bearing (8)  |  Robert Bunsen (8)  |  Collaboration (10)  |  Continuing (4)  |  Creation (211)  |  Dependence (32)  |  Development (228)  |  Example (57)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Formulation (20)  |  Fruit (63)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Kirchoff_Gustav (3)  |  Labor (53)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Performance (27)  |  Plan (69)  |  Properly (14)  |  Question (315)  |  Result (250)  |  Richness (14)  |  Spectral Analysis (2)  |  Task (68)  |  Theorist (24)  |  Tool (70)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Use (70)

Common sense … may be thought of as a series of concepts and conceptual schemes which have proved highly satisfactory for the practical uses of mankind. Some of those concepts and conceptual schemes were carried over into science with only a little pruning and whittling and for a long time proved useful. As the recent revolutions in physics indicate, however, many errors can be made by failure to examine carefully just how common sense ideas should be defined in terms of what the experimenter plans to do.
In Science and Common Sense (1951), 32-33.
Science quotes on:  |  Careful (12)  |  Common Sense (69)  |  Concept (102)  |  Define (29)  |  Error (230)  |  Examine (24)  |  Failure (118)  |  Idea (440)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Physics (301)  |  Plan (69)  |  Practical (93)  |  Prune (5)  |  Revolution (56)  |  Satisfactory (9)  |  Science (1699)

Everyone believes in the normal law, the experimenters because they imagine that it is a mathematical theorem, and the mathematicians because they think it is an experimental fact.
Conversation with Henri Poincaré. In Henri Poincaré, Calcul des Probabilités (1896), 171.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Normal (21)  |  Theorem (46)

Experimentation is the least arrogant method of gaining knowledge. The experimenter humbly asks a question of nature.
[Unverified. Please contact Webmaster if you can identify the primary source.]
Science quotes on:  |  Arrogance (12)  |  Ask (99)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Gain (48)  |  Humble (23)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Least (43)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Question (315)

Experimenters are the shock troops of science.
'The Meaning and Limits of Exact Science', Science (30 Sep 1949), 110, No. 2857, 325. Advance reprinting of chapter from book Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography (1949), 110.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Research (517)  |  Science (1699)

Experimenters don’t come in late—they never went home.
In Leon Lederman and Dick Teresi, The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question (1993), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Home (58)  |  Late (28)

Frequently, I have been asked if an experiment I have planned is pure or applied science; to me it is more important to know if the experiment will yield new and probably enduring knowledge about nature. If it is likely to yield such knowledge, it is, in my opinion, good fundamental research; and this is more important than whether the motivation is purely aesthetic satisfaction on the part of the experimenter on the one hand or the improvement of the stability of a high-power transistor on the other.
Quoted in Richard R. Nelson, 'The Link Between Science and Invention: The Case of the Transistor,' The Rate and Direction of the Inventive Activity (1962). In Daniel S. Greenberg, The Politics of Pure Science (1999), 32, footnote.
Science quotes on:  |  Aesthetic (26)  |  Applied Science (28)  |  Asking (23)  |  Enduring (5)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Frequently (13)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Importance (183)  |  Improvement (67)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Likelihood (8)  |  Motivation (21)  |  Nature (1029)  |  New (340)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Plan (69)  |  Pure Science (18)  |  Research (517)  |  Satisfaction (48)  |  Stability (17)  |  Yield (23)

From my father I learned to build things, to take them apart, and to fix mechanical and electrical equipment in general. I spent vast hours in a woodworking shop he maintained in the basement of our house, building gadgets, working both with my father and alone, often late into the night. … This play with building, fixing, and designing was my favorite activity throughout my childhood, and was a wonderful preparation for my later career as an experimentalist working on the frontiers of chemistry and physics.
From 'Richard E. Smalley: Biographical', collected in Tore Frängsmyr (ed.), Les Prix Nobel: The Nobel Prizes 1996 (1997).
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (97)  |  Build (80)  |  Career (54)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Childhood (23)  |  Design (92)  |  Electrical (10)  |  Equipment (26)  |  Father (44)  |  Favorite (18)  |  Fix (10)  |  Frontier (16)  |  Learn (160)  |  Mechanical (31)  |  Physics (301)  |  Play (60)  |  Preparation (33)  |  Wonderful (37)

I have just received copies of “To-day” containing criticisms of my letter. I am in no way surprised to find that these criticisms are not only unfair and misleading in the extreme. They are misleading in so far that anyone reading them would be led to believe the exact opposite of the truth. It is quite possible that I, an old and trained engineer and chronic experimenter, should put an undue value upon truth; but it is common to all scientific men. As nothing but the truth is of any value to them, they naturally dislike things that are not true. ... While my training has, perhaps, warped my mind so that I put an undue value upon truth, their training has been such as to cause them to abhor exact truth and logic.
[Replying to criticism by Colonel Acklom and other religious parties attacking Maxim's earlier contribution to the controversy about the modern position of Christianity.]
In G.K. Chesterton, 'The Maxims of Maxim', Daily News (25 Feb 1905). Collected in G. K. Chesterton and Dale Ahlquist (ed.), In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G.K. Chesterton (2011), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Abhorrence (8)  |  Belief (400)  |  Cause (231)  |  Chronic (5)  |  Content (39)  |  Copy (13)  |  Criticism (52)  |  Dislike (11)  |  Engineer (72)  |  Exactness (18)  |  Leading (14)  |  Letter (36)  |  Logic (187)  |  Mind (544)  |  Misleading (12)  |  Naturally (7)  |  Old (104)  |  Opposite (39)  |  Reading (51)  |  Receive (39)  |  Surprise (44)  |  Today (86)  |  Training (39)  |  Truth (750)  |  Undue (3)  |  Unfair (6)  |  Value (180)

Preconceived ideas are like searchlights which illumine the path of experimenter and serve him as a guide to interrogate nature. They become a danger only if he transforms them into fixed ideas – this is why I should like to see these profound words inscribed on the threshold of all the temples of science: “The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so.”
Speech (8 Jul 1876), to the French Academy of Medicine. As translated in René J. Dubos, Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science (1950, 1986), 376. Date of speech identified in Maurice B. Strauss, Familiar Medical Quotations (1968), 502.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Danger (62)  |  Derangement (2)  |  Fixed (11)  |  Guide (46)  |  Idea (440)  |  Illuminate (12)  |  Interrogate (3)  |  Mind (544)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Path (59)  |  Preconceive (3)  |  Profound (46)  |  Science (1699)  |  Searchlight (4)  |  Temple (22)  |  Threshold (7)  |  Transform (20)  |  Wish (62)  |  Word (221)

Progress is made by trial and failure; the failures are generally a hundred times more numerous than the successes; yet they are usually left unchronicled. The reason is that the investigator feels that even though he has failed in achieving an expected result, some other more fortunate experimenter may succeed, and it is unwise to discourage his attempts.
From 'Radium and its Products', Harper’s Magazine (Dec 1904), 110, No. 655, 52.
Science quotes on:  |  Achieving (3)  |  Attempt (94)  |  Discourage (3)  |  Expected (5)  |  Failed (3)  |  Failure (118)  |  Feel (93)  |  Fortunate (4)  |  Hundred (46)  |  Investigator (28)  |  Numerous (21)  |  Progress (317)  |  Reason (330)  |  Result (250)  |  Succeed (11)  |  Success (202)  |  Trial (23)  |  Unwise (3)

The calculus of probabilities, when confined within just limits, ought to interest, in an equal degree, the mathematician, the experimentalist, and the statesman.
In François Arago, trans. by William Henry Smyth, Baden Powell and Robert Grant, 'Laplace', Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men (1859), Vol. 1, 364. This comment introduces how the calculus of probabilities, being used in preparing tables of, for example, population and mortality, can give information for use by government and businesses deciding reserves for pensions, or premiums for life insurance.
Science quotes on:  |  Calculus (23)  |  Interest (170)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Statesman (10)

The job of theorists, especially in biology, is to suggest new experiments. A good theory makes not only predictions, but surprising predictions that then turn out to be true. (If its predictions appear obvious to experimentalists, why would they need a theory?)
In What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery (1988), 142.
Science quotes on:  |  Appear (55)  |  Biology (150)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Good (228)  |  Need (211)  |  New (340)  |  Obvious (54)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Suggest (15)  |  Surprise (44)  |  Theorist (24)  |  Theory (582)  |  True (120)

The sequence of theorist, experimenter, and discovery has occasionally been compared to the sequence of farmer, pig, truffle. The farmer leads the pig to an area where there might be truffles. The pig searches diligently for the truffles. Finally, he locates one, and just as he is about to devour it, the farmer snatches it away.
In Leon Lederman and Dick Teresi, The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question (1993, 2006), 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Comparison (53)  |  Devour (10)  |  Diligence (14)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Farmer (23)  |  Pig (7)  |  Search (85)  |  Sequence (32)  |  Snatch (3)  |  Theoretical Physicist (12)  |  Theorist (24)

The true worth of an experimenter consists in his pursuing not only what he seeks in his experiment, but also what he did not seek.
Unverified in these exact words. Contact webmaster if you know the primary source. Perhaps the quote is a summary of a longer passage. Claude lays out his experimental philosophy in An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865).
Science quotes on:  |  Consisting (5)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Pursuit (55)  |  Seeking (30)  |  Truth (750)  |  Worth (74)

To be worthy of the name, an experimenter must be at once theorist and practitioner. While he must completely master the art of establishing experimental facts, which are the materials of science, he must also clearly understand the scientific principles which guide his reasoning through the varied experimental study of natural phenomena. We cannot separate these two things: head and hand. An able hand, without a head to direct it, is a blind tool; the head is powerless without its executive hand.
In Claude Bernard and Henry Copley Greene (trans.), An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1927, 1957), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Blind (35)  |  Directing (5)  |  Establish (30)  |  Executive (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Guide (46)  |  Hand (103)  |  Head (52)  |  Mastery (20)  |  Material (124)  |  Name (118)  |  Natural (128)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Powerless (5)  |  Practitioner (12)  |  Principle (228)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Science (1699)  |  Separation (32)  |  Study (331)  |  Theorist (24)  |  Tool (70)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Various (25)

[Volta’s battery is] an alarm-bell to experimenters in every part of Europe.
In Humphry Davy, 'Historical Sketch of Electrical Discovery' (1810), in John Davy (ed.), The Collected Works of Sir Humphry Davy (1840), Vol. 8, 271.
Science quotes on:  |  Alarm (9)  |  Battery (7)  |  Bell (13)  |  Europe (32)


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.