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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index F > Category: Foolhardy

Foolhardy Quotes (1 quote)

It would be difficult and perhaps foolhardy to analyze the chances of further progress in almost every part of mathematics one is stopped by unsurmountable difficulties, improvements in the details seem to be the only possibilities which are left… All these difficulties seem to announce that the power of our analysis is almost exhausted, even as the power of ordinary algebra with regard to transcendental geometry in the time of Leibniz and Newton, and that there is a need of combinations opening a new field to the calculation of transcendental quantities and to the solution of the equations including them.
From Rapport historique sur les progrès des sciences mathématiques depuis 1789, et sur leur état actuel (1810), 131. As translated in George Sarton, The Study of the History of Mathematics (1936), 13. In the original French: “Il seroit difficile et peut-être téméraire d’analyser les chances que l’avenir offre à l’avancement des mathématiques: dans presque toutes les parties, on est arrêté par des difficultés insurmontables; des perfectionnements de détail semblent la seule chose qui reste à faire… Toutes ces difficultés semblent annoncer que la puissance de notre analyse est à-peu-près épuisée, comme celle de l’algèbre ordinaire l’étoit par rapport à la géométrie transcendante au temps de Leibnitz et de Newton, et qu’il faut des combinaisons qui ouvrent un nouveau champ au calcul des transcendantes et à la résolution des équations qui les contiennent.” Sarton states this comes from “the report on mathematical progress prepared for the French Academy of Sciences at Napoleon’s request”.
Science quotes on:  |  Algebra (117)  |  Analysis (244)  |  Analyze (12)  |  Announce (13)  |  Calculation (134)  |  Chance (244)  |  Combination (150)  |  Detail (150)  |  Difficult (263)  |  Difficulty (201)  |  Equation (138)  |  Exhaust (22)  |  Field (378)  |  Geometry (271)  |  Improvement (117)  |  Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (51)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Need (320)  |  New (1273)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (363)  |  Ordinary (167)  |  Power (771)  |  Progress (492)  |  Quantity (136)  |  Regard (312)  |  Solution (282)  |  Stop (89)  |  Time (1911)  |  Transcendental (11)

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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