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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index H > Category: Hampering

Hampering Quotes (2 quotes)

It is a misfortune for a science to be born too late when the means of observation have become too perfect. That is what is happening at this moment with respect to physical chemistry; the founders are hampered in their general grasp by third and fourth decimal places; happily they are men of robust faith.
From La Science et l’Hypothèse (1901, 1908), 211-212, as translated in Henri Poincaré and William John Greenstreet (trans.), Science and Hypothesis (1902, 1905), 181. From the original French, “C’est un malheur pour une science de prendre naissance trop tard, quand les moyens d’observation sont devenus trop parfaits. C’est ce qui arrive aujourd’hui à la physico-chimie; ses fondateurs sont gènés dans leurs aperçus par la troisième et la quatrième décimales; heureusement, ce sont des hommes d’une foi robuste.”
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Traditions may be very important, but they can be extremely hampering as well, and whether or not tradition is of really much value I have never been certain. Of course when they are very fine, they do good, but it is very difficult of course ever to repeat the conditions under which good traditions are formed, so they may be and are often injurious and I think the greatest progress is made outside of traditions.
Quoted as the notations of an unnamed student in the auditorium when Councilman made impromptu biographical remarks at his last lecture as a teacher of undergraduates in medicine (19 Dec 1921). As quoted in obituary, 'William Thomas Councilman', by Harvey Cushing, Science (30 Jun 1933), 77, No. 2009, 613-618. Reprinted in National Academy Biographical Memoirs, Vol. 18, 159-160. The transcribed lecture was published privately in a 23-page booklet, A Lecture Delivered to the Second-Year Class of the Harvard Medical School at the Conclusion of the Course in Pathology, Dec. 19, 1921.
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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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