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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index I > Category: Irreversible

Irreversible Quotes (5 quotes)

A strict materialist believes that everything depends on the motion of matter. He knows the form of the laws of motion though he does not know all their consequences when applied to systems of unknown complexity.
Now one thing in which the materialist (fortified with dynamical knowledge) believes is that if every motion great & small were accurately reversed, and the world left to itself again, everything would happen backwards the fresh water would collect out of the sea and run up the rivers and finally fly up to the clouds in drops which would extract heat from the air and evaporate and afterwards in condensing would shoot out rays of light to the sun and so on. Of course all living things would regrede from the grave to the cradle and we should have a memory of the future but not of the past.
The reason why we do not expect anything of this kind to take place at any time is our experience of irreversible processes, all of one kind, and this leads to the doctrine of a beginning & an end instead of cyclical progression for ever.
Letter to Mark Pattison (7 Apr 1868). In P. M. Hannan (ed.), The Scientific Letters and Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (1995), Vol. 2, 1862-1873, 360-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Cycle (26)  |  Experience (268)  |  Future (229)  |  Law (418)  |  Materialist (4)  |  Matter (270)  |  Memory (81)  |  Motion (127)  |  Past (109)  |  Process (201)  |  Reverse (14)

Evolution in the biosphere is therefore a necessarily irreversible process defining a direction in time; a direction which is the same as that enjoined by the law of increasing entropy, that is to say, the second law of thermodynamics. This is far more than a mere comparison: the second law is founded upon considerations identical to those which establish the irreversibility of evolution. Indeed, it is legitimate to view the irreversibility of evolution as an expression of the second law in the biosphere.
In Jacques Monod and Austryn Wainhouse (trans.), Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology (1971), 123.
Science quotes on:  |  Biosphere (10)  |  Direction (56)  |  Entropy (40)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Expression (82)  |  Law (418)  |  Process (201)  |  Second Law Of Thermodynamics (13)

I never really paused for a moment to question the idea that the progressive spiritualization of matter—so clearly demonstrated to me by Paleontology—could be anything other, or anything less, than an irreversible process. By its gravitational nature, the Universe, I saw, was falling—falling forwards—in the direction of spirit as upon its stable form. In other words, Matter was not ultra-materialized as I would at first have believed, but was instead metamorphosed in Psyche.
In The Heart of Matter (1978), 27.
Science quotes on:  |  Demonstrate (25)  |  Fall (89)  |  Forward (21)  |  Gravitation (27)  |  Idea (440)  |  Matter (270)  |  Paleontology (29)  |  Process (201)  |  Progressive (13)  |  Psyche (7)  |  Question (315)  |  Spirit (113)  |  Spiritualization (2)  |  Stable (15)  |  Universe (563)

Technocrats are turning us into daredevils. The haphazard gambles they are imposing on us too often jeopardize our safety for goals that do not advance the human cause but undermine it. By staking our lives on their schemes, decision makers are not meeting the mandate of a democratic society; they are betraying it. They are not ennobling us; they are victimizing us. And, in acquiescing to risks that have resulted in irreversible damage to the environment, we ourselves are not only forfeiting our own rights as citizens. We are, in turn, victimizing the ultimate nonvolunteers: the defenseless, voiceless—voteless—children of the future.
In Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schiefelbein, The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World (2007), 85.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquiesce (2)  |  Advance (123)  |  Betray (7)  |  Cause (231)  |  Children (20)  |  Citizen (23)  |  Damage (18)  |  Decision (58)  |  Defenseless (3)  |  Democratic (7)  |  Ennoble (5)  |  Environment (138)  |  Forfeit (2)  |  Future (229)  |  Gamble (3)  |  Goal (81)  |  Human (445)  |  Impose (17)  |  Live (186)  |  Maker (10)  |  Often (69)  |  Result (250)  |  Right (144)  |  Risk (29)  |  Safety (39)  |  Scheme (20)  |  Society (188)  |  Stake (14)  |  Ultimate (61)  |  Undermine (5)  |  Volunteer (6)  |  Vote (11)

There is something irreversible about acquiring knowledge; and the simulation of the search for it differs in a most profound way from the reality.
In Physics in the Contemporary World (1949), 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Difference (208)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Profound (46)  |  Reality (140)  |  Search (85)  |  Simulation (6)


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)
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