Luminary Quotes (4 quotes)
If you enquire about him [J.J. Sylvester], you will hear his genius universally recognized but his power of teaching will probably be said to be quite deficient. Now there is no man living who is more luminary in his language, to those who have the capacity to comprehend him than Sylvester, provided the hearer is in a lucid interval. But as the barn yard fowl cannot understand the flight of the eagle, so it is the eaglet only who will be nourished by his instruction.
Letter (18 Sep 1875) to Daniel C. Gilman. In Daniel C. Gilman Papers, Ms. 1, Special Collections Division, Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins University. As quoted in Karen Hunger Parshall, 'America’s First School of Mathematical Research: James Joseph Sylvester at The Johns Hopkins University 1876—1883', Archive for History of Exact Sciences (1988), 38, No. 2, 167.
In the center of everything rules the sun; for who in this most beautiful temple could place this luminary at another better place whence it can light up the whole at once? … In fact, the sun sitting on his royal throne guides the family of stars surrounding him. … In this arrangement we thus find an admirable harmony of the world, and a constant harmonious connection between the motion and the size of the orbits as could not be found otherwise.
In De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (1543), Book 1, Ch. 10. As translated in Hermann Kesten, Copernicus and his World (1945), 182-183. From the original Latin: “In medio vero omnium residet Sol. Quis enim in hoc pulcherrimo templo lampadem hanc in alio vel meliori loco poneret, quam unde totum simul possit illuminare? … Ita profecto tanquam in solio regali Sol residens circum agentem gubernat Astrorum familiam. … Invenimus igitur sub hac ordinatione admirandam mundi symmetriam, ac certum harmoniae nexum motus et magnitudinis orbium: qualis alio modo reperiri non potest.” Corresponding translations also found in Charles Glenn Wallis (trans.), On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres (1939, 1995), 24-25, which gives: “In the center of all rests the sun. For who would place this lamp of a very beautiful temple in another or better place than this wherefrom it can illuminate everything at the same time? … And so the sun, as if resting on a kingly throne, governs the family of stars which wheel around. … Therefore in this ordering we find that the world has a wonderful commensurability and that there is a sure bond of harmony for the movement and magnitude of the orbital circles such as cannot be found in any other way.” The passage is translated in Robert Reinhold, 'After 500 Years, Now the Year of Copernicus', New York Times (28 Dec 1972), 33, as: “At rest in the middle of everything is the sun, for in this most beautiful temple, who would place this lamp in another or better position than that from which it can light up the whole thing at the same time? … As though seated on a royal throne, the sun governs the family of planets revolving around it.” Also seen translated in Edwin Arthur Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science (1925), 45, as: “Then in the middle of all stands the sun. For who, in our most beautiful temple, could set this light in another or better place, than that from which it can at once illuminate the whole? … And in fact does the sun, seated on his royal throne, guide his family of planets as they circle round him.” [Notice the original Latin reads “Astrorum familiam”, so the literal translation is “family of stars” rather than what we now call “planets.” —Webmaster]
It is not impossible to suppose that in this case our luminary was taken in the act…
Men are weak now, and yet they transform the Earth’s surface. In millions of years their might will increase to the extent that they will change the surface of the Earth, its oceans, the atmosphere, and themselves. They will control the climate and the Solar System just as they control the Earth. They will travel beyond the limits of our planetary system; they will reach other Suns, and use their fresh energy instead of the energy of their dying luminary.
In Plan of Space Exploration (1926). Quote as translated in Vitaliĭ Ivanovich Sevastʹi︠a︡nov, Arkadiĭ Dmitrievich Ursul, I︠U︡riĭ Andreevich Shkolenko, The Universe and Civilisation (1981), 104.