Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it... That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index O > Category: Observation

Observation Quotes (418 quotes)

... there is an external world which can in principle be exhaustively described in scientific language. The scientist, as both observer and language-user, can capture the external facts of the world in prepositions that are true if they correspond to the facts and false if they do not. Science is ideally a linguistic system in which true propositions are in one-to-one relation to facts, including facts that are not directly observed because they involve hidden entities or properties, or past events or far distant events. These hidden events are described in theories, and theories can be inferred from observation, that is the hidden explanatory mechnism of the world can be discovered from what is open to observation. Man as scientist is regarded as standing apart from the world and able to experiment and theorize about it objectively and dispassionately.
'Introduction', Revolutions and Reconstructions in the Philosophy of Science (1981), xii. In John Templeton and Robert L. Herrmann, Is God the Only Reality (1994), 11-12.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Theory (582)

...learning chiefly in mathematical sciences can so swallow up and fix one's thought, as to possess it entirely for some time; but when that amusement is over, nature will return, and be where it was, being rather diverted than overcome by such speculations.
An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England (1850), 154
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)  |  Lighthouse (4)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  John Smeaton (5)  |  Sundial (5)

...they have never affirm'd any thing, concerning the Cause, till the Trial was past: whereas, to do it before, is a most venomous thing in the making of Sciences; for whoever has fix'd on his Cause, before he experimented; can hardly avoid fitting his Experiment to his Observations, to his own Cause, which he had before imagin'd; rather than the Cause to the Truth of the Experiment itself.
Referring to experiments of the Aristotelian mode, whereby a preconceived truth would be illustrated merely to convince people of the validity of the original thought.
Thomas Sprat, Abraham Cowley, History of the Royal Society (1667, 1734), 108.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (141)  |  Bias (15)  |  Cause (231)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Preconceive (3)  |  Trial (23)  |  Truth (750)

Ac kynde wit cometh
Of alle kynnes syghtes,
Of briddes and of beestes,
Of tastes of truthe and of deceites.

Mother-Wit comes from all kinds of experiences,
Of birds and beasts and of tests both true and false.
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 235. Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 123.
Science quotes on:  |  Beast (32)  |  Biology (150)  |  Bird (96)  |  Both (52)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  False (79)  |  Science (1699)  |  Test (96)  |  True (120)  |  Zoology (28)

Dans les champs de l’observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.
In the field of observation, chance favours only the prepared mind.
Inaugural Address as newly appointed Professor and Dean (Sep 1854) at the opening of the new Faculté des Sciences at Lille (7 Dec 1854). In René Vallery-Radot, The Life of Pasteur, translated by Mrs. R. L. Devonshire (1919), 76.
Science quotes on:  |  Chance (122)  |  Favor (22)  |  Serendipity (13)

En un mot, pour tirer la loi de l'expérience, if faut généraliser; c'est une nécessité qui s'impose ą l'observateur le plus circonspect.
In one word, to draw the rule from experience, one must generalize; this is a necessity that imposes itself on the most circumspect observer.
La valeur de la science. In Anton Bovier, Statistical Mechanics of Disordered Systems (2006), 186.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (268)

Forging differs from hoaxing, inasmuch as in the later the deceit is intended to last for a time, and then be discovered, to the ridicule of those who have credited it; whereas the forger is one who, wishing to acquire a reputation for science, records observations which he has never made.
Reflections on the Decline of Science in England (1830). In Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, Statistics and Truth (1997), 84.
Science quotes on:  |  Forgery (2)

He who doth with the greatest exactness imaginable, weigh every individual thing that shall or hath hapned to his Patient, and may be known from the Observations of his own, or of others, and who afterwards compareth all these with one another, and puts them in an opposite view to such Things as happen in a healthy State; and lastly, from all this with the nicest and severest bridle upon his reasoning faculty riseth to the knowledge of the very first Cause of the Disease, and of the Remedies fit to remove them; He, and only He deserveth the Name of a true Physician.
Aphorism No. 13 in Boerhaave’s Aphorisms: Concerning The Knowledge and Cure of Diseases (1715), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (231)  |  Disease (257)  |  Exactness (18)  |  Name (118)  |  Patient (116)  |  Physician (232)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Remedy (46)  |  True (120)

Les causes primordiales ne nous sont point connues; mais elles sont assujetties ą des lois simples et constantes, que l’on peut découvrir par l’observation, et dont l’étude est l’objet de la philosophie naturelle.
Primary causes are unknown to us; but are subject to simple and constant laws, which may be discovered by observation, the study of them being the object of natural philosophy.
Opening statement from 'Discours Préliminaire' to Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822), i, translated by Alexander Freeman in The Analytical Theory of Heat (1878), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (231)  |  Constant (40)  |  Discover (115)  |  Law (418)  |  Natural Philosophy (21)  |  Object (110)  |  Primary (29)  |  Simple (111)  |  Study (331)  |  Subject (129)  |  Unknown (87)

Lyveris to-forn us
Useden to marke
For selkouthes that thei seighen,
Hir sones for to teche;
And helden it an heigh science
Hir wittes to knowe.
Ac thorugh hir science soothly
Was nevere no soule y-saved,
Ne broght by hir bokes
To blisse ne to joye;
For alle hir kynde knowynges
Come but of diverse sightes.
Patriarkes and prophetes
Repreveden hir science,
And seiden hir wordes and hir wisdomes
Nas but a folye
And to the clergie of Crist
Counted it but a trufle.

Our ancestors in olden days used to record
The strange things they saw, and teach them to their sons;
And they held it a high science, to have knowledge of such things.
But no soul was ever saved by all that science,
Nor brought by books into eternal bliss;
Their science was only a series of sundry observations.
So patriarchs and prophets disapproved of their science,
And said their so-called words of wisdom were but folly—
And compared with Christian philosophy, a contemptible thing.
In William Langland and B. Thomas Wright (ed.) The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman (1842), 235-236. Modern translation by Terrence Tiller in Piers Plowman (1981, 1999), 123.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancestor (35)  |  Bliss (3)  |  Book (181)  |  Christian (17)  |  Compared (8)  |  Contemptible (7)  |  Eternal (43)  |  Folly (27)  |  High (78)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Old (104)  |  Patriarch (3)  |  Philosophy (213)  |  Prophet (8)  |  Record (56)  |  Science (1699)  |  Series (38)  |  Son (16)  |  Soul (139)  |  Strange (61)  |  Sundry (4)  |  Teach (102)  |  Wisdom (151)  |  Word (221)

Notatio naturae, et animadversio perperit artem
Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature.
In Jon R. Stone, The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations (2005), 78.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Birth (81)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Science And Art (157)

Of Cooking. This is an art of various forms, the object of which is to give ordinary observations the appearance and character of those of the highest degree of accuracy. One of its numerous processes is to make multitudes of observations, and out of these to select only those which agree, or very nearly agree. If a hundred observations are made, the cook must be very unhappy if he cannot pick out fifteen or twenty which will do for serving up.
Reflections on the Decline of Science in England (1830). In Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, Statistics and Truth (1997), 84.
Science quotes on:  |  Fraud (12)  |  Hoax (4)

Question: How would you disprove, experimentally, the assertion that white light passing through a piece of coloured glass acquires colour from the glass? What is it that really happens?
Answer: To disprove the assertion (so repeatedly made) that “white light passing through a piece of coloured glass acquires colour from the glass,” I would ask the gentleman to observe that the glass has just as much colour after the light has gone through it as it had before. That is what would really happen.
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, Question 8. (*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)  |  Assertion (23)  |  Color (78)  |  Disprove (15)  |  Examination (60)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Glass (35)  |  Happening (32)  |  Howler (15)  |  Question (315)  |  Really (50)  |  Repeat (27)

Qui est de nous & qui seul peut nous égarer; ą le mettre continuellement ą épreuve de l'expérience; ą ne conserver que les faits qui ne font que des données de la nature , & qui ne peuvent nous tromper; ą ne chercher la vérité que dans l'enchaīnement naturel des expériences & des observations
We must trust to nothing but facts: These are presented to us by Nature, and cannot deceive. We ought, in every instance, to submit our reasoning to the test of experiment, and never to search for truth but by the natural road of experiment and observation.
From the original French in Traité élémentaire de chimie (1789, 1793), discours préliminaire, x; and from edition translated into English by Robert Kerr, as Elements of Chemistry (1790), Preface, xviii.
Science quotes on:  |  Deception (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Test (96)  |  Trust (40)  |  Truth (750)

Rassemblons des faits pour nous donner des idées.
Let us gather facts in order to get ourselves thinking.
'Histoire des Animaux', Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière, avec la Description du Cabinet du Roi (1749), Vol. 2, 18. Quoted in Jacques Roger, The Life Sciences in Eighteenth- Century French Thought, ed. Keith R. Benson and trans. Robert Ellrich (1997), 440.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Thinking (222)

That was excellently observ'd, say I, when I read a Passage in an Author, where his Opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.
In 'Thoughts On Various Subjects' (1727), collected in The Works of Jonathan Swift (1746), Vol. 1, 318.
Science quotes on:  |  Agreement (29)  |  Author (39)  |  Difference (208)  |  Excellence (28)  |  Mistake (107)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Passage (14)

Une idée anticipée ou une hypothčse est donc le point de départ nécessaire de tout raisonnement expérimental. Sans cela on ne saurait faire aucune investigation ni s’instruire ; on ne pourrait qu’entasser des observations stériles. Si l’on expérimentait sans idée préconēue, on irait ą l’aventure; mais d’un autre cōté, ainsi que nous l’avons dit ailleurs, si l’on observait avec des idées préconēues, on ferait de mauvaises observations.
An anticipative idea or an hypothesis is, then, the necessary starting point for all experimental reasoning. Without it, we could not make any investigation at all nor learn anything; we could only pile up sterile observations. If we experimented without a preconceived idea, we should move at random.
[Also seen translated as:] A hypothesis is … the obligatory starting point of all experimental reasoning. Without it no investigation would be possible, and one would learn nothing: one could only pile up barren observations. To experiment without a preconceived idea is to wander aimlessly.
Original work in French, Introduction ą l'Étude de la Médecine Expérimentale (1865). English translation by Henry Copley Green in An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1927, 1957), 32. Alternate translation in Peter Medawar, 'Hypothesis and Imagination', collected in The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice and Other Classic Essays on Science (1974), 30.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Idea (440)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Learning (174)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Point (72)  |  Random (21)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Start (68)  |  Sterile (9)

[Colonel Ross:] “Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
[Sherlock Holmes:] “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident.”
Fiction from 'XIII—The Adventure of the Silver Blaze', Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, in The Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly (Dec 1892), Vol. 4, 656-657.

[Sherlock Holmes:] The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession.
In The Valley of Fear (1914), 43.

A careful analysis of the process of observation in atomic physics has shown that the subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment and the subsequent measurement.
The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics (1975), 68.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Atomic Physics (6)  |  Care (73)  |  Entity (23)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Interconnection (7)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Particle (90)  |  Preparation (33)  |  Process (201)  |  Subatomic (6)  |  Subsequent (11)  |  Understanding (317)

A natural law regulates the advance of science. Where only observation can be made, the growth of knowledge creeps; where laboratory experiments can be carried on, knowledge leaps forward.
[Attributed, probably incorrectly]
Seen in various places, but Webmaster has found none with a source citation, and doubts the authenticity, because none found with attribution to Faraday prior to 1950. The earliest example Webmaster found is in 1929, by Walter Morley Fletcher in his Norman Lockyer Lecture. He refers to it as a “truism,” without mention of Faraday. He says “law of our state of being” rather than “natural law.” See the Walter Morley Fletcher page for more details.
Science quotes on:  |  Creeping (4)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Growth (111)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Leap (23)  |  Natural Law (26)

A physician’s subject of study is necessarily the patient, and his first field for observation is the hospital. But if clinical observation teaches him to know the form and course of diseases, it cannot suffice to make him understand their nature; to this end he must penetrate into the body to find which of the internal parts are injured in their functions. That is why dissection of cadavers and microscopic study of diseases were soon added to clinical observation. But to-day these various methods no longer suffice; we must push investigation further and, in analyzing the elementary phenomena of organic bodies, must compare normal with abnormal states. We showed elsewhere how incapable is anatomy alone to take account of vital phenenoma, and we saw that we must add study of all physico-chemical conditions which contribute necessary elements to normal or pathological manifestations of life. This simple suggestion already makes us feel that the laboratory of a physiologist-physician must be the most complicated of all laboratories, because he has to experiment with phenomena of life which are the most complex of all natural phenomena.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 140-141.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Diagnosis (61)  |  Disease (257)  |  Dissection (26)  |  Doctor (100)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Physiologist (12)

About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorise; and I well remember some one saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!
Letter to Henry Fawcett (18 Sep 1861). In Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin, Albert Charles Seward, More Letters of Charles Darwin (1903), Vol. 1, 195.
Science quotes on:  |  Color (78)  |  Count (34)  |  Description (72)  |  Geologist (42)  |  Gravel (3)  |  Pebble (17)  |  Remember (53)  |  Service (54)  |  Theory (582)  |  View (115)

Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking.
Adagia. In Opus Postumous: Poems, Plays, Prose (1958), 158.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Thinking (222)

Alas, your dear friend and servant is totally blind. Henceforth this heaven, this universe, which by wonderful observations I had enlarged by a hundred and a thousand times beyond the conception of former ages, is shrunk for me into the narrow space which I myself fill in it. So it pleases God; it shall therefore please me also.
In Letter, as quoted in Sir Oliver Lodge, Pioneers of Science (1905), 133.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (137)  |  Blind (35)  |  Conception (63)  |  Enlarge (15)  |  Former (18)  |  Heaven (118)  |  Hundred (46)  |  Narrow (33)  |  Shrink (10)  |  Space (154)  |  Thousand (106)  |  Universe (563)  |  Wonderful (37)

All our knowledge derived from observation … is knowledge gotten at first hand. Hereby we see and know things as they are, or as they appear to us; we take the impressions of them on our minds from the original objects themselves which give a clearer and stronger conception of things.
In Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1793), Vols 3-4, Vol 4, 72.
Science quotes on:  |  Clear (52)  |  Conception (63)  |  First Hand (2)  |  Impression (51)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Mind (544)  |  Object (110)  |  Original (36)  |  Strong (47)

Almost all the greatest discoveries in astronomy have resulted from what we have elsewhere termed Residual Phenomena, of a qualitative or numerical kind, of such portions of the numerical or quantitative results of observation as remain outstanding and unaccounted for, after subducting and allowing for all that would result from the strict application of known principles.
Outlines of Astronomy (1876), 626.
Science quotes on:  |  Allowing (2)  |  Application (117)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Greatest (53)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Numerical (5)  |  Outstanding (3)  |  Phenomena (8)  |  Principle (228)  |  Qualitative (12)  |  Quantitative (15)  |  Residual (3)  |  Result (250)

Almost everyone... seems to be quite sure that the differences between the methodologies of history and of the natural sciences are vast. For, we are assured, it is well known that in the natural sciences we start from observation and proceed by induction to theory. And is it not obvious that in history we proceed very differently? Yes, I agree that we proceed very differently. But we do so in the natural sciences as well.
In both we start from myths—from traditional prejudices, beset with error—and from these we proceed by criticism: by the critical elimination of errors. In both the role of evidence is, in the main, to correct our mistakes, our prejudices, our tentative theories—that is, to play a part in the critical discussion, in the elimination of error. By correcting our mistakes, we raise new problems. And in order to solve these problems, we invent conjectures, that is, tentative theories, which we submit to critical discussion, directed towards the elimination of error.
The Myth of the Framework: In Defence of Science and Rationality (1993), 140.
Science quotes on:  |  Conjecture (22)  |  Correction (28)  |  Criticism (52)  |  Difference (208)  |  Discussion (37)  |  Elimination (17)  |  Error (230)  |  Everyone (20)  |  Evidence (157)  |  History (302)  |  Induction (45)  |  Methodology (8)  |  Mistake (107)  |  Myth (43)  |  Natural Science (62)  |  Prejudice (58)  |  Problem (362)  |  Theory (582)  |  Tradition (43)

Although [Charles Darwin] would patiently go on repeating experiments where there was any good to be gained, he could not endure having to repeat an experiment which ought, if complete care had been taken, to have told its story at first—and this gave him a continual anxiety that the experiment should not be wasted; he felt the experiment to be sacred, however slight a one it was. He wished to learn as much as possible from an experiment, so that he did not confine himself to observing the single point to which the experiment was directed, and his power of seeing a number of other things was wonderful. ... Any experiment done was to be of some use, and ... strongly he urged the necessity of keeping the notes of experiments which failed, and to this rule he always adhered.
In Charles Darwin: His Life Told in an Autobiographical Chapter, and in a Selected Series of his Published Letters (1908), 92.
Science quotes on:  |  Care (73)  |  Charles Darwin (284)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Failure (118)  |  Learning (174)  |  Note (22)  |  Repetition (21)  |  Story (58)  |  Waste (57)

Among those whom I could never pursuade to rank themselves with idlers, and who speak with indignation of my morning sleeps and nocturnal rambles, one passes the day in catching spiders, that he may count their eyes with a microscope; another exhibits the dust of a marigold separated from the flower with a dexterity worthy of Leuwenhoweck himself. Some turn the wheel of electricity; some suspend rings to a lodestone, and find that what they did yesterday, they can do again to-day.—Some register the changes of the wind, and die fully convinced that the wind is changeable.—There are men yet more profound, who have heard that two colorless liquors may produce a color by union, and that two cold bodies will grow hot of they are mingled: they mingle them, and produce the effect expected, say it is strange, and mingle them again.
In Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908), 243.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Cold (38)  |  Color (78)  |  Dexterity (4)  |  Dust (42)  |  Effect (133)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Energy (185)  |  Enquiry (75)  |  Entomologist (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Eye (159)  |  Heat (90)  |  Idleness (8)  |  Indignation (2)  |  Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (17)  |  Liquid (25)  |  Lodestone (5)  |  Magnetism (26)  |  Meteorology (29)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Mingle (6)  |  Persuade (10)  |  Physics (301)  |  Pollen (4)  |  Profound (46)  |  Ramble (2)  |  Reaction (59)  |  Repeat (27)  |  Research (517)  |  Sleep (42)  |  Spider (8)  |  Strange (61)  |  Wind (52)

An experiment differs from an observation in this, that knowledge gained through observation seems to appear of itself, while that which an experiment brings us is the fruit of an effort that we make, with the object of knowing whether something exists or does not exist.
Traité sur l'expérience en médecine (1774), Vol. 1, 45. In Claude Bernard, Henry C. Greene, L. J. Henderson, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1957), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)

An experiment is an observation that can be repeated, isolated and varied. The more frequently you can repeat an observation, the more likely are you to see clearly what is there and to describe accurately what you have seen. The more strictly you can isolate an observation, the easier does your task of observation become, and the less danger is there of your being led astray by irrelevant circumstances, or of placing emphasis on the wrong point. The more widely you can vary an observation, the more clearly will the uniformity of experience stand out, and the better is your chance of discovering laws.
In A Text-Book of Psychology (1909), 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Accurate (21)  |  Astray (6)  |  Better (131)  |  Chance (122)  |  Circumstance (48)  |  Clear (52)  |  Danger (62)  |  Description (72)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Easier (8)  |  Emphasis (14)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Frequent (10)  |  Irrelevant (5)  |  Isolate (10)  |  Isolated (12)  |  Law (418)  |  Likely (23)  |  Repeat (27)  |  Strict (7)  |  Task (68)  |  Uniformity (17)  |  Variation (50)  |  Wrong (116)

An unelectrified atom is so elusive that unless more than a million million are present we have no means sufficiently sensitive to detect them, or, to put it another way, unless we had a better test for a man than for an unelectrified molecule, we should be unable to find out that the earth was inhabited. … A billion unelectrified atoms may escape our observation, whereas a dozen or so electrified ones are detected without difficulty.
From the Romanes Lecture (10 Jun 1914) delivered in the Sheldonian Theatre, published as The Atomic Theory (1914), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Billion (52)  |  Detect (9)  |  Difficulty (113)  |  Dozen (5)  |  Earth (487)  |  Electrified (2)  |  Elusive (6)  |  Escape (34)  |  Find (248)  |  Inhabit (13)  |  Ion (8)  |  Means (109)  |  Million (89)  |  Molecule (125)  |  Sensitive (12)  |  Sufficiently (6)  |  Test (96)

Analogy is a wonderful, useful and most important form of thinking, and biology is saturated with it. Nothing is worse than a horrible mass of undigested facts, and facts are indigestible unless there is some rhyme or reason to them. The physicist, with his facts, seeks reason; the biologist seeks something very much like rhyme, and rhyme is a kind of analogy.... This analogizing, this fine sweeping ability to see likenesses in the midst of differences is the great glory of biology, but biologists don't know it.... They have always been so fascinated and overawed by the superior prestige of exact physical science that they feel they have to imitate it.... In its central content, biology is not accurate thinking, but accurate observation and imaginative thinking, with great sweeping generalizations.
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 98-100.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Analogy (46)  |  Awe (24)  |  Biologist (31)  |  Biology (150)  |  Content (39)  |  Difference (208)  |  Exact (38)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fascination (26)  |  Generalization (26)  |  Glory (44)  |  Horrible (7)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Imitation (17)  |  Importance (183)  |  Likeness (7)  |  Physical Science (54)  |  Physicist (130)  |  Prestige (9)  |  Reason (330)  |  Saturation (5)  |  Thinking (222)  |  Undigested (2)  |  Usefulness (70)  |  Wonder (134)

And from this such small difference of eight minutes [of arc] it is clear why Ptolemy, since he was working with bisection [of the linear eccentricity], accepted a fixed equant point… . For Ptolemy set out that he actually did not get below ten minutes [of arc], that is a sixth of a degree, in making observations. To us, on whom Divine benevolence has bestowed the most diligent of observers, Tycho Brahe, from whose observations this eight-minute error of Ptolemy’s in regard to Mars is deduced, it is fitting that we accept with grateful minds this gift from God, and both acknowledge and build upon it. So let us work upon it so as to at last track down the real form of celestial motions (these arguments giving support to our belief that the assumptions are incorrect). This is the path I shall, in my own way, strike out in what follows. For if I thought the eight minutes in [ecliptic] longitude were unimportant, I could make a sufficient correction (by bisecting the [linear] eccentricity) to the hypothesis found in Chapter 16. Now, because they could not be disregarded, these eight minutes alone will lead us along a path to the reform of the whole of Astronomy, and they are the matter for a great part of this work.
Astronomia Nova, New Astronomy (1609), ch. 19, 113-4, Johannes Kepler Gesammelte Werke (1937-), Vol. 3, 177-8.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Tycho Brahe (23)  |  Mars (26)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Orbit (58)  |  Ptolemy (13)

And if you want the exact moment in time, it was conceived mentally on 8th March in this year one thousand six hundred and eighteen, but submitted to calculation in an unlucky way, and therefore rejected as false, and finally returning on the 15th of May and adopting a new line of attack, stormed the darkness of my mind. So strong was the support from the combination of my labour of seventeen years on the observations of Brahe and the present study, which conspired together, that at first I believed I was dreaming, and assuming my conclusion among my basic premises. But it is absolutely certain and exact that the proportion between the periodic times of any two planets is precisely the sesquialterate proportion of their mean distances.
Harmonice Mundi, The Harmony of the World (1619), book V, ch. 3. Trans. E. J. Aiton, A. M. Duncan and J. V. Field (1997), 411.
Science quotes on:  |  Tycho Brahe (23)  |  Calculation (67)  |  Period (49)  |  Planet (199)

Another advantage of observation is, that we may gain knowledge all the day long, and every moment of our lives, and every moment of our existence, we may be adding to our intellectual treasures thereby.
In Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1793), Vols 3-4, Vol 4, 73.
Science quotes on:  |  Advantage (42)  |  Existence (254)  |  Intellectual (79)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Treasure (35)

Any one, if he will only observe, can find some little thing he does not understand as a starter for an investigation.
From Address (22 May 1914) to the graduating class of the Friends’ School, Washington, D.C. Printed in 'Discovery and Invention', The National Geographic Magazine (1914), 25, 650.
Science quotes on:  |  Investigation (123)  |  Start (68)  |  Understand (189)

Any opinion as to the form in which the energy of gravitation exists in space is of great importance, and whoever can make his opinion probable will have, made an enormous stride in physical speculation. The apparent universality of gravitation, and the equality of its effects on matter of all kinds are most remarkable facts, hitherto without exception; but they are purely experimental facts, liable to be corrected by a single observed exception. We cannot conceive of matter with negative inertia or mass; but we see no way of accounting for the proportionality of gravitation to mass by any legitimate method of demonstration. If we can see the tails of comets fly off in the direction opposed to the sun with an accelerated velocity, and if we believe these tails to be matter and not optical illusions or mere tracks of vibrating disturbance, then we must admit a force in that direction, and we may establish that it is caused by the sun if it always depends upon his position and distance.
Letter to William Huggins (13 Oct 1868). In P. M. Hannan (ed.), The Scientific Letters and Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (1995), Vol. 2, 1862-1873, 451-2.
Science quotes on:  |  Comet (43)  |  Distance (54)  |  Energy (185)  |  Exception (33)  |  Gravity (89)  |  Illusion (38)  |  Importance (183)  |  Inertia (10)  |  Mass (61)  |  Matter (270)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Position (54)  |  Space (154)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Sun (211)  |  Universality (11)  |  Vibration (13)

As historians, we refuse to allow ourselves these vain speculations which turn on possibilities that, in order to be reduced to actuality, suppose an overturning of the Universe, in which our globe, like a speck of abandoned matter, escapes our vision and is no longer an object worthy of our regard. In order to fix our vision, it is necessary to take it such as it is, to observe well all parts of it, and by indications infer from the present to the past.
'Second Discours: Histoire et Theorie de la Terre', Histoire Naturelle, Ginerale et Particuličre, Avec la Description du Cabinet du Roi (1749), Vol. 1, 98-9. Trans. Phillip R. Sloan.

As I show you this liquid, I too could tell you, 'I took my drop of water from the immensity of creation, and I took it filled with that fecund jelly, that is, to use the language of science, full of the elements needed for the development of lower creatures. And then I waited, and I observed, and I asked questions of it, and I asked it to repeat the original act of creation for me; what a sight it would be! But it is silent! It has been silent for several years, ever since I began these experiments. Yes! And it is because I have kept away from it, and am keeping away from it to this moment, the only thing that it has not been given to man to produce, I have kept away from it the germs that are floating in the air, I have kept away from it life, for life is the germ, and the germ is life.'
Quoted in Patrice Debré, Louis Pasteur, trans. Elborg Forster (1994), 169.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (151)  |  Creation (211)  |  Creature (127)  |  Development (228)  |  Element (129)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Float (12)  |  Germ (27)  |  Gift (47)  |  Immensity (17)  |  Jelly (2)  |  Language (155)  |  Life (917)  |  Low (16)  |  Origin Of Life (32)  |  Production (105)  |  Question (315)  |  Repetition (21)  |  Science (1699)  |  Wait (38)  |  Water (244)

As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy.
From Opticks, (1704, 2nd ed. 1718), Book 3, Query 31, 380.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Induction (45)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Natural Philosophy (21)  |  Truth (750)

As in the experimental sciences, truth cannot be distinguished from error as long as firm principles have not been established through the rigorous observation of facts.
Ésur la maladie des vers ásoie (1870), 39.
Science quotes on:  |  Distinction (37)  |  Error (230)  |  Establish (30)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Rigour (10)  |  Truth (750)

As soon … as it was observed that the stars retained their relative places, that the times of their rising and setting varied with the seasons, that sun, moon, and planets moved among them in a plane, … then a new order of things began.… Science had begun, and the first triumph of it was the power of foretelling the future; eclipses were perceived to recur in cycles of nineteen years, and philosophers were able to say when an eclipse was to be looked for. The periods of the planets were determined. Theories were invented to account for their eccentricities; and, false as those theories might be, the position of the planets could be calculated with moderate certainty by them.
Lecture delivered to the Royal Institution (5 Feb 1864), 'On the Science of History'. Collected in Notices of the Proceedings at the Meetings of the Members of the Royal Institution of Great Britain with Abstracts of the Discourses (1866), Vol. 4, 187.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (114)  |  Calculation (67)  |  Cycle (26)  |  Eclipse (16)  |  Foretelling (4)  |  Future (229)  |  Moon (132)  |  Period (49)  |  Plane (15)  |  Planet (199)  |  Power (273)  |  Recurring (2)  |  Science (1699)  |  Season (24)  |  Star (251)  |  Sun (211)  |  Theory (582)  |  Triumph (33)

As there is not in human observation proper means for measuring the waste of land upon the globe, it is hence inferred, that we cannot estimate the duration of what we see at present, nor calculate the period at which it had begun; so that, with respect to human observation, this world has neither a beginning nor an end.
Abstract of a Dissertation... Concerning the System of the Earth, its Duration, and Stability (1785), 28.
Science quotes on:  |  Age Of The Earth (10)  |  Measurement (148)

Astronomers and physicists, dealing habitually with objects and quantities far beyond the reach of the senses, even with the aid of the most powerful aids that ingenuity has been able to devise, tend almost inevitably to fall into the ways of thinking of men dealing with objects and quantities that do not exist at all, e.g., theologians and metaphysicians. Thus their speculations tend almost inevitably to depart from the field of true science, which is that of precise observation, and to become mere soaring in the empyrean. The process works backward, too. That is to say, their reports of what they pretend actually to see are often very unreliable. It is thus no wonder that, of all men of science, they are the most given to flirting with theology. Nor is it remarkable that, in the popular belief, most astronomers end by losing their minds.
Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956), Sample 74, 60.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomer (50)  |  Backward (6)  |  Empyrean (2)  |  Exist (89)  |  Habit (78)  |  Ingenuity (27)  |  Loss (62)  |  Metaphysician (4)  |  Mind (544)  |  Physicist (130)  |  Precision (38)  |  Process (201)  |  Quantity (35)  |  Report (31)  |  Sense (240)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Theologian (14)  |  Thinking (222)  |  Unreliable (3)

Astronomy may be revolutionized more than any other field of science by observations from above the atmosphere. Study of the planets, the Sun, the stars, and the rarified matter in space should all be profoundly influenced by measurements from balloons, rockets, probes and satellites. ... In a new adventure of discovery no one can foretell what will be found, and it is probably safe to predict that the most important new discovery that will be made with flying telescopes will be quite unexpected and unforeseen. (1961)
Opening and closing of 'Flying Telescopes', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May 1961), Vol. 17, No. 5, 191 and 194.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Atmosphere (63)  |  Balloon (8)  |  Matter (270)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Planet (199)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Probe (6)  |  Profound (46)  |  Revolution (56)  |  Rocket (29)  |  Satellite (22)  |  Space (154)  |  Star (251)  |  Study (331)  |  Sun (211)

At the beginning of its existence as a science, biology was forced to take cognizance of the seemingly boundless variety of living things, for no exact study of life phenomena was possible until the apparent chaos of the distinct kinds of organisms had been reduced to a rational system. Systematics and morphology, two predominantly descriptive and observational disciplines, took precedence among biological sciences during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. More recently physiology has come to the foreground, accompanied by the introduction of quantitative methods and by a shift from the observationalism of the past to a predominance of experimentation.
In Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937, 1982), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  18th Century (17)  |  19th Century (22)  |  Biology (150)  |  Boundless (11)  |  Chaos (63)  |  Description (72)  |  Discipline (38)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Foreground (3)  |  Introduction (31)  |  Morphology (18)  |  Organism (126)  |  Physiology (66)  |  Precedence (2)  |  Predominance (2)  |  Rational (42)  |  Shift (21)  |  Systematic (25)  |  Variety (53)

At this stage you must admit that whatever is seen to be sentient is nevertheless composed of atoms that are insentient. The phenomena open to our observation so not contradict this conclusion or conflict with it. Rather they lead us by the hand and compel us to believe that the animate is born, as I maintain, of the insentient.
In On the Nature of the Universe, translated by R. E. Latham (1951, 1994), 59.
Science quotes on:  |  Animate (6)  |  Belief (400)  |  Birth (81)  |  Compelling (7)  |  Composition (52)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Conflict (49)  |  Leading (14)  |  Nevertheless (2)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Sentient (3)

Birds ... are sensitive indicators of the environment, a sort of “ecological litmus paper,” ... The observation and recording of bird populations over time lead inevitably to environmental awareness and can signal impending changes.
In Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America (2008), 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Awareness (23)  |  Bird (96)  |  Change (291)  |  Ecology (55)  |  Environment (138)  |  Impending (2)  |  Indicator (6)  |  Paper (52)  |  Population (71)  |  Recording (4)  |  Sensitive (12)  |  Signal (14)  |  Sort (32)

But by far the greatest hindrance and aberration of the human understanding proceeds from the dullness, incompetency, and deceptions of the senses; in that things which strike the sense outweigh things which do not immediately strike it, though they be more important. Hence it is that speculation commonly ceases where sight ceases; insomuch that of things invisible there is little or no observation.
From Aphorism 50, Novum Organum, Book I (1620). Collected in James Spedding (ed.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1858), Vol. 4, 58.
Science quotes on:  |  Sense (240)

By no amount of reasoning can we altogether eliminate all contingency from our world. Moreover, pure speculation alone will not enable us to get a determinate picture of the existing world. We must eliminate some of the conflicting possibilities, and this can be brought about only by experiment and observation.
Reason and Nature: an Essay on the Meaning of Scientific Method? (2nd Ed., 1964), 82.
Science quotes on:  |  Conflict (49)  |  Contingency (11)  |  Determinate (5)  |  Eliminate (15)  |  Existence (254)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Possibility (96)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Speculation (77)

By teaching us how to cultivate each ferment in its purity—in other words, by teaching us how to rear the individual organism apart from all others,—Pasteur has enabled us to avoid all these errors. And where this isolation of a particular organism has been duly effected it grows and multiplies indefinitely, but no change of it into another organism is ever observed. In Pasteur’s researches the Bacterium remained a Bacterium, the Vibrio a Vibrio, the Penicillium a Penicillium, and the Torula a Torula. Sow any of these in a state of purity in an appropriate liquid; you get it, and it alone, in the subsequent crop. In like manner, sow smallpox in the human body, your crop is smallpox. Sow there scarlatina, and your crop is scarlatina. Sow typhoid virus, your crop is typhoid—cholera, your crop is cholera. The disease bears as constant a relation to its contagium as the microscopic organisms just enumerated do to their germs, or indeed as a thistle does to its seed.
In 'Fermentation, and its Bearings on Surgery and Medicine', Essays on the Floating­Matter of the Air in Relation to Putrefaction and Infection (1881), 264.
Science quotes on:  |  Bacteria (32)  |  Cholera (2)  |  Constant (40)  |  Crop (16)  |  Cultivation (23)  |  Disease (257)  |  Enabled (3)  |  Enumerated (3)  |  Error (230)  |  Ferment (4)  |  Germ (27)  |  Growth (111)  |  Human Body (30)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Liquid (25)  |  Microscopic (10)  |  Multiply (10)  |  Organism (126)  |  Particular (54)  |  Louis Pasteur (79)  |  Penicillium (2)  |  Purity (13)  |  Research (517)  |  Seed (52)  |  Smallpox (12)  |  Thistle (5)  |  Typhoid (6)  |  Virus (22)

By the act of observation we have selected a ‘real’ history out of the many realities, and once someone has seen a tree in our world it stays there even when nobody is looking at it.
Science quotes on:  |  Act (80)  |  History (302)  |  Nobody (38)  |  Real (95)  |  Reality (140)  |  See (197)  |  Select (5)  |  Someone (13)  |  Stay (15)  |  Tree (143)  |  World (667)

Chemistry is like a majestic skyscraper. The concrete secure foundation of chemistry consists of countless experimentally observed facts. The theories, principles and laws developed from these observations are like an elevator which runs from the bottom to the top of the edifice.
Ernest R. Toon and George L. Ellis (eds.), Foundations of Chemistry (1968), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Bottom (28)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Concrete (21)  |  Consist (22)  |  Countless (13)  |  Developed (8)  |  Edifice (13)  |  Elevator (2)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Foundation (75)  |  Law (418)  |  Majestic (7)  |  Principle (228)  |  Secure (13)  |  Skyscraper (6)  |  Theory (582)  |  Top (20)

Chemistry is one of those branches of human knowledge which has built itself upon methods and instruments by which truth can presumably be determined. It has survived and grown because all its precepts and principles can be re-tested at any time and anywhere. So long as it remained the mysterious alchemy by which a few devotees, by devious and dubious means, presumed to change baser metals into gold, it did not flourish, but when it dealt with the fact that 56 g. of fine iron, when heated with 32 g. of flowers of sulfur, generated extra heat and gave exactly 88 g. of an entirely new substance, then additional steps could be taken by anyone. Scientific research in chemistry, since the birth of the balance and the thermometer, has been a steady growth of test and observation. It has disclosed a finite number of elementary reagents composing an infinite universe, and it is devoted to their inter-reaction for the benefit of mankind.
Address upon receiving the Perkin Medal Award, 'The Big Things in Chemistry', The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (Feb 1921), 13, No. 2, 163.
Science quotes on:  |  Alchemy (28)  |  Balance (43)  |  Base (43)  |  Branch (61)  |  Building (51)  |  Change (291)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Determination (53)  |  Devious (2)  |  Devotee (3)  |  Element (129)  |  Fact (609)  |  Flourishing (5)  |  Gold (55)  |  Heat (90)  |  Human (445)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Iron (53)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Means (109)  |  Metal (38)  |  Method (154)  |  Mystery (125)  |  Precept (6)  |  Presumption (11)  |  Principle (228)  |  Research (517)  |  Stoichiometry (2)  |  Sulphur (15)  |  Survival (49)  |  Test (96)  |  Thermometer (6)  |  Truth (750)

Chemists have made of phlogiston a vague principle which is not at all rigorously defined, and which, in consequence, adapts itself to all explanations in which it is wished it shall enter; sometimes it is free fire, sometimes it is fire combined with the earthy element; sometimes it passes through the pores of vessels, sometimes they are impenetrable to it; it explains both the causticity and non-causticity, transparency and opacity, colours and absence of colours. It is a veritable Proteus which changes its form every instant. It is time to conduct chemistry to a more rigorous mode of reasoning ... to distinguish fact and observation from what is systematic and hypothetical.
'Réflexions sur le phlogistique', Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, 1783, 505-38. Reprinted in Oeuvres de Lavoisier (1864), Vol. 2, 640, trans. M. P. Crosland.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Definition (152)  |  Element (129)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fire (117)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Phlogiston (9)  |  Principle (228)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Systematic (25)

Common sense is science exactly in so far as it fulfills the ideal of common sense; that is, sees facts as they are, or at any rate, without the distortion of prejudice, and reasons from them in accordance with the dictates of sound judgment. And science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.
The Crayfish: an Introduction to the Study of Zoölogy (1880), 2. Excerpted in Popular Science (Apr 1880), 16, 789.
Science quotes on:  |  Accordance (8)  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Best (129)  |  Common Sense (69)  |  Dictate (9)  |  Distortion (10)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fallacy (19)  |  Fulfillment (9)  |  Ideal (52)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Logic (187)  |  Prejudice (58)  |  Reason (330)  |  Rigidity (3)  |  Science (1699)

Computers and rocket ships are examples of invention, not of understanding. … All that is needed to build machines is the knowledge that when one thing happens, another thing happens as a result. It’s an accumulation of simple patterns. A dog can learn patterns. There is no “why” in those examples. We don’t understand why electricity travels. We don’t know why light travels at a constant speed forever. All we can do is observe and record patterns.
In God's Debris: A Thought Experiment (2004), 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  Building (51)  |  Computer (84)  |  Constant (40)  |  Dog (39)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Example (57)  |  Forever (42)  |  Happening (32)  |  Invention (283)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Learning (174)  |  Light (246)  |  Need (211)  |  Record (56)  |  Rocket (29)  |  Ship (33)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Speed (27)  |  Travel (40)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Why (6)

Copernicus, the most learned man whom we are able to name other than Atlas and Ptolemy, even though he taught in a most learned manner the demonstrations and causes of motion based on observation, nevertheless fled from the job of constructing tables, so that if anyone computes from his tables, the computation is not even in agreement with his observations on which the foundation of the work rests. Therefore first I have compared the observations of Copernicus with those of Ptolemy and others as to which are the most accurate, but besides the bare observations, I have taken from Copernicus nothing other than traces of demonstrations. As for the tables of mean motion, and of prosthaphaereses and all the rest, I have constructed these anew, following absolutely no other reasoning than that which I have judged to be of maximum harmony.
Dedication to the Duke of Prussia, Prutenicae Tabulae (1551), 1585 edition, as quoted in Owen Gingerich, The Eye of Heaven: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler (1993), 227.
Science quotes on:  |  Agreement (29)  |  Atlas (3)  |  Cause (231)  |  Comparison (53)  |  Computation (11)  |  Construction (69)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (44)  |  Demonstration (51)  |  Foundation (75)  |  Harmony (55)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Learning (174)  |  Maximum (9)  |  Motion (127)  |  Ptolemy (13)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Table (25)  |  Trace (39)

Cosmology is a science which has only a few observable facts to work with. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation added one—the present radiation temperature of the universe. This, however, was a significant increase in our knowledge since it requires a cosmology with a source for the radiation at an early epoch and is a new probe of that epoch. More sensitive measurements of the background radiation in the future will allow us to discover additional facts about the universe.
'Discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background', in B. Bertotti (ed.) Modern Cosmology in Retrospect (1990), 304.
Science quotes on:  |  Background (24)  |  Cosmology (17)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Fact (609)  |  Increase (107)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Microwave (4)  |  Radiation (22)  |  Temperature (42)  |  Universe (563)

Cosmology, for centuries consisting of speculation based on a minimum of observational evidence and a maximum of philosophical predilection, became in the twentieth century an observational science, its theories now subject to verification or refutation to a degree previously unimaginable.
Opening sentence in 'Philosophical Values and Observation in Edwin Hubble's Choice of a Model of the Universe', Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (1982), 13, No. 1, 41.
Science quotes on:  |  20th Century (25)  |  Century (94)  |  Cosmology (17)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Maximum (9)  |  Minimum (10)  |  Philosophy (213)  |  Predilection (2)  |  Refutation (10)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Theory (582)  |  Unimaginable (4)  |  Verification (20)

Dalton transformed the atomic concept from a philosophical speculation into a scientific theory—framed to explain quantitative observations, suggesting new tests and experiments, and capable of being given quantitative form through the establishment of relative masses of atomic particles.
Development of Concepts of Physics. In Clifford A. Pickover, Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them (2008), 175.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic (3)  |  Capable (26)  |  Concept (102)  |  Establishment (29)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Explain (61)  |  Form (210)  |  Frame (17)  |  Give (117)  |  Mass (61)  |  New (340)  |  Particle (90)  |  Philosophical (14)  |  Quantitative (15)  |  Relative (24)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Suggest (15)  |  Test (96)  |  Theory (582)  |  Transform (20)

During the last two centuries and a half, physical knowledge has been gradually made to rest upon a basis which it had not before. It has become mathematical. The question now is, not whether this or that hypothesis is better or worse to the pure thought, but whether it accords with observed phenomena in those consequences which can be shown necessarily to follow from it, if it be true
In Augustus De Morgan and Sophia Elizabeth De Morgan (ed.), A Budget of Paradoxes (1872), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Accord (21)  |  Basis (60)  |  Better (131)  |  Century (94)  |  Consequence (76)  |  Follow (66)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Physical Science (54)  |  Pure (62)  |  Question (315)  |  Thought (374)  |  Truth (750)  |  Worse (17)

Electric and magnetic forces. May they live for ever, and never be forgot, if only to remind us that the science of electromagnetics, in spite of the abstract nature of its theory, involving quantities whose nature is entirely unknown at the present, is really and truly founded on the observations of real Newtonian forces, electric and magnetic respectively.
From 'Electromagnetic Theory, CXII', The Electrician (23 Feb 1900), Vol. 44, 615.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (43)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Electromagnetism (17)  |  Force (194)  |  Forgetting (13)  |  Life (917)  |  Magnetism (26)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Quantity (35)  |  Reminder (11)  |  Theory (582)  |  Unknown (87)

Eratosthenes declares that it is no longer necessary to inquire as to the cause of the overflow of the Nile, since we know definitely that men have come to the sources of the Nile and have observed the rains there.
Proclus on Plato Timaeus, Vol. 1, 121.8-11 (Diehl). Quoted in Morris R. Cohen and I. E. Drabkin, A Sourcebook in Greek Science (1948), 383.
Science quotes on:  |  Flood (26)  |  River (68)

Error, never can be consistent, nor can truth fail of having support from the accurate examination of every circumstance.
'Theory of the Earth', Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1788), 1, 259.
Science quotes on:  |  Error (230)  |  Truth (750)

Even one well-made observation will be enough in many cases, just as one well-constructed experiment often suffices for the establishment of a law.
The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), 8th edition, trans. Sarah A. Solovay and John M. Mueller, ed. George E. G. Catlin (1938,1964 edition), 80.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Law (418)

Every occurrence in Nature is preceded by other occurrences which are its causes, and succeeded by others which are its effects. The human mind is not satisfied with observing and studying any natural occurrence alone, but takes pleasure in connecting every natural fact with what has gone before it, and with what is to come after it.
In Forms of Water in Clouds and Rivers, Ice and Glaciers (1872), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Before (6)  |  Cause (231)  |  Connection (86)  |  Effect (133)  |  Fact (609)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Occurrence (30)  |  Pleasure (98)  |  Preceding (8)  |  Satisfaction (48)  |  Study (331)  |  Succeeding (2)

Every science begins by accumulating observations, and presently generalizes these empirically; but only when it reaches the stage at which its empirical generalizations are included in a rational generalization does it become developed science.
In The Data of Ethics (1879), 61.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulate (18)  |  Begin (52)  |  Developed (8)  |  Empirical (15)  |  Generalize (9)  |  Rational (42)  |  Science (1699)

Everybody firmly believes in it [Nomal Law of Errors] because the mathematicians imagine it is a fact of observation, and observers that it is a theory of mathematics.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Error (230)  |  Everybody (16)  |  Fact (609)  |  Firmly (2)  |  Imagine (40)  |  Law (418)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Observer (33)  |  Theory (582)

Exercises in being obedient can not begin too early, and I have, during an almost daily observation of six years, discovered no harm from an early, consistent guiding of the germinating will, provided only this guiding be done with the greatest mildness and justice, as if the infant had already an insight into the benefits of obedience.
In W. Preyer and H.W. Brown (trans.), The Mind of the Child: The Senses and the Will: Observations Concerning the Mental Development of the Human Being in the First Years of Life (1888, 1890), Vol. 1, 345.
Science quotes on:  |  Begin (52)  |  Benefit (54)  |  Consistent (10)  |  Daily (19)  |  Early (39)  |  Exercise (35)  |  Germinating (2)  |  Guiding (3)  |  Harm (31)  |  Infant (13)  |  Insight (57)  |  Justice (24)  |  Mildness (2)  |  Obedience (15)

Exercising the right of occasional suppression and slight modification, it is truly absurd to see how plastic a limited number of observations become, in the hands of men with preconceived ideas.
Meteorographica (1863), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Preconception (10)

Exper. I. I made a small hole in a window-shutter, and covered it with a piece of thick paper, which I perforated with a fine needle. For greater convenience of observation I placed a small looking-glass without the window-shutter, in such a position as to reflect the sun's light, in a direction nearly horizontal, upon the opposite wall, and to cause the cone of diverging light to pass over a table on which were several little screens of card-paper. I brought into the sunbeam a slip of card, about one-thirtieth of an inch in breadth, and observed its shadow, either on the wall or on other cards held at different distances. Besides the fringes of colour on each side of the shadow, the shadow itself was divided by similar parallel fringes, of smaller dimensions, differing in number, according to the distance at which the shadow was observed, but leaving the middle of the shadow always white. Now these fringes were the joint effects of the portions of light passing on each side of the slip of card and inflected, or rather diffracted, into the shadow. For, a little screen being placed a few inches from the card, so as to receive either edge of the shadow on its margin, all the fringes which had before been observed in the shadow on the wall, immediately disappeared, although the light inflected on the other side was allowed to retain its course, and although this light must have undergone any modification that the proximity of the other edge of the slip of card might have been capable of occasioning... Nor was it for want of a sufficient intensity of light that one of the two portions was incapable of producing the fringes alone; for when they were both uninterrupted, the lines appeared, even if the intensity was reduced to one-tenth or one-twentieth.
'Experiments and Calculations Relative to Physical Optics' (read in 1803), Philosophical Transactions (1804), 94, 2-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fringe (3)  |  Hole (11)  |  Intensity (19)  |  Interference (12)  |  Light (246)  |  Reflection (50)  |  Screen (6)  |  Shadow (35)  |  Sunbeam (2)

Experiment is fundamentally only induced observation.
Section title in An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Induction (45)

Experimental observations are only experience carefully planned in advance, and designed to form a secure basis of new knowledge.
In The Design of Experiments (1935, 1970), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Basis (60)  |  Design (92)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Form (210)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  New (340)  |  Plan (69)  |  Security (27)

Experiments in geology are far more difficult than in physics and chemistry because of the greater size of the objects, commonly outside our laboratories, up to the earth itself, and also because of the fact that the geologic time scale exceeds the human time scale by a million and more times. This difference in time allows only direct observations of the actual geologic processes, the mind having to imagine what could possibly have happened in the past.
In 'The Scientific Character of Geology', The Journal of Geology (Jul 1961), 69, No. 4, 455-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Difference (208)  |  Difficult (62)  |  Direct (44)  |  Earth (487)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Geology (187)  |  Happen (63)  |  Imagine (40)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Million (89)  |  Mind (544)  |  Past (109)  |  Physics (301)  |  Possibility (96)  |  Process (201)  |  Size (47)

Eyes and ears are bad witnesses for men who have barbarian souls.
Heraclitus, fr. 107. Trans. R. W. Sharples.

Far from becoming discouraged, the philosopher should applaud nature, even when she appears miserly of herself or overly mysterious, and should feel pleased that as he lifts one part of her veil, she allows him to glimpse an immense number of other objects, all worthy of investigation. For what we already know should allow us to judge of what we will be able to know; the human mind has no frontiers, it extends proportionately as the universe displays itself; man, then, can and must attempt all, and he needs only time in order to know all. By multiplying his observations, he could even see and foresee all phenomena, all of nature's occurrences, with as much truth and certainty as if he were deducing them directly from causes. And what more excusable or even more noble enthusiasm could there be than that of believing man capable of recognizing all the powers, and discovering through his investigations all the secrets, of nature!
'Des Mulets', Oeuvres Philosophiques, ed. Jean Piveteau (1954), 414. Quoted in Jacques Roger, The Life Sciences in Eighteenth-Century French Thought, ed. Keith R. Benson and trans. Robert Ellrich (1997), 458.
Science quotes on:  |  Enquiry (75)  |  Man (345)  |  Mind (544)  |  Philosopher (132)  |  Truth (750)

First, the chief character, who is supposed to be a professional astronomer, spends his time fund raising and doing calculations at his desk, rather than observing the sky. Second, the driving force of a scientific project is institutional self-aggrandizement rather than intellectual curiosity.
[About the state of affairs in academia.]
In Marc J. Madou, Fundamentals of Microfabrication: the Science of Miniaturization (2nd ed., 2002), 535
Science quotes on:  |  Academia (2)  |  Astronomer (50)  |  Calculation (67)  |  Character (82)  |  Chief (25)  |  Curiosity (89)  |  Desk (10)  |  Drive (38)  |  First (174)  |  Force (194)  |  Fund (12)  |  Institution (32)  |  Institutional (3)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Intellectual (79)  |  Observe (48)  |  Professional (27)  |  Project (22)  |  Raise (20)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Second (33)  |  Sky (68)  |  Spend (24)  |  State Of affairs (5)  |  Suppose (29)  |  Time (439)

For the time of making Observations none can ever be amiss; there being no season, nor indeed hardly any place where in some Natural Thing or other does not present it self worthy of Remark: yea there are some things that require Observation all the Year round, as Springs, Rivers, &c. Nor is there any Season amiss for the gathering Natural Things. Bodies of one kind or other presenting themselves at all times, and in Winter as well as Summer.
In Brief Instructions for Making Observations in all Parts of the World (1696), 10-11.
Science quotes on:  |  Gathering (3)  |  Natural Science (62)  |  River (68)  |  Season (24)  |  Spring (47)  |  Summer (26)  |  Winter (22)

For the holy Bible and the phenomena of nature proceed alike from the divine Word, the former as the dictate of the Holy Ghost and the latter as the observant executrix of God's commands. It is necessary for the Bible, in order to be accommodated to the understanding of every man, to speak many things which appear to differ from the absolute truth so far as the bare meaning of the words is concerned. But Nature, on the other hand, is inexorable and immutable; she never transgresses the laws imposed upon her, or cares a whit whether her abstruse reasons and methods of operation are understandable to men. For that reason it appears that nothing physical which sense-experience sets before our eyes, or which necessary demonstrations prove to us, ought to be called in question (much less condemned) upon the testimony of biblical passages which may have some different meaning beneath their words.
Letter to Madame Christina of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany: Concerning the Use of Biblical Quotations in Matters of Science (1615), trans. Stillman Drake, Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo (1957), 182-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  God (454)  |  Law (418)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Truth (750)

For the little that one has reflected on the origin of our knowledge, it is easy to perceive that we can acquire it only by means of comparison. That which is absolutely incomparable is wholly incomprehensible. God is the only example that we could give here. He cannot be comprehended, because he cannot be compared. But all which is susceptible of comparison, everything that we can perceive by different aspects, all that we can consider relatively, can always be judged according to our knowledge.
'Histoire naturelle de l'Homme', Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particuličre, Avec la Description du Cabinet du Roi (1749), Vol. 2, 431. Trans. Phillip R. Sloan.
Science quotes on:  |  God (454)  |  Knowledge (1128)

For there are two modes of acquiring knowledge, namely, by reasoning and experience. Reasoning draws a conclusion and makes us grant the conclusion, but does not make the conclusion certain, nor does it remove doubt so that the mind may rest on the intuition of truth, unless the mind discovers it by the path of experience; since many have the arguments relating to what can be known, but because they lack experience they neglect the arguments, and neither avoid what is harmful nor follow what is good. For if a man who has never seen fire should prove by adequate reasoning that fire burns and injures things and destroys them, his mind would not be satisfied thereby, nor would he avoid fire, until he placed his hand or some combustible substance in the fire, so that he might prove by experience that which reasoning taught. But when he has had actual experience of combustion his mind is made certain and rests in the full light of truth. Therefore reasoning does not suffice, but experience does.
Opus Majus [1266-1268], Part VI, chapter I, trans. R. B. Burke, The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon (1928), Vol. 2, 583.
Science quotes on:  |  Fire (117)  |  Knowledge (1128)

For those [observations] that I made in Leipzig in my youth and up to my 21st year, I usually call childish and of doubtful value. Those that I took later until my 28th year [i.e., until 1574] I call juvenile and fairly serviceable. The third group, however, which I made at Uraniborg during approximately the last 21 years with the greatest care and with very accurate instruments at a more mature age, until I was fifty years of age, those I call the observations of my manhood, completely valid and absolutely certain, and this is my opinion of them.
H. Raeder, E. and B. Stromgren (eds. and trans.), Tycho Brahe's Description of his Instruments and Scientific Work: as given in Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica, Wandesburgi 1598 (1946), 110.

From my close observation of writers ... they fall in to two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.
In Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collection? (2003).
Science quotes on:  |  Blood (95)  |  Review (5)  |  Secret (98)  |  Writer (35)

From my numerous observations, I conclude that these tubercle bacilli occur in all tuberculous disorders, and that they are distinguishable from all other microorganisms.
'The Etiology of Tuberculosis' (1882), Essays of Robert Koch (1987), trans. K. Codell Carter, 87.
Science quotes on:  |  Bacillus (8)  |  Disease (257)  |  Microorganism (20)  |  Tuberculosis (8)

From this fountain (the free will of God) it is those laws, which we call the laws of nature, have flowed, in which there appear many traces of the most wise contrivance, but not the least shadow of necessity. These therefore we must not seek from uncertain conjectures, but learn them from observations and experimental. He who is presumptuous enough to think that he can find the true principles of physics and the laws of natural things by the force alone of his own mind, and the internal light of his reason, must either suppose the world exists by necessity, and by the same necessity follows the law proposed; or if the order of Nature was established by the will of God, the [man] himself, a miserable reptile, can tell what was fittest to be done.
Science quotes on:  |  Alone (61)  |  Appear (55)  |  Call (68)  |  Conjecture (22)  |  Contrivance (9)  |  Establish (30)  |  Exist (89)  |  Experimental (12)  |  Find (248)  |  Fit (31)  |  Flow (31)  |  Follow (66)  |  Force (194)  |  Fountain (14)  |  Free Will (11)  |  God (454)  |  Internal (18)  |  Law (418)  |  Learn (160)  |  Least (43)  |  Light (246)  |  Mind (544)  |  Miserable (6)  |  Natural (128)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Order (167)  |  Physics (301)  |  Presumptuous (2)  |  Principle (228)  |  Propose (11)  |  Reason (330)  |  Reptile (23)  |  Same (92)  |  Seek (57)  |  Shadow (35)  |  Suppose (29)  |  Tell (67)  |  Think (205)  |  Trace (39)  |  True (120)  |  Uncertain (11)  |  Wise (43)  |  World (667)

From whatever I have been able to observe up to this time the series of strata which form the visible crust of the earth appear to me classified in four general and successive orders. These four orders can be conceived to be four very large strata, as they really are, so that wherever they are exposed, they are disposed one above the other, always in the same order.
Quoted in Francesco Rodolico, 'Arduino', In Charles Coulston Gillispie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1970), Vol. 1, 234.
Science quotes on:  |  Classification (79)  |  Geology (187)  |  Strata (18)

Genius and science have burst the limits of space, and few observations, explained by just reasoning, have unveiled the mechanism of the universe. Would it not also be glorious for man to burst the limits of time, and, by a few observations, to ascertain the history of this world, and the series of events which preceded the birth of the human race?
'Preliminary discourse', to Recherches sur les Ossemens Fossiles (1812), trans. R. Kerr Essay on the Theory of the Earth (1813), 3-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (482)

Geological facts being of an historical nature, all attempts to deduce a complete knowledge of them merely from their still, subsisting consequences, to the exclusion of unexceptionable testimony, must be deemed as absurd as that of deducing the history of ancient Rome solely from the medals or other monuments of antiquity it still exhibits, or the scattered ruins of its empire, to the exclusion of a Livy, a Sallust, or a Tacitus.
Geological Essays (1799), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Antiquity (12)  |  Fact (609)  |  Geology (187)  |  History (302)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Medal (3)  |  Rome (11)  |  Ruin (23)

Geology ... offers always some material for observation. ... [When] spring and summer come round, how easily may the hammer be buckled round the waist, and the student emerge from the dust of town into the joyous air of the country, for a few delightful hours among the rocks.
In The Story of a Boulder: or, Gleanings from the Note-book of a Field Geologist (1858), viii.
Science quotes on:  |  Buckle (4)  |  Count (34)  |  Delight (51)  |  Dust (42)  |  Ease (29)  |  Emergence (21)  |  Geology (187)  |  Hammer (12)  |  Hour (42)  |  Joy (61)  |  Material (124)  |  Rock (107)  |  Season (24)  |  Spring (47)  |  Student (131)  |  Summer (26)  |  Town (18)  |  Year (214)

Geology got into the hands of the theoreticians who were conditioned by the social and political history of their day more than by observations in the field. … We have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into avoiding any interpretation of the past that involves extreme and what might be termed “catastrophic” processes. However, it seems to me that the stratigraphical record is full of examples of processes that are far from “normal” in the usual sense of the word. In particular we must conclude that sedimentation in the past has often been very rapid indeed and very spasmodic. This may be called the “Phenomenon of the Catastrophic Nature of the Stratigraphic Record.”
In The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record (3rd ed., 1993), 70.
Science quotes on:  |  Avoidance (9)  |  Catastrophe (17)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Conditioning (3)  |  Example (57)  |  Extreme (36)  |  Field (119)  |  Geology (187)  |  Hand (103)  |  History (302)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Involving (2)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Normal (21)  |  Often (69)  |  Past (109)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Politics (77)  |  Process (201)  |  Rapid (17)  |  Record (56)  |  Sense (240)  |  Social (93)  |  Stratigraphy (6)  |  Term (87)  |  Theorist (24)  |  Word (221)

Geology is part of that remarkable dynamic process of the human mind which is generally called science and to which man is driven by an inquisitive urge. By noticing relationships in the results of his observations, he attempts to order and to explain the infinite variety of phenomena that at first sight may appear to be chaotic. In the history of civilization this type of progressive scientist has been characterized by Prometheus stealing the heavenly fire, by Adam eating from the tree of knowledge, by the Faustian ache for wisdom.
In 'The Scientific Character of Geology', The Journal of Geology (Jul 1961), 69, No. 4, 454.
Science quotes on:  |  Ache (6)  |  Adam (6)  |  Appear (55)  |  Attempt (94)  |  Characterize (9)  |  Civilization (155)  |  Dynamic (11)  |  Eating (21)  |  Explain (61)  |  Faustian (2)  |  Fire (117)  |  First Sight (3)  |  Geology (187)  |  Heavenly (5)  |  History (302)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Infinite (88)  |  Inquisitive (3)  |  Order (167)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Process (201)  |  Progressive (13)  |  Prometheus (5)  |  Relationship (59)  |  Remarkable (34)  |  Result (250)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Tree Of Knowledge (7)  |  Urge (10)  |  Variety (53)  |  Wisdom (151)

Go and see.
Given by author Thomas George Bonney as a maxim always guiding Lyell’s work. In Charles Lyell and Modern Geology (1895), 213. See another quote on this web page and compare Lyell’s own words: “We must preach up travelling … as the first, second, and third requisites for a modern geologist…”.
Science quotes on:  |  Evidence (157)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Travel (40)

Having always observed that most of them who constantly took in the weekly Bills of Mortality made little other use of them than to look at the foot how the burials increased or decreased, and among the Casualties what had happened, rare and extraordinary, in the week current; so as they might take the same as a Text to talk upon in the next company, and withal in the Plague-time, how the Sickness increased or decreased, that the Rich might judg of the necessity of their removal, and Trades-men might conjecture what doings they were likely to have in their respective dealings.
From Natural and Political Observations Mentioned in a Following Index and Made upon Bills of Mortality (1662), Preface. Reproduced in Cornelius Walford, The Insurance Cyclopaedia (1871), Vol. 1, 286. Italicizations from another source.
Science quotes on:  |  Burial (7)  |  Casualty (3)  |  Conjecture (22)  |  Decrease (11)  |  Extraordinary (32)  |  Increase (107)  |  Mortality (13)  |  Plague (34)  |  Rare (31)  |  Sickness (20)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Talk (61)  |  Use (70)

Having discovered … by observation and comparison that certain objects agree in certain respects, we generalise the qualities in which they coincide,—that is, from a certain number of individual instances we infer a general law; we perform an act of Induction. This induction is erroneously viewed as analytic; it is purely a synthetic process.
In Lecture VI of his Biennial Course, by William Hamilton and Henry L. Mansel (ed.) and John Veitch (ed.), Metaphysics (1860), Vol. 1, 101.
Science quotes on:  |  Agree (19)  |  Analytic (4)  |  Coincide (4)  |  Comparison (53)  |  Discover (115)  |  Erroneous (3)  |  General (92)  |  Generalize (9)  |  Individual (177)  |  Induction (45)  |  Infer (10)  |  Instance (18)  |  Law (418)  |  Object (110)  |  Process (201)  |  Pure (62)  |  Quality (65)  |  Synthetic (12)  |  View (115)

He had constructed for himself a certain system which thereafter exercised such an influence on his way of thinking that those who observed him always saw his judgment walking a few steps in front of his feeling, though he himself believed it was keeping to the rear.
Aphorism 82 in Notebook D (1773-1775), as translated by R.J. Hollingdale in Aphorisms (1990). Reprinted as The Waste Books (2000), 56-57.
Science quotes on:  |  Feeling (79)  |  Influence (110)  |  Judgment (72)

Her [Nettie Stevens] single-mindedness and devotion, combined with keen powers of observation; her thoughtfulness and patience, united to a well-balanced judgment, account, in part, for her remarkable accomplishment.
In obituary, 'The Scientific Work of Miss N.M. Steves', Science (11 Oct 1912), 36, No. 928, 470.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (57)  |  Combine (15)  |  Devotion (24)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Keen (8)  |  Patience (31)  |  Power (273)  |  Remarkable (34)  |  Nettie Maria Stevens (4)  |  United (8)  |  Well-Balanced (3)

Historical science is not worse, more restricted, or less capable of achieving firm conclusions because experiment, prediction, and subsumption under invariant laws of nature do not represent its usual working methods. The sciences of history use a different mode of explanation, rooted in the comparative and observational richness in our data. We cannot see a past event directly, but science is usually based on inference, not unvarnished observation (you don’t see electrons, gravity, or black holes either).
Science quotes on:  |  Achieve (36)  |  Badly (9)  |  Base (43)  |  Black Holes (3)  |  Capable (26)  |  Comparative (8)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Data (100)  |  Different (110)  |  Directly (15)  |  Electron (66)  |  Event (97)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Firm (19)  |  Gravity (89)  |  Historical (10)  |  History (302)  |  Inference (26)  |  Invariant (3)  |  Law (418)  |  Less (54)  |  Method (154)  |  Mode (29)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Observational (2)  |  Past (109)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Represent (27)  |  Restrict (8)  |  Richness (14)  |  Root (48)  |  Science (1699)  |  See (197)  |  Subsumption (2)  |  Unvarnished (2)  |  Usually (20)  |  Work (457)

History, human or geological, represents our hypothesis, couched in terms of past events, devised to explain our present-day observations.
'Critique of the Principle of Uniformity', in C. C. Albritton (ed.), Uniformity and Simplicity (1967), 30.
Science quotes on:  |  Event (97)  |  History (302)  |  Hypothesis (227)

I am a firm believer, that without speculation there is no good and original observation.
Letter to A. R. Wallace (22 Dec 1857). In Alfred Russel Wallace and Sir James Marchant (ed.), Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences (1916), 109.
Science quotes on:  |  Speculation (77)

I am convinced that this is the only means of advancing science, of clearing the mind from a confused heap of contradictory observations, that do but perplex and puzzle the Student, when he compares them, or misguide him if he gives himself up to their authority; but bringing them under one general head, can alone give rest and satisfaction to an inquisitive mind.
From 'A Discourse Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy, on the Distribution of Prizes' (11 Dec 1770), in Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy (1778), 98.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (36)  |  Authority (50)  |  Compare (15)  |  Confusion (34)  |  Contradiction (44)  |  General (92)  |  Head (52)  |  Heap (12)  |  Inquisitiveness (4)  |  Mind (544)  |  Perplex (2)  |  Puzzle (30)  |  Rest (64)  |  Satisfaction (48)  |  Science (1699)  |  Student (131)

I am glad of all details … whether they seem to you to be relevant or not.
In The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, collected in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892), 294.
Science quotes on:  |  Data (100)  |  Detail (65)  |  Relevant (3)

I am not accustomed to saying anything with certainty after only one or two observations.
Epistola, Rationem, Modumque Propinandi Radicis Chynae Decocti (Letter on the China Root) in Charles Donald O'Malley (trans.), Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, 1514-1564 (1965), 201.
Science quotes on:  |  Certainty (97)  |  Scientific Method (155)

I am not unmindful of the journalist’s quip that yesterday’s paper wraps today’s garbage. I am also not unmindful of the outrages visited upon our forests to publish redundant and incoherent collections of essays; for, like Dr. Seuss’ Lorax, I like to think that I speak for the trees. Beyond vanity, my only excuses for a collection of these essays lie in the observation that many people like (and as many people despise) them, and that they seem to cohere about a common theme–Darwin’s evolutionary perspective as an antidote to our cosmic arrogance.
Science quotes on:  |  Antidote (6)  |  Arrogance (12)  |  Beyond (65)  |  Collection (38)  |  Common (92)  |  Cosmic (34)  |  Darwins (5)  |  Despise (7)  |  Essay (9)  |  Evolutionary (16)  |  Excuse (15)  |  Forest (88)  |  Garbage (5)  |  Incoherent (2)  |  Journalist (6)  |  Lie (80)  |  Outrage (3)  |  Paper (52)  |  People (269)  |  Perspective (15)  |  Publish (18)  |  Quip (75)  |  Seem (89)  |  Speak (49)  |  Theme (8)  |  Think (205)  |  Today (86)  |  Tree (143)  |  Vanity (14)  |  Visit (15)  |  Wrap (4)  |  Yesterday (14)

I am turned into a sort of machine for observing facts and grinding out conclusions.
As quoted in Adrian J. Desmond and James Richard Moore, Darwin (1994), 644. Described by the authors as a remark Darwin was heard to sigh, suspecting that his largest botany book, the 600-page Movement in Plants, was as dull as ditchwater.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Fact (609)  |  Grind (8)  |  Machine (133)

I am very sorry, Pyrophilus, that to the many (elsewhere enumerated) difficulties which you may meet with, and must therefore surmount, in the serious and effectual prosecution of experimental philosophy I must add one discouragement more, which will perhaps is much surprise as dishearten you; and it is, that besides that you will find (as we elsewhere mention) many of the experiments published by authors, or related to you by the persons you converse with, false and unsuccessful (besides this, I say), you will meet with several observations and experiments which, though communicated for true by candid authors or undistrusted eye-witnesses, or perhaps recommended by your own experience, may, upon further trial, disappoint your expectation, either not at all succeeding constantly, or at least varying much from what you expected.
Opening paragraph of The First Essay Concerning the Unsuccessfulness of Experiments (1673), collected in The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle in Six Volumes to Which is Prefixed the Life of the Author (1772), Vol. 1, 318-319.
Science quotes on:  |  Difficulty (113)  |  Disappointment (11)  |  Discouragement (8)  |  Disheartening (2)  |  Expectation (46)  |  Experiment (543)  |  False (79)  |  Success (202)  |  Surprise (44)  |  Unsuccessful (2)

I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
After stating he did definitely not believe in flying saucers, ancient astronauts, Bermuda Triangle or life after death, he explained what he would believe in. From editorial, 'Don’t You Believe?', Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (18 Jan 1982), 6, No. 1, 6. Collected in The Roving Mind (1983), 43.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Confirmation (15)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Firm (19)  |  Independent (41)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Ridiculous (9)  |  Solid (34)  |  Wild (39)

I belong to those theoreticians who know by direct observation what it means to make a measurement. Methinks it were better if there were more of them.
Referring to his laboratory experience during his assistantship in experimental physics, as quoted in Walter Moore, Schrödinger: Life and Thought (1989, 1998), 58-59. Moore describes that Schrödinger in his early days in the laboratory, “learned to believe that physics is not based upon mathematical fantasies but on a solid ground of experimental observations.”
Science quotes on:  |  Direct (44)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Theorist (24)

I can certainly wish for new, large, and properly constructed instruments, and enough of them, but to state where and by what means they are to be procured, this I cannot do. Tycho Brahe has given Mastlin an instrument of metal as a present, which would be very useful if Mastlin could afford the cost of transporting it from the Baltic, and if he could hope that it would travel such a long way undamaged… . One can really ask for nothing better for the observation of the sun than an opening in a tower and a protected place underneath.
As quoted in James Bruce Ross and Mary Martin McLaughlin, The Portable Renaissance Reader (1968), 605.
Science quotes on:  |  Afford (11)  |  Ask (99)  |  Tycho Brahe (23)  |  Cost (31)  |  Damage (18)  |  Hope (129)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Large (82)  |  Metal (38)  |  New (340)  |  Opening (15)  |  Place (111)  |  Present (103)  |  Procure (4)  |  Sun (211)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Tower (12)  |  Transport (10)  |  Travel (40)  |  Underneath (3)  |  Wish (62)

I cannot but be astonished that Sarsi should persist in trying to prove by means of witnesses something that I may see for myself at any time by means of experiment. Witnesses are examined in doutbful matters which are past and transient, not in those which are actual and present. A judge must seek by means of witnesses to determine whether Peter injured John last night, but not whether John was injured, since the judge can see that for himself.
'The Assayer' (1623), trans. Stillman Drake, Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo (1957), 271.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Truth (750)

I conclude therefore that this star [Tycho’s supernova] is not some kind of comet or a fiery meteor, whether these be generated beneath the Moon or above the Moon, but that it is a star shining in the firmament itself—one that has never previously been seen before our time, in any age since the beginning of the world.
In De Stella Nova, as translated in Dagobert D. Runes, A Treasury of World Science (1962), 108.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (114)  |  Tycho Brahe (23)  |  Comet (43)  |  Fiery (5)  |  Firmament (11)  |  Meteor (14)  |  Moon (132)  |  Shining (8)  |  Star (251)  |  Supernova (7)  |  Robert W. Wood (2)

I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. “When I hear you give your reasons,” I remarked, “the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled, until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.”
“Quite so,” he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an arm-chair. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.”
“How often?”
“'Well, some hundreds of times.”
“Then how many are there?”
“How many! I don't know.”
“Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.”
From 'Adventure I.—A Scandal in Bohemia', Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, in The Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly (Jul 1891), Vol. 2, 62.

I do not … reject the use of statistics in medicine, but I condemn not trying to get beyond them and believing in statistics as the foundation of medical science. … Statistics … apply only to cases in which the cause of the facts observed is still [uncertain or] indeterminate. … There will always be some indeterminism … in all the sciences, and more in medicine than in any other. But man’s intellectual conquest consists in lessening and driving back indeterminism in proportion as he gains ground for determinism by the help of the experimental method..
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 138-140.
Science quotes on:  |  Condemnation (13)  |  Conquest (13)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Foundation (75)  |  Indeterminate (2)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Lessening (2)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Rejection (24)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Statistics (125)

I have always loved to begin with the facts, to observe them, to walk in the light of experiment and demonstrate as much as possible, and to discuss the results.
Quoted in Francesco Rodolico, 'Arduino', In Charles Coulston Gillispie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1970), Vol. 1, 234.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)

I keep looking for some … problem where someone has made an observation that doesn’t fit into my picture of the universe. If it doesn't fit in, then I find some way of fitting it in.
Interview with George B. Kauffman and Laurie M. Kauffman, in 'Linus Pauling: Reflections', American Scientist (Nov-Dec 1994), 82, No. 6, 522.
Science quotes on:  |  Fit (31)  |  Picture (55)  |  Problem (362)  |  Research (517)  |  Universe (563)

I know well there are those who would have the Study of Nature restrained wholly to Observations; without ever proceeding further. But due Consideration, and a deeper Insight into Things, would soon have undeceived and made them sensible of their error. Assuredly, that man who should spend his whole life in amassing together stone, timber, and other materials for building, without ever at the making any use, or raising any fabrick out of them, might well be reputed very fantastic and extravagant. And a like censure would be his due, who should be perpetually heaping up of natural collections without design. building a structure of philosophy out of them, or advancing some propositions that might turn to the benefit and advantage of the world. This is in reality the true and only proper end of collections, of observations, and natural history: and they are of no manner of use or value without it.
In An Attempt Toward a Natural History of the Fossils of England (1729), xiii-xiv.
Science quotes on:  |  Building (51)  |  Collection (38)  |  Natural Science (62)  |  Stone (57)  |  Timber (7)

I once lodged in Hanover in a room whose window gave on to a narrow Street which formed a communicating link between two bigger streets. It was very pleasant to see how people's faces changed when they entered the little Street, where they thought they were less observed; how here one pissed, there another fixed her garter, one gave way to private laughter and another shook his head. Girls thought with a smile of the night before and adjusted their ribbons for conquests in the big Street ahead.
Aphorism 19 in Notebook C (1772-1773), as translated by R.J. Hollingdale in Aphorisms (1990). Reprinted as The Waste Books (2000), 34.
Science quotes on:  |  Laughter (22)  |  Lodging (2)  |  Smile (13)  |  Street (17)  |  Thought (374)

I picture the vast realm of the sciences as an immense landscape scattered with patches of dark and light. The goal towards which we must work is either to extend the boundaries of the patches of light, or to increase their number. One of these tasks falls to the creative genius; the other requires a sort of sagacity combined with perfectionism.
Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature and Other Philosophical Works (1753/4), ed. D. Adams (1999), Section XIV, 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)

I pull a flower from the woods,
A monster with a glass
Computes the stamens in a breath,
And has her in a class.
Science quotes on:  |  Botany (47)  |  Class (64)  |  Classification (79)  |  Count (34)  |  Flower (65)  |  Glass (35)  |  Monster (21)  |  Stamen (2)  |  Woods (11)

I really see no harm which can come of giving our children a little knowledge of physiology. ... The instruction must be real, based upon observation, eked out by good explanatory diagrams and models, and conveyed by a teacher whose own knowledge has been acquired by a study of the facts; and not the mere catechismal parrot-work which too often usurps the place of elementary teaching.
Science and Culture (1882), 92.
Science quotes on:  |  Catechism (2)  |  Child (189)  |  Diagram (5)  |  Education (280)  |  Instruction (51)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Model (64)  |  Physiology (66)  |  Teacher (90)

I scrutinize life.
Science quotes on:  |  Life (917)  |  Scrutinize (3)

I shall collect plants and fossils, and with the best of instruments make astronomic observations. Yet this is not the main purpose of my journey. I shall endeavor to find out how nature's forces act upon one another, and in what manner the geographic environment exerts its influence on animals and plants. In short, I must find out about the harmony in nature.
Letter to Karl Freiesleben (Jun 1799). In Helmut de Terra, Humboldt: The Life and Times of Alexander van Humboldt 1769-1859 (1955), 87.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Botany (47)  |  Ecology (55)  |  Environment (138)  |  Exploration (93)  |  Fossil (107)  |  Geography (25)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Paleontology (29)  |  Plant (173)

I therefore concluded, and decided unhesitatingly, that there are three stars in the heavens moving about Jupiter, as Venus and Mercury about the Sun; which at length was established as clear as daylight by numerous other observations.
Referring to his pioneering telescope observations.
The Starry Messenger (Mar 1610). Quoted in Edmund Blair Bolles, Galileo's Commandment (1999), 104.
Science quotes on:  |  Jupiter (17)  |  Mercury (39)  |  Moons Of Jupiter (2)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Venus (12)

I think that the event which, more than anything else, led me to the search for ways of making more powerful radio telescopes, was the recognition, in 1952, that the intense source in the constellation of Cygnus was a distant galaxy—1000 million light years away. This discovery showed that some galaxies were capable of producing radio emission about a million times more intense than that from our own Galaxy or the Andromeda nebula, and the mechanisms responsible were quite unknown. ... [T]he possibilities were so exciting even in 1952 that my colleagues and I set about the task of designing instruments capable of extending the observations to weaker and weaker sources, and of exploring their internal structure.
From Nobel Lecture (12 Dec 1974). In Stig Lundqvist (ed.), Nobel Lectures, Physics 1971-1980 (1992), 187.
Science quotes on:  |  Andromeda (2)  |  Capability (35)  |  Colleague (19)  |  Constellation (9)  |  Design (92)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Distance (54)  |  Emission (16)  |  Event (97)  |  Excitement (33)  |  Exploration (93)  |  Extending (3)  |  Galaxy (38)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Intensity (19)  |  Internal (18)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Mechanism (41)  |  Motivation (21)  |  Nebula (15)  |  Possibility (96)  |  Radio (27)  |  Radio Telescope (5)  |  Recognition (62)  |  Search (85)  |  Source (71)  |  Structure (191)  |  Task (68)  |  Weakness (31)

I would by all means have men beware, lest Ęsop’s pretty fable of the fly that sate [sic] on the pole of a chariot at the Olympic races and said, “What a dust do I raise,” be verified in them. For so it is that some small observation, and that disturbed sometimes by the instrument, sometimes by the eye, sometimes by the calculation, and which may be owing to some real change in the heaven, raises new heavens and new spheres and circles.
'Of Vain Glory' (1625) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 6, 503.
Science quotes on:  |  Measurement (148)

I would teach the world that science is the best way to understand the world, and that for any set of observations, there is only one correct explanation. Also, science is value-free, as it explains the world as it is. Ethical issues arise only when science is applied to technology – from medicine to industry.
Response to question “What is the one thing everyone should learn about science?” in 'Life Lessons' The Guardian (7 Apr 2005).
Science quotes on:  |  Applied (15)  |  Arise (32)  |  Correct (53)  |  Ethics (30)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Free (59)  |  Industry (91)  |  Issue (37)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Science (1699)  |  Set (56)  |  Teaching (99)  |  Technology (199)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Value (180)  |  World (667)

I'm not smart. I try to observe. Millions saw the apple fall but Newton was the one who asked 'why.'
Quoted in New York Post (24 Jun 1965). In Alfred J. Kolatch, Great Jewish Quotations (1996), 38-39.
Science quotes on:  |  Apple (33)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)

If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations—then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
Gifford Lectures (1927), The Nature of the Physical World (1928), 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Entropy (40)  |  Error (230)  |  James Clerk Maxwell (75)  |  Second Law Of Thermodynamics (13)  |  Universe (563)

If the Commission is to enquire into the conditions “to be observed,” it is to be presumed that they will give the result of their enquiries; or, in other words, that they will lay down, or at least suggest, “rules” and “conditions to be (hereafter) observed” in the construction of bridges, or, in other words, embarrass and shackle the progress of improvement to-morrow by recording and registering as law the prejudices or errors of to-day.
[Objecting to any interference by the State with the freedom of civil engineers in the conduct of their professional work.]
Letter (13 Mar 1848) to the Royal Commission on the Application of Iron in Railway Structures. Collected in The Life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Civil Engineer (1870), 487. The above verbatim quote may be the original source of the following statement as seen in books and on the web without citation: “I am opposed to the laying down of rules or conditions to be observed in the construction of bridges lest the progress of improvement tomorrow might be embarrassed or shackled by recording or registering as law the prejudices or errors of today.” Webmaster has not yet found a primary source for his latter form, and suspects it may be a synopsis, rather than a verbatim quote. If you know of such a primary source, please inform Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Bridge (22)  |  Commission (3)  |  Condition (119)  |  Construction (69)  |  Embarrassment (3)  |  Engineering (115)  |  Enquiry (75)  |  Error (230)  |  Freedom (76)  |  Improvement (67)  |  Law (418)  |  Prejudice (58)  |  Presume (5)  |  Progress (317)  |  Record (56)  |  Register (9)  |  Regulation (18)  |  Rule (135)  |  Shackle (4)  |  Today (86)  |  Tomorrow (29)

If the matter is one that can be settled by observation, make the observation yourself. Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted.
In An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1943), 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (141)  |  Avoid (34)  |  Count (34)  |  Error (230)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Mistake (107)  |  Proof (192)  |  Tooth (23)

If the observation of the amount of heat the sun sends the earth is among the most important and difficult in astronomical physics, it may also be termed the fundamental problem of meteorology, nearly all whose phenomena would become predictable, if we knew both the original quantity and kind of this heat.
In Report of the Mount Whitney Expedition, quoted in Charles Greeley Abbot, Adventures in the World of Science (1958), 17. Also quoted and cited in David H. Devorkin, 'Charles Greeley Abbot', Biographical Memoirs (1998), 4.
Science quotes on:  |  Astrophysics (12)  |  Difficult (62)  |  Earth (487)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Heat (90)  |  Important (124)  |  Kind (99)  |  Know (321)  |  Meteorology (29)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Predictable (9)  |  Problem (362)  |  Quantity (35)  |  Sun (211)

If the omniscient author of nature knew that the study of his works tends to make men disbelieve his Being or Attributes, he would not have given them so many invitations to study and contemplate Nature.
'Some considerations touching the usefulness of experimental philosophy' (1663). Quoted In Peter Gay, The Enlightenment (1977), 140.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  God (454)  |  Study (331)

If we look at the problems raised by Aristotle, we are astonished at his gift of observation. What wonderful eyes the Greeks had for many things! Only they committed the mistake of being overhasty, of passing straightway from the phenomenon to the explanation of it, and thereby produced certain theories that are quite inadequate. But this is the mistake of all times, and still made in our own day.
In The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe (1906), 195.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (141)  |  Astonished (4)  |  Commit (17)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Eye (159)  |  Gift (47)  |  Greek (46)  |  Hasty (4)  |  Inadequate (13)  |  Mistake (107)  |  Pass (60)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Problem (362)  |  Produce (63)  |  Straightway (2)  |  Theory (582)  |  Wonderful (37)

If we range through the whole territory of nature, and endeavour to extract from each department the rich stores of knowledge and pleasure they respectively contain, we shall not find a more refined or purer source of amusement, or a more interesting and unfailing subject for recreation, than that which the observation and examination of the structure, affinities, and habits of plants and vegetables, afford.
In A Practical Treatise on the Cultivation of the Dahlia (1838), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Affinity (11)  |  Amusement (20)  |  Botany (47)  |  Containing (4)  |  Department (33)  |  Endeavour (24)  |  Examination (60)  |  Extraction (5)  |  Find (248)  |  Habit (78)  |  Interesting (38)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Plant (173)  |  Pleasure (98)  |  Purity (13)  |  Range (38)  |  Recreation (11)  |  Refined (6)  |  Respectively (2)  |  Rich (48)  |  Source (71)  |  Store (17)  |  Structure (191)  |  Subject (129)  |  Territory (14)  |  Unfailing (3)  |  Vegetable (19)  |  Whole (122)

In a sense, the galaxy hardest for us to see is our own. For one thing, we are imprisoned within it, while the others can be viewed as a whole from outside… . Furthermore, we are far out from the center, and to make matters worse, we lie in a spiral arm clogged with dust. In other words, we are on a low roof on the outskirts of the city on a foggy day.
In The Intelligent Man's Guide to the Physical Sciences (1960, 1968), 64. Also in Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), 185.
Science quotes on:  |  Center (30)  |  City (37)  |  Clog (4)  |  Dust (42)  |  Galaxy (38)  |  Hardest (2)  |  Imprison (8)  |  Outside (37)  |  Outskirts (2)  |  Roof (10)  |  See (197)  |  Spiral (7)  |  View (115)

In all speculations on the origin, or agents that have produced the changes on this globe, it is probable that we ought to keep within the boundaries of the probable effects resulting from the regular operations of the great laws of nature which our experience and observation have brought within the sphere of our knowledge. When we overleap those limits, and suppose a total change in nature's laws, we embark on the sea of uncertainty, where one conjecture is perhaps as probable as another; for none of them can have any support, or derive any authority from the practical facts wherewith our experience has brought us acquainted.
Observations on the Geology of the United States of America (1817), iv-v.
Science quotes on:  |  Authority (50)  |  Change (291)  |  Conjecture (22)  |  Experience (268)  |  Fact (609)  |  Geology (187)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Law Of Nature (52)  |  Limit (86)  |  Origin (77)  |  Practical (93)  |  Probability (83)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Uncertainty (37)

In fact, we will have to give up taking things for granted, even the apparently simple things. We have to learn to understand nature and not merely to observe it and endure what it imposes on us. Stupidity, from being an amiable individual defect, has become a social crime.
The Origin of Life (1967), 163.

In natural science the principles of truth ought to be confirmed by observation.
Philosophia Botanica (1751), final sentence. Trans. Frans A. Stafleu, Linnaeus and the Linneans: The Spreading of their Ideas in Systematic Botany, 1735-1789 (1971), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  Natural Science (62)  |  Principle (228)  |  Truth (750)

In order that the facts obtained by observation and experiment may be capable of being used in furtherance of our exact and solid knowledge, they must be apprehended and analysed according to some Conceptions which, applied for this purpose, give distinct and definite results, such as can be steadily taken hold of and reasoned from.
Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), Vol. 2, 205.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Capability (35)  |  Conception (63)  |  Definite (27)  |  Distinct (29)  |  Exact (38)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Furtherance (2)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Reason (330)  |  Result (250)

In order to discover Truth in this manner by observation and reason, it is requisite we should fix on some principles whose certainty and effects are demonstrable to our senses, which may serve to explain the phenomena of natural bodies and account for the accidents that arise in them; such only are those which are purely material in the human body with mechanical and physical experiments … a physician may and ought to furnish himself with, and reason from, such things as are demonstrated to be true in anatomy, chemistry, and mechanics, with natural and experimental philosophy, provided he confines his reasoning within the bounds of truth and simple experiment.
As quoted in selection from the writings of Herman Boerhaave, collected in Oliver Joseph Thatcher (ed.), The Ideas that Have Influenced Civilization, in the Original Documents (1800), Vol. 6, 242.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Bounds (5)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Confine (9)  |  Demonstration (51)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Furnish (18)  |  Human Body (30)  |  Mechanical (31)  |  Natural Philosophy (21)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Physical (94)  |  Physician (232)  |  Principle (228)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Sense (240)  |  Simple (111)  |  Truth (750)

In science it is no crime to be wrong, unless you are (inappropriately) laying claim to truth. What matters is that science as a whole is a self-correcting mechanism in which both new and old notions are constantly under scrutiny. In other words, the edifice of scientific knowledge consists simply of a body of observations and ideas that have (so far) proven resistant to attack, and that are thus accepted as working hypotheses about nature.
In The Monkey in the Mirror: Essays on the Science of What Makes Us Human (2003), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Attack (29)  |  Claim (52)  |  Crime (20)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Idea (440)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Nature (1029)  |  New (340)  |  Notion (32)  |  Old (104)  |  Resistant (2)  |  Science (1699)  |  Scrutiny (13)  |  Self-Correcting (2)  |  Truth (750)  |  Wrong (116)

In the beginning there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The universe exists because we are aware of it.
In 'The Anthropic Universe', New Scientist (6 Aug 1987), 46.
Science quotes on:  |  Awareness (23)  |  Beginning (114)  |  Billion (52)  |  Existence (254)  |  Observer (33)  |  Probability (83)  |  Universe (563)  |  Year (214)

In the collecting of evidence upon any medical subject, there are but three sources from which we can hope to obtain it: viz. from observation of the living subject; from examination of the dead; and from experiments upon living animals.
Astley Cooper and Benjamin Travers, Surgical Essays (1821), Vol. 1, 84. In Ira M. Rutkow, The History of Surgery in the United States, 1775-1900 (1988), 394.
Science quotes on:  |  Diagnosis (61)  |  Dissection (26)  |  Evidence (157)

In the great debates of early-nineteenth century geology, catastrophists followed the stereotypical method of objective science-empirical literalism. They believed what they saw, interpolated nothing, and read the record of the rocks directly.
'The Stinkstones of Oeningen', In Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983), 105.

In the philosophic sense, observation shows and experiment teaches.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)

In the printed page the only real things are the paper and the ink; the white spaces play the same part in aiding the eye to take in the meaning of the print as do the black letters.
From Under the Apple-Trees (1916), 302.
Science quotes on:  |  Black (27)  |  Eye (159)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Letter (36)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Page (18)  |  Part (146)  |  Play (60)  |  Print (9)  |  Space (154)  |  Thing (37)  |  Type (34)  |  White (38)

In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained, the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses; which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favourites upon the score of their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of rewarding merit, great abilities, and eminent services; of instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employment persons qualified to exercise them; with many other wild impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of man to conceive, and confirmed in me the old observation, that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational which some philosophers have not maintained for truth.
Gulliver's Travels (1726, Penguin ed. 1967), Part III, Chap. 6, 232.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (75)  |  Chimera (5)  |  Employment (22)  |  Extravagance (3)  |  Impossibility (50)  |  Interest (170)  |  Irrational (7)  |  Merit (25)  |  Minister (6)  |  People (269)  |  Philosopher (132)  |  Prince (9)  |  Professor (39)  |  Truth (750)  |  Unhappiness (6)  |  Wisdom (151)

In this physical world there is no real chaos; all is in fact orderly; all is ordered by the physical principles. Chaos is but unperceived order- it is a word indicating the limitations of the human mind and the paucity of observational facts. The words “chaos,” “accidental,” “chance,” “unpredictable," are conveniences behind which we hide our ignorance.
From Of Stars and Men: The Human Response to an Expanding Universe (1958 Rev. Ed. 1964), Foreword.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (54)  |  Behind (25)  |  Chance (122)  |  Chaos (63)  |  Convenience (25)  |  Fact (609)  |  Hide (36)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Indicate (10)  |  Limit (86)  |  Order (167)  |  Paucity (3)  |  Physical World (6)  |  Principle (228)  |  Real (95)  |  Unpredictable (10)  |  Word (221)

It appears, then, to be a condition of a genuinely scientific hypothesis, that it be not destined always to remain an hypothesis, but be certain to be either proved or disproved by.. .comparison with observed facts.
A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (1858), 293.
Science quotes on:  |  Comparison (53)  |  Condition (119)  |  Destiny (26)  |  Disprove (15)  |  Fact (609)  |  Genuine (19)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Proof (192)

It is a common observation that a science first begins to be exact when it is quantitatively treated. What are called the exact sciences are no others than the mathematical ones.
On The Doctrine of Chances, with Later Reflections (1878), 61.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (114)  |  Common (92)  |  Exactness (18)  |  First (174)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Science (1699)  |  Treatment (88)

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.
Science and Hypothesis (1902), trans. W. J. G. and preface by J. Larmor (1905), 181.
Science quotes on:  |  Birth (81)  |  Decimal Place (2)  |  Founder (12)  |  Grasp (43)  |  Happening (32)  |  Lateness (4)  |  Means (109)  |  Misfortune (5)  |  Moment (61)  |  Perfection (71)  |  Physical Chemistry (5)  |  Science (1699)

It is a misfortune to pass at once from observation to conclusion, and to regard both as of equal value; but it befalls many a student.
In The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe (1906), 183.
Science quotes on:  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Equal (53)  |  Misfortune (5)  |  Pass (60)  |  Regard (58)  |  Student (131)  |  Value (180)

It is curious to observe with what different degrees of architectonic skill Providence has endowed birds of the same genus, and so nearly correspondent in their general mode of life! for while the swallow and the house-martin discover the greatest address in raising and securely fixing crusts or shells of loam as cunabula for their young, the bank-martin terebrates a round and regular hole in the sand or earth, which is serpentine, horizontal, and about two feet deep. At the inner end of this burrow does this bird deposit, in a good degree of safety, her rude nest, consisting of fine grasses and feathers, usually goose-feathers, very inartificially laid together.
In Letter to Daines Barrington, (26 Feb 1774), in The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789), 176.
Science quotes on:  |  Bird (96)  |  Crust (17)  |  Feather (10)  |  Genus (16)  |  Goose (9)  |  Grass (30)  |  Nest (11)  |  Sand (25)  |  Shell (35)  |  Swallow (14)

It is imperative in the design process to have a full and complete understanding of how failure is being obviated in order to achieve success. Without fully appreciating how close to failing a new design is, its own designer may not fully understand how and why a design works. A new design may prove to be successful because it has a sufficiently large factor of safety (which, of course, has often rightly been called a “factor of ignorance”), but a design's true factor of safety can never be known if the ultimate failure mode is unknown. Thus the design that succeeds (ie, does not fail) can actually provide less reliable information about how or how not to extrapolate from that design than one that fails. It is this observation that has long motivated reflective designers to study failures even more assiduously than successes.
In Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering (1994), 31. books.google.comHenry Petroski - 1994
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (128)  |  Appreciation (19)  |  Complete (43)  |  Design (92)  |  Extrapolation (3)  |  Factor (34)  |  Failure (118)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Imperative (8)  |  Information (102)  |  Large (82)  |  Mode (29)  |  Motivation (21)  |  Process (201)  |  Reflection (50)  |  Reliability (14)  |  Safety (39)  |  Study (331)  |  Success (202)  |  Sufficiency (13)  |  Ultimate (61)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Unknown (87)

It is indeed an Opinion strangely prevailing amongst Men, that Houses, Mountains, Rivers, and in a word all sensible Objects have an Existence Natural or Real, distinct from their being perceived by the Understanding. But with how great an Assurance and Acquiescence soever this Principle may be entertained in the World; yet whoever shall find in his Heart to call it in Question, may, if I mistake not, perceive it to involve a manifest Contradiction. For what are the forementioned Objects but the things we perceive by Sense, and what do we perceive besides our own Ideas or Sensations; and is it not plainly repugnant that anyone of these or any Combination of them should exist unperceived?
A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge [first published 1710], (1734),38.
Science quotes on:  |  Sense (240)

It is interesting to transport one’s self back to the times when Astronomy began; to observe how discoveries were connected together, how errors have got mixed up with truth, have delayed the knowledge of it, and retarded its progress; and, after having followed the various epochs and traversed every climate, finally to contemplate the edifice founded on the labours of successive centuries and of various nations.
Description of Bailly’s plan when writing his history of astronomy books, quoted by Franēois Arago, trans. by William Henry Smyth, Baden Powell and Robert Grant, in 'Bailly', Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men (1859), Vol. 1, 114. Arago first presented this biography of Bailly when he read it to the Academy of Sciences (26 Feb 1844).
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Century (94)  |  Climate (38)  |  Connection (86)  |  Contemplation (37)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Edifice (13)  |  Epoch (12)  |  Error (230)  |  Founded (10)  |  History Of Astronomy (2)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Labour (36)  |  Mixed (4)  |  Nation (111)  |  Progress (317)  |  Retarded (3)  |  Successive (14)  |  Time (439)  |  Truth (750)

It is not therefore the business of philosophy, in our present situation in the universe, to attempt to take in at once, in one view, the whole scheme of nature; but to extend, with great care and circumspection, our knowledge, by just steps, from sensible things, as far as our observations or reasonings from them will carry us, in our enquiries concerning either the greater motions and operations of nature, or her more subtile and hidden works. In this way Sir Isaac Newton proceeded in his discoveries.
An Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, in Four Books (1748), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Attempt (94)  |  Business (71)  |  Care (73)  |  Circumspection (2)  |  Concern (76)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Enquiry (75)  |  Extend (20)  |  Hidden (34)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Motion (127)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  Operation (96)  |  Philosophy (213)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Scheme (20)  |  Sensible (22)  |  Situation (41)  |  Step (67)  |  Subtle (26)  |  Universe (563)  |  View (115)

It is possible to read books on Natural History with intelligence and profit, and even to make good observations, without a scientific groundwork of biological instruction; and it is possible to arrive at empirical facts of hygiene and medical treatment without any physiological instruction. But in all three cases the absence of a scientific basis will render the knowledge fragmentary and incomplete; and this ought to deter every one from offering an opinion on debatable questions which pass beyond the limit of subjective observations. The psychologist who has not prepared himself by a study of the organism has no more right to be heard on the genesis of the psychical states, or of the relations between body and mind, than one of the laity has a right to be heard on a question of medical treatment.
The Physical Basis of Mind (1877), 4.
Science quotes on:  |  Biology (150)  |  Fragment (24)  |  Groundwork (3)  |  Instruction (51)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Natural History (44)  |  Psychologist (11)  |  Treatment (88)

It is said that Thales of Miletus, who was the first of the Greeks to devote himself to the study of the stars, was on one occasion so intent upon observing the heavens that he fell into a well, whereupon a maidservant laughed and remarked, “In his zeal for things in the sky he does not see what is at his feet.”
Apocryphal story, as given in Richard A. Gregory, Discovery: Or, The Spirit and Service of Science (1916), 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Fall (89)  |  Foot (39)  |  Heavens (16)  |  See (197)  |  Sky (68)  |  Zeal (7)

It is structure that we look for whenever we try to understand anything. All science is built upon this search; we investigate how the cell is built of reticular material, cytoplasm, chromosomes; how crystals aggregate; how atoms are fastened together; how electrons constitute a chemical bond between atoms. We like to understand, and to explain, observed facts in terms of structure. A chemist who understands why a diamond has certain properties, or why nylon or hemoglobin have other properties, because of the different ways their atoms are arranged, may ask questions that a geologist would not think of formulating, unless he had been similarly trained in this way of thinking about the world.
‘The Place of Chemistry In the Integration of the Sciences’, Main Currents in Modern Thought (1950), 7, 110.
Science quotes on:  |  Aggregation (4)  |  Arrangement (45)  |  Atom (251)  |  Building (51)  |  Cell (125)  |  Chemical Bond (5)  |  Chemist (79)  |  Crystal (47)  |  Cytoplasm (4)  |  Diamond (15)  |  Electron (66)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fact (609)  |  Formulation (20)  |  Geologist (42)  |  Haemoglobin (3)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Material (124)  |  Property (96)  |  Question (315)  |  Search (85)  |  Structure (191)  |  Thinking (222)  |  Training (39)  |  Understanding (317)

It is the care we bestow on apparently trifling, unattractive detail and very troublesome minutiae which determines the result.
As quoted in William Bulloch, Obituary, 'Theobald Smith', Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology (May 1935), 40, No. 3, 621-625.
Science quotes on:  |  Care (73)  |  Detail (65)  |  Determine (45)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Minutiae (6)  |  Research (517)  |  Result (250)  |  Trifle (10)  |  Troublesome (3)  |  Unattractive (3)

It is the task of science, as a collective human undertaking, to describe from the external side, (on which alone agreement is possible), such statistical regularity as there is in a world “in which every event has a unique aspect, and to indicate where possible the limits of such description. It is not part of its task to make imaginative interpretation of the internal aspect of reality—what it is like, for example, to be a lion, an ant or an ant hill, a liver cell, or a hydrogen ion. The only qualification is in the field of introspective psychology in which each human being is both observer and observed, and regularities may be established by comparing notes. Science is thus a limited venture. It must act as if all phenomena were deterministic at least in the sense of determinable probabilities. It cannot properly explain the behaviour of an amoeba as due partly to surface and other physical forces and partly to what the amoeba wants to do, with out danger of something like 100 per cent duplication. It must stick to the former. It cannot introduce such principles as creative activity into its interpretation of evolution for similar reasons. The point of view indicated by a consideration of the hierarchy of physical and biological organisms, now being bridged by the concept of the gene, is one in which science deliberately accepts a rigorous limitation of its activities to the description of the external aspects of events. In carrying out this program, the scientist should not, however, deceive himself or others into thinking that he is giving an account of all of reality. The unique inner creative aspect of every event necessarily escapes him.
In 'Gene and Organism', American Naturalist, (1953), 87, 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Amoeba (20)  |  Ant (19)  |  Cell (125)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Gene (68)  |  Hierarchy (11)  |  Hydrogen (37)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Ion (8)  |  Lion (15)  |  Liver (12)  |  Organism (126)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Task (68)

It is usual to say that the two sources of experience are Observation and Experiment. When we merely note and record the phenomena which occur around us in the ordinary course of nature we are said to observe. When we change the course of nature by the intervention of our will and muscular powers, and thus produce unusual combinations and conditions of phenomena, we are said to experiment. [Sir John] Herschel has justly remarked that we might properly call these two modes of experience passive and active observation. In both cases we must certainly employ our senses to observe, and an experiment differs from a mere observation in the fact that we more or less influence the character of the events which we observe. Experiment is thus observation plus alteration of conditions.
Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1874, 2nd ed., 1913), 400.
Science quotes on:  |  Alteration (22)  |  Definition (152)  |  Event (97)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Sir John Herschel (23)  |  Influence (110)  |  Intervention (8)  |  Note (22)  |  Occurrence (30)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Record (56)  |  Sense (240)  |  Source (71)

It is well known that theoretical physicists cannot handle experimental equipment; it breaks whenever they touch it. Pauli was such a good theoretical physicist that something usually broke in the lab whenever he merely stepped across the threshold. A mysterious event that did not seem at first to be connected with Pauli's presence once occurred in Professor J. Franck's laboratory in Göttingen. Early one afternoon, without apparent cause, a complicated apparatus for the study of atomic phenomena collapsed. Franck wrote humorously about this to Pauli at his Zürich address and, after some delay, received an answer in an envelope with a Danish stamp. Pauli wrote that he had gone to visit Bohr and at the time of the mishap in Franck's laboratory his train was stopped for a few minutes at the Göttingen railroad station. You may believe this anecdote or not, but there are many other observations concerning the reality of the Pauli Effect!
From Thirty Years That Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory (1966), 64. Note the so-called Pauli Effect is merely anecdotal to provide humor about supposed parapsychology phenomena in coincidences involving Pauli; it should not be confused with scientifically significant Pauli Exclusion Principle.
Science quotes on:  |  Anecdote (17)  |  Apparatus (30)  |  Atom (251)  |  Belief (400)  |  Break (33)  |  Cause (231)  |  Collapse (16)  |  Complicated (38)  |  Connection (86)  |  Delay (8)  |  Effect (133)  |  Envelope (5)  |  Equipment (26)  |  Event (97)  |  Experiment (543)  |  James Franck (2)  |  Humor (5)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Mishap (2)  |  Mysterious (21)  |  Wolfgang Pauli (15)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Presence (26)  |  Railroad (10)  |  Reality (140)  |  Station (9)  |  Step (67)  |  Stopped (3)  |  Study (331)  |  Theoretical Physicist (12)  |  Threshold (7)  |  Touch (48)  |  Train (25)  |  Visit (15)

It must be admitted that science has its castes. The man whose chief apparatus is the differential equation looks down upon one who uses a galvanometer, and he in turn upon those who putter about with sticky and smelly things in test tubes. But all of these, and most biologists too, join together in their contempt for the pariah who, not through a glass darkly, but with keen unaided vision, observes the massing of a thundercloud on the horizon, the petal as it unfolds, or the swarming of a hive of bees. And yet sometimes I think that our laboratories are but little earthworks which men build about themselves, and whose puny tops too often conceal from view the Olympian heights; that we who work in these laboratories are but skilled artisans compared with the man who is able to observe, and to draw accurate deductions from the world about him.
The Anatomy of Science (1926), 170- 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Bee (21)  |  Caste (2)  |  Cloud (44)  |  Deduction (49)  |  Differentiation (17)  |  Equation (69)  |  Flower (65)  |  Galvanometer (4)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Science (1699)  |  Test Tube (7)  |  Thunder (11)  |  World (667)

It seems sensible to discard all hope of observing hitherto unobservable quantities, such as the position and period of the electron... Instead it seems more reasonable to try to establish a theoretical quantum mechanics, analogous to classical mechanics, but in which only relations between observable quantities occur.
In Helge Kragh, Quantum Generations: A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century (1999), 161.
Science quotes on:  |  Electron (66)  |  Quantum Physics (16)  |  Theory (582)

It was astonishing that for some considerable distance around the mould growth the staphococcal colonies were undergoing lysis. What had formerly been a well-grown colony was now a faint shadow of its former self...I was sufficiently interested to pursue the subject.
[Sep 1928, the first observation of penicillin. Lysis is the dissolution or destruction of cells.]
Sarah R. Riedman and Elton T. Gustafson, Portraits of Nobel Laureates in Medicine and Physiology (1964), 72.
Science quotes on:  |  Astonishment (19)  |  Bacteria (32)  |  Lysis (2)  |  Mold (26)  |  Penicillin (10)

It was noted long ago that the front row of burlesque houses was occupied predominantly by bald-headed men. In fact, such a row became known as the bald-headed row. It might be assumed from this on statistical evidence that the continued close observation of chorus girls in tights caused loss of hair from the top of the head.
[Disputing a statistical study for the American Cancer Society showing smoking to be a cancer causative.]
In Bess Furman, '2 Cite Extraction of Cigarette Tar', New York Times (26 Jul 1957), 21. The article reported on testimony before the Legal and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee of the House Government Operations Committee.
Science quotes on:  |  Assumption (49)  |  Burlesque (2)  |  Cancer (44)  |  Chorus (2)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Continuing (4)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Front (10)  |  Hair (19)  |  Head (52)  |  Occupy (18)  |  Predominantly (4)  |  Row (4)  |  Smoking (22)  |  Statistics (125)

It was on the 25th November 1740 that I cut the first polyp. I put the two parts in a flat glass, which only contained water to the height of four to five lignes. It was thus easy for me to observe these portions of the polyp with a fairly powerful lens.
I shall indicate farther on the precautions I took in making my experiments on these cut polyps and the technique I adopted to cut them. It will suffice to say here that I cut the polyp concerned transversely, a little nearer the anterior than the posterior end. The first part was thus a little shorter than the second.
The instant that I cut the polyp, the two parts contracted so that at first they only appeared like two little grains of green matter at the bottom of the glass in which I put them—for green, as I have already said, is the colour of the first polyps that I possessed. The two parts expanded on the same day on which I separated them. They were very easy to distinguish from one another. The first had its anterior end adorned with the fine threads that serve the polyp as legs and arms, which the second had none.
The extensions of the first part was not the only sign of life that it gave on the same day that it was separated from the other. I saw it move its arms; and the next day, the first time I came to observe it, I found that it had changed its position; and shortly afterwards I saw it take a step. The second part was extended as on the previous day and in the same place. I shook the glass a little to see if it were still alive. This movement made it contract, from which I judged that it was alive. Shortly afterwards it extended again. On the following days I .’ saw the same thing.
Mémoires, pour servir à l'histoire d'un genre de polyps d'eau douce à bras en forme de cornes (1744), 7-16. Trans. John R. Baker, in Abraham Trembley of Geneva: Scientist and Philosopher 1710-1784 (1952), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  Anterior (4)  |  Arm (17)  |  Cut (36)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Extension (20)  |  Leg (13)  |  Lens (11)  |  Life (917)  |  Movement (65)  |  Polyp (4)  |  Precaution (4)

It would appear... that moral phenomena, when observed on a great scale, are found to resemble physical phenomena; and we thus arrive, in inquiries of this kind, at the fundamental principle, that the greater the number of individuals observed, the more do individual peculiarities, whether physical or moral, become effaced, and leave in a prominent point of view the general facts, by virtue of which society exists and is preserved.
A Treatise on Man and the Development of his Faculties (1842). Reprinted with an introduction by Solomon Diamond (1969), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Efface (3)  |  Existence (254)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Greatness (34)  |  Individual (177)  |  Moral (100)  |  Peculiarity (15)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Point Of View (26)  |  Preservation (28)  |  Principle (228)  |  Prominent (5)  |  Resemblance (18)  |  Scale (49)  |  Society (188)  |  Virtue (55)

Knowledge and science is nothing but perception.
Tr. i. 392; Theset. 160 D. As indexed in Alfred Day, Summary and Analysis of the Dialogues of Plato (1870), 380.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Perception (53)  |  Science (1699)

Laplace considers astronomy a science of observation, because we can only observe the movements of the planets; we cannot reach them, indeed, to alter their course and to experiment with them. “On earth,” said Laplace, “we make phenomena vary by experiments; in the sky, we carefully define all the phenomena presented to us by celestial motion.” Certain physicians call medicine a science of observations, because they wrongly think that experimentation is inapplicable to it.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 18. A footnote cites Laplace, Systčme du monde, Chap. 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Alteration (22)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Call (68)  |  Carefully (9)  |  Celestial (15)  |  Course (57)  |  Defining (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Experimentation (6)  |  Inapplicable (2)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (50)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Motion (127)  |  Movement (65)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Physician (232)  |  Planet (199)  |  Sky (68)  |  Variation (50)

Leakey’s work on the Olduvai Canyon man has depended a great deal on the observance of a notched break in the shinbones of good-sized animals, which is assumed to have been made by striking a bone with a sharp rock before breaking it over the knee to expose the bone marrow which is edible and nourishing. When he found broken bones with the tell-tale notch, he knew that man must have been there and so began his search.
In 'Man’s Place in the Physical Universe', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Sep 1965), 21, No. 7, 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Archaeology (42)  |  Bone (57)  |  Break (33)  |  Clue (14)  |  Food (139)  |  Louis S.B. Leakey (2)  |  Marrow (5)  |  Search (85)

Let him who so wishes take pleasure in boring us with all the wonders of nature: let one spend his life observing insects, another counting the tiny bones in the hearing membrane of certain fish, even in measuring, if you will, how far a flea can jump, not to mention so many other wretched objects of study; for myself, who am curious only about philosophy, who am sorry only not to be able to extend its horizons, active nature will always be my sole point of view; I love to see it from afar, in its breadth and its entirety, and not in specifics or in little details, which, although to some extent necessary in all the sciences, are generally the mark of little genius among those who devote themselves to them.
'L'Homme Plante', in Oeuvres Philosophiques de La Mettrie (1796), Vol. 2, 70-1. Jacques Roger, The Life Sciences in Eighteenth-Century French Thought, edited by Keith R. Benson and trans. Robert Ellrich (1997), 377.
Science quotes on:  |  Bone (57)  |  Ear (21)  |  Flea (8)  |  Genius (186)  |  Insect (57)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Philosophy (213)

Let people who have to observe sickness and death look back and try to register in their observation the appearances which have preceded relapse, attack or death, and not assert that there were none, or that there were not the right ones. A want of the habit of observing conditions and an inveterate habit of taking averages are each of them often equally misleading.
Notes on Nursing: What it is, and What it is Not (1860), 67.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (77)  |  Attack (29)  |  Average (31)  |  Death (270)  |  Misleading (12)  |  Register (9)  |  Relapse (2)  |  Sickness (20)

Let us now discuss the extent of the mathematical quality in Nature. According to the mechanistic scheme of physics or to its relativistic modification, one needs for the complete description of the universe not merely a complete system of equations of motion, but also a complete set of initial conditions, and it is only to the former of these that mathematical theories apply. The latter are considered to be not amenable to theoretical treatment and to be determinable only from observation.
From Lecture delivered on presentation of the James Scott prize, (6 Feb 1939), 'The Relation Between Mathematics And Physics', printed in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1938-1939), 59, Part 2, 125.
Science quotes on:  |  Amenable (2)  |  Apply (38)  |  Complete (43)  |  Condition (119)  |  Description (72)  |  Determine (45)  |  Initial (13)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Mechanistic (2)  |  Modification (31)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Physics (301)  |  Quality (65)  |  Relativistic (2)  |  Scheme (20)  |  Set (56)  |  System (141)  |  Theory (582)  |  Treatment (88)  |  Universe (563)

Let us then suppose the Mind to be, as we say, white Paper, void of all Characters, without any Ideas; How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless Fancy of Man has painted on it, with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of Reason and Knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from Experience: In that, all our Knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives it self. Our Observation employ’d either about external, sensible Objects; or about the internal Operations of our Minds, perceived and reflected on by our selves, is that, which supplies our Understandings with all the materials of thinking.
In 'Of Ideas in general, and their Original', An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Book 2, Chap. 1, Sec. 2, 37.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (268)  |  Idea (440)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Mind (544)  |  Object (110)  |  Operation (96)  |  Paper (52)  |  Reason (330)  |  Thinking (222)  |  Understanding (317)

Logic does not pretend to teach the surgeon what are the symptoms which indicate a violent death. This he must learn from his own experience and observation, or from that of others, his predecessors in his peculiar science. But logic sits in judgment on the sufficiency of that observation and experience to justify his rules, and on the sufficiency of his rules to justify his conduct. It does not give him proofs, but teaches him what makes them proofs, and how he is to judge of them.
In A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence, and the Methods of Scientific Investigation (1843), Vol. 1, 11.
Science quotes on:  |  Conduct (23)  |  Death (270)  |  Experience (268)  |  Indicate (10)  |  Judge (43)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Justify (19)  |  Learn (160)  |  Logic (187)  |  Make (23)  |  Peculiar (24)  |  Predecessor (18)  |  Pretend (14)  |  Proof (192)  |  Rule (135)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sufficient (24)  |  Surgeon (43)  |  Symptom (16)  |  Teach (102)  |  Violent (15)

Long before I ever saw the desert I was aware of the mystical overtones which the observation of nature made audible to me. But I have never been more frequently or more vividly aware of them than in connection with the desert phenomena.
The Voice of the Desert, a Naturalist’s Interpretation (1955, 1975), 216.
Science quotes on:  |  Audible (2)  |  Connection (86)  |  Desert (27)  |  Frequent (10)  |  Mystery (125)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Overtone (2)  |  Vivid (16)

Look for knowledge not in books but in things themselves.
Non ex libris solum,sed ex rebus ipsis scientiam quaeritis.
In De Magnete, Magnetisque Corporibus, et de Magno Magnete Tellure, On the Magnet, Magnetic Bodies, and the Great Magnet Earth (1600). As translated in John Daintith, Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists (2009), 291. A more literal translation is “Not only in books but in things themselves look for knowledge,” as translated by P. Fleury Mottelay (1893) in De Magnete (1958), xlix. Original Latin in De Magnete (1600), Praefatio, unpaginated second page of preface.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (151)  |  Book (181)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Research (517)  |  Self-Taught (5)

Macaulay somewhere says, that it is extraordinary that, whereas the laws of the motions of the heavenly bodies, far removed as they are from us, are perfectly well understood, the laws of the human mind, which are under our observation all day and every day, are no better understood than they were two thousand years ago.
In Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not (1859), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Extraordinary (32)  |  Heavens (16)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Law Of Motion (12)  |  Lord Thomas Macaulay (4)  |  Understanding (317)

Magnitude may be compared to the power output in kilowatts of a [radio] broadcasting station; local intensity, on the Mercalli or similar scale, is then comparable to the signal strength noted on a receiver at a given locality. Intensity, like signal strength, will generally fall off with distance from the source; it will also depend on local conditions at the point of observation, and to some extent on the conditions along the path from source to that point.
From interview in the Earthquake Information Bulletin (Jul-Aug 1971), 3, No. 4, as abridged in article on USGS website.
Science quotes on:  |  Comparable (5)  |  Compare (15)  |  Condition (119)  |  Depend (56)  |  Distance (54)  |  Extent (30)  |  Intensity (19)  |  Kilowatt (2)  |  Local (15)  |  Locality (6)  |  Magnitude (21)  |  Output (9)  |  Path (59)  |  Point (72)  |  Power (273)  |  Radio (27)  |  Receiver (5)  |  Scale (49)  |  Signal (14)  |  Source (71)  |  Station (9)  |  Strength (63)

Man does not limit himself to seeing; he thinks and insists on learning the meaning of phenomena whose existence has been revealed to him by observation. So he reasons, compares facts, puts questions to them, and by the answers which he extracts, tests one by another. This sort of control, by means of reasoning and facts, is what constitutes experiment, properly speaking; and it is the only process that we have for teaching ourselves about the nature of things outside us.
In Claude Bernard and Henry Copley Greene (trans.), An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1927, 1957), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Another (7)  |  Answer (201)  |  Comparison (53)  |  Constitute (19)  |  Control (93)  |  Existence (254)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Extraction (5)  |  Fact (609)  |  Insistence (9)  |  Learning (174)  |  Limit (86)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Nature Of Things (5)  |  Outside (37)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Process (201)  |  Question (315)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Revelation (29)  |  See (197)  |  Teaching (99)  |  Test (96)  |  Thinking (222)

Man, as the minister and interpreter of nature, is limited in act and understanding by his observation of the order of nature; neither his understanding nor his power extends further.
Novum Organum, Aphor I. Quoted in Robert Routledge, Discoveries and Inventions of the 19th Century (1890), 696

Man, being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or thought of the course of nature; beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.
From Novum Oranum (1620), Book 1, Aphorism 1. Translated as The New Organon: Aphorisms Concerning the Interpretation of Nature and the Kingdom of Man), collected in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1857), Vol. 4, 47.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1128)

Many 'hard' scientists regard the term 'social science' as an oxymoron. Science means hypotheses you can test, and prove or disprove. Social science is little more than observation putting on airs.
'A Cuba Policy That's Stuck On Plan A', opinion column, The Washington Post (17 Apr 2009)
Science quotes on:  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Proof (192)  |  Quip (75)  |  Social Science (18)

Mathematicians deal with possible worlds, with an infinite number of logically consistent systems. Observers explore the one particular world we inhabit. Between the two stands the theorist. He studies possible worlds but only those which are compatible with the information furnished by observers. In other words, theory attempts to segregate the minimum number of possible worlds which must include the actual world we inhabit. Then the observer, with new factual information, attempts to reduce the list further. And so it goes, observation and theory advancing together toward the common goal of science, knowledge of the structure and observation of the universe.
Lecture to Sigma Xi, 'The Problem of the Expanding Universe' (1941), printed in Sigma Xi Quarterly (1942), 30, 104-105. Reprinted in Smithsonian Institution Report of the Board of Regents (1943), 97, 123. As cited by Norriss S. Hetherington in 'Philosophical Values and Observation in Edwin Hubble's Choice of a Model of the Universe', Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (1982), 13, No. 1, 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Actual (34)  |  Advance (123)  |  Attempt (94)  |  Common (92)  |  Compatibility (4)  |  Consistency (21)  |  Exploration (93)  |  Fact (609)  |  Goal (81)  |  Inclusion (5)  |  Infinite (88)  |  Information (102)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Logic (187)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Minimum (10)  |  Number (179)  |  Observer (33)  |  Reduction (35)  |  Science (1699)  |  Segregation (2)  |  Structure (191)  |  Study (331)  |  System (141)  |  Theorist (24)  |  Theory (582)  |  Universe (563)  |  World (667)

Matters of fact, which as Mr Budgell somewhere observes, are very stubborn things.
In copy of the Will of Matthew Tindal (1733), 23. As cited in Kate Louise Roberts, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations (1922), 570.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Matter (270)  |  Stubborn (5)  |  Thing (37)

Medicine is an incoherent assemblage of incoherent ideas, and is, perhaps, of all the physiological Sciences, that which best shows the caprice of the human mind. What did I say! It is not a Science for a methodical mind. It is a shapeless assemblage of inaccurate ideas, of observations often puerile, of deceptive remedies, and of formulae as fantastically conceived as they are tediously arranged.
Bichat's General Anatomy, vol. 1, 17. Quoted in Alva Curtis, A Fair Examination and Criticism of All the Medical Systems in Vogue (1855), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Idea (440)  |  Medicine (322)

Men are more apt to be mistaken in their generalizations than in their particular observations.
Attributed (?). Widely seen, without citation. Webmaster has not yet found a satisfactory primary source, but finds the quote used as an epigraph as early as C. E. Rhoad, The Problem Method of Teaching: Operator’s Manual (1950), 43. A University of Nebraska Publication. Notably, this quote does not seem to appear in any 19th century quote collection volumes. If you know a primary source, contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Generalization (26)  |  Mistake (107)  |  Particular (54)

Men who have excessive faith in their theories or ideas are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations. Of necessity, they observe with a preconceived idea, and when they devise an experiment, they can see, in its results,only a confirmation of their theory. In this way they distort observation and often neglect very important facts because they do not further their aim.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 38.
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (58)  |  Confirmation (15)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Distortion (10)  |  Excessive (7)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Faith (131)  |  Idea (440)  |  Importance (183)  |  Neglect (23)  |  Poor (46)  |  Preconceived (3)  |  Preparation (33)  |  Result (250)  |  Theory (582)

Men who have excessive faith in their theories … make poor observations, because they choose among the results of their experiments only what suits their object, neglecting whatever is unrelated to it and carefully setting aside everything which might tend toward the idea they wish to combat
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 38.
Science quotes on:  |  Care (73)  |  Choose (35)  |  Combat (9)  |  Excessive (7)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Faith (131)  |  Idea (440)  |  Ignoring (5)  |  Neglect (23)  |  Object (110)  |  Poor (46)  |  Result (250)  |  Suit (7)  |  Tendency (40)  |  Theory (582)  |  Unrelated (6)  |  Wish (62)

Miss Stevens’s work is characterized by its precision, and by a caution that seldom ventures far from the immediate observation. Her contributions are models of brevity—a brevity amounting at times almost to meagerness.
In obituary, 'The Scientific Work of Miss N.M. Steves', Science (11 Oct 1912), 36, No. 928, 470.
Science quotes on:  |  Brevity (3)  |  Caution (15)  |  Characterized (2)  |  Contribution (49)  |  Immediate (27)  |  Model (64)  |  Precision (38)  |  Seldom (21)  |  Nettie Maria Stevens (4)  |  Time (439)  |  Venture (12)  |  Work (457)

More discoveries have arisen from intense observation of very limited material than from statistics applied to large groups. The value of the latter lies mainly in testing hypotheses arising from the former. While observing one should cultivate a speculative, contemplative attitude of mind and search for clues to be followed up. Training in observation follows the same principles as training in any activity. At first one must do things consciously and laboriously, but with practice the activities gradually become automatic and unconscious and a habit is established. Effective scientific observation also requires a good background, for only by being familiar with the usual can we notice something as being unusual or unexplained.
The Art of Scientific Investigation (1950), 101.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (591)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Statistics (125)

My definition of science is … somewhat as follows: Science is an interconnected series of concepts and conceptual schemes that have developed as a result of experimentation and observation and are fruitful of further experimentation and observations. In this definition the emphasis is on the word “fruitful.”
In Science and Common Sense (1951), 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Concept (102)  |  Definition (152)  |  Emphasis (14)  |  Experimentation (6)  |  Fruitful (31)  |  Result (250)  |  Science (1699)

My interest in science was excited at age nine by an article on astronomy in National Geographic; the author was Donald Menzel of the Harvard Observatory. For the next few years, I regularly made star maps and snuck out at night to make observations from a locust tree in our back yard.
In Wilhelm Odelberg (ed.), Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1986 (1987).
Science quotes on:  |  Article (15)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Backyard (4)  |  Child (189)  |  Excitement (33)  |  Harvard (6)  |  Interest (170)  |  National Geographic (2)  |  Night (73)  |  Observatory (11)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sneak (2)

My Lord said that he who knew men only in this way [from history] was like one who had got the theory of anatomy perfectly, but who in practice would find himself very awkward and liable to mistakes. That he again who knew men by observation was like one who picked up anatomy by practice, but who like all empirics would for a long time be liable to gross errors.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Empirical (15)  |  Error (230)  |  Mistake (107)  |  Practice (67)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Theory (582)

Natural history is a matter of observation; it is a harvest which you gather when and where you find it growing. Birds and squirrels and flowers are not always in season, but philosophy we have always with us. It is a crop which we can grow and reap at all times and in all places and it has its own value and brings its own satisfaction.
From Under the Apple-Trees (1916), Preface.
Science quotes on:  |  Bird (96)  |  Crop (16)  |  Flower (65)  |  Gather (29)  |  Growth (111)  |  Harvest (14)  |  Natural History (44)  |  Philosophy (213)  |  Reap (6)  |  Satisfaction (48)  |  Season (24)  |  Squirrel (7)  |  Value (180)

Nature, … in order to carry out the marvelous operations [that occur] in animals and plants has been pleased to construct their organized bodies with a very large number of machines, which are of necessity made up of extremely minute parts so shaped and situated as to form a marvelous organ, the structure and composition of which are usually invisible to the naked eye without the aid of a microscope. … Just as Nature deserves praise and admiration for making machines so small, so too the physician who observes them to the best of his ability is worthy of praise, not blame, for he must also correct and repair these machines as well as he can every time they get out of order.
'Reply to Doctor Sbaraglia' in Opera Posthuma (1697), in H. B. Adelmann (ed.), Marcello Malpighi and the Evolution of Embryology (1966), Vol. 1, 568.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (75)  |  Admiration (34)  |  Aid (23)  |  Animal (309)  |  Blame (17)  |  Body (193)  |  Composition (52)  |  Construction (69)  |  Correction (28)  |  Extreme (36)  |  Formation (54)  |  Invisibility (5)  |  Machine (133)  |  Making (26)  |  Marvel (24)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Minuteness (3)  |  Naked Eye (7)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Operation (96)  |  Organ (60)  |  Organization (79)  |  Out Of Order (2)  |  Part (146)  |  Physician (232)  |  Plant (173)  |  Pleasure (98)  |  Praise (17)  |  Repair (7)  |  Shape (52)  |  Small (97)  |  Structure (191)

No other explanation of living forms is allowed than heredity, and any which is founded on another basis must be rejected. The present fashion requires that even the smallest and most indifferent inquiry must be dressed in phylogenetic costume, and whilst in former centuries authors professed to read in every natural detail some intention of the creator mundi, modern scientists have the aspiration to pick out from every occasional observation a fragment of the ancestral history of the living world.
'On the Principles of Animal Morphology', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2 Apr 1888), 15, 294. Original as Letter to Mr John Murray, communicated to the Society by Professor Sir William Turner. Page given as in collected volume published 1889.
Science quotes on:  |  Aspiration (19)  |  Basis (60)  |  Detail (65)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fashion (24)  |  Form (210)  |  Founded (10)  |  Fragment (24)  |  Heredity (51)  |  History (302)  |  Indifferent (9)  |  Inquiry (33)  |  Intention (25)  |  Life (917)  |  Modern (104)  |  Natural (128)  |  Occasional (10)  |  Pick (14)  |  Read (83)  |  Reject (21)  |  Scientist (447)

No phenomenon is a physical phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.
Quoted in Robert J. Scully, The Demon and the Quantum (2007), 191.

Nor need you doubt that Pythagoras, a long time before he found the demonstration for the Hecatomb, had been certain that the square of the side subtending the right angle in a rectangular triangle was equal to the square of the other two sides; the certainty of the conclusion helped not a little in the search for a demonstration. But whatever was the method of Aristotle, and whether his arguing a priori preceded sense a posteriori, or the contrary, it is sufficient that the same Aristotle (as has often been said) put sensible experiences before all discourses. As to the arguments a priori, their force has already been examined.
Dialogue on the Great World Systems (1632). Revised and Annotated by Giorgio De Santillana (1953), 60.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (141)  |  Pythagoras (27)

Nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses.
Nihil est in intellectu quod non sit prius in sensu.
Original Latin in Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate, q. 2 a. 3 arg. 19. Also seen translated as “There is nothing in the mind that has not been previously in the senses.” In plain language, it means that the knowledge (or understanding) of outward objects “is conveyed to the mind through the senses,” as given in William Sullivan and George Barrell Emerson, The Political Class Book: Intended to Instruct the Higher Classes in Schools (1831), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  First (174)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Mind (544)  |  Nothing (267)  |  Research (517)  |  Sense (240)  |  Understanding (317)

Nothing is known in our profession by guess; and I do not believe, that from the first dawn of medical science to the present moment, a single correct idea has ever emanated from conjecture: it is right therefore, that those who are studying their profession should be aware that there is no short road to knowledge; and that observation on the diseased living, examination of the dead, and experiments upon living animals, are the only sources of true knowledge; and that inductions from these are the sole bases of legitimate theory.
Astley Paston Cooper, Astley Cooper, Bransby Blake Cooper, A Treatise on Dislocations and Fractures of the Joints (1851), 155.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Guess (36)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Medicine (322)

Now having (I know not by what accident) engaged my thoughts upon the Bills of Mortality, and so far succeeded therein, as to have reduced several great confused Volumes into a few perspicuous Tables, and abridged such Observations as naturally flowed from them, into a few succinct Paragraphs, without any long Series of multiloquious Deductions, I have presumed to sacrifice these my small, but first publish'd, Labours unto your Lordship, as unto whose benign acceptance of some other of my Papers even the birth of these is due; hoping (if I may without vanity say it) they may be of as much use to persons in your Lordships place, as they are of none to me, which is no more than fairest Diamonds are to the Journeymen Jeweller that works them, or the poor Labourer that first digg'd them from Earth.
[An early account demonstrating the value of statistical analysis of public health data. Graunt lived in London at the time of the plague epidemics.]
From Graunt's 'Epistle Dedicatory', for Natural and Political Observations Mentioned in a Following Index and Made upon Bills of Mortality (1662). Reproduced in Cornelius Walford, The Insurance Cyclopaedia (1871), Vol. 1, 286. (This text used abbreviations for “Mort.” and “vols.”) The italicized words are given as from other sources. Note: bills of mortality are abstracts from parish registers showing the numbers that have died in each week, month or year.
Science quotes on:  |  Deduction (49)  |  Diamond (15)  |  Journeyman (2)  |  Laborer (6)  |  Mortality (13)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Table (25)  |  Thought (374)

Now I should like to ask you for an observation; since I possess no instruments, I must appeal to others.
As quoted in James Bruce Ross and Mary Martin McLaughlin, The Portable Renaissance Reader (1968), 600.
Science quotes on:  |  Appeal (30)  |  Ask (99)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Possess (19)  |  Telescope (74)

Now, I must tell you of a strange experience which bore fruit in my later life. ... We had a cold [snap] drier that ever observed before. People walking in the snow left a luminous trail behind them and a snowball thrown against an obstacle gave a flare of light like a loaf of sugar hit with a knife. [As I stroked] MaĨak's back, [it became] a sheet of light and my hand produced a shower of sparks. ... My father ... remarked, this is nothing but electricity, the same thing you see on the trees in a storm. My mother seemed alarmed. Stop playing with the cat, she said, he might start a fire. I was thinking abstractly. Is nature a cat? If so, who strokes its back? It can only be God, I concluded. ...
I cannot exaggerate the effect of this marvelous sight on my childish imagination. Day after day I asked myself what is electricity and found no answer. Eighty years have gone by since and I still ask the same question, unable to answer it.
Letter to Miss Pola Fotitch, 'A Story of Youth Told by Age' (1939). In John Ratzlaff, editor, Tesla Said (1984), 283-84. Cited in Marc J. Seifer, Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla (1998), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (201)  |  Biography (227)  |  Cat (31)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Experience (268)  |  God (454)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Luminous (9)  |  Mystery (125)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Question (315)  |  Spark (18)  |  Stroke (5)

Obervation is a passive science, experimentation is an active science.
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1929), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Research (517)

Observation and experiment for gathering material, induction and deduction for elaborating it: these are are only good intellectual tools.
In Claude Bernard, Henry C. Greene and L. J. Henderson, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1957), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Intellect (157)

Observation by means of the microscope will reveal more wonderful things than those viewed in regard to mere structure and connection: for while the heart is still beating the contrary (i.e., in opposite directions in the different vessels) movement of the blood is observed in the vessels—though with difficulty—so that the circulation of the blood is clearly exposed.
De Pulmonibus (1661), trans. James Young, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine (1929-30), 23, 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Beat (15)  |  Blood (95)  |  Capillary (4)  |  Connection (86)  |  Heart (110)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Structure (191)  |  Vessel (21)  |  Wonder (134)

Observation is like a piece of glass, which, as a mirror, must be very smooth, and must be very carefully polished, in order that it may reflect the image pure and undistorted.
'The Study of the Natural Sciences: An Introductory Lecture to the Course of Experimental Chemistry in the University of Munich, for the Winter Session of 1852-53,' as translated and republished in The Medical Times and Gazette (22 Jan 1853), N.S. Vol. 6, 82.
Science quotes on:  |  Care (73)  |  Glass (35)  |  Image (38)  |  Mirror (21)  |  Polish (8)  |  Pure (62)  |  Reflect (17)  |  Smooth (13)  |  Undistorted (2)

Observation is so wide awake, and facts are being so rapidly added to the sum of human experience, that it appears as if the theorizer would always be in arrears, and were doomed forever to arrive at imperfect conclusion; but the power to perceive a law is equally rare in all ages of the world, and depends but little on the number of facts observed.
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1921), 270.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Law (418)  |  Theory (582)

Observation, Reason, Human Understanding, Courage; these make the physician.
In Fischerisms (1930), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Courage (39)  |  Human (445)  |  Physician (232)  |  Reason (330)  |  Understanding (317)

Observations always involve theory.
Science quotes on:  |  Involve (27)  |  Theory (582)

On the most usual assumption, the universe is homogeneous on the large scale, i.e. down to regions containing each an appreciable number of nebulae. The homogeneity assumption may then be put in the form: An observer situated in a nebula and moving with the nebula will observe the same properties of the universe as any other similarly situated observer at any time.
From 'Review of Cosmology,', Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (1948), 107-8; as quoted and cited in Hermann Friedmann, Wissenschaft und Symbol, Biederstein (1949), 472.
Science quotes on:  |  Assumption (49)  |  Containing (4)  |  Homogeneity (4)  |  Homogeneous (2)  |  Large (82)  |  Moving (11)  |  Nebula (15)  |  Number (179)  |  Observer (33)  |  Property (96)  |  Region (26)  |  Same (92)  |  Scale (49)  |  Similar (22)  |  Time (439)  |  Universe (563)

One of the greatest experimental scientists of the time who was really doing something, William Harvey, said that what Bacon said science was, was the science that a lord-chancellor would do. He [Bacon] spoke of making observations, but omitted the vital factor of judgment about what to observe and what to pay attention to.
From address (1966) at the 14th Annual Convention of the National Science Teachers Association, New York City, printed in 'What is science?', The Physics Teacher (1969), 7, No. 6, 321.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (76)  |  Sir Francis Bacon (167)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Factor (34)  |  Great (300)  |  William Harvey (27)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Science (1699)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Vital (32)

One point at which our magicians attempt their sleight-of-hand is when they slide quickly from the Hubble, redshift-distance relation to redshift-velocity of expansion. There are now five or six whole classes of objects that violate this absolutely basic assumption. It really gives away the game to realize how observations of these crucial objects have been banned from the telescope and how their discussion has met with desperate attempts at suppression.
In 'Letters: Wrangling Over the Bang', Science News (27 Jul 1991), 140, No. 4, 51. Also quoted in Roy C. Martin, Astronomy on Trial: A Devastating and Complete Repudiation of the Big Bang Fiasco (1999), Appendix I, 217.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (65)  |  Assumption (49)  |  Ban (9)  |  Basic (52)  |  Big Bang (38)  |  Class (64)  |  Crucial (8)  |  Discussion (37)  |  Distance (54)  |  Expansion (25)  |  Magician (12)  |  Object (110)  |  Realize (43)  |  Red-Shift (4)  |  Suppression (6)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Velocity (14)  |  Violate (3)

Open up a few corpses: you will dissipate at once the darkness that observation alone could not dissipate.
Anatomie générale appliquée ą la physiologie ą la médecine (1801), avant-propos, xic.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Dissection (26)

Our experience shows that not everything that is observable and measurable is predictable, no matter how complete our past observations may have been.
In Presidential Address (8 Feb 1963), Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society (Mar 1963), 4, 197.
Science quotes on:  |  Completion (15)  |  Everything (120)  |  Experience (268)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Past (109)  |  Prediction (67)

Our mind, by virtue of a certain finite, limited capability, is by no means capable of putting a question to Nature that permits a continuous series of answers. The observations, the individual results of measurements, are the answers of Nature to our discontinuous questioning.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (201)  |  Capability (35)  |  Capable (26)  |  Certain (84)  |  Continuous (24)  |  Discontinuous (3)  |  Finite (22)  |  Individual (177)  |  Limit (86)  |  Means (109)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Mind (544)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Permit (20)  |  Question (315)  |  Result (250)  |  Series (38)  |  Virtue (55)

Our model of Nature should not be like a building—a handsome structure for the populace to admire, until in the course of time some one takes away a corner stone and the edifice comes toppling down. It should be like an engine with movable parts. We need not fix the position of any one lever; that is to be adjusted from time to time as the latest observations indicate. The aim of the theorist is to know the train of wheels which the lever sets in motion—that binding of the parts which is the soul of the engine.
In 'The Internal Constitution of the Stars', The Scientific Monthly (Oct 1920), 11, No. 4, 302.
Science quotes on:  |  Adjustment (12)  |  Admiration (34)  |  Aim (58)  |  Binding (8)  |  Building (51)  |  Cornerstone (3)  |  Edifice (13)  |  Engine (25)  |  Fixing (2)  |  Indication (21)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Lever (9)  |  Model (64)  |  Motion (127)  |  Moving (11)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Part (146)  |  Populace (2)  |  Position (54)  |  Soul (139)  |  Structure (191)  |  Theorist (24)  |  Train (25)

Passing just lately over this lake, … and examining this water next day, I found floating therein divers earthy particles, and some green streaks, spirally wound serpent-wise, and orderly arranged, after the manner of the copper or tin worms, which distillers use to cool their liquors as they distil over. The whole circumference of each of these streaks was about the thickness of a hair of one's head. … all consisted of very small green globules joined together: and there were very many small green globules as well. [The earliest recorded observation of the common green alga Spyrogyra.]
Letter to the Royal Society, London (7 Sep 1674). In John Carey, Eyewitness to Science (1997), 28-29
Science quotes on:  |  Alga (2)  |  Globule (3)  |  Hair (19)  |  Lake (12)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Serpent (5)  |  Water (244)

People who look for the first time through a microscope say now I see this and then I see that—and even a skilled observer can be fooled. On these observations I have spent more time than many will believe, but I have done them with joy, and I have taken no notice of those who have said why take so much trouble and what good is it?—but I do not write for such people but only for the philosophical!
As quoted, without citation, by Dugald Caleb Jackson and Walter Paul Jones, in This Scientific Age: Essays in Modern Thought and Achievement (1930), 132.
Science quotes on:  |  Joy (61)  |  Look (46)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Observer (33)  |  Skilled (3)  |  Trouble (55)

Physiology is the experimental science par excellence of all sciences; that in which there is least to be learnt by mere observation, and that which affords the greatest field for the exercise of those faculties which characterize the experimental philosopher.
In 'Educational Value of Natural History Sciences', Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews (1870), 90.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Learn (160)  |  Mere (41)  |  Physiology (66)  |  Science (1699)

Positivism is a theory of knowledge according to which the only kind of sound knowledge available to human kind is that if science grounded in observation.
(1891). As given as an epigraph in M.J. Vinod and Meena Deshpande, Contemporary Political Theory (2013), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Kind (99)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sound (59)  |  Theory (582)

Reality is what kicks back when you kick it. This is just what physicists do with their particle accelerators. We kick reality and feel it kick back. From the intensity and duration of thousands of those kicks over many years, we have formed a coherent theory of matter and forces, called the standard model, that currently agrees with all observations.
In Has Science Found God?: The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (2003), 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Accelerator (7)  |  Agreement (29)  |  Coherence (8)  |  Duration (9)  |  Feel (93)  |  Force (194)  |  Intensity (19)  |  Kick (7)  |  Matter (270)  |  Reality (140)  |  Standard Model (2)  |  Theory (582)

Reason, Observation, and Experience—the Holy Trinity of Science.
In 'The Gods', The Gods: and Other Lectures (1874, 1879), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (268)  |  Reason (330)  |  Science (1699)

Religion and science ... constitute deep-rooted and ancient efforts to find richer experience and deeper meaning than are found in the ordinary biological and social satisfactions. As pointed out by Whitehead, religion and science have similar origins and are evolving toward similar goals. Both started from crude observations and fanciful concepts, meaningful only within a narrow range of conditions for the people who formulated them of their limited tribal experience. But progressively, continuously, and almost simultaneously, religious and scientific concepts are ridding themselves of their coarse and local components, reaching higher and higher levels of abstraction and purity. Both the myths of religion and the laws of science, it is now becoming apparent, are not so much descriptions of facts as symbolic expressions of cosmic truths.
'On Being Human,' A God Within, Scribner (1972).
Science quotes on:  |  Abstraction (29)  |  Ancient (68)  |  Apparent (26)  |  Become (100)  |  Biological (21)  |  Both (52)  |  Coarse (2)  |  Component (14)  |  Concept (102)  |  Condition (119)  |  Constitute (19)  |  Continuously (7)  |  Cosmic (34)  |  Crude (14)  |  Deep (81)  |  Description (72)  |  Effort (94)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Experience (268)  |  Expression (82)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fanciful (4)  |  Find (248)  |  Formulate (10)  |  Goal (81)  |  High (78)  |  Law (418)  |  Level (51)  |  Limit (86)  |  Local (15)  |  Mean (63)  |  Meaningful (14)  |  Myth (43)  |  Narrow (33)  |  Ordinary (44)  |  Origin (77)  |  People (269)  |  Point (72)  |  Progressively (2)  |  Purity (13)  |  Range (38)  |  Reach (68)  |  Religion (210)  |  Religion And Science (6)  |  Religious (44)  |  Rich (48)  |  Rid (10)  |  Satisfaction (48)  |  Science (1699)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Similar (22)  |  Simultaneous (12)  |  Social (93)  |  Start (68)  |  Symbolic (6)  |  Themselves (45)  |  Toward (29)  |  Truth (750)  |  Whitehead (2)

Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever floats a sort of dust-cloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always proves more easy to ignore than to attend to … Anyone will renovate his science who will steadily look after the irregular phenomena, and when science is renewed, its new formulas often have more of the voice of the exceptions in them than of what were supposed to be the rules.
In 'The Hidden Self', Scribner’s Magazine (1890), Vol. 7, 361.
Science quotes on:  |  Cloud (44)  |  Dust (42)  |  Exception (33)  |  Exceptional (6)  |  Fact (609)  |  Float (12)  |  Formula (51)  |  Irregular (4)  |  Minute (25)  |  New (340)  |  Occurrence (30)  |  Order (167)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Renew (7)  |  Renovate (3)  |  Rule (135)  |  Science (1699)  |  Seldom (21)

Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever floats a sort of dustcloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always proves more easy to ignore than to attend to.
The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1977, 1983), 28.
Science quotes on:  |  Exception (33)  |  Fact (609)  |  Ignore (22)  |  Irregularity (10)  |  Order (167)  |  Science (1699)

Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.
In Storm: The Animated Movie (2011).
Science quotes on:  |  Adjust (5)  |  Based (4)  |  Belief (400)  |  Denial (13)  |  Faith (131)  |  Preserve (38)  |  Science (1699)  |  View (115)

Science can be defined as “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena.”
In Bernice Zeldin Schacter, Issues and Dilemmas of Biotechnology: A Reference Guide (1999), 1, citing the American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition.
Science quotes on:  |  Definition (152)  |  Description (72)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Identification (11)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Science (1699)  |  Theoretical (10)

Science emerges from the other progressive activities of man to the extent that new concepts arise from experiments and observations, and that the new concepts in turn lead to further experiments and observations.
From On Understanding Science (1947), 24 as quoted and cited in Naomi Oreskes and John Krige (eds.), Science and Technology in the Global Cold War (2014), 380 & footnote 30 on 391.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Research (517)  |  Science (1699)

Science has to be understood in its broadest sense, as a method for apprehending all observable reality, and not merely as an instrument for acquiring specialized knowledge.
In Alfred Armand Montapert, Words of Wisdom to Live By: An Encyclopedia of Wisdom in Condensed Form (1986), 217, without citation. If you know the primary source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquiring (5)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Method (154)  |  Reality (140)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sense (240)  |  Specialized (4)  |  Understanding (317)

Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. Examples include the double helix in biology, and the fundamental equations of physics.
[Answer to question: What are the things you find most beautiful in science?]
'Stephen Hawking: "There is no heaven; it's a fairy story"', interview in newspaper The Guardian (15 May 2011).
Science quotes on:  |  Beauty (171)  |  Connection (86)  |  Difference (208)  |  DNA (67)  |  Equation (69)  |  Example (57)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Make (23)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Physics (301)  |  Science (1699)  |  Simple (111)

Science is in a literal sense constructive of new facts. It has no fixed body of facts passively awaiting explanation, for successful theories allow the construction of new instruments—electron microscopes and deep space probes—and the exploration of phenomena that were beyond description—the behavior of transistors, recombinant DNA, and elementary particles, for example. This is a key point in the progressive nature of science—not only are there more elegant or accurate analyses of phenomena already known, but there is also extension of the range of phenomena that exist to be described and explained.
Co-author with Michael A. Arbib, English-born professor of computer science and biomedical engineering (1940-)
Michael A. Arbib and Mary B. Hesse, The Construction of Reality (1986), 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Theory (582)

Science is often regarded as the most objective and truth-directed of human enterprises, and since direct observation is supposed to be the favored route to factuality, many people equate respectable science with visual scrutiny–just the facts ma’am, and palpably before my eyes. But science is a battery of observational and inferential methods, all directed to the testing of propositions that can, in principle, be definitely proven false ... At all scales, from smallest to largest, quickest to slowest, many well-documented conclusions of science lie beyond the strictly limited domain of direct observation. No one has ever seen an electron or a black hole, the events of a picosecond or a geological eon.
Science quotes on:  |  Battery (7)  |  Beyond (65)  |  Black Hole (14)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Definitely (3)  |  Direct (44)  |  Domain (21)  |  Electron (66)  |  Enterprise (20)  |  Eon (8)  |  Equate (3)  |  Event (97)  |  Eye (159)  |  Fact (609)  |  Factuality (2)  |  False (79)  |  Favore (4)  |  Geological (11)  |  Human (445)  |  Large (82)  |  Lie (80)  |  Limit (86)  |  Method (154)  |  Objective (49)  |  Observational (2)  |  Often (69)  |  Palpably (2)  |  People (269)  |  Principle (228)  |  Proposition (47)  |  Prove (60)  |  Quick (7)  |  Regard (58)  |  Respectable (3)  |  Route (11)  |  Scale (49)  |  Science (1699)  |  Scrutiny (13)  |  See (197)  |  Slow (36)  |  Small (97)  |  Strictly (6)  |  Suppose (29)  |  Test (96)  |  Visual (9)

Science is organized knowledge; and before knowledge can be organized, some of it must first be possessed. Every study, therefore, should have a purely experimental introduction; and only after an ample fund of observations has been accumulated, should reasoning begin.
In essay 'The Art of Education', The North British Review (May 1854), 137.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulate (18)  |  Ample (4)  |  Begin (52)  |  Experimental (12)  |  Fund (12)  |  Introduction (31)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Organized (9)  |  Possess (19)  |  Reason (330)  |  Science (1699)  |  Study (331)

Science is simply common sense at its best—that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.
In The Crayfish: An Introduction to the Study of Zoology (1880), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Accurate (21)  |  Common Sense (69)  |  Fallacy (19)  |  Logic (187)  |  Merciless (3)  |  Rigidly (3)  |  Science (1699)  |  Simple (111)

Science is the construction of parsimonious, internally consistent models that can reliably predict future observations.
As quoted in Mark Buchanan, 'Thesis: Madness in the Method', Nature Physics (1 Feb 2009), 5, No. 2, 83.
Science quotes on:  |  Consistent (10)  |  Construction (69)  |  Future (229)  |  Internal (18)  |  Model (64)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Reliable (5)  |  Science (1699)

Science means simplification. It substitutes a single rule for a million miscellaneous observations.
In Chats on Science (1924), 4.
Science quotes on:  |  Million (89)  |  Rule (135)  |  Science (1699)  |  Simplification (12)  |  Single (72)  |  Substitute (23)

Science progresses best when observations force us to alter our preconceptions.
Science quotes on:  |  Alter (19)  |  Best (129)  |  Force (194)  |  Preconception (10)  |  Progress (317)  |  Science (1699)

Science quickens and cultivates directly the faculty of observation, which in very many persons lies almost dormant through life, the power of accurate and rapid generalizations, and the mental habit of method and arrangement; it accustoms young persons to trace the sequence of cause and effect; it familiarizes then with a kind of reasoning which interests them, and which they can promptly comprehend; and it is perhaps the best corrective for that indolence which is the vice of half-awakened minds, and which shrinks from any exertion that is not, like an effort of memory, merely mechanical.
Report of the Royal Commission on Education (1861), Parliamentary Papers (1864), Vol 20, 32-33, as cited in Paul White, Thomas Huxley: Making the "Man of Science" (2003), 77, footnote. Also quoted in John Lubbock, The Pleasures of Life (1887, 2007), 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Arrangement (45)  |  Awakening (4)  |  Cause And Effect (11)  |  Comprehension (51)  |  Cultivation (23)  |  Effort (94)  |  Exertion (8)  |  Faculty (36)  |  Familiarization (2)  |  Generalization (26)  |  Habit (78)  |  Indolence (5)  |  Interest (170)  |  Life (917)  |  Mechanical (31)  |  Memory (81)  |  Method (154)  |  Mind (544)  |  Power (273)  |  Promptness (2)  |  Quickening (2)  |  Rapidity (14)  |  Reason (330)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sequence (32)  |  Shrink (10)  |  Trace (39)  |  Vice (15)

Science starts with preconception, with the common culture, and with common sense. It moves on to observation, is marked by the discovery of paradox, and is then concerned with the correction of preconception. It moves then to use these corrections for the designing of further observation and for more refined experiment. And as it moves along this course the nature of the evidence and experience that nourish it becomes more and more unfamiliar; it is not just the language that is strange [to common culture].
From 'The Growth of Science and the Structure of Culture', Daedalus (Winter 1958), 87, No. 1, 67.
Science quotes on:  |  Common Sense (69)  |  Correction (28)  |  Culture (85)  |  Design (92)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Language (155)  |  Nourish (8)  |  Paradox (35)  |  Preconception (10)  |  Refined (6)  |  Science (1699)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Start (68)  |  Strange (61)  |  Unfamiliar (3)

Science, then, is the attentive consideration of common experience; it is common knowledge extended and refined. Its validity is of the same order as that of ordinary perception; memory, and understanding. Its test is found, like theirs, in actual intuition, which sometimes consists in perception and sometimes in intent. The flight of science is merely longer from perception to perception, and its deduction more accurate of meaning from meaning and purpose from purpose. It generates in the mind, for each vulgar observation, a whole brood of suggestions, hypotheses, and inferences. The sciences bestow, as is right and fitting, infinite pains upon that experience which in their absence would drift by unchallenged or misunderstood. They take note, infer, and prophesy. They compare prophesy with event, and altogether they supply—so intent are they on reality—every imaginable background and extension for the present dream.
The Life of Reason, or the Phases of Human Progress (1954), 393.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (76)  |  Challenge (37)  |  Common (92)  |  Consideration (65)  |  Dream (92)  |  Event (97)  |  Experience (268)  |  Extension (20)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Inference (26)  |  Intent (5)  |  Intuition (39)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Memory (81)  |  Mind (544)  |  Perception (53)  |  Prophesy (7)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Reality (140)  |  Refinement (12)  |  Suggestion (24)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Validity (22)

Scientific discovery, or the formulation of scientific theory, starts in with the unvarnished and unembroidered evidence of the senses. It starts with simple observation—simple, unbiased, unprejudiced, naive, or innocent observation—and out of this sensory evidence, embodied in the form of simple propositions or declarations of fact, generalizations will grow up and take shape, almost as if some process of crystallization or condensation were taking place. Out of a disorderly array of facts, an orderly theory, an orderly general statement, will somehow emerge.
In 'Is the Scientific Paper Fraudulent?', The Saturday Review (1 Aug 1964), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Array (5)  |  Condensation (8)  |  Crystallization (2)  |  Declaration (5)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Embody (13)  |  Emerge (16)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Fact (609)  |  Form (210)  |  Formulation (20)  |  General (92)  |  Generalization (26)  |  Grow (66)  |  Innocent (8)  |  Naive (8)  |  Order (167)  |  Process (201)  |  Proposition (47)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Sense (240)  |  Shape (52)  |  Simple (111)  |  Somehow (3)  |  Start (68)  |  Statement (56)  |  Theory (582)  |  Unbiased (4)  |  Unprejudiced (2)  |  Unvarnished (2)

Scientific method, although in its more refined forms it may seem complicated, is in essence remarkably simply. It consists in observing such facts as will enable the observer to discover general laws governing facts of the kind in question. The two stages, first of observation, and second of inference to a law, are both essential, and each is susceptible of almost indefinite refinement. (1931)
In The Scientific Outlook (1931, 2009), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Inference (26)  |  Law (418)  |  Scientific Method (155)

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society.
Education For a New World. Cited in Michael Olaf, Essential Montessori (1994), 112. In Millennial Child: Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century (1999), 205.
Science quotes on:  |  Education (280)  |  Experience (268)  |  Teacher (90)

Scientists are convinced that they, as scientists, possess a number of very admirable human qualities, such as accuracy, observation, reasoning power, intellectual curiosity, tolerance, and even humility.
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 15-16.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Curiosity (89)  |  Human (445)  |  Humility (20)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Quality (65)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Tolerance (5)

Scientists can only carry on with their work, addressing legitimate questions as they arise and challenging misinformation. … Scientists work to fill the gaps in human knowledge and to build a theory that can explain observations of the world. Climate sceptics revel in such gaps, sometimes long after they have been filled.
Editorial, Nature (28 Jul 2011), 475, 423-424.
Science quotes on:  |  Building (51)  |  Challenging (3)  |  Climate (38)  |  Climate Change (56)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Filling (6)  |  Gap (20)  |  Global Warming (26)  |  Human (445)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Legitimate (8)  |  Misinformation (3)  |  Question (315)  |  Research (517)  |  Revel (4)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Skeptic (6)  |  Theory (582)  |  Work (457)  |  World (667)

See first of all, and argue afterwards.
Science quotes on:  |  Argue (17)

Several times every day I observed the portions of the polyp with a magnifying glass. On the 4th December, that is to say on the ninth day after having cut the polyp, I seemed in the morning to be able to perceive, on the edges of the anterior end of the second part (the part that had neither head nor arms), three little points arising from those edges. They immediately made me think of the horns that serve as the legs and arms of the polyp. Nevertheless I did not want to decide at once that these were actually arms that were beginning to grow. Throughout the next day I continually observed these points: this excited me extremely, and awaited with impatience the moment when I should know with certainty what they were. At last, on the following day, they were so big that there was no longer any room for doubt that they were actually arms growing at the anterior extremity of this second part. The next day two more arms started to grow out, and a few days later three more. The second part thus had eight of them, and they were all in a short time as long as those of the first part, that is to say as long as those the polyp possessed before it was cut. I then no longer found any difference between the second part and a polyp that had never been cut. I had remarked the same thing about the first part since the day after the operation. When I observed them with the magnifying glass with all the attention of which I was capable, each of the two appeared perceptibly to be a complete polyp, and they performed all the functions that were known to me: they extended, contracted, and walked.
Mémoires, pour servir à l'histoire d'un genre de polyps d'eau douce à bras en forme de cornes (1744), 7-16. Trans. John R. Baker, in Abraham Trembley of Geneva: Scientist and Philosopher 1710-1784 (1952), 32.
Science quotes on:  |  Anterior (4)  |  Appeared (4)  |  Arm (17)  |  Attention (76)  |  Cut (36)  |  Difference (208)  |  Doubt (121)  |  Edge (16)  |  Extremity (2)  |  Glass (35)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Leg (13)  |  Long (95)  |  Magnifying (2)  |  Operation (96)  |  Perceive (18)  |  Performed (3)  |  Polyp (4)  |  Remark (14)  |  Room (29)

Simple as the law of gravity now appears, and beautifully in accordance with all the observations of past and of present times, consider what it has cost of intellectual study. Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Euler, Lagrange, Laplace, all the great names which have exalted the character of man, by carrying out trains of reasoning unparalleled in every other science; these, and a host of others, each of whom might have been the Newton of another field, have all labored to work out, the consequences which resulted from that single law which he discovered. All that the human mind has produced—the brightest in genius, the most persevering in application, has been lavished on the details of the law of gravity.
in The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise: A Fragment (1838), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Consequence (76)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (44)  |  Discover (115)  |  Leonhard Euler (10)  |  Galileo Galilei (101)  |  Genius (186)  |  Gravity (89)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Johannes Kepler (72)  |  Count Joseph-Louis de Lagrange (11)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (50)  |  Law (418)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Study (331)

Since science's competence extends to observable and measurable phenomena, not to the inner being of things, and to the means, not to the ends of human life, it would be nonsense to expect that the progress of science will provide men with a new type of metaphysics, ethics, or religion.
'Science and Ontology', Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (1949), 5, 200.
Science quotes on:  |  Competence (6)  |  Ethics (30)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Metaphysics (30)  |  Nonsense (32)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Progress (317)  |  Progress Of Science (20)  |  Religion (210)  |  Science (1699)

Since the measuring device has been constructed by the observer … we have to remember that what we observe is not nature itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning. Our scientific work in physics consists in asking questions about nature in the language that we possess and trying to get an answer from experiment by the means that are at our disposal.
Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (1958), 78.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Nature (1029)

Sir,—The Planet [Neptune] whose position you marked out actually exists. On the day on which your letter reached me, I found a star of the eighth magnitude, which was not recorded in the excellent map designed by Dr. Bremiker, containing the twenty-first hour of the collection published by the Royal Academy of Berlin. The observation of the succeeding day showed it to be the Planet of which we were in quest.
Letter, from Berlin (25 Sep 1846). In John Pringle Nichol, The Planet Neptune: An Exposition and History (1848), 89. Galle thus confirmed the existence of the planet Neptune, found at the position predicted in a letter he had just received from Urbain Le Verrier.
Science quotes on:  |  Existence (254)  |  Letter (36)  |  Map (21)  |  Mark (28)  |  Neptune (8)  |  Planet (199)  |  Position (54)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Quest (24)  |  Record (56)  |  Star (251)

Some authors seem to believe that hypotheses are the natural product of observations as is the case for a pear tree which produces pears; therefore only one exists which is ‘the real and the good one’.
In 'Anatomie comparée des hypothèses sur les plissements de couverture (Ie jura plissée)', The Bulletin of the Geological Institutions of the University of Uppsala (1961), Vol. 40, 180-181, trans. Albert V. and Marguerite Carozzi.
Science quotes on:  |  Author (39)  |  Belief (400)  |  Good (228)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Pear (3)  |  Reality (140)  |  Tree (143)

Some months ago we discovered that certain light elements emit positrons under the action of alpha particles. Our latest experiments have shown a very striking fact: when an aluminium foil is irradiated on a polonium preparation [alpha ray emitter], the emission of positrons does not cease immediately when the active preparation is removed: the foil remains radioactive and the emission of radiation decays exponentially as for an ordinary radio-element. We observed the same phenomenon with boron and magnesium.
[Co-author with Irčne Joliot-Curie. This one-page paper reported their discovery of artificial radioactivity for which they were awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.]
Letter to the Editor, 'Artificial Production of a New Kind of Radio-Element'(10 Jan 1934) published in Nature (1934), 133, 201-2. Cited in Mauro Dardo, Nobel Laureates and Twentieth-Century Physics (2004), 187.
Science quotes on:  |  Aluminium (3)  |  Artificial (26)  |  Boron (4)  |  Decay (31)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Emission (16)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Exponential (3)  |  Foil (3)  |  Magnesium (4)  |  Polonium (5)  |  Positron (3)  |  Radioactivity (26)

Some scientists find, or so it seems, that they get their best ideas when smoking; others by drinking coffee or whisky. Thus there is no reason why I should not admit that some may get their ideas by observing, or by repeating observations.
Realism and the Aim of Science (1983), 36.
Science quotes on:  |  Admission (10)  |  Cigarette (22)  |  Coffee (10)  |  Drinking (6)  |  Idea (440)  |  Reason (330)  |  Repetition (21)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Smoking (22)

Somebody once observed to the eminent philosopher Wittgenstein how stupid medieval Europeans living before the time of Copernicus must have been that they could have looked at the sky and thought that the sun was circling the earth. Surely a modicum of astronomical good sense would have told them that the reverse was true. Wittgenstein is said to have replied: “I agree. But I wonder what it would have looked like if the sun had been circling the earth.”
In Day the Universe Changed (1985), 11.
Science quotes on:  |  Agreement (29)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Circling (2)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (44)  |  Earth (487)  |  Eminent (6)  |  European (5)  |  Geocentric (5)  |  Good (228)  |  Heliocentric (2)  |  Look (46)  |  Medieval (6)  |  Orbit (58)  |  Philosopher (132)  |  Reverse (14)  |  Sense (240)  |  Sky (68)  |  Stupid (15)  |  Sun (211)  |  Thought (374)  |  Truth (750)  |  Ludwig Wittgenstein (11)  |  Wonder (134)

Sometimes a hunch, right or wrong, is sufficient theory to lead to a useful observation.
In On the Management of Statistical Techniques for Quality and Productivity (1981), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Hunch (4)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Lead (101)  |  Right (144)  |  Sufficient (24)  |  Theory (582)  |  Useful (66)  |  Wrong (116)

Speaking concretely, when we say “making experiments or making observations,” we mean that we devote ourselves to investigation and to research, that we make attempts and trials in order to gain facts from which the mind, through reasoning, may draw knowledge or instruction.
Speaking in the abstract, when we say “relying on observation and gaining experience,” we mean that observation is the mind's support in reasoning, and experience the mind's support in deciding, or still better, the fruit of exact reasoning applied to the interpretation of facts. It follows from this that we can gain experience without making experiments, solely by reasoning appropriately about well- established facts, just as we can make experiments and observations without gaining experience, if we limit ourselves to noting facts.
Observation, then, is what shows facts; experiment is what teaches about facts and gives experience in relation to anything.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 11.
Science quotes on:  |  Concretely (3)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)

That a free, or at least an unsaturated acid usually exists in the stomachs of animals, and is in some manner connected with the important process of digestion, seems to have been the general opinion of physiologists till the time of SPALLANZANI. This illustrious philosopher concluded, from his numerous experiments, that the gastric fluids, when in a perfectly natural state, are neither acid nor alkaline. Even SPALLANZANI, however, admitted that the contents of the stomach are very generally acid; and this accords not only with my own observation, but with that, I believe, of almost every individual who has made any experiments on the subject. ... The object of the present communication is to show, that the acid in question is the muriatic [hydrochloric] acid, and that the salts usually met with in the stomach, are the alkaline muriates.
'On the Nature of the Acid and Saline Matters Usually Existing in the Stomachs of Animals', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (1824), 114, 45-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Acid (18)  |  Alkali (6)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Content (39)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fluid (18)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Physiologist (12)  |  Salt (23)  |  Stomach (18)

That man can interrogate as well as observe nature was a lesson slowly learned in his evolution. Of the two methods by which he can do this, the mathematical and the experimental, both have been equally fruitful—by the one he has gauged the starry heights and harnessed the cosmic forces to his will; by the other he has solved many of the problems of life and lightened many of the burdens of humanity.
In 'The Evolution of the Idea of Experiment in Medicine', in C.G. Roland, Sir William Osler, 1849-1919: A Selection for Medical Students (1982), 103. As cited in William Osler and Mark E. Silverman (ed.), The Quotable Osler (2002), 249
Science quotes on:  |  Burden (23)  |  Cosmic (34)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fruitful (31)  |  Humanity (104)  |  Interrogation (4)  |  Lesson (32)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Problem (362)

That the Anatomy of the Nerves yields more pleasant and profitable Speculations, than the Theory of any parts besides in the animated Body: for from hence the true and genuine Reasons are drawn of very many Actions and Passions that are wont to happen in our Body, which otherwise seem most difficult and unexplicable; and no less from this Fountain the hidden Causes of Diseases and their Symptoms, which commonly are ascribed to the Incantations of Witches, may be found out and clearly laid open. But as to our observations about the Nerves, from our following Discourse it will plainly appear, that I have not trod the paths or footsteps of others, nor repeated what hath been before told.
In Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves (1664), trans. Samuel Pordage (1681), reprinted in William Peindel (ed.), Thomas Willis: Anatomy of the Brain and Nerves (1965), Vol. 2, 125.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Discourse (13)  |  Disease (257)  |  Footstep (5)  |  Incantation (4)  |  Nerve (66)  |  Path (59)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Symptom (16)  |  Theory (582)  |  Witch (4)

The air of caricature never fails to show itself in the products of reason applied relentlessly and without correction. The observation of clinical facts would seem to be a pursuit of the physician as harmless as it is indispensable. [But] it seemed irresistibly rational to certain minds that diseases should be as fully classifiable as are beetles and butterflies. This doctrine … bore perhaps its richest fruit in the hands of Boissier de Sauvauges. In his Nosologia Methodica published in 1768 … this Linnaeus of the bedside grouped diseases into ten classes, 295 genera, and 2400 species.
In 'General Ideas in Medicine', The Lloyd Roberts lecture at House of the Royal Society of Medicine (30 Sep 1935), British Medical Journal (5 Oct 1935), 2, 609. In The Collected Papers of Wilfred Trotter, FRS (1941), 151.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (151)  |  Application (117)  |  Bedside (2)  |  Butterfly (19)  |  Caricature (6)  |  Class (64)  |  Classification (79)  |  Clinical (2)  |  Correction (28)  |  Disease (257)  |  Doctrine (53)  |  Fact (609)  |  Failure (118)  |  Fruit (63)  |  Genus (16)  |  Harmless (6)  |  Indispensable (8)  |  Irresistible (6)  |  Physician (232)  |  Product (72)  |  Pursuit (55)  |  Rationality (11)  |  Reason (330)  |  Relentless (5)  |  Richness (14)  |  Seem (89)  |  Show (55)  |  Species (181)

The alternative to the Big Bang is not, in my opinion, the steady state; it is instead the more general theory of continuous creation. Continuous creation can occur in bursts and episodes. These mini-bangs can produce all the wonderful element-building that Fred Hoyle discovered and contributed to cosmology. This kind of element and galaxy formation can take place within an unbounded, non-expanding universe. It will also satisfy precisely the Friedmann solutions of general relativity. It can account very well for all the facts the Big Bang explains—and also for those devastating, contradictory observations which the Big Bang must, at all costs, pretend are not there
In 'Letters: Wrangling Over the Bang', Science News (27 Jul 1991), 140, No. 4, 51. Also quoted in Roy C. Martin, Astronomy on Trial: A Devastating and Complete Repudiation of the Big Bang Fiasco (1999), Appendix I, 217.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (45)  |  Alternative (22)  |  Big Bang (38)  |  Burst (17)  |  Continuous Creation (2)  |  Contradictory (4)  |  Cosmology (17)  |  Devastating (4)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Element (129)  |  Episode (3)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fact (609)  |  Formation (54)  |  Galaxy (38)  |  General (92)  |  General Relativity (5)  |  Sir Fred Hoyle (7)  |  Occur (26)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Pretend (14)  |  Produce (63)  |  Satisfy (14)  |  Steady State (3)  |  Theory (582)  |  Universe (563)

The analysis of Nature into its individual parts, the grouping of the different natural processes and natural objects in definite classes, the study of the internal anatomy of organic bodies in their manifold forms—these were the fundamental conditions of the gigantic strides in our knowledge of Nature which have been made during the last four hundred years. But this method of investigation has also left us as a legacy the habit of observing natural objects and natural processes in their isolation, detached from the whole vast interconnection of things; and therefore not in their motion, but in their repose; not as essentially changing, but fixed constants; not in their life, but in their death.
Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science (Anti-Dühring), First Publication (1878). Trans. Emile Burns and ed. C. P. Dutt (1935), 27-8.
Science quotes on:  |  Nature (1029)

The art of drawing conclusions from experiments and observations consists in evaluating probabilities and in estimating whether they are sufficiently great or numerous enough to constitute proofs. This kind of calculation is more complicated and more diff
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Calculation (67)  |  Complicated (38)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Consist (22)  |  Constitute (19)  |  Draw (25)  |  Estimate (19)  |  Evaluate (5)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Great (300)  |  Kind (99)  |  Numerous (21)  |  Probability (83)  |  Proof (192)  |  Sufficiently (6)

The Big Idea that had been developed in the seventeenth century ... is now known as the scientific method. It says that the way to proceed when investigating how the world works is to first carry out experiments and/or make observations of the natural world. Then, develop hypotheses to explain these observations, and (crucially) use the hypothesis to make predictions about the future outcome of future experiments and/or observations. After comparing the results of those new observations with the predictions of the hypotheses, discard those hypotheses which make false predictions, and retain (at least, for the time being) any hypothesis that makes accurate predictions, elevating it to the status of a theory. Note that a theory can never be proved right. The best that can be said is that it has passed all the tests applied so far.
In The Fellowship: the Story of a Revolution (2005), 275.
Science quotes on:  |  Apply (38)  |  Compare (15)  |  Crucial (8)  |  Develop (55)  |  Discard (14)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Explanation (161)  |  False (79)  |  Future (229)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Idea (440)  |  Investigate (49)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Proceed (25)  |  Proof (192)  |  Result (250)  |  Retain (10)  |  Right (144)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Test (96)  |  Theory (582)  |  Work (457)  |  World (667)

The business of their weekly Meetings shall be, To order, take account, consider, and discourse of Philosophical Experiments, and Observations: to read, hear, and discourse upon Letters, Reports, and other Papers containing Philosophical matters, as also to view, and discourse upon the productions and rarities of Nature, and Art: and to consider what to deduce from them, or how they may be improv'd for use, or discovery.
'An Abstract of the Statutes of the Royal Society', in Thomas Sprat, History of the Royal Society (1667), 145.
Science quotes on:  |  Deduction (49)  |  Discourse (13)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Improvement (67)  |  Meeting (14)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Rarity (9)

The close observation of little things is the secret of success in business, in art, in science, and in every pursuit in life.
In Self-help: With Illustrations of Character and Conduct (1861), 100.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Business (71)  |  Life (917)  |  Little (126)  |  Pursuit (55)  |  Science (1699)  |  Secret (98)  |  Success (202)

The contents of this section will furnish a very striking illustration of the truth of a remark, which I have more than once made in my philosophical writings, and which can hardly be too often repeated, as it tends greatly to encourage philosophical investigations viz. That more is owing to what we call chance, that is, philosophically speaking, to the observation of events arising from unknown causes, than to any proper design, or pre-conceived theory in this business. This does not appear in the works of those who write synthetically upon these subjects; but would, I doubt not, appear very strikingly in those who are the most celebrated for their philosophical acumen, did they write analytically and ingenuously.
'On Dephlogisticated Air, and the Constitution of the Atmosphere', in The Discovery of Oxygen, Part I, Experiments by Joseph Priestley 1775 (Alembic Club Reprint, 1894), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Cause (231)  |  Chance (122)  |  Design (92)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Theory (582)  |  Unknown (87)

The description of some of the experiments, which are communicated here, was completely worked out at my writing-table, before I had seen anything of the phenomena in question. After making the experiments on the following day, it was found that nothing in the description required to be altered. I do not mention this from feelings of pride, but in order to make clear the extraordinary ease and security with which the relations in question can be considered on the principles of Arrhenius' theory of free ions. Such facts speak more forcibly then any polemics for the value of this theory .
Philosophical Magazine (1891), 32, 156.
Science quotes on:  |  Alteration (22)  |  Svante Arrhenius (11)  |  Communication (58)  |  Completeness (9)  |  Consideration (65)  |  Description (72)  |  Ease (29)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Extraordinary (32)  |  Fact (609)  |  Feeling (79)  |  Ion (8)  |  Mention (12)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Pride (45)  |  Principle (228)  |  Question (315)  |  Relation (96)  |  Security (27)  |  Theory (582)  |  Value (180)

The difference between myth and science is the difference between divine inspiration of “unaided reason” (as Bertrand Russell put it) on the one hand and theories developed in observational contact with the real world on the other. It is the difference between the belief in prophets and critical thinking, between Credo quia absurdum (I believe because it is absurd–Tertullian) and De omnibus est dubitandum (Everything should be questioned–Descartes). To try to write a grand cosmical drama leads necessarily to myth. To try to let knowledge substitute ignorance in increasingly large regions of space and time is science.
In 'Cosmology: Myth or Science?' Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy (1984), 5, 79-98.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Contact (24)  |  Cosmology (17)  |  René Descartes (43)  |  Difference (208)  |  Divine (42)  |  Drama (10)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Inspiration (50)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Myth (43)  |  Prophet (8)  |  Question (315)  |  Real (95)  |  Reason (330)  |  Bertrand Russell (148)  |  Science (1699)  |  Substitute (23)  |  Theory (582)  |  Thinking (222)  |  Time And Space (30)  |  World (667)  |  Write (87)

The discrepancy between what was expected and what has been observed has grown over the years, and we're straining harder and harder to fill the gap.
[Commenting on the 1984 article in Nature discrediting neutrinos as the explanation for the missing mass of the universe, leaving astrophysicists more baffled for a solution.]
In 'If Theory is Right, Most of Universe is Still “Missing”', New York Times (11 Sep 1984).
Science quotes on:  |  Astrophysicist (7)  |  Dark Matter (4)  |  Discrepancy (5)  |  Expectation (46)  |  Fill (35)  |  Gap (20)  |  Growth (111)  |  Harder (5)  |  Missing Mass (2)  |  Year (214)

The endeavour to observe oneself must inevitably introduce changes into the course of mental events,—changes which could not have occurred without it, and whose usual consequence is that the very process which was to have been observed disappears from consciousness.
In Principles of Physiological Psychology (1873, 1904), Vol. 1, 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Change (291)  |  Consciousness (71)  |  Consequence (76)  |  Endeavor (33)  |  Process (201)

The entire annals of Observation probably do not elsewhere exhibit so extraordinary a verification of any theoretical conjecture adventured on by the human spirit!
[On the mathematical work by Urbain Le Verrier predicting the planet Neptune.]
In The Planet Neptune: An Exposition and History (1848), 90. The verification of the existence of the planet Neptune was made when Johan Galle found a star in an evening observation at the position predicted in the letter he received from Le Verrier earlier that same day.
Science quotes on:  |  Adventure (36)  |  Conjecture (22)  |  Exhibition (2)  |  Extraordinary (32)  |  Human Spirit (8)  |  Neptune (8)  |  Theory (582)  |  Verification (20)  |  Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier (4)

The essential fact is simply that all the pictures which science now draws of nature, and which alone seem capable of according with observational facts, are mathematical pictures. … It can hardly be disputed that nature and our conscious mathematical minds work according to the same laws.
In The Mysterious Universe (1930, 1932), 149 & 162.
Science quotes on:  |  Capability (35)  |  Drawing (18)  |  Essential (87)  |  Fact (609)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Picture (55)  |  Science (1699)

The experiment serves two purposes, often independent one from the other: it allows the observation of new facts, hitherto either unsuspected, or not yet well defined; and it determines whether a working hypothesis fits the world of observable facts.
In Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science (1960), 362.
Science quotes on:  |  Definition (152)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Independent (41)  |  Observable (4)  |  Purpose (138)

The explorations of space end on a note of uncertainty. And necessarily so. … We know our immediate neighborhood rather intimately. With increasing distance, our knowledge fades, and fades rapidly. Eventually, we reach the dim boundary—the utmost limits of our telescopes. There, we measure shadows, and we search among ghostly errors of measurement for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial. The search will continue. Not until the empirical resources are exhausted, need we pass on to the dreamy realms of speculation.
From conclusion of The Silliman Memorial Lectures Series delivered at Yale University (Fall 1935). Collected in The Realm of the Nebulae (1936), 201-202.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Limit (86)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Telescope (74)

The extracellular genesis of cells in animals seemed to me, ever since the publication of the cell theory [of Schwann], just as unlikely as the spontaneous generation of organisms. These doubts produced my observations on the multiplication of blood cells by division in bird and mammalian embryos and on the division of muscle bundles in frog larvae. Since then I have continued these observations in frog larvae, where it is possible to follow the history of tissues back to segmentation.
'Ueber extracellulare Eutstehung thierischer Zelleu und üüber Vermehrung derselben durch Theilung', Archiv für Anatomie, Physiologie und Wissenschaftliche Medicin (1852), 1, 49-50. Quoted in Erwin H. Ackerknecht, Rudolf Virchow: Doctor Statesman Anthropologist (1953), 83-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Bird (96)  |  Blood (95)  |  Bundle (7)  |  Cell (125)  |  Continuation (17)  |  Division (27)  |  Doubt (121)  |  Embryo (22)  |  Frog (30)  |  Generation (111)  |  Genesis (13)  |  History (302)  |  Larva (4)  |  Mammal (28)  |  Multiplication (14)  |  Muscle (32)  |  Organism (126)  |  Publication (83)  |  Theodor Schwann (12)  |  Segmentation (2)  |  Spontaneity (4)  |  Theory (582)  |  Tissue (24)

The faith of scientists in the power and truth of mathematics is so implicit that their work has gradually become less and less observation, and more and more calculation. The promiscuous collection and tabulation of data have given way to a process of assigning possible meanings, merely supposed real entities, to mathematical terms, working out the logical results, and then staging certain crucial experiments to check the hypothesis against the actual empirical results. But the facts which are accepted by virtue of these tests are not actually observed at all. With the advance of mathematical technique in physics, the tangible results of experiment have become less and less spectacular; on the other hand, their significance has grown in inverse proportion. The men in the laboratory have departed so far from the old forms of experimentation—typified by Galileo's weights and Franklin's kite—that they cannot be said to observe the actual objects of their curiosity at all; instead, they are watching index needles, revolving drums, and sensitive plates. No psychology of 'association' of sense-experiences can relate these data to the objects they signify, for in most cases the objects have never been experienced. Observation has become almost entirely indirect; and readings take the place of genuine witness.
Philosophy in a New Key; A Study in Inverse the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art (1942), 19-20.
Science quotes on:  |  Calculation (67)  |  Data (100)  |  Deduction (49)  |  Empiricism (16)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Benjamin Franklin (81)  |  Galileo Galilei (101)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Logic (187)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Meter (6)  |  Object (110)  |  Physics (301)  |  Proportion (47)  |  Research (517)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Sense (240)  |  Significance (60)  |  Truth (750)

The first man who said “fire burns” was employing scientific method, at any rate if he had allowed himself to be burnt several times. This man had already passed through the two stages of observation and generalization. He had not, however, what scientific technique demands—a careful choice of significant facts on the one hand, and, on the other hand, various means of arriving at laws otherwise than my mere generalization. (1931)
In The Scientific Outlook (1931, 2009), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Inference (26)  |  Law (418)  |  Scientific Method (155)

The first observation of cancer cells in the smear of the uterine cervix gave me one of the greatest thrills I ever experienced during my scientific career.
Quoted on web page http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/2402.html
Science quotes on:  |  Autobiography (55)  |  Cancer (44)  |  Career (54)  |  Cell (125)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Thrill (14)

The first step in all physical investigations, even in those which admit of the application of mathematical reasoning and the deductive method afterwards, is the observation of natural phenomena; and the smallest error in such observation in the beginning is sufficient to vitiate the whole investigation afterwards. The necessity of strict and minute observation, then, is the first thing which the student of the physical sciences has to learn; and it is easy to see with what great advantage the habit thus acquired may be carried into everything else afterwards.
Presidential Address to Anniversary meeting of the Royal Society (30 Nov 1859), Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (1860), 10, 164-165.
Science quotes on:  |  Advantage (42)  |  Error (230)  |  Habit (78)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Student (131)

The first time the appearance of the liquid had really escaped our observation. … [L]ater on we clearly saw the liquid level get hollow by the blowing of the gas from the valve … The surface of the liquid was soon made clearly visible by reflection of light from below and that unmistakably, because it was clearly pierced by the two wires of the thermoelement. … After the surface had once been seen, the sight of it was no more lost. It stood out sharply defined like the edge of a knife against the glass wall.
In 'The Liquefaction of Helium', Communication No. 108 from the Physical Laboratory at Leiden, Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Amsterdam (1909), 11, Part 1, 181.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (77)  |  Glass (35)  |  Knife (10)  |  Light (246)  |  Liquid (25)  |  Reflection (50)  |  Surface (74)  |  Visible (20)  |  Wall (20)

The focal points of our different reflections have been called “science”’ or “art” according to the nature of their “formal” objects, to use the language of logic. If the object leads to action, we give the name of “art” to the compendium of rules governing its use and to their technical order. If the object is merely contemplated under different aspects, the compendium and technical order of the observations concerning this object are called “science.” Thus metaphysics is a science and ethics is an art. The same is true of theology and pyrotechnics.
Definition of 'Art', Encyclopédie (1751). Translated by Nelly S. Hoyt and Thomas Cassirer (1965), 4.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (151)  |  Aspect (37)  |  Compendium (5)  |  Concern (76)  |  Contemplate (8)  |  Ethics (30)  |  Formal (11)  |  Govern (13)  |  Language (155)  |  Logic (187)  |  Metaphysics (30)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Object (110)  |  Order (167)  |  Reflection (50)  |  Rule (135)  |  Science And Art (157)  |  Technical (26)  |  Theology (35)

The foundations of population genetics were laid chiefly by mathematical deduction from basic premises contained in the works of Mendel and Morgan and their followers. Haldane, Wright, and Fisher are the pioneers of population genetics whose main research equipment was paper and ink rather than microscopes, experimental fields, Drosophila bottles, or mouse cages. Theirs is theoretical biology at its best, and it has provided a guiding light for rigorous quantitative experimentation and observation.
'A Review of Some Fundamental Concepts and Problems of Population Genetics', Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, 1955, 20, 13-14.
Science quotes on:  |  Drosphilia (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fischer_Ronald (2)  |  Genetics (98)  |  J.B.S. Haldane (45)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Gregor Mendel (20)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Thomas Hunt Morgan (14)  |  Sewall Wright (8)

The framing of hypotheses is, for the enquirer after truth, not the end, but the beginning of his work. Each of his systems is invented, not that he may admire it and follow it into all its consistent consequences, but that he may make it the occasion of a course of active experiment and observation. And if the results of this process contradict his fundamental assumptions, however ingenious, however symmetrical, however elegant his system may be, he rejects it without hesitation. He allows no natural yearning for the offspring of his own mind to draw him aside from the higher duty of loyalty to his sovereign, Truth, to her he not only gives his affections and his wishes, but strenuous labour and scrupulous minuteness of attention.
Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1847), Vol. 2, 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Affection (14)  |  Assumption (49)  |  Attention (76)  |  Beginning (114)  |  Contradiction (44)  |  Elegance (20)  |  End (141)  |  Enquiry (75)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Frame (17)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Hesitation (8)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Ingenious (18)  |  Invention (283)  |  Loyalty (6)  |  Mind (544)  |  Offspring (15)  |  Rejection (24)  |  Scrupulous (3)  |  Sovereign (2)  |  Truth (750)  |  Work (457)  |  Yearning (5)

The functional validity of a working hypothesis is not a priori certain, because often it is initially based on intuition. However, logical deductions from such a hypothesis provide expectations (so-called prognoses) as to the circumstances under which certain phenomena will appear in nature. Such a postulate or working hypothesis can then be substantiated by additional observations ... The author calls such expectations and additional observations the prognosis-diagnosis method of research. Prognosis in science may be termed the prediction of the future finding of corroborative evidence of certain features or phenomena (diagnostic facts). This method of scientific research builds up and extends the relations between the subject and the object by means of a circuit of inductions and deductions.
In 'The Scientific Character of Geology', The Journal of Geology (Jul 1961), 69, No. 4, 454-5.
Science quotes on:  |  A Priori (16)  |  Certainty (97)  |  Circuit (12)  |  Circumstance (48)  |  Corroboration (2)  |  Deduction (49)  |  Diagnosis (61)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Expectation (46)  |  Functional (5)  |  Future (229)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Induction (45)  |  Intuition (39)  |  Logic (187)  |  Object (110)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Postulate (23)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Prognosis (3)  |  Relation (96)  |  Research (517)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Subject (129)  |  Substantiate (3)  |  Validity (22)  |  Working (20)

The goal of scientific physicians in their own science … is to reduce the indeterminate. Statistics therefore apply only to cases in which the cause of the facts observed is still indeterminate.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 139.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Goal (81)  |  Indeterminate (2)  |  Physician (232)  |  Reducing (2)  |  Research (517)  |  Statistics (125)

The great art consists in devising décisive experiments, leaving no place to the imagination of the observer. Imagination is needed to give wings to thought at the beginning of experimental investigations on any given subject. When, however, the time has come to conclude, and to interpret the facts derived from observations, imagination must submit to the factual results of the experiments.
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:  |  Beginning (114)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Decisive (9)  |  Derived (5)  |  Devise (11)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Interpret (15)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Observer (33)  |  Result (250)  |  Subject (129)  |  Submit (12)  |  Thought (374)

The history of chemistry is properly divided into the mythologic, the obscure, and the certain. The first period exhibits it from its infancy, deformed by fictions, until the destruction of the library of Alexandria by the Arabs. —The second, though freed in some measure from these absurdities, yet is still clothed in numberless enigmas and allegorical expressions.— The third period commences at the middle of the seventeenth century, with the first establishment of societies and academies of science; of which the wise associates, in many places uniting their efforts, determined to pursue the study of Natural Philosophy by observation and experiments, and candidly to publish their attempts in a general account of their transactions.
In Essays, Physical and Chemical (1791), 4, translated from the original Latin.
Science quotes on:  |  17th Century (10)  |  Absurdity (16)  |  Academy (11)  |  Alexandria (2)  |  Allegory (6)  |  Candid (3)  |  Certain (84)  |  Enigma (5)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fiction (16)  |  Library (37)  |  Myth (43)  |  Natural Philosophy (21)  |  Obscure (19)  |  Publication (83)  |  Society (188)

The history of men of science has one peculiar advantage, as it shows the importance of little things in producing great results. Smeaton learned his principle of constructing a lighthouse, by noticing the trunk of a tree to be diminished from a curve to a cyclinder ... and Newton, turning an old box into a water-clock, or the yard of a house into a sundial, are examples of those habits of patient observation which scientific biography attractively recommends.
Pleasures, Objects, and Advantages of Literature (1855), 129.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)  |  Lighthouse (4)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  John Smeaton (5)  |  Sundial (5)

The hypotheses which we accept ought to explain phenomena which we have observed. But they ought to do more than this; our hypotheses ought to foretell phenomena which have not yet been observed; ... because if the rule prevails, it includes all cases; and will determine them all, if we can only calculate its real consequences. Hence it will predict the results of new combinations, as well as explain the appearances which have occurred in old ones. And that it does this with certainty and correctness, is one mode in which the hypothesis is to be verified as right and useful.
Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1847), Vol. 2, 62-63.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (41)  |  Appearance (77)  |  Certainty (97)  |  Combination (69)  |  Consequence (76)  |  Correctness (11)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Foretell (5)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Occurrence (30)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Prevail (13)  |  Right (144)  |  Rule (135)  |  Useful (66)

The idea of making a fault a subject of study and not an object to be merely determined has been the most important step in the course of my methods of observation. If I have obtained some new results it is to this that I owe it.
'Notice sur les Travaux Scientifiques de Marcel Bertrand' (1894). In Geological Society of London, The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London (May 1908), 64, li.
Science quotes on:  |  Determine (45)  |  Fault (27)  |  Idea (440)  |  Method (154)  |  Object (110)  |  Obtain (21)  |  Owe (15)  |  Result (250)  |  Step (67)  |  Study (331)  |  Subject (129)

The importance of group theory was emphasized very recently when some physicists using group theory predicted the existence of a particle that had never been observed before, and described the properties it should have. Later experiments proved that this particle really exists and has those properties.
Groups in the New Mathematics (1967), 7. Quoted in Rosemary Schmalz, Out of the Mouths of Mathematicians: A Quotation Book for Philomaths (1993), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Group Theory (3)  |  Particle (90)  |  Property (96)

The instinct for collecting, which began as in other animals as an adaptive property, could always in man spread beyond reason; it could become a hoarding mania. But in its normal form it provides a means of livelihood at the hunting and collecting stage of human evolution. It is then attached to a variety of rational aptitudes, above all in observing, classifying, and naming plants, animals and minerals, skills diversely displayed by primitive peoples. These skills with an instinctive beginning were the foundation of most of the civilised arts and sciences. Attached to other skills in advanced societies they promote the formation of museums and libraries; detached, they lead to acquisition and classification by eccentric individuals, often without any purpose or value at all.
As quoted in Richard Fifield, 'Cytologist Supreme', New Scientist (16 Apr 1981), 90, No. 1249, 179; citing C.D. Darlington, The Little Universe of Man (1978).
Science quotes on:  |  Adaptation (40)  |  Aptitude (10)  |  Civilization (155)  |  Classification (79)  |  Collection (38)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Human (445)  |  Instinct (50)  |  Library (37)  |  Livelihood (8)  |  Museum (22)  |  Name (118)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Science And Art (157)  |  Skill (50)  |  Value (180)

The intensity and quantity of polemical literature on scientific problems frequently varies inversely as the number of direct observations on which the discussions are based: the number and variety of theories concerning a subject thus often form a coefficient of our ignorance. Beyond the superficial observations, direct and indirect, made by geologists, not extending below about one two-hundredth of the Earth's radius, we have to trust to the deductions of mathematicians for our ideas regarding the interior of the Earth; and they have provided us successively with every permutation and combination possible of the three physical states of matter—solid, liquid, and gaseous.
'Address delivered by the President of Section [Geology] at Sydney (Friday, Aug 21), Report of the Eighty-Fourth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science: Australia 1914, 1915, 345.
Science quotes on:  |  Deduction (49)  |  Discussion (37)  |  Earth (487)  |  Geology (187)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Publication (83)  |  Theory (582)

The King saw them with no common satisfaction, expressing his desire in no particular to have yt Stellar fish engraven and printed. We wish very much, Sir, yt you could procure for us a particular description of yesd Fish, viz. whether it be common there; what is observable in it when alive; what colour it then hath; what kind of motion in the water; what use it maketh of all that curious workmanship, wch Nature hath adorn'd it with?
Letter to John Winthrop, Jr. (26 Mar 1670), concerning specimens provided by Winthrop to the Society. In A. Rupert Hall & Marie Boas Hall (eds.), The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg (1969), Vol. 6, 594.
Science quotes on:  |  Color (78)  |  Desire (101)  |  Engraving (2)  |  Fish (85)  |  King (23)  |  Motion (127)  |  Printing (12)  |  Satisfaction (48)

The knowledge of Natural-History, being Observation of Matters of Fact, is more certain than most others, and in my slender Opinion, less subject to Mistakes than Reasonings, Hypotheses, and Deductions are; ... These are things we are sure of, so far as our Senses are not fallible; and which, in probability, have been ever since the Creation, and will remain to the End of the World, in the same Condition we now find them.
A Voyage to the Islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica: With the Natural History of the Herbs and Trees, Four-footed Beasts, Fishes, Birds, Insects, Reptiles, &c. of the Last of those Islands (1707), Vol. 1, 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Certainty (97)  |  Condition (119)  |  Creation (211)  |  Deduction (49)  |  End Of The World (4)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fallability (3)  |  Find (248)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Matter (270)  |  Mistake (107)  |  Natural History (44)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Probability (83)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Same (92)  |  Sense (240)  |  Sure (13)

The Law of Causation, the recognition of which is the main pillar of inductive science, is but the familiar truth that invariability of succession is found by observation to obtain between every fact in nature and some other fact which has preceded it.
In 'On the Law of Universal Causation', A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation, (1846), 197.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Induction (45)  |  Invariability (4)  |  Law Of Causation (2)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Pillar (7)  |  Precede (11)  |  Recognition (62)  |  Succession (39)  |  Truth (750)

The layman, taught to revere scientists for their absolute respect for the observed facts, and for the judiciously detached and purely provisional manner in which they hold scientific theories (always ready to abandon a theory at the sight of any contradictory evidence) might well have thought that, at [Dayton C.] Miller's announcement of this overwhelming evidence of a “positive effect” [indicating that the speed of light is not independent from the motion of the observer, as Einstein's theory of relativity demands] in his presidential address to the American Physical Society on December 29th, 1925, his audience would have instantly abandoned the theory of relativity. Or, at the very least, that scientists—wont to look down from the pinnacle of their intellectual humility upon the rest of dogmatic mankind—might suspend judgment in this matter until Miller's results could be accounted for without impairing the theory of relativity. But no: by that time they had so well closed their minds to any suggestion which threatened the new rationality achieved by Einstein's world-picture, that it was almost impossible for them to think again in different terms. Little attention was paid to the experiments, the evidence being set aside in the hope that it would one day turn out to be wrong.
Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (1958, 1998), 13. Miller had earlier presented his evidence against the validity of the relativity theory at the annual meeting, 28 Apr 1925, of the National Academy of Sciences. Miller believed he had, by a much-refined and improved repetition of the so-called Michelson-Morley experiment, shown that there is a definite and measurable motion of the earth through the ether. In 1955, a paper by R.S. Shankland, et al., in Rev. Modern Phys. (1955), 27, 167, concluded that statistical fluctuations and temperature effects in the data had simulated what Miller had taken to be he apparent ether drift.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (76)  |  Albert Einstein (535)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Layman (13)  |  Objectivity (9)  |  Relativity (50)  |  Respect (57)  |  Reverence (24)  |  Theory (582)

The leading idea which is present in all our [geological] researches, and which accompanies every fresh observation, the sound of which to the ear of the student of Nature seems echoed from every part of her works, is—Time!—Time!—Time!
The Geology and Extinct Volcanoes of Central France (2nd ed., 1858), 208-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Accompany (18)  |  Echo (6)  |  Fresh (21)  |  Geology (187)  |  Idea (440)  |  Lead (101)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Present (103)  |  Research (517)  |  Student (131)  |  Time (439)  |  Work (457)

The little beggars are doing just what I don’t want them to.
Referring to his garden plants.
Science quotes on:  |  Botany (47)  |  Plant (173)

The magnet’s name the observing Grecians drew
From the magnetic region where it grew.
Lucretius, as quoted by William Gilbert in De Magnete. Cited in Gerrit L. Verschuur, Hidden Attraction (1996), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Greece (7)  |  Growth (111)  |  Magnet (8)  |  Name (118)  |  Region (26)

The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote. Nevertheless, it has been found that there are apparent exceptions to most of these laws, and this is particularly true when the observations are pushed to a limit, i.e., whenever the circumstances of experiment are such that extreme cases can be examined. Such examination almost surely leads, not to the overthrow of the law, but to the discovery of other facts and laws whose action produces the apparent exceptions. As instances of such discoveries, which are in most cases due to the increasing order of accuracy made possible by improvements in measuring instruments, may be mentioned: first, the departure of actual gases from the simple laws of the so-called perfect gas, one of the practical results being the liquefaction of air and all known gases; second, the discovery of the velocity of light by astronomical means, depending on the accuracy of telescopes and of astronomical clocks; third, the determination of distances of stars and the orbits of double stars, which depend on measurements of the order of accuracy of one-tenth of a second-an angle which may be represented as that which a pin's head subtends at a distance of a mile. But perhaps the most striking of such instances are the discovery of a new planet or observations of the small irregularities noticed by Leverrier in the motions of the planet Uranus, and the more recent brilliant discovery by Lord Rayleigh of a new element in the atmosphere through the minute but unexplained anomalies found in weighing a given volume of nitrogen. Many other instances might be cited, but these will suffice to justify the statement that “our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.”
In Light Waves and Their Uses (1903), 23-4. Michelson had some years earlier referenced “an eminent physicist” that he did not name who had “remarked that the future truths of physical science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals,” near the end of his Convocation Address at the Dedication of the Ryerson Physical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, 'Some of the Objects and Methods of Physical Science' (4 Jul 1894), published in University of Chicago Quarterly Calendar (Aug 1894), 3, No.2, 15. Also
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Air (151)  |  Angle (15)  |  Anomaly (6)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Atmosphere (63)  |  Circumstance (48)  |  Clock (26)  |  Decimal (11)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Element (129)  |  Examination (60)  |  Exception (33)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Gas (46)  |  Improvement (67)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Irregularity (10)  |  Law (418)  |  Limit (86)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Nitrogen (18)  |  Overthrow (4)  |  Physical Science (54)  |  Practical (93)  |  Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh (8)  |  Result (250)  |  Speed Of Light (11)  |  Star (251)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Uranus (2)  |  Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier (4)  |  Volume (13)

The observer is not he who merely sees the thing which is before his eyes, but he who sees what parts the thing is composed of. To do this well is a rare talent. One person, from inattention, or attending only in the wrong place, overlooks half of what he sees; another sets down much more than he sees, confounding it with what he imagines, or with what he infers; another takes note of the kind of all the circumstances, but being inexpert in estimating their degree, leaves the quantity of each vague and uncertain; another sees indeed the whole, but makes such an awkward division of it into parts, throwing into one mass things which require to be separated, and separating others which might more conveniently be considered as one, that the result is much the same, sometimes even worse than if no analysis had been attempted at all.
In A System of Logic Ratiocinative and Inductive (1858), 216.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Attempt (94)  |  Attend (9)  |  Awkward (6)  |  Circumstance (48)  |  Composed (3)  |  Confound (9)  |  Consider (45)  |  Convenience (25)  |  Degree (48)  |  Division (27)  |  Estimate (19)  |  Eye (159)  |  Half (35)  |  Imagine (40)  |  Inattention (3)  |  Infer (10)  |  Kind (99)  |  Mass (61)  |  Merely (35)  |  Note (22)  |  Observer (33)  |  Overlook (8)  |  Part (146)  |  Person (114)  |  Place (111)  |  Quantity (35)  |  Rare (31)  |  Require (33)  |  Result (250)  |  See (197)  |  Separate (46)  |  Talent (49)  |  Uncertain (11)  |  Vague (10)  |  Whole (122)  |  Worse (17)  |  Wrong (116)

The observer listens to nature: the experimenter questions and forces her to reveal herself.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)

The one who stays in my mind as the ideal man of science is, not Huxley or Tyndall, Hooker or Lubbock, still less my friend, philosopher and guide Herbert Spencer, but Francis Galton, whom I used to observe and listen to—I regret to add, without the least reciprocity—with rapt attention. Even to-day. I can conjure up, from memory’s misty deep, that tall figure with its attitude of perfect physical and mental poise; the clean-shaven face, the thin, compressed mouth with its enigmatical smile; the long upper lip and firm chin, and, as if presiding over the whole personality of the man, the prominent dark eyebrows from beneath which gleamed, with penetrating humour, contemplative grey eyes. Fascinating to me was Francis Galton’s all-embracing but apparently impersonal beneficence. But, to a recent and enthusiastic convert to the scientific method, the most relevant of Galton’s many gifts was the unique contribution of three separate and distinct processes of the intellect; a continuous curiosity about, and rapid apprehension of individual facts, whether common or uncommon; the faculty for ingenious trains of reasoning; and, more admirable than either of these, because the talent was wholly beyond my reach, the capacity for correcting and verifying his own hypotheses, by the statistical handling of masses of data, whether collected by himself or supplied by other students of the problem.
In My Apprenticeship (1926), 134-135.
Science quotes on:  |  Admirable (11)  |  Apprehension (9)  |  Attention (76)  |  Attitude (47)  |  Beneficence (3)  |  Capacity (42)  |  Collected (2)  |  Compressed (3)  |  Conjuring (3)  |  Continuous (24)  |  Contribution (49)  |  Convert (15)  |  Curiosity (89)  |  Data (100)  |  Deep (81)  |  Distinct (29)  |  Enigma (5)  |  Enthusiastic (2)  |  Eye (159)  |  Eyebrow (2)  |  Face (69)  |  Fact (609)  |  Faculty (36)  |  Fascinating (17)  |  Figure (32)  |  Firm (19)  |  Friend (63)  |  Sir Francis Galton (16)  |  Gift (47)  |  Grey (6)  |  Guide (46)  |  Handling (7)  |  Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (12)  |  Humour (101)  |  Thomas Henry Huxley (119)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Ideal (52)  |  Impersonal (4)  |  Individual (177)  |  Ingenious (18)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Lip (3)  |  Listen (26)  |  John Lubbock (Lord Avebury) (25)  |  Man Of Science (27)  |  Memory (81)  |  Mental (57)  |  Method (154)  |  Misty (3)  |  Mouth (16)  |  Penetrating (3)  |  Perfect (46)  |  Personality (40)  |  Philosopher (132)  |  Physical (94)  |  Poise (2)  |  Problem (362)  |  Process (201)  |  Prominent (5)  |  Rapid (17)  |  Rapt (5)  |  Reach (68)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Regret (16)  |  Relevant (3)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Separate (46)  |  Smile (13)  |  Herbert Spencer (35)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Student (131)  |  Talent (49)  |  Tall (8)  |  Thin (7)  |  Train (25)  |  Uncommon (7)  |  Unique (24)  |  Upper (3)

The opinion I formed from attentive observation of the facts and phenomena, is as follows. When ice, for example, or any other solid substance, is changing into a fluid by heat, I am of opinion that it receives a much greater quantity of heat than that what is perceptible in it immediately after by the thermometer. A great quantity of heat enters into it, on this occasion, without making it apparently warmer, when tried by that instrument. This heat, however, must be thrown into it, in order to give it the form of a fluid; and I affirm, that this great addition of heat is the principal, and most immediate cause of the fluidity induced. And, on the other hand, when we deprive such a body of its fluidity again, by a diminution of its heat, a very great quantity of heat comes out of it, while it is assuming a solid form, the loss of which heat is not to be perceived by the common manner of using the thermometer. The apparent heat of the body, as measured by that instrument, is not diminished, or not in proportion to the loss of heat which the body actually gives out on this occasion; and it appears from a number of facts, that the state of solidity cannot be induced without the abstraction of this great quantity of heat. And this confirms the opinion, that this quantity of heat, absorbed, and, as it were, concealed in the composition of fluids, is the most necessary and immediate cause of their fluidity.
Lectures on the Elements of Chemistry, delivered in the University of Edinburgh (1803), Vol. I, 116-7.
Science quotes on:  |  Change Of State (2)  |  Latent Heat (6)

The person who observes a clock, sees in it not only the pendulum swinging to and fro, and the dial-plate, and the hands moving, for a child can see all this; but he sees also the parts of the clock, and in what connexion the suspended weight stands to the wheel-work, and the pendulum to the moving hands.
'The Study of the Natural Sciences: An Introductory Lecture to the Course of Experimental Chemistry in the University of Munich, for the Winter Session of 1852-53,' as translated and republished in The Medical Times and Gazette (22 Jan 1853), N.S. Vol. 6, 82.
Science quotes on:  |  Child (189)  |  Clock (26)  |  Hand (103)  |  Movement (65)  |  Part (146)  |  Pendulum (13)  |  See (197)  |  Stand (60)  |  Suspend (7)  |  Weight (61)

The phenomena of nature, especially those that fall under the inspection of the astronomer, are to be viewed, not only with the usual attention to facts as they occur, but with the eye of reason and experience.
'An Account of Three Volcanoes on the Moon', read before the Royal Society, Philosophical Transactions (1787). Reprinted in Edward Polehampton, The Gallery of Nature and Art; or, a Tour Through Creation and Science (1815), 183.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)

The physicist is like someone who’s watching people playing chess and, after watching a few games, he may have worked out what the moves in the game are. But understanding the rules is just a trivial preliminary on the long route from being a novice to being a grand master. So even if we understand all the laws of physics, then exploring their consequences in the everyday world where complex structures can exist is a far more daunting task, and that’s an inexhaustible one I'm sure.
In Lewis Wolpert and Alison Richards, A Passion For Science (1988), 37.
Science quotes on:  |  Chess (18)  |  Complexity (80)  |  Consequence (76)  |  Daunting (2)  |  Everyday (13)  |  Existence (254)  |  Game (45)  |  Law (418)  |  Move (58)  |  Novice (2)  |  Physicist (130)  |  Physics (301)  |  Route (11)  |  Rule (135)  |  Structure (191)  |  Task (68)  |  Trivial (30)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Watching (10)  |  World (667)

The physicist, in his study of natural phenomena, has two methods of making progress: (1) the method of experiment and observation, and (2) the method of mathematical reasoning. The former is just the collection of selected data; the latter enables one to infer results about experiments that have not been performed. There is no logical reason why the second method should be possible at all, but one has found in practice that it does work and meets with reasonable success.
From Lecture delivered on presentation of the James Scott prize, (6 Feb 1939), 'The Relation Between Mathematics And Physics', printed in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1938-1939), 59, Part 2, 122.
Science quotes on:  |  Collection (38)  |  Data (100)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Infer (10)  |  Logical (20)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Meet (16)  |  Method (154)  |  Natural Science (62)  |  Performed (3)  |  Physics (301)  |  Practice (67)  |  Progress (317)  |  Reasonable (18)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Result (250)  |  Study (331)  |  Success (202)  |  Theoretical Physics (15)  |  Work (457)

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
Science quotes on:  |  Accurate (21)  |  Call (68)  |  Commonly (7)  |  Cynicism (4)  |  Power (273)

The present state of the system of nature is evidently a consequence of what it was in the preceding moment, and if we conceive of an intelligence that at a given instant comprehends all the relations of the entities of this universe, it could state the respective position, motions, and general affects of all these entities at any time in the past or future. Physical astronomy, the branch of knowledge that does the greatest honor to the human mind, gives us an idea, albeit imperfect, of what such an intelligence would be. The simplicity of the law by which the celestial bodies move, and the relations of their masses and distances, permit analysis to follow their motions up to a certain point; and in order to determine the state of the system of these great bodies in past or future centuries, it suffices for the mathematician that their position and their velocity be given by observation for any moment in time. Man owes that advantage to the power of the instrument he employs, and to the small number of relations that it embraces in its calculations. But ignorance of the different causes involved in the production of events, as well as their complexity, taken together with the imperfection of analysis, prevents our reaching the same certainty about the vast majority of phenomena. Thus there are things that are uncertain for us, things more or less probable, and we seek to compensate for the impossibility of knowing them by determining their different degrees of likelihood. So it was that we owe to the weakness of the human mind one of the most delicate and ingenious of mathematical theories, the science of chance or probability.
'Recherches, 1º, sur l'Intégration des Équations Différentielles aux Différences Finies, et sur leur Usage dans la Théorie des Hasards' (1773, published 1776). In Oeuvres complètes de Laplace, 14 Vols. (1843-1912), Vol. 8, 144-5, trans. Charles Coulston Gillispie, Pierre-Simon Laplace 1749-1827: A Life in Exact Science (1997), 26.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Calculation (67)  |  Celestial (15)  |  Certainty (97)  |  Chance (122)  |  Complexity (80)  |  Difference (208)  |  Distance (54)  |  Event (97)  |  Honour (23)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Impossibility (50)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Intelligence (138)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Law (418)  |  Likelihood (8)  |  Mass (61)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Motion (127)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Position (54)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Probability (83)  |  Relation (96)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Theory (582)  |  Time (439)  |  Uncertainty (37)  |  Universe (563)  |  Velocity (14)  |  Weakness (31)

The process of discovery is very simple. An unwearied and systematic application of known laws to nature, causes the unknown to reveal themselves. Almost any mode of observation will be successful at last, for what is most wanted is method.
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1873), 384.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (117)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Law (418)  |  Method (154)  |  Mode (29)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Process (201)  |  Revelation (29)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Success (202)  |  System (141)  |  Unknown (87)  |  Want (120)  |  Weariness (5)

The process of tracing regularity in any complicated, and at first sight confused, set of appearances, is necessarily tentative; we begin by making any supposition, even a false one, to see what consequences will follow from it ; and by observing how these differ from the real phenomena, we learn what corrections to make in our assumption.
A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (1858), 295.
Science quotes on:  |  Supposition (33)

The progress of science requires more than new data; it needs novel frameworks and contexts. And where do these fundamentally new views of the world arise? They are not simply discovered by pure observation; they require new modes of thought. And where can we find them, if old modes do not even include the right metaphors? The nature of true genius must lie in the elusive capacity to construct these new modes from apparent darkness. The basic chanciness and unpredictability of science must also reside in the inherent difficulty of such a task.
Science quotes on:  |  Apparent (26)  |  Arise (32)  |  Basic (52)  |  Capacity (42)  |  Construct (25)  |  Context (17)  |  Darkness (25)  |  Data (100)  |  Difficulty (113)  |  Discover (115)  |  Elusive (6)  |  Find (248)  |  Framework (15)  |  Fundamentally (3)  |  Genius (186)  |  Include (27)  |  Inherent (27)  |  Lie (80)  |  Metaphor (19)  |  Mode (29)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Need (211)  |  New (340)  |  Novel (16)  |  Old (104)  |  Progress Of Science (20)  |  Pure (62)  |  Require (33)  |  Reside (8)  |  Right (144)  |  Science (1699)  |  Simply (34)  |  Task (68)  |  Thought (374)  |  True (120)  |  Unpredictability (5)  |  View (115)  |  World (667)

The psychiatric interviewer is supposed to be doing three things: considering what the patient could mean by what he says; considering how he himself can best phrase what he wishes to communicate to the patient; and, at the same time, observing the general pattern of the events being communicated. In addition to that, to make notes which will be of more than evocative value, or come anywhere near being a verbatim record of what is said, in my opinion is beyond the capacity of most human beings.
From The Psychiatric Interview (1954, 1970), 48.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (129)  |  Capacity (42)  |  Communication (58)  |  Considering (6)  |  Doing (36)  |  Event (97)  |  General (92)  |  Human (445)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Note (22)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Patient (116)  |  Pattern (56)  |  Phrase (21)  |  Psychiatry (19)  |  Record (56)  |  French Saying (61)  |  Supposition (33)  |  Value (180)  |  Verbatim (2)  |  Wish (62)

The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret, they mainly make models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which, with the addition of certain verbal interpretations, describes observed phenomena. The justification of such a mathematical construct is solely and precisely that it is expected to work—that is, correctly to describe phenomena from a reasonably wide area.
'Method in the Physical Sciences', in The Unity of Knowledge, editted by L. Leary (1955), 158. Reprinted in John Von Neumann, F. Bródy (ed.) and Tibor Vámos (ed.), The Neumann Compendium (2000), 628.
Science quotes on:  |  Construct (25)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Justification (33)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Model (64)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Science (1699)

The scientific method … is nothing but the exclusion of subjective opinions as far as possible, by the devising of experiments where observation can give objective answers, yes or no, to questions whether events are causally connected.
In Science and the Humanities: The Rickman Godlee Lecture Delivered At University College London 25 October 1956 (1956), 12.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (201)  |  Cause (231)  |  Connected (7)  |  Devising (7)  |  Event (97)  |  Exclusion (11)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Objective (49)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Question (315)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Subjective (9)

The seemingly useless or trivial observation made by one worker leads on to a useful observation by another: and so science advances, “creeping on from point to point.”
Lecture 6, collected in Light Visible and Invisible: A Series of Lectures Delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, at Christmas, 1896 (1897), 276.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Creeping (4)  |  Lead (101)  |  Point (72)  |  Science (1699)  |  Trivial (30)  |  Useful (66)  |  Useless (24)

The seventeenth century witnessed the birth of modern science as we know it today. This science was something new, based on a direct confrontation of nature by experiment and observation. But there was another feature of the new science—a dependence on numbers, on real numbers of actual experience.
From The Triumph of Numbers: How Counting Shaped Modern Life (2005), 36.
Science quotes on:  |  17th Century (10)  |  Actual (34)  |  Birth (81)  |  Confrontation (6)  |  Dependence (32)  |  Direct (44)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Feature (34)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Modern Science (10)  |  Nature (1029)  |  New (340)  |  Number (179)  |  Real (95)  |  Today (86)  |  Witness (18)

The significance of a fact is relative to [the general body of scientific] knowledge. To say that a fact is significant in science, is to say that it helps to establish or refute some general law; for science, though it starts from observation of the particular, is not concerned essentially with the particular, but with the general. A fact, in science, is not a mere fact, but an instance. In this the scientist differs from the artist, who, if he deigns to notice facts at all, is likely to notice them in all their particularity.
In The Scientific Outlook (1931, 2009), 38.
Science quotes on:  |  Artist (46)  |  Difference (208)  |  Establish (30)  |  Fact (609)  |  General (92)  |  Instance (18)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Law (418)  |  Notice (20)  |  Particular (54)  |  Refute (3)  |  Relative (24)  |  Science And Art (157)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Significance (60)  |  Significant (26)

The situation with regard to insulin is particularly clear. In many parts of the world diabetic children still die from lack of this hormone. ... [T]hose of us who search for new biological facts and for new and better therapeutic weapons should appreciate that one of the central problems of the world is the more equitable distribution and use of the medical and nutritional advances which have already been established. The observations which I have recently made in parts of Africa and South America have brought this fact very forcible to my attention.
'Studies on Diabetes and Cirrhosis', Proceedings, American Philosophical Society (1952) 96, No. 1, 29.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Africa (15)  |  Attention (76)  |  Child (189)  |  Death (270)  |  Diabetes (4)  |  Distribution (21)  |  Equity (2)  |  Hormone (7)  |  Insulin (8)  |  Lack (52)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Nutrition (15)  |  Problem (362)  |  Research (517)  |  Situation (41)  |  South America (4)  |  Therapy (10)  |  World (667)

The star [Tycho’s supernova] was at first like Venus and Jupiter, giving pleasing effects; but as it then became like Mars, there will next come a period of wars, seditions, captivity and death of princes, and destruction of cities, together with dryness and fiery meteors in the air, pestilence, and venomous snakes. Lastly, the star became like Saturn, and there will finally come a time of want, death, imprisonment and all sorts of sad things.
Science quotes on:  |  Tycho Brahe (23)  |  Effect (133)  |  Jupiter (17)  |  Mars (26)  |  Pleasure (98)  |  Saturn (10)  |  Star (251)  |  Supernova (7)  |  Venus (12)

The Sun is no lonelier than its neighbors; indeed, it is a very common-place star,—dwarfish, though not minute,—like hundreds, nay thousands, of others. By accident the brighter component of Alpha Centauri (which is double) is almost the Sun's twin in brightness, mass, and size. Could this Earth be transported to its vicinity by some supernatural power, and set revolving about it, at a little less than a hundred million miles' distance, the star would heat and light the world just as the Sun does, and life and civilization might go on with no radical change. The Milky Way would girdle the heavens as before; some of our familiar constellations, such as Orion, would be little changed, though others would be greatly altered by the shifting of the nearer stars. An unfamiliar brilliant star, between Cassiopeia and Perseus would be—the Sun. Looking back at it with our telescopes, we could photograph its spectrum, observe its motion among the stars, and convince ourselves that it was the same old Sun; but what had happened to the rest of our planetary system we would not know.
The Solar System and its Origin (1935), 2-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (54)  |  Alpha Centauri (2)  |  Alteration (22)  |  Brightness (8)  |  Cassiopeia (2)  |  Change (291)  |  Civilization (155)  |  Convince (17)  |  Double (12)  |  Dwarf (5)  |  Earth (487)  |  Heat (90)  |  Life (917)  |  Light (246)  |  Loneliness (3)  |  Look (46)  |  Mass (61)  |  Mile (24)  |  Million (89)  |  Motion (127)  |  Nearness (3)  |  Neighbor (10)  |  Perseus (2)  |  Photograph (17)  |  Planet (199)  |  Radical (17)  |  Revolution (56)  |  Shift (21)  |  Size (47)  |  Solar System (48)  |  Spectrum (23)  |  Star (251)  |  Sun (211)  |  Supernatural (19)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Transportation (10)  |  Twin (6)  |  Unfamiliarity (4)  |  World (667)

The true method of discovery is like the flight of an aeroplane. It starts from the ground of particular observation; it makes a flight in the thin air of imaginative generalization; and it again lands for renewed observation rendered acute by rational interpretation.
Gifford lectures delivered in the University of Edinburgh during the session 1927-28. Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929, 1979), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Acute (6)  |  Air (151)  |  Airplane (32)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Flight (45)  |  Generalization (26)  |  Ground (63)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Method (154)  |  Particular (54)  |  Rational (42)  |  Renew (7)  |  True (120)

The truth is, the Science of Nature has been already too long made only a work of the Brain and the Fancy: It is now high time that it should return to the plainness and soundness of Observations on material and obvious things.
Micrographia (1665). In Extracts from Micrographia (1906), 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (181)  |  Fancy (16)  |  Material (124)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Obvious (54)  |  Plainness (2)  |  Science (1699)  |  Soundness (4)  |  Truth (750)

The two fulcra of medicine are reason and observation. Observation is the clue to guide the physician in his thinking.
Praxi Medica (1696), Introduction.
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (322)  |  Reason (330)  |  Thinking (222)

The universe does not exist “out there,” independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe. Physics is no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.
Quoted in Denis Brian, The Voice Of Genius: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries, 127.
Science quotes on:  |  Physics (301)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Universe (563)

The value the world sets upon motives is often grossly unjust and inaccurate. Consider, for example, two of them: mere insatiable curiosity and the desire to do good. The latter is put high above the former, and yet it is the former that moves some of the greatest men the human race has yet produced: the scientific investigators. What animates a great pathologist? Is it the desire to cure disease, to save life? Surely not, save perhaps as an afterthought. He is too intelligent, deep down in his soul, to see anything praiseworthy in such a desire. He knows by life-long observation that his discoveries will do quite as much harm as good, that a thousand scoundrels will profit to every honest man, that the folks who most deserve to be saved will probably be the last to be saved. No man of self-respect could devote himself to pathology on such terms. What actually moves him is his unquenchable curiosity–his boundless, almost pathological thirst to penetrate the unknown, to uncover the secret, to find out what has not been found out before. His prototype is not the liberator releasing slaves, the good Samaritan lifting up the fallen, but the dog sniffing tremendously at an infinite series of rat-holes.
Prejudices (1923), 269-70.
Science quotes on:  |  Afterthought (6)  |  Cure (88)  |  Curiosity (89)  |  Desire (101)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Disease (257)  |  Dog (39)  |  Good (228)  |  Harm (31)  |  Honesty (16)  |  Human Race (49)  |  Inaccurate (3)  |  Insatiable (4)  |  Intelligent (35)  |  Investigator (28)  |  Liberator (2)  |  Life (917)  |  Pathologist (4)  |  Pathology (11)  |  Praise (17)  |  Profit (28)  |  Prototype (5)  |  Rat-Hole (2)  |  Save (46)  |  Scoundrel (6)  |  Secret (98)  |  Slave (21)  |  Society (188)  |  Soul (139)  |  Thirst (9)  |  Unjust (5)  |  Unknown (87)  |  Value (180)

The Vermin only teaze and pinch
Their foes superior by an Inch.
So, Naturalists observe, a Flea
Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller Fleas to bite 'em.
And so proceed ad infinitum.
On Poetry: A Rhapsody (1735), lines 339-44.
Science quotes on:  |  Ad Infinitum (3)  |  Back (55)  |  Bite (11)  |  Flea (8)  |  Foe (4)  |  Inch (6)  |  Naturalist (49)  |  Pinch (4)  |  Prey (9)  |  Proceeding (13)  |  Smaller (4)  |  Superior (30)  |  Vermin (3)

The word 'chance' then expresses only our ignorance of the causes of the phenomena that we observe to occur and to succeed one another in no apparent order. Probability is relative in part to this ignorance, and in part to our knowledge.
'Mémoire sur les Approximations des Formules qui sont Fonctions de Très Grands Nombres' (1783, published 1786). In Oeuvres complète de Laplace, 14 Vols. (1843-1912), Vol. 10, 296, trans. Charles Coulston Gillispie, Pierre-Simon Laplace 1749-1827: A Life in Exact Science (1997), 91.
Science quotes on:  |  Chance (122)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Order (167)  |  Probability (83)

Their specific effect on the glucosides might thus be explained by assuming that the intimate contact between the molecules necessary for the release of the chemical reaction is possible only with similar geometrical configurations. To give an illustration I will say that enzyme and glucoside must fit together like lock and key in order to be able to exercise a chemical action on each other. This concept has undoubtedly gained in probability and value for stereochemical research, after the phenomenon itself was transferred from the biological to the purely chemical field. It is an extension of the theory of asymmetry without being a direct consequence of it: for the conviction that the geometrical structure of the molecule even for optical isomers exercises such a great influence on the chemical affinities, in my opinion could only be gained by new actual observations.
'Einfluss der Configuration auf die wirkung der Enzyme', Berichte der deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft, 1894, 27, 2985-93. Trans. B. Holmstedt and G. Liljestrand (eds.) Readings in Pharmacology (1963), 251.
Science quotes on:  |  Enzyme (14)  |  Isomer (5)  |  Reaction (59)  |  Stereochemistry (2)

Theories should not be used to select observations; on the contrary, it is observations which should be used to select the theories.
From webpage 'The Selection Effect' on laserstars.org website. The article does not specify an author, but the homepage attributes the site to Y.P. Varshni and J. Talbot.
Science quotes on:  |  Selection (27)  |  Selection Effect (2)  |  Theory (582)

Theory and fact are equally strong and utterly interdependent; one has no meaning without the other. We need theory to organize and interpret facts, even to know what we can or might observe. And we need facts to validate theories and give them substance.
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms: Essays on Natural History (1998), 155.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Interdependent (2)  |  Interpret (15)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Organize (14)  |  Theory (582)

There are certain general Laws that run through the whole Chain of natural Effects: these are learned by the Observation and Study of Nature, and are by Men applied as well to the framing artificial things for the Use and Ornament of Life, as to the explaining the various Phænomena: Which Explication consists only in shewing the Conformity any particular Phænomenon hath to the general Laws of Nature, or, which is the same thing, in discovering the Uniformity there is in the production of natural Effects; as will be evident to whoever shall attend to the several Instances, wherin Philosophers pretend to account for Appearances.
A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge [first published 1710], (1734), 87-8.
Science quotes on:  |  Law (418)

There are three stages in the development of science: First, there is the observation of things and facts—the scientists map out and inventory the objects in each department of Nature; secondly, the interrelations are investigated, and this leads to a knowledge of forces and influences which produce or modify those objects…. This is the dynamic stage, the discovery of forces and laws connecting each fact with all other facts, and each province of Nature with all other provinces of Nature. The goal of this second stage of science is to make each fact in Nature throw light on all the other facts, and thus to illuminate each by all. … Science in its third and final stage learns to know everything in Nature as a part of a process which it studies in the history of its development. When it comes to see each thing in the perspective of its evolution, it knows it and comprehends it.
In Psychologic Foundations of Education: An Attempt to Show the Genesis of the Higher Faculties of the Mind (1907), 378.
Science quotes on:  |  Comprehension (51)  |  Connection (86)  |  Development (228)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Dynamic (11)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Fact (609)  |  Force (194)  |  Illuminate (12)  |  Influence (110)  |  Interrelation (6)  |  Inventory (6)  |  Investigate (49)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Map (21)  |  Modify (11)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Perspective (15)  |  Process (201)  |  Science (1699)  |  Stage (39)  |  Study (331)

There is inherent in nature a hidden harmony that reflects itself in our minds under the image of simple mathematical laws. That then is the reason why events in nature are predictable by a combination of observation and mathematical analysis. Again and again in the history of physics this conviction, or should I say this dream, of harmony in nature has found fulfillments beyond our expectations.
Science quotes on:  |  Beyond (65)  |  Combination (69)  |  Conviction (57)  |  Dream (92)  |  Event (97)  |  Expectation (46)  |  Find (248)  |  Harmony (55)  |  Hide (36)  |  History Of Physics (3)  |  Image (38)  |  Inherent (27)  |  Law (418)  |  Mathematical Analysis (5)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Mind (544)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Predictable (9)  |  Reason (330)  |  Reflect (17)  |  Say (126)  |  Simple (111)

There is no art so difficult as the art of observation: it requires a skillful, sober spirit and a well-trained experience, which can only be acquired by practice; for he is not an observer who only sees the thing before him with his eyes, but he who sees of what parts the thing consists, and in what connexion the parts stand to the whole. One person overlooks half from inattention; another relates more than he sees while he confounds it with that which he figures to himself; another sees the parts of the whole, but he throws things together that ought to be separated. ... When the observer has ascertained the foundation of a phenomenon, and he is able to associate its conditions, he then proves while he endeavours to produce the phenomena at his will, the correctness of his observations by experiment. To make a series of experiments is often to decompose an opinion into its individual parts, and to prove it by a sensible phenomenon. The naturalist makes experiments in order to exhibit a phenomenon in all its different parts. When he is able to show of a series of phenomena, that they are all operations of the same cause, he arrives at a simple expression of their significance, which, in this case, is called a Law of Nature. We speak of a simple property as a Law of Nature when it serves for the explanation of one or more natural phenomena.
'The Study of the Natural Sciences: An Introductory Lecture to the Course of Experimental Chemistry in the University of Munich, for the Winter Session of 1852-53,' as translated and republished in The Medical Times and Gazette (22 Jan 1853), N.S. Vol. 6, 82.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (205)  |  Ascertain (7)  |  Associate (9)  |  Carelessness (4)  |  Cause (231)  |  Component (14)  |  Condition (119)  |  Confuse (13)  |  Correctness (11)  |  Decompose (5)  |  Demonstrate (25)  |  Difficulty (113)  |  Endeavour (24)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Expression (82)  |  Eye (159)  |  Foundation (75)  |  Imagine (40)  |  Inattention (3)  |  Law Of Nature (52)  |  Naturalist (49)  |  Observer (33)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Overlook (8)  |  Part (146)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Practice (67)  |  Produce (63)  |  Proof (192)  |  Property (96)  |  Relationship (59)  |  Report (31)  |  Result (250)  |  See (197)  |  Sensible (22)  |  Separate (46)  |  Simple (111)  |  Skillful (3)  |  Sober (8)  |  Spirit (113)  |  Test (96)  |  Together (48)  |  Training (39)  |  Truth (750)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Validity (22)  |  Verify (9)  |  Whole (122)

There is the immense sea of energy ... a multidimensional implicate order, ... the entire universe of matter as we generally observe it is to be treated as a comparatively small pattern of excitation. This excitation pattern is relatively autonomous and gives rise to approximately recurrent, stable separable projections into a three-dimensional explicate order of manifestation, which is more or less equivalent to that of space as we commonly experience it.
Wholeness and the Implicate Order? (1981), 192.
Science quotes on:  |  Autonomous (3)  |  Commonly (7)  |  Comparatively (6)  |  Dimension (26)  |  Energy (185)  |  Entire (29)  |  Equivalent (14)  |  Excitation (7)  |  Experience (268)  |  Generally (9)  |  Give (117)  |  Immense (28)  |  Manifestation (30)  |  Matter (270)  |  More Or Less (4)  |  Observe (48)  |  Order (167)  |  Pattern (56)  |  Projection (4)  |  Recurrent (2)  |  Relatively (3)  |  Rise (51)  |  Sea (143)  |  Separable (3)  |  Small (97)  |  Space (154)  |  Stable (15)  |  Three-Dimensional (2)  |  Treat (17)  |  Universe (563)

There may be instances of mere accidental discovery; but, setting these aside, the great advances made in the inductive sciences are, for the most part, preceded by a more or less probable hypothesis. The imagination, having some small light to guide it, goes first. Further observation, experiment, and reason follow.
Presidential Address to Anniversary meeting of the Royal Society (30 Nov 1859), Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (1860), 10, 166.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (54)  |  Advance (123)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Reason (330)  |  Serendipity (13)

These motions were such as to satisfy me, after frequently repeated observation, that they arose neither from currents in the fluid, nor from its gradual evaporation, but belonged to the particle itself.
Summary of Brownian motion.
A Brief Account of Microscopical Observations made in the Middle of June, July, and August, 1827, on the Particles Contained in the Pollen of Plants', Philosophical Magazine, 1828, NS 4, 162-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Brownian Motion (2)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Particle (90)

These two orders of mountains [Secondary and Tertiary] offer the most ancient chronicle of our globe, least liable to falsifications and at the same time more legible than the writing of the primitive ranges. They are Nature's archives, prior to even the most remote records and traditions that have been preserved for our observant century to investigate, comment on and bring to the light of day, and which will not be exhausted for several centuries after our own.
Observations sur la Formation des Montagnes', Acta Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae (1777) [1778], 46. Trans. Albert Carozzi.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancient (68)  |  Archive (5)  |  Century (94)  |  Chronicle (6)  |  Comment (8)  |  Exhaustion (13)  |  Falsification (7)  |  Globe (39)  |  Least (43)  |  Legibility (2)  |  Liability (5)  |  Mountain (111)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Order (167)  |  Preparation (33)  |  Primitive (37)  |  Range (38)  |  Record (56)  |  Remote (27)  |  Secondary (11)  |  Tertiary (3)  |  Tradition (43)  |  Writing (72)

Things of which there is sight, hearing, apprehension, these I prefer.
Heraclitus, fr. 55. Trans. R. W. Sharples.

This success permits us to hope that after thirty or forty years of observation on the new Planet [Neptune], we may employ it, in its turn, for the discovery of the one following it in its order of distances from the Sun. Thus, at least, we should unhappily soon fall among bodies invisible by reason of their immense distance, but whose orbits might yet be traced in a succession of ages, with the greatest exactness, by the theory of Secular Inequalities.
[Following the success of the confirmation of the existence of the planet Neptune, he considered the possibility of the discovery of a yet further planet.]
In John Pringle Nichol, The Planet Neptune: An Exposition and History (1848), 90.
Science quotes on:  |  Calculation (67)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Hope (129)  |  Neptune (8)  |  Permit (20)  |  Planet (199)  |  Pluto (3)  |  Success (202)

Through steady observation and a meaningful contact with the divined order of the world’s structure, arranged by God’s wisdom,–who would not be guided to admire the Builder who creates all!
Science quotes on:  |  Admire (10)  |  Arrange (15)  |  Builder (10)  |  Contact (24)  |  Create (98)  |  Divine (42)  |  God (454)  |  Guide (46)  |  Meaningful (14)  |  Order (167)  |  Steady (12)  |  Structure (191)  |  Wisdom (151)  |  World (667)

Thus one becomes entangled in contradictions if one speaks of the probable position of the electron without considering the experiment used to determine it ... It must also be emphasized that the statistical character of the relation depends on the fact that the influence of the measuring device is treated in a different manner than the interaction of the various parts of the system on one another. This last interaction also causes changes in the direction of the vector representing the system in the Hilbert space, but these are completely determined. If one were to treat the measuring device as a part of the system—which would necessitate an extension of the Hilbert space—then the changes considered above as indeterminate would appear determinate. But no use could be made of this determinateness unless our observation of the measuring device were free of indeterminateness. For these observations, however, the same considerations are valid as those given above, and we should be forced, for example, to include our own eyes as part of the system, and so on. The chain of cause and effect could be quantitatively verified only if the whole universe were considered as a single system—but then physics has vanished, and only a mathematical scheme remains. The partition of the world into observing and observed system prevents a sharp formulation of the law of cause and effect. (The observing system need not always be a human being; it may also be an inanimate apparatus, such as a photographic plate.)
The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory, trans. Carl Eckart and Frank C. Hoyt (1949), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  Electron (66)  |  Quantum Physics (16)  |  Uncertainty (37)

Thus the system of the world only oscillates around a mean state from which it never departs except by a very small quantity. By virtue of its constitution and the law of gravity, it enjoys a stability that can be destroyed only by foreign causes, and we are certain that their action is undetectable from the time of the most ancient observations until our own day. This stability in the system of the world, which assures its duration, is one of the most notable among all phenomena, in that it exhibits in the heavens the same intention to maintain order in the universe that nature has so admirably observed on earth for the sake of preserving individuals and perpetuating species.
'Sur l'Équation Séculaire de la Lune' (1786, published 1788). In Oeuvres complètes de Laplace, 14 Vols. (1843-1912), Vol. 11, 248-9, trans. Charles Coulston Gillispie, Pierre-Simon Laplace 1749-1827: A Life in Exact Science (1997), 145.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (151)  |  Ancient (68)  |  Cause (231)  |  Certainty (97)  |  The Constitution of the United States (7)  |  Destroy (63)  |  Duration (9)  |  Exhibit (12)  |  Foreign (20)  |  Gravity (89)  |  Heaven (118)  |  Individual (177)  |  Intention (25)  |  Law (418)  |  Maintain (22)  |  Mean (63)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Order (167)  |  Oscillation (6)  |  Perpetuate (5)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Preservation (28)  |  Species (181)  |  Stability (17)  |  State (96)  |  System (141)  |  Time (439)  |  Undetectable (2)  |  Universe (563)  |  World (667)

To behold is not necessarily to observe, and the power of comparing and combining is only to be obtained by education. It is much to be regretted that habits of exact observation are not cultivated in our schools; to this deficiency may be traced much of the fallacious reasoning, the false philosophy which prevails.
As quoted in Inaugural Address, Edward C.C. Stanford, 'Glasgow Philosophical Meeting' (8 Dec 1873), The Chemical News and Journal of Physical Science (2 Jan 1874), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Behold (12)  |  Combine (15)  |  Compare (15)  |  Deficiency (8)  |  Education (280)  |  Fallacious (2)  |  False (79)  |  Philosophy (213)  |  Power (273)  |  Reason (330)  |  School (87)  |  Trace (39)

To bring scientific investigation to a happy end once appropriate methods have been determined, we must hold firmly in mind the goal of the project. The object here is to focus the train of thought on more and more complex and accurate associations between images based on observation and ideas slumbering in the unconscious.
From Reglas y Consejos sobre Investigacķon Cientifica: Los tónicos de la voluntad. (1897), as translated by Neely and Larry W. Swanson, in Advice for a Young Investigator (1999), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Accurate (21)  |  Appropriate (18)  |  Association (15)  |  Based (4)  |  Complex (78)  |  Determined (8)  |  End (141)  |  Focus (21)  |  Goal (81)  |  Happy (22)  |  Idea (440)  |  Image (38)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Method (154)  |  Project (22)  |  Thought (374)  |  Train (25)  |  Unconscious (13)

To consider the matter aright, reason is nothing but a wonderful and unintelligible instinct in our souls, which carries us along a certain train of ideas, and endows them with particular qualities, according to their particular situations and relations. This instinct, 'tis true, arises from past observation and experience; but can anyone give the ultimate reason, why past experience and observation produces such an effect, any more than why nature alone should produce it?
A Treatise on Human Nature (1739-40), ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge (1888), book 1, part 3, section 16, 179.
Science quotes on:  |  Effect (133)  |  Experienced (2)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Reason (330)

To discover a Conception of the mind which will justly represent a train of observed facts is, in some measure, a process of conjecture, ... and the business of conjecture is commonly conducted by calling up before our minds several suppositions, selecting that one which most agrees with what we know of the observed facts. Hence he who has to discover the laws of nature may have to invent many suppositions before he hits upon the right one; and among the endowments which lead to his success, we must reckon that fertility of invention which ministers to him such imaginary schemes, till at last he finds the one which conforms to the true order of nature.
Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1847), Vol. 2, 54.
Science quotes on:  |  Conception (63)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Endowment (7)  |  Fact (609)  |  Fertility (11)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Invention (283)  |  Law (418)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Success (202)  |  Supposition (33)

To every Form of being is assigned’
Thus calmly spoke the venerable Sage,
An active Principle:—howe’er remove!
From sense and observation, it subsists.
In all things, in all natures; in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks,
The moving waters, and the invisible air.’
In The Excursion (1814). In The Works of William Wordsworth (1994), Book 9, 884.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (151)  |  Assignment (10)  |  Brook (5)  |  Cloud (44)  |  Flower (65)  |  Form (210)  |  Heaven (118)  |  Pebble (17)  |  Principle (228)  |  Rock (107)  |  Sage (6)  |  Star (251)  |  Stone (57)  |  Tree (143)  |  Water (244)

To find out what happens to a system when you interfere with it you have to interfere with it (not just passively observe it).
Use and Abuse of Regression (1966), 629.
Science quotes on:  |  Research (517)

To Observations which ourselves we make,
We grow more partial for th' observer's sake.
'Moral Essays', Epistle I, to Richard Temple, Viscount Cobham (1734). In John Butt (ed.), The Poems of Alexander Pope (1965), 550.
Science quotes on:  |  Growth (111)  |  Ourself (9)  |  Partiality (3)  |  Sake (17)

To study men, we must look close by; to study man, we must learn to look afar; if we are to discover essential characteristics, we must first observe differences.
Essai sur l'origine des langues (1781), 384
Science quotes on:  |  Afar (5)  |  Characteristic (66)  |  Close (40)  |  Difference (208)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Essential (87)  |  Look (46)  |  Man (345)  |  Study (331)

Today we no longer ask what really goes on in an atom; we ask what is likely to be observed—and with what likelihood—when we subject atoms to any specified influences such as light or heat, magnetic fields or electric currents.
What Little I Remember (1979), 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Experiment (543)

Watching baseball under the lights is like observing dogs indoors, at a pedigree show. In both instances, the environment is too controlled to suit the species.
Baseball The Difference between Night and Day Christian Science Monitor, 3 Apr 85
Science quotes on:  |  Baseball (3)  |  Control (93)  |  Dog (39)  |  Environment (138)  |  Indoors (2)  |  Light (246)  |  Pedigree (3)  |  Show (55)  |  Species (181)  |  Suitable (6)  |  Watching (10)

We are as remote from adequate explanation of the nature and causes of mechanical evolution of the hard parts of animals as we were when Aristotle first speculated on this subject … I think it is possible that we may never fathom all the causes of mechanical evolution or of the origin of new mechanical characters, but shall have to remain content with observing the modes of mechanical evolution, just as embryologists and geneticists are observing the modes of development, from the fertilized ovum to the mature individual, without in the least understanding either the cause or the nature of the process of development which goes on under their eyes every day
From 'Orthogenesis as observed from paleontological evidence beginning in the year 1889', American Naturalist (1922) 56, 141-142. As quoted and cited in 'G.G. Simpson, Paleontology, and the Modern Synthesis', collected in Ernst Mayr, William B. Provine (eds.), The Evolutionary Synthesis: Perspectives on the Unification of Biology (1998), 171.
Science quotes on:  |  Adequate (18)  |  Animal (309)  |  Aristotle (141)  |  Cause (231)  |  Character (82)  |  Development (228)  |  Embryologist (2)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fathom (5)  |  Fertilization (15)  |  Geneticist (11)  |  Hard (70)  |  Mature (7)  |  Mechanics (44)  |  Mode (29)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Origin (77)  |  Ovum (4)  |  Process (201)  |  Remote (27)  |  Understanding (317)

We are not to think that Jupiter has four satellites given him by nature, in order, by revolving round him, to immortalize the name of the Medici, who first had notice of the observation. These are the dreams of idle men, who love ludicrous ideas better than our laborious and industrious correction of the heavens.—Nature abhors so horrible a chaos, and to the truly wise, such vanity is detestable.
From Nodus Gordius, Appendix, as cited in John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, Life of Galileo Galilei: With Illustrations of the Advancement of Experimental Philosophy (1832), 93.
Science quotes on:  |  Abhor (3)  |  Better (131)  |  Chaos (63)  |  Correction (28)  |  Dream (92)  |  First (174)  |  Gift (47)  |  Heaven (118)  |  Horrible (7)  |  Idea (440)  |  Idleness (8)  |  Immortalize (2)  |  Industrious (6)  |  Jupiter (17)  |  Laborious (3)  |  Love (164)  |  Ludicrous (3)  |  Moon (132)  |  Name (118)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Notice (20)  |  Revolution (56)  |  Satellite (22)  |  Thinking (222)  |  Truly (19)  |  Vanity (14)  |  Wise (43)

We cannot observe external things without some degree of Thought; nor can we reflect upon our Thoughts, without being influenced in the course of our reflection by the Things which we have observed.
In The Elements of Morality (1845), Vol 1, 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Course (57)  |  Degree (48)  |  External (45)  |  Influence (110)  |  Observe (48)  |  Reflect (17)  |  Reflection (50)  |  Thought (374)

We did also at night see Jupiter and his girdle and satellites, very fine, with my twelve-foot glass, but could not Saturn, he being very dark.
Entry for 19 Aug 1666. In Samuel Pepys and Henry B. Wheatley (ed.), The Diary of Samuel Pepys (1895, 1900), Vol. 5, 382. He spent the day with Mr Reeves and Mr Spong.
Science quotes on:  |  Jupiter (17)  |  Night (73)  |  Planet (199)  |  Satellite (22)  |  Saturn (10)  |  Telescope (74)

We find it a law of our state of being that where only observation can be made the growth of knowledge creeps; where experiment can be made knowledge leaps forward.
From Norman Lockyer Lecture delivered before the British Science Guild (19 Nov 1929), 'Medical Research: The Tree and the Fruit', in The British Medical Journal (30 Nov 1929), Vol. 2, No. 3595, 995. Fletcher introduces this statement as a “truism,” without mention of any prior person saying it. Yet it is very similar to a quote often seen, perhaps incorrectly, as a quote attributed to Michael Faraday: “A natural law regulates the advance of science. Where only observation can be made, the growth of knowledge creeps; where laboratory experiments can be carried on, knowledge leaps forward.” Webmaster has found no instance of this quote being made prior to 1929, which raises the suspicion that Faraday did not originate it — else why is it not easily found in his written work or quoted in a book in all the years since his time? If you know a primary source linking it to Faraday, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Creep (7)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Leap (23)  |  Natural Law (26)

We have also here an acting cause to account for that balance so often observed in nature,—a deficiency in one set of organs always being compensated by an increased development of some others—powerful wings accompanying weak feet, or great velocity making up for the absence of defensive weapons; for it has been shown that all varieties in which an unbalanced deficiency occurred could not long continue their existen The action of this principle is exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they become evident; and in like manner no unbalanced deficiency in the animal kingdom can ever reach any conspicuous magnitude, because it would make itself felt at the very first step, by rendering existence difficult and extinction almost sure soon to follow.
In 'On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type', Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society, Zoology (1858), 3, 61-62.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Balance (43)  |  Centrifugal (3)  |  Compensation (6)  |  Continue (38)  |  Correct (53)  |  Defense (15)  |  Deficiency (8)  |  Development (228)  |  Difficulty (113)  |  Existence (254)  |  Extinction (55)  |  Foot (39)  |  Governor (7)  |  Increased (3)  |  Irregularity (10)  |  Kingdom (34)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Organ (60)  |  Other (25)  |  Powerful (51)  |  Steam Engine (41)  |  Step (67)  |  Variety (53)  |  Velocity (14)  |  Weak (36)  |  Weapon (57)  |  Wing (36)

We have not known a single great scientist who could not discourse freely and interestingly with a child. Can it be that haters of clarity have nothing to say, have observed nothing, have no clear picture of even their own fields?
In John Steinbeck and Edward Flanders Ricketts, Sea of Cortez: a Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research (1941), 73.
Science quotes on:  |  Child (189)  |  Clarity (31)  |  Discourse (13)  |  Field (119)  |  Great (300)  |  Interest (170)  |  Nothing (267)  |  Picture (55)  |  Scientist (447)

We have seven or eight geological facts, related by Moses on the one part, and on the other, deduced solely from the most exact and best verified geological observations, and yet agreeing perfectly with each other, not only in substance, but in the order of their succession... That two accounts derived from sources totally distinct from and independent on each other should agree not only in the substance but in the order of succession of two events only, is already highly improbable, if these facts be not true, both substantially and as to the order of their succession. Let this improbability, as to the substance of the facts, be represented only by 1/10. Then the improbability of their agreement as to seven events is 1.7/10.7 that is, as one to ten million, and would be much higher if the order also had entered into the computation.
Geological Essays (1799), 52-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Agreement (29)  |  Deduction (49)  |  Fact (609)  |  Geology (187)  |  Moses (6)  |  Probability (83)  |  Verification (20)

We have three approaches at our disposal: the observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation serves to assemble the data, reflection to synthesise them and experimentation to test the results of the synthesis. The observation of nature must be assiduous, just as reflection must be profound, and experimentation accurate. These three approaches are rarely found together, which explains why creative geniuses are so rare.
Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature and Other Philosophical Works (1753/4), ed. D. Adams (1999), section XV, 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
The Outermost House (1928), 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)

We ought to observe that practice which is the hardest of all—especially for young physicians—we ought to throw in no medicine at all—to abstain—to observe a wise and masterly inactivity.
Speech (25 Jan 1828), in Register of Debates in Congress, Vol. 4, Col. 1170.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstinence (4)  |  Especially (18)  |  Hard (70)  |  Inactivity (2)  |  Masterly (2)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Physician (232)  |  Practice (67)  |  Throwing (3)  |  Wise (43)  |  Young (72)

We receive experience from nature in a series of messages. From these messages we extract a content of information: that is, we decode the messages in some way. And from this code of information we then make a basic vocabulary of concepts and a basic grammar of laws, which jointly describe the inner organization that nature translates into the happenings and the appearances we meet.
The Identity of Man. Quoted in Richard Dawkins, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing (2008), 176-7.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (268)  |  Law (418)  |  Nature (1029)

Well-established theories collapse under the weight of new facts and observations which cannot be explained, and then accumulate to the point where the once useful theory is clearly obsolete.
[Using Thomas S. Kuhn's theories to frame his argument about the relationship beween science and technology: as new facts continue to accumulate, a new, more accurate paradigm must replace the old one.]
Al Gore
Commencement address at M.I.T. (7 Jun 1996). In obituary, 'Thomas S. Kuhn', The Tech (26 Jun 1996), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  Cannot (8)  |  Collapse (16)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fact (609)  |  Thomas S. Kuhn (21)  |  New (340)  |  Obsolete (7)  |  Paradigm (10)  |  Theory (582)  |  Usefulness (70)  |  Weight (61)  |  Well-Established (2)

Well-observed facts, though brought to light by passing theories, will never die; they are the material on which alone the house of science will at last be built.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 165.
Science quotes on:  |  Alone (61)  |  Building (51)  |  Death (270)  |  Fact (609)  |  House (36)  |  Light (246)  |  Material (124)  |  Science (1699)  |  Theory (582)

Were I disposed to consider the comparative merit of each of them [facts or theories in medical practice], I should derive most of the evils of medicine from supposed facts, and ascribe all the remedies which have been uniformly and extensively useful, to such theories as are true. Facts are combined and rendered useful only by means of theories, and the more disposed men are to reason, the more minute and extensive they become in their observations
Quoted in John Edmonds Stock, Memoirs of the life of Thomas Beddoes (1810), 401.
Science quotes on:  |  Ascribe (11)  |  Comparison (53)  |  Consider (45)  |  Derive (18)  |  Dispose (7)  |  Evil (67)  |  Fact (609)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Merit (25)  |  Reason (330)  |  Remedy (46)  |  Suppose (29)  |  Theory (582)  |  Truth (750)  |  Usefulness (70)

What animates a great pathologist? Is it the desire to cure disease, to save life? Surely not, save perhaps as an afterthought. He is too intelligent, deep in his soul, to see anything praiseworthy in such a desire. He knows from life-long observation that his discoveries will do quite as much harm as good, that a thousand scoundrels will profit to every honest man, that the folks who most deserve to be saved will probably be the last to be saved. ... What actually moves him is his unquenchable curiosity—his boundless, almost pathological thirst to penetrate the unknown, to uncover the secret, to find out what has not been found out before. ... [like] the dog sniffing tremendously at an infinite series of rat-holes. ... And yet he stands in the very front rank of the race
In 'The Scientist', Prejudices: third series (1922), 269-70.
Science quotes on:  |  Afterthought (6)  |  Cure (88)  |  Curiosity (89)  |  Desire (101)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Disease (257)  |  Dog (39)  |  Good (228)  |  Harm (31)  |  Honesty (16)  |  Infinity (59)  |  Intelligence (138)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Life (917)  |  Motivation (21)  |  Pathologist (4)  |  Penetration (13)  |  Praiseworthy (2)  |  Rank (19)  |  Rat-Hole (2)  |  Saving (19)  |  Scoundrel (6)  |  Secret (98)  |  Soul (139)  |  Thirst (9)  |  Uncovering (2)  |  Unknown (87)

What caused me to undertake the catalog was the nebula I discovered above the southern horn of Taurus on September 12, 1758, while observing the comet of that year. ... This nebula had such a resemblance to a comet in its form and brightness that I endeavored to find others, so that astronomers would not confuse these same nebulae with comets just beginning to shine. I observed further with suitable refractors for the discovery of comets, and this is the purpose I had in mind in compiling the catalog.
After me, the celebrated Herschel published a catalog of 2000 which he has observed. This unveiling the sky, made with instruments of great aperture, does not help in the perusal of the sky for faint comets. Thus my object is different from his, and I need only nebulae visible in a telescope of two feet [focal length].
Connaissance des Temps for 1800/1801. In Charles Coulston Gillespie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1974), Vol. 9, 330.
Science quotes on:  |  Aperture (4)  |  Brightness (8)  |  Catalog (5)  |  Comet (43)  |  Compilation (3)  |  Difference (208)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Form (210)  |  Sir William Herschel (14)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Nebula (15)  |  Object (110)  |  Perusal (2)  |  Resemblance (18)  |  Sky (68)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Undertaking (7)  |  Unveiling (2)  |  Visibility (6)

What really matters for me is … the more active role of the observer in quantum physics … According to quantum physics the observer has indeed a new relation to the physical events around him in comparison with the classical observer, who is merely a spectator.
Letter to Niels Bohr (1955). Quoted in Robert J. Scully, The Demon and the Quantum (2007), 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Quantum Physics (16)

What the use of P [the significance level] implies, therefore, is that a hypothesis that may be true may be rejected because it has not predicted observable results that have not occurred.
Theory of Probability (1939), 316.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Probability (83)  |  Result (250)  |  Statistics (125)

What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. ... In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.
The Beauties of Nature (1893, 2009), 12.

When an observation is made on any atomic system that has been prepared in a given way and is thus in a given state, the result will not in general be determinate, i.e. if the experiment is repeated several times under identical conditions several different results may be obtained. If the experiment is repeated a large number of times it will be found that each particular result will be obtained a definite fraction of the total number of times, so that one can say there is a definite probability of its being obtained any time that the experiment is performed. This probability the theory enables one to calculate. (1930)
The Principles of Quantum Mechanics 4th ed. (1981), 13-14
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Probability (83)  |  Quantum Mechanics (31)

When Big Bang proponents make assertions such as … “the evidence taken together … hangs together beautifully,” they overlook observational facts that have been piling up for 25 years and that have now become overwhelming. Of course, if one ignores contradictory observations, one can claim to have an “elegant” or “robust” theory. But it isn’t science.
In 'Letters: Wrangling Over the Bang', Science News (27 Jul 1991), 140, No. 4, 51. Also quoted in Roy C. Martin, Astronomy on Trial: A Devastating and Complete Repudiation of the Big Bang Fiasco (1999), Appendix I, 217.
Science quotes on:  |  Assertion (23)  |  Big Bang (38)  |  Claim (52)  |  Contradictory (4)  |  Elegant (8)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Fact (609)  |  Ignore (22)  |  Overlook (8)  |  Overwhelming (18)  |  Proponent (2)  |  Robust (5)  |  Science (1699)  |  Theory (582)

When Da Vinci wanted an effect, he willed, he planned the means to make it happen: that was the purpose of his machines. But the machines of Newton … are means not for doing but for observing. He saw an effect, and he looked for its cause.
From The Common Sense of Science (1951), 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (231)  |  Leonardo da Vinci (34)  |  Doing (36)  |  Effect (133)  |  Happen (63)  |  Look (46)  |  Machine (133)  |  Means (109)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  Plan (69)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Seeing (48)  |  Want (120)  |  Will (29)

When found, make a note of.
Science quotes on:  |  Find (248)  |  Note (22)

When Galileo caused balls, the weights of which he had himself previously determined, to roll down an inclined plane; when Torricelli made the air carry a weight which he had calculated beforehand to be equal to that of a definite volume of water; or in more recent times, when Stahl changed metal into lime, and lime back into metal, by withdrawing something and then restoring it, a light broke upon all students of nature. They learned that reason has insight only into that which it produces after a plan of its own, and that it must not allow itself to be kept, as it were, in nature's leading-strings, but must itself show the way with principles of judgement based upon fixed laws, constraining nature to give answer to questions of reason's own determining. Accidental observations, made in obedience to no previously thought-out plan, can never be made to yield a necessary law, which alone reason is concerned to discover.
Critique of Pure Reason (1781), trans. Norman Kemp Smith (1929), 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (591)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Galileo Galilei (101)  |  Insight (57)  |  Judgement (4)  |  Law (418)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Plan (69)  |  Reason (330)  |  Georg Ernst Stahl (8)  |  Evangelista Torricelli (5)

When you’re really shipwrecked, you do really find what you want. When you’re really on a desert island, you never find it a desert. If we were really besieged in this garden we’d find a hundred English birds and English berries that we never knew were here.
In Manalive (1912), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  Berry (2)  |  Bird (96)  |  Desert (27)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Find (248)  |  Garden (23)  |  Island (17)  |  Know (321)  |  Research (517)  |  Shipwreck (5)  |  Want (120)

Where the untrained eye will see nothing but mire and dirt, Science will often reveal exquisite possibilities. The mud we tread under our feet in the street is a grimy mixture of clay and sand, soot and water. Separate the sand, however, as Ruskinn observes—let the atoms arrange themselves in peace according to their nature—and you have the opal. Separate the clay, and it becomes a white earth, fit for the finest porcelain; or if it still further purifies itself, you have a sapphire. Take the soot, and it properly treated it will give you a diamond. While lastly, the water, purified and distilled, will become a dew-drop, or crystallize into a lovely star. Or, again, you may see as you will in any shallow pool either the mud lying at the bottom, or the image of the heavens above.
The Pleasures of Life (1887, 2007), 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Dirt (8)  |  Exquisite (12)  |  Possibility (96)

Where there is no vision the people perish.
(circa 725 B.C.)
Science quotes on:  |  Perish (23)  |  Vision (55)

Whereas what knowledge we derive from lectures, reading and conversation, is but the copy of other men’s men's ideas; that is, the picture of a picture; and ’tis one remove farther from the original.
In Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1793), Vols 3-4, Vol 4, 72-73.
Science quotes on:  |  Conversation (18)  |  Copy (13)  |  Idea (440)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Lecture (54)  |  Original (36)  |  Picture (55)  |  Read (83)

Whether we like it or not, quantification in history is here to stay for reasons which the quantifiers themselves might not actively approve. We are becoming a numerate society: almost instinctively there seems now to be a greater degree of truth in evidence expressed numerically than in any literary evidence, no matter how shaky the statistical evidence, or acute the observing eye.
Is History Sick? (1973), 64.
Science quotes on:  |  Acuity (2)  |  Approval (6)  |  Degree (48)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Greater (36)  |  History (302)  |  Instinct (50)  |  Liking (4)  |  Literature (64)  |  Number (179)  |  Quantification (2)  |  Reason (330)  |  Society (188)  |  Statistics (125)  |  Truth (750)

While reading in a textbook of chemistry, ... I came across the statement, 'nitric acid acts upon copper.' I was getting tired of reading such absurd stuff and I determined to see what this meant. Copper was more or less familiar to me, for copper cents were then in use. I had seen a bottle marked 'nitric acid' on a table in the doctor's office where I was then 'doing time.' I did not know its peculiarities, but I was getting on and likely to learn. The spirit of adventure was upon me. Having nitric acid and copper, I had only to learn what the words 'act upon' meant... I put one of them [cent] on the table, opened the bottle marked 'nitric acid'; poured some of the liquid on the copper; and prepared to make an observation. But what was this wonderful thing which I beheld? The cent was already changed, and it was no small change either. A greenish blue liquid foamed and fumed over the cent and over the table. The air in the neighborhood of the performance became colored dark red. A great colored cloud arose. This was disagreeable and suffocating—how should I stop this? I tried to get rid of the objectionable mess by picking it up and throwing it out of the window, which I had meanwhile opened. I learned another fact—nitric acid not only acts upon copper but it acts upon fingers. The pain led to another unpremeditated experiment. I drew my fingers across my trousers and another fact was discovered. Nitric acid acts upon trousers. Taking everything into consideration, that was the most impressive experiment, and, relatively, probably the most costly experiment I have ever performed.
F. H. Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (1940), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurdity (16)  |  Act (80)  |  Adventure (36)  |  Air (151)  |  Biography (227)  |  Bottle (13)  |  Cent (5)  |  Change (291)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Cloud (44)  |  Copper (18)  |  Cost (31)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Finger (38)  |  Foam (2)  |  Fume (5)  |  Impressiveness (2)  |  Liquid (25)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Mess (10)  |  Neighborhood (7)  |  Nitric Acid (2)  |  Pain (82)  |  Peculiarity (15)  |  Reading (51)  |  Spirit (113)  |  Suffocation (2)  |  Table (25)  |  Trousers (3)  |  Window (25)

While the Mathematician is busy with deductions from general propositions, the Biologist is more especially occupied with observation, comparison, and those processes which lead to general propositions.
In 'On the Educational Value of the Natural History Sciences', Science and Education: Essays (1894), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Biologist (31)  |  Comparison (53)  |  Deduction (49)  |  General (92)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Process (201)  |  Proposition (47)  |  Science And Mathematics (8)

While we keep an open mind on this question of vitalism, or while we lean, as so many of us now do, or even cling with a great yearning, to the belief that something other than the physical forces animates the dust of which we are made, it is rather the business of the philosopher than of the biologist, or of the biologist only when he has served his humble and severe apprenticeship to philosophy, to deal with the ultimate problem. It is the plain bounden duty of the biologist to pursue his course unprejudiced by vitalistic hypotheses, along the road of observation and experiment, according to the accepted discipline of the natural and physical sciences. … It is an elementary scientific duty, it is a rule that Kant himself laid down, that we should explain, just as far as we possibly can, all that is capable of such explanation, in the light of the properties of matter and of the forms of energy with which we are already acquainted.
From Presidential Address to Zoological Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. As quoted in H.V. Neal, 'The Basis of Individuality in Organisms: A Defense of Vitalism', Science (21 Jul 1916), 44 N.S., No. 1125, 82.
Science quotes on:  |  Biologist (31)  |  Dust (42)  |  Duty (51)  |  Energy (185)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Immanuel Kant (43)  |  Matter (270)  |  Philosopher (132)  |  Problem (362)  |  Property (96)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Vitalism (5)

Whoever wishes to acquire a deep acquaintance with Nature must observe that there are analogies which connect whole branches of science in a parallel manner, and enable us to infer of one class of phenomena what we know of another. It has thus happened on several occasions that the discovery of an unsuspected analogy between two branches of knowledge has been the starting point for a rapid course of discovery.
Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1874, 2nd ed., 1913), 631.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquaintance (13)  |  Analogy (46)  |  Class (64)  |  Connection (86)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Inference (26)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Occasion (12)  |  Parallel (16)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Unsuspected (5)

With accurate experiment and observation to work upon, imagination becomes the architect of physical theory.
In discourse delivered before the British Association at Liverpool (16 Sep 1870), 'Scientific Use of the Imagination', collected in Fragments of Science: a Series of Detached Essays, Addresses and Reviews (1892), Vol. 2, 104.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Architect (15)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Physical Science (54)  |  Scientific Method (155)  |  Theory (582)  |  Work (457)

Yet in this my stars were not Mercury as morning star in the angle of the seventh house, in quartile with Mars, but they were Copernicus, they were Tycho Brahe, without whose books of observations everything which has now been brought by me into the brightest daylight would lie buried in darkness.
Harmonice Mundi, The Harmony of the World (1619), book IV, Epilogue on Sublunary Nature. Trans. E. J. Aiton, A. M. Duncan and J. V. Field (1997), 377.
Science quotes on:  |  Tycho Brahe (23)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (44)  |  Mars (26)  |  Mercury (39)

You are urgently warned against allowing yourself to be influenced in any way by theories or by other preconceived notions in the observation of phenomena, the performance of analyses and other determinations.
Laboratory Rules at Munich. Quoted by M. Bergmann, 'Fischer', in Bugge's Das Buch der Grosse Chemiker. Trans. Joseph S. Froton, Contrasts in Scientific Style: Research Groups in the Chemical and Biomedical Sciences (1990), 172.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Laboratory (120)

You can observe a lot by watching.
Remark to a reporter after the 1963 baseball season. In When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It! (2002), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Watching (10)

You have all heard of that celebrated painter who would never allow any one to mix his colors for him. He always insisted on doing that himself, and at last one of his students, whose curiosity had been aroused, said: “Professor, what do you mix your colors with?” “With brains, sir,” said the professor. Now, that is what we have to do with our observations.
From Address (22 May 1914) to the graduating class of the Friends’ School, Washington, D.C. Printed in 'Discovery and Invention', The National Geographic Magazine (1914), 25, 650.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (181)  |  Color (78)  |  Mix (13)  |  Painter (15)

[All phenomena] are equally susceptible of being calculated, and all that is necessary, to reduce the whole of nature to laws similar to those which Newton discovered with the aid of the calculus, is to have a sufficient number of observations and a mathematics that is complex enough.
Unpublished Manuscript. Quoted In Frank Edward Manuel and Fritzie Prigohzy Manuel, Utopian Thought in the Western World (1979, 2009), 493.
Science quotes on:  |  Calculus (23)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)

[An engineer's] invention causes things to come into existence from ideas, makes world conform to thought; whereas science, by deriving ideas from observation, makes thought conform to existence.
Types of Technology', Research in Philosophy & Technology (1978), Vol. 1, 244.
Science quotes on:  |  Engineering (115)  |  Science (1699)  |  Science And Engineering (11)  |  Thought (374)

[Henry Cavendish] fixed the weight of the earth; he established the proportions of the constituents of the air; he occupied himself with the quantitative study of the laws of heat; and lastly, he demonstrated the nature of water and determined its volumetric composition. Earth, air, fire, and water—each and all came within the range of his observations.
Essays in Historical Chemistry (1894), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (151)  |  Henry Cavendish (7)  |  Composition (52)  |  Constituent (13)  |  Density (11)  |  Earth (487)  |  Fire (117)  |  Gravitation (27)  |  Law (418)  |  Proportion (47)  |  Quantitative (15)  |  Study (331)  |  Water (244)  |  Weight (61)

[In my early youth, walking with my father,] “See that bird?” he says. “It’s a Spencer’s warbler.” (I knew he didn’t know the real name.) “Well, in Italian, it’s a Chutto Lapittida. In Portuguese, it’s a Bom da Peida. In Chinese, it’s a Chung-long-tah, and in Japanese, it’s a Katano Tekeda. You can know the name of that bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. You’ll only know about humans in different places, and what they call the bird. So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing—that’s what counts.” (I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.)
In 'The Making of a Scientist', What Do You Care What Other People Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Character (2001), 13-14.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolutely (24)  |  Bird (96)  |  Count (34)  |  Difference (208)  |  Father (44)  |  Human (445)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Language (155)  |  Learn (160)  |  Name (118)  |  Nothing (267)  |  World (667)

[It] may be laid down as a general rule that, if the result of a long series of precise observations approximates a simple relation so closely that the remaining difference is undetectable by observation and may be attributed to the errors to which they are liable, then this relation is probably that of nature.
'Mémoire sur les Inégalites Séculaires des Planètes et des Satellites' (I 785, published 1787). In Oeuvres completes de Laplace, 14 Vols. (1843-1912), Vol. 11, 57, trans. Charles Coulston Gillispie, Pierre-Simon Laplace 1749-1827: A Life in Exact Science (1997), 130.
Science quotes on:  |  Approximation (16)  |  Attribute (22)  |  Difference (208)  |  Error (230)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Precision (38)  |  Relation (96)  |  Result (250)  |  Rule (135)  |  Series (38)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Undetectable (2)

[Louis Rendu, Bishop of Annecy] collects observations, makes experiments, and tries to obtain numerical results; always taking care, however, so to state his premises and qualify his conclusions that nobody shall be led to ascribe to his numbers a greater accuracy than they merit. It is impossible to read his work, and not feel that he was a man of essentially truthful mind and that science missed an ornament when he was appropriated by the Church.
In The Glaciers of the Alps (1860), 299.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (52)  |  Appropriation (3)  |  Ascribe (11)  |  Care (73)  |  Church (30)  |  Collection (38)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Essential (87)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Impossibility (50)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Merit (25)  |  Mind (544)  |  Miss (16)  |  Number (179)  |  Ornament (12)  |  Premise (14)  |  Qualification (7)  |  Read (83)  |  Louis le Chanoine Rendu (2)  |  Result (250)  |  Science (1699)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Statement (56)  |  Truth (750)  |  Work (457)

[Modern science] passed through a long period of uncertainty and inconclusive experiment, but as the instrumental aids to research improved, and the results of observation accumulated, phantoms of the imagination were exorcised, idols of the cave were shattered, trustworthy materials were obtained for logical treatment, and hypotheses by long and careful trial were converted into theories.
In The Present Relations of Science and Religion (1913, 2004), 3
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  Aid (23)  |  Careful (12)  |  Cave (12)  |  Conversion (14)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Idol (3)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Improvement (67)  |  Inconclusive (2)  |  Instrument (73)  |  Logic (187)  |  Long (95)  |  Material (124)  |  Obtain (21)  |  Pass (60)  |  Period (49)  |  Phantom (5)  |  Result (250)  |  Shatter (5)  |  Theory (582)  |  Treatment (88)  |  Trial (23)  |  Trustworthy (6)  |  Uncertainty (37)

[My dream dinner guest is] Charles Darwin. It’s an obvious answer, but it’s the truth. Think of any problem and before you start theorising, just check up whether Charles Darwin mentioned it in one of those green books sitting on your shelf. Whether it’s earthworms, human gestures or the origin of species, the observations that man made are unbelievable. He touched on so many subjects. Then, Alexander von Humboldt, the last polymath. There was no aspect of the natural world that he wasn’t curious about or didn’t write about in Kosmos, an extraordinary book.
From interview with Alice Roberts, 'Attenborough: My Life on Earth', The Biologist (Aug 2015), 62, No. 4, 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Book (181)  |  Check (16)  |  Curious (24)  |  Charles Darwin (284)  |  Earthworm (5)  |  Extraordinary (32)  |  Gesture (2)  |  Guest (4)  |  Human (445)  |  Baron Alexander von Humboldt (16)  |  Natural World (21)  |  Origin Of Species (39)  |  Problem (362)  |  Unbelievable (2)  |  Write (87)

[My] numberless observations... made on the Strata... [have] made me confident of their uniformity throughout this Country & [have] led me to conclude that the same regularity... will be found to extend to every part of the Globe for Nature has done nothing by piecemeal. [T]here is no inconsistency in her productions. [T]he Horse never becomes an Ass nor the Crab an Apple by any intermixture or artificial combination whatever[. N]or will the Oak ever degenerate into an Ash or an Ash into an Elm. [H]owever varied by Soil or Climate the species will still be distinct on this ground. [T]hen I argue that what is found here may be found elsewhere[.] When proper allowances are made for such irregularities as often occur and the proper situation and natural agreement is well understood I am satisfied there will be no more difficulty in ascertaining the true quality of the Strata and the place of its possition [sic] than there is now in finding the true Class and Character of Plants by the Linean [sic] System.
Natural Order of the Strata in England and Wales Accurately Delineated and Described, unpublished manuscript, Department of Geology, University of Oxford, 1801, f. 7v.
Science quotes on:  |  Allowance (2)  |  Apple (33)  |  Artificial (26)  |  Ash (16)  |  Ass (3)  |  Character (82)  |  Class (64)  |  Climate (38)  |  Combination (69)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Confidence (32)  |  Crab (4)  |  Distinction (37)  |  Elm (4)  |  Horse (40)  |  Irregularity (10)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Oak (9)  |  Piecemeal (3)  |  Plant (173)  |  Regularity (24)  |  Soil (51)  |  Strata (18)  |  Uniformity (17)

[The internet] ought to be like clay, rather than a sculpture that you observe from a distance.
From archive interview (Nov 1999) rebroadcast on PBS radio program Science Friday (14 Mar 2014).
Science quotes on:  |  Clay (9)  |  Distance (54)  |  Internet (12)  |  Sculpture (8)

[The] weakness of biological balance studies has aptly been illustrated by comparison with the working of a slot machine. A penny brings forth one package of chewing gum; two pennies bring forth two. Interpreted according to the reasoning of balance physiology, the first observation is an indication of the conversion of copper into gum; the second constitutes proof.
[Co-author with David Rittenberg (1906-70).]
'The Application of Isotopes to the Study of Intermediary Metabolism', Science (1938), 87, 222.
Science quotes on:  |  Balance (43)  |  Biology (150)  |  Comparison (53)  |  Constitute (19)  |  Conversion (14)  |  Copper (18)  |  Illustration (24)  |  Indication (21)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Penny (3)  |  Physiology (66)  |  Proof (192)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Study (331)  |  Weakness (31)  |  Work (457)

…separation of the observer from the phenomenon to be observed is no longer possible.
Quoted in Robert J. Scully, The Demon and the Quantum (2007), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Uncertainty Principle (7)

“Crawling at your feet,” said the Gnat … “you may observe a Bread-and-Butterfly. …”
“And what does it live on?”
“Weak tea with cream in it.”
A new difficulty came into Alice's head. “Supposing it couldn't find any?” she suggested.
“Then it would die, of course.”
“But that must happen very often,” Alice remarked thoughtfully.
“It always happens,” said the Gnat.
In Through the Looking Glass: And what Alice Found There (1893), 66-67.
Science quotes on:  |  Alice In Wonderland (4)  |  Bread (19)  |  Butterfly (19)  |  Crawling (2)  |  Cream (5)  |  Death (270)  |  Difficulty (113)  |  Ecology (55)  |  Extinction (55)  |  Find (248)  |  Food (139)  |  Food Chain (6)  |  Gnat (6)  |  Happening (32)  |  Life (917)  |  Often (69)  |  Tea (4)  |  Weak (36)

“I see nobody on the road,” said Alice.
“I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone. “To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance too! Why, it's as much as I can do to see real people, by this light.”
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871, 1950), 53.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)

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 |