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Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index S > Category: Spectroscopy

Spectroscopy Quotes (11 quotes)

A hundred years ago, Auguste Compte, … a great philosopher, said that humans will never be able to visit the stars, that we will never know what stars are made out of, that that's the one thing that science will never ever understand, because they're so far away. And then, just a few years later, scientists took starlight, ran it through a prism, looked at the rainbow coming from the starlight, and said: “Hydrogen!” Just a few years after this very rational, very reasonable, very scientific prediction was made, that we'll never know what stars are made of.
Quoted in Nina L. Diamond, Voices of Truth (2000), 332.
Science quotes on:  |  Auguste Comte (13)  |  Hydrogen (37)  |  Star (251)

After the discovery of spectral analysis no one trained in physics could doubt the problem of the atom would be solved when physicists had learned to understand the language of spectra. So manifold was the enormous amount of material that has been accumulated in sixty years of spectroscopic research that it seemed at first beyond the possibility of disentanglement. An almost greater enlightenment has resulted from the seven years of Rφntgen spectroscopy, inasmuch as it has attacked the problem of the atom at its very root, and illuminates the interior. What we are nowadays hearing of the language of spectra is a true 'music of the spheres' in order and harmony that becomes ever more perfect in spite of the manifold variety. The theory of spectral lines will bear the name of Bohr for all time. But yet another name will be permanently associated with it, that of Planck. All integral laws of spectral lines and of atomic theory spring originally from the quantum theory. It is the mysterious organon on which Nature plays her music of the spectra, and according to the rhythm of which she regulates the structure of the atoms and nuclei.
Atombau und Spektrallinien (1919), viii, Atomic Structure and Spectral Lines, trans. Henry L. Brose (1923), viii.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Atomic Theory (13)  |  Niels Bohr (50)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Harmony (55)  |  Integral (6)  |  Interior (13)  |  Language (155)  |  Music Of The Spheres (2)  |  Mystery (125)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Nucleus (30)  |  Order (167)  |  Perfection (71)  |  Max Planck (62)  |  Problem (362)  |  Quantum Theory (55)  |  Regulation (18)  |  Research (517)  |  Rhythm (12)  |  Wilhelm Rφntgen (7)  |  Solution (168)  |  Spectral Analysis (2)  |  Spectral Line (3)  |  Spectrum (23)  |  Structure (191)  |  Theory (582)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Variety (53)

An attempt to study the evolution of living organisms without reference to cytology would be as futile as an account of stellar evolution which ignored spectroscopy.
'Foreword', in C.D. Darlington, Recent Advances in Cytology (1937), v.
Science quotes on:  |  Cell (125)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Star (251)

In a certain sense I made a living for five or six years out of that one star [υ Sagittarii] and it is still a fascinating, not understood, star. It’s the first star in which you could clearly demonstrate an enormous difference in chemical composition from the sun. It had almost no hydrogen. It was made largely of helium, and had much too much nitrogen and neon. It’s still a mystery in many ways … But it was the first star ever analysed that had a different composition, and I started that area of spectroscopy in the late thirties.
Oral History Transcript of interview with Dr. Jesse Greenstein by Paul Wright (31 Jul 1974), on website of American Institute of Physics, about his research on strange shell stars. As quoted in J. B. Hearnshaw, The Analysis of Starlight: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Astronomical Spectroscopy (1986, 1990), 362. Hearnshaw footnoted that Berman earlier analysed the peculiar star R CrB (1935).
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Chemical (72)  |  Composition (52)  |  Difference (208)  |  Fascinating (17)  |  Helium (7)  |  Hydrogen (37)  |  Living (44)  |  Mystery (125)  |  Neon (4)  |  Nitrogen (18)  |  Star (251)  |  Sun (211)  |  Understanding (317)

In August, 1896, I exposed the sodium flame to large magnetic forces by placing it between the poles of a strong electromagnet. Again I studied the radiation of the flame by means of Rowland's mirror, the observations being made in the direction perpendicular to the lines of force. Each line, which in the absence of the effect of the magnetic forces was very sharply defined, was now broadened. This indicated that not only the original oscillations, but also others with greater and again others with smaller periods of oscillation were being radiated by the flame. The change was however very small. In an easily produced magnetic field it corresponded to a thirtieth of the distance between the two sodium lines, say two tenths of an Angstrom, a unit of measure whose name will always recall to physicists the meritorious work done by the father of my esteemed colleague.
'Light Radiation in a Magnetic Field', Nobel Lecture, 2 May 1903. In Nobel Lectures: Physics 1901-1921 (1967), 34-5.
Science quotes on:  |  Flame (23)  |  Magnetic Field (3)  |  Sodium (9)  |  Spectral Line (3)

In the heavens we discover [stars] by their light, and by their light alone ... the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds ... that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time. Each molecule therefore throughout the universe bears impressed upon it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the royal cubit of the Temple of Karnac.
[Footnote: Where Maxwell uses the term “molecule” we now use the term “atom.”]
Lecture to the British Association at Bradford (1873), 'Atoms and Molecules'. Quoted by Ernest Rutherford, in 'The Constitution of Matter and the Evolution of the Elements', The Popular Science Monthly (Aug 1915), 112.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Cubit (2)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Existence (254)  |  Hydrogen (37)  |  Light (246)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Metric System (6)  |  Star (251)  |  Vibration (13)  |  Wavelength (5)

One important object of this original spectroscopic investigation of the light of the stars and other celestial bodies, namely to discover whether the same chemical elements as those of our earth are present throughout the universe, was most satisfactorily settled in the affirmative. (1909)
In Publications of Sir William Huggins's Observatory (1909), Vol. 2, 49, footnote added to emphasize the significance of the results shown in this collection’s reprint of William Huggins and Dr. Miller, 'On the Spectra of Some of the Fixed Stars', Philosophical Transactions (1864), 64, 413-435.
Science quotes on:  |  Element (129)  |  Light (246)  |  Star (251)

The whole subject of the X rays is opening out wonderfully, Bragg has of course got in ahead of us, and so the credit all belongs to him, but that does not make it less interesting. We find that an X ray bulb with a platinum target gives out a sharp line spectrum of five wavelengths which the crystal separates out as if it were a diffraction grating. In this way one can get pure monochromatic X rays. Tomorrow we search for the spectra of other elements. There is here a whole new branch of spectroscopy, which is sure to tell one much about the nature of an atom.
Letter to his mother (18 May 1913). In J. L. Heilbron (ed.), H. G. J. Moseley: The Life and Letters of an English Physicist 1887-1915 (1974), 205.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Sir Lawrence Bragg (12)  |  Crystal (47)  |  Diffraction (3)  |  Element (129)  |  Platinum (6)  |  Spectrum (23)  |  Target (4)  |  X-ray (18)

To try to make a model of an atom by studying its spectrum is like trying to make a model of a grand piano by listening to the noise it makes when thrown downstairs.
Anonymous
In Oliver Lodge in Atoms and Rays (1924), 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Downstairs (2)  |  Listening (8)  |  Model (64)  |  Noise (24)  |  Piano (8)  |  Spectrum (23)  |  Study (331)  |  Throw (31)  |  Trying (18)

Trying to determine the structure of a protein by UV spectroscopy was like trying to determine the structure of a piano by listening to the sound it made while being dropped down a flight of stairs.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Determine (45)  |  Down (44)  |  Drop (27)  |  Flight (45)  |  Listen (26)  |  Piano (8)  |  Protein (43)  |  Sound (59)  |  Stairs (2)  |  Structure (191)  |  Try (103)

[W]e pity our fathers for dying before steam and galvanism, sulphuric ether and ocean telegraphs, photograph and spectrograph arrived, as cheated out of their human estate.
'Works and Days', Emerson's Complete Works (1883), 152.
Science quotes on:  |  Invention (283)  |  Photography (7)  |  Spectrum (23)  |  Steam Engine (41)  |  Telegraph (31)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 90 -
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- 80 -
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
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- 40 -
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- 30 -
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- 20 -
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