Celebrating 20 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I have no satisfaction in formulas unless I feel their arithmetical magnitude.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index S > Category: Surmise

Surmise Quotes (7 quotes)

I think it would be a very rash presumption to think that nowhere else in the cosmos has nature repeated the strange experiment which she has performed on earth—that the whole purpose of creation has been staked on this one planet alone. It is probable that dotted through the cosmos there are other suns which provide the energy for life to attendant planets. It is apparent, however, that planets with just the right conditions of temperature, oxygen, water and atmosphere necessary for life are found rarely.
But uncommon as a habitable planet may be, non-terrestrial life exists, has existed and will continue to exist. In the absence of information, we can only surmise that the chance that it surpasses our own is as good as that it falls below our level.
As quoted by H. Gordon Garbedian in 'Ten Great Riddles That Call For Solution by Scientists', New York Times (5 Oct 1930), XX4. Garbedian gave no citation to a source for Shapley’s words. However, part of this quote is very similar to that of Sir Arthur Eddington: “It would indeed be rash to assume that nowhere else has Nature repeated the strange experiment which she has performed on the earth,” from 'Man’s Place in the Universe', Harper’s Magazine (Oct 1928), 157 573.
Science quotes on:  |  Absence (18)  |  Alone (312)  |  Apparent (84)  |  Atmosphere (103)  |  Chance (239)  |  Condition (357)  |  Continue (165)  |  Cosmos (63)  |  Creation (329)  |  Earth (998)  |  Energy (346)  |  Exist (444)  |  Existence (460)  |  Experiment (696)  |  Extraterrestrial Life (20)  |  Fall (230)  |  Good (889)  |  Habitable (3)  |  Information (166)  |  Life (1801)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Necessity (191)  |  Nowhere (28)  |  Other (2236)  |  Oxygen (67)  |  Perform (121)  |  Performing (3)  |  Planet (357)  |  Presumption (15)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Rare (89)  |  Rash (14)  |  Repeat (42)  |  Right (452)  |  Stake (19)  |  Strange (157)  |  Sun (388)  |  Surpass (32)  |  Temperature (79)  |  Terrestrial (61)  |  Think (1086)  |  Through (849)  |  Uncommon (14)  |  Water (482)  |  Whole (738)  |  Will (2354)

Mathematics and music, the most sharply contrasted fields of scientific activity which can be found, and yet related, supporting each other, as if to show forth the secret connection which ties together all the activities of our mind, and which leads us to surmise that the manifestations of the artist’s genius are but the unconscious expressions of a mysteriously acting rationality.
In Vorträge und Reden (1884, 1896), Vol 1, 122. As translated in Robert Édouard Moritz, Memorabilia Mathematica; Or, The Philomath’s Quotation-book (1914), 191. From the original German, “Mathematik und Musik, der schärfste Gegensatz geistiger Thätigkeit, den man auffinden kann, und doch verbunden, sich unterstützend, als wollten sie die geheime Consequenz nachweisen, die sich durch alle Thätigkeiten unseres Geistes hinzieht, und die auch in den Offenbarungen des künstlerischen Genius uns unbewusste Aeusserungen geheimnissvoll wirkender Vernunftmässigkeit ahnen lässt.”
Science quotes on:  |  Act (272)  |  Activity (210)  |  All (4107)  |  Artist (90)  |  Connection (162)  |  Contrast (44)  |  Expression (176)  |  Field (365)  |  Genius (285)  |  Lead (385)  |  Manifestation (58)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Mathematics As A Fine Art (23)  |  Mind (1339)  |  Most (1729)  |  Music (131)  |  Mysterious (80)  |  Other (2236)  |  Rationality (24)  |  Relate (21)  |  Science (3880)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Secret (196)  |  Sharp (14)  |  Show (346)  |  Support (147)  |  Tie (38)  |  Together (387)  |  Unconscious (22)

Perfect as the wing of a bird may be, it will never enable the bird to fly if unsupported by the air. Facts are the air of science. Without them a man of science can never rise. Without them your theories are vain surmises. But while you are studying, observing, experimenting, do not remain content with the surface of things. Do not become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin. Seek obstinately for the laws that govern them.
Translation of a note, 'Bequest of Pavlov to the Academic Youth of his Country', written a few days before his death for a student magazine, The Generation of the Victors. As published in 'Pavlov and the Spirit of Science', Nature (4 Apr 1936), 137, 572.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (349)  |  Become (815)  |  Bird (150)  |  Content (70)  |  Do (1908)  |  Enable (119)  |  Experiment (696)  |  Fact (1212)  |  Facts (553)  |  Fly (146)  |  Govern (65)  |  Law (895)  |  Man (2249)  |  Mere (84)  |  Mystery (178)  |  Never (1087)  |  Observe (168)  |  Obstinately (2)  |  Origin (241)  |  Penetrate (67)  |  Perfect (216)  |  Recorder (4)  |  Remain (349)  |  Rise (166)  |  Science (3880)  |  Seek (213)  |  Study (656)  |  Studying (70)  |  Surface (209)  |  Theory (972)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Try (283)  |  Vain (83)  |  Will (2354)  |  Wing (76)

The enthusiasm of Sylvester for his own work, which manifests itself here as always, indicates one of his characteristic qualities: a high degree of subjectivity in his productions and publications. Sylvester was so fully possessed by the matter which for the time being engaged his attention, that it appeared to him and was designated by him as the summit of all that is important, remarkable and full of future promise. It would excite his phantasy and power of imagination in even a greater measure than his power of reflection, so much so that he could never marshal the ability to master his subject-matter, much less to present it in an orderly manner.
Considering that he was also somewhat of a poet, it will be easier to overlook the poetic flights which pervade his writing, often bombastic, sometimes furnishing apt illustrations; more damaging is the complete lack of form and orderliness of his publications and their sketchlike character, … which must be accredited at least as much to lack of objectivity as to a superfluity of ideas. Again, the text is permeated with associated emotional expressions, bizarre utterances and paradoxes and is everywhere accompanied by notes, which constitute an essential part of Sylvester’s method of presentation, embodying relations, whether proximate or remote, which momentarily suggested themselves. These notes, full of inspiration and occasional flashes of genius, are the more stimulating owing to their incompleteness. But none of his works manifest a desire to penetrate the subject from all sides and to allow it to mature; each mere surmise, conceptions which arose during publication, immature thoughts and even errors were ushered into publicity at the moment of their inception, with utmost carelessness, and always with complete unfamiliarity of the literature of the subject. Nowhere is there the least trace of self-criticism. No one can be expected to read the treatises entire, for in the form in which they are available they fail to give a clear view of the matter under contemplation.
Sylvester’s was not a harmoniously gifted or well-balanced mind, but rather an instinctively active and creative mind, free from egotism. His reasoning moved in generalizations, was frequently influenced by analysis and at times was guided even by mystical numerical relations. His reasoning consists less frequently of pure intelligible conclusions than of inductions, or rather conjectures incited by individual observations and verifications. In this he was guided by an algebraic sense, developed through long occupation with processes of forms, and this led him luckily to general fundamental truths which in some instances remain veiled. His lack of system is here offset by the advantage of freedom from purely mechanical logical activity.
The exponents of his essential characteristics are an intuitive talent and a faculty of invention to which we owe a series of ideas of lasting value and bearing the germs of fruitful methods. To no one more fittingly than to Sylvester can be applied one of the mottos of the Philosophic Magazine:
“Admiratio generat quaestionem, quaestio investigationem investigatio inventionem.”
In Mathematische Annalen (1898), 50, 155-160. As translated in Robert Édouard Moritz, Memorabilia Mathematica; Or, The Philomath’s Quotation-book (1914), 176-178.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (153)  |  Active (76)  |  Activity (210)  |  Advantage (135)  |  All (4107)  |  Analysis (234)  |  Applied (176)  |  Attention (191)  |  Available (78)  |  Being (1278)  |  Carelessness (6)  |  Character (243)  |  Characteristic (150)  |  Complete (204)  |  Conception (154)  |  Conclusion (255)  |  Conjecture (50)  |  Consist (223)  |  Constitute (97)  |  Contemplation (73)  |  Creative (138)  |  Criticism (78)  |  Degree (275)  |  Desire (204)  |  Develop (268)  |  Easier (53)  |  Enthusiasm (52)  |  Error (321)  |  Essential (200)  |  Everywhere (95)  |  Expect (201)  |  Exponent (6)  |  Expression (176)  |  Fail (185)  |  Flight (98)  |  Form (961)  |  Free (233)  |  Freedom (129)  |  Fruitful (59)  |  Fundamental (251)  |  Future (433)  |  General (511)  |  Generalization (57)  |  Genius (285)  |  Germ (53)  |  Gift (104)  |  Gifted (24)  |  Greater (288)  |  High (363)  |  Idea (846)  |  Illustration (49)  |  Imagination (328)  |  Inception (3)  |  Indicate (61)  |  Individual (404)  |  Induction (77)  |  Inspiration (76)  |  Intelligible (34)  |  Invention (378)  |  Lack (119)  |  Literature (105)  |  Long (789)  |  Master (178)  |  Mathematicians and Anecdotes (141)  |  Matter (801)  |  Mature (16)  |  Measure (233)  |  Mechanical (140)  |  Method (506)  |  Methods (204)  |  Mind (1339)  |  Moment (254)  |  More (2559)  |  Must (1526)  |  Never (1087)  |  Numerical (39)  |  Objectivity (16)  |  Observation (562)  |  Occasional (22)  |  Occupation (48)  |  Orderliness (9)  |  Orderly (38)  |  Overlook (31)  |  Owe (71)  |  Owing (39)  |  Penetrate (67)  |  Possess (156)  |  Power (748)  |  Present (621)  |  Presentation (23)  |  Production (183)  |  Promise (68)  |  Proximate (4)  |  Publication (102)  |  Pure (292)  |  Purely (110)  |  Read (288)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Reflection (91)  |  Remain (349)  |  Remote (83)  |  Self (267)  |  Sense (770)  |  Series (149)  |  Side (232)  |  Subject (522)  |  Subject-Matter (8)  |  Summit (26)  |  James Joseph Sylvester (58)  |  System (537)  |  Talent (96)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Thought (956)  |  Through (849)  |  Time (1877)  |  Trace (104)  |  Treatise (44)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Unfamiliarity (5)  |  Utterance (11)  |  Value (368)  |  Veil (26)  |  Verification (31)  |  View (488)  |  Will (2354)  |  Work (1352)  |  Writing (189)

The truth is rather in what God reveals than in what groping men surmise.
De Genesi ad Uteram (On The Uteral Interpretation of Genesis) [401/415], Book II, chapter 9, section 2 I, trans. J. H. Taylor (1982), Vol. I, 59.
Science quotes on:  |  God (758)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Truth (1062)

There is always the danger in scientific work that some word or phrase will be used by different authors to express so many ideas and surmises that, unless redefined, it loses all real significance.
'Valence and Tautomerism', Journal of the American Chemical Society (1913), 35, 1448.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Author (168)  |  Danger (117)  |  Different (577)  |  Express (187)  |  Idea (846)  |  Lose (159)  |  Nomenclature (146)  |  Phrase (61)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Significance (113)  |  Will (2354)  |  Word (625)  |  Work (1352)

With the sole guidance of our practical knowledge of those physical agents which we see actually used in the continuous workings of nature, and of our knowledge of the respective effects induced by the same workings, we can with reasonable basis surmise what the forces were which acted even in the remotest times.
Quoted in Francesco Rodolico, 'Arduino', In Charles Coulston Gillispie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1970), Vol. 1, 234.
Science quotes on:  |  Act (272)  |  Agent (70)  |  Basis (173)  |  Continuous (83)  |  Effect (394)  |  Erosion (19)  |  Force (488)  |  Geology (223)  |  Guidance (28)  |  Knowledge (1537)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Physical (508)  |  Practical (200)  |  See (1082)  |  Sole (49)  |  Time (1877)  |  Uniformitarianism (8)


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 |
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


by Ian Ellis
who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.