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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh Quotes

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Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh
(12 Nov 1842 - 30 Jun 1919)

English physical scientist , 3rd Baron of Rayleigh, was an who made fundamental discoveries in the fields of acoustics and optics. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1904.


Science Quotes by Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh (7 quotes)

...I may say that in my opinion true Science and true Religion neither are nor could be opposed.
— Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh
Quoted in James Joseph Walsh, Religion and Health (1920), 15 .
Science quotes on:  |  Religion (210)  |  Science (1699)

Examples ... show how difficult it often is for an experimenter to interpret his results without the aid of mathematics.
— Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh
Quoted in E. T. Bell, Men of Mathematics, xvi.
Science quotes on:  |  Difficulty (113)  |  Example (57)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Result (250)

I want to get back again from Chemistry to Physics as soon as I can. The second-rate men seem to know their place so much better.
— Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh
R. J. Strutt, John William Strutt, Third Baron Rayleigh (1924), 222.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Physics (301)  |  Return (35)  |  Soon (17)

One's instinct is at first to try and get rid of a discrepancy, but I believe that experience shows such an endeavour to be a mistake. What one ought to do is to magnify a small discrepancy with a view to finding out the explanation.
— Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh
General Monthly Meeting, on Argon, (1 Apr 1895), Proceedings of the Royal Institution (1895), 14, 525.
Science quotes on:  |  Discrepancy (5)  |  Endeavour (24)  |  Experience (268)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Find (248)  |  Instinct (50)  |  Magnification (8)  |  Mistake (107)

Some proofs command assent. Others woo and charm the intellect. They evoke delight and an overpowering desire to say, 'Amen, Amen'.
— Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh
Quoted in H. E. Hunter, The Divine Proportion (1970), 6; but with no footnote identifying primary source.
Science quotes on:  |  Assent (4)  |  Charm (18)  |  Delight (51)  |  Desire (101)  |  Evoke (3)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Proof (192)

The history of science teaches only too plainly the lesson that no single method is absolutely to be relied upon, that sources of error lurk where they are least expected, and that they may escape the notice of the most experienced and conscientious worker.
— Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh
Transactions of the Sections', Reports of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1883), 438.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (65)  |  Error (230)  |  Escape (34)  |  Expectation (46)  |  Experience (268)  |  History Of Science (53)  |  Least (43)  |  Lesson (32)  |  Lurking (2)  |  Method (154)  |  Notice (20)  |  Reliance (9)  |  Single (72)  |  Source (71)  |  Teaching (99)  |  Worker (23)

The history of this paper suggests that highly speculative investigations, especially by an unknown author, are best brought before the world through some other channel than a scientific society, which naturally hesitates to admit into its printed records matters of uncertain value. Perhaps one may go further and say that a young author who believes himself capable of great things would usually do well to secure the favourable recognition of the scientific world by work whose scope is limited and whose value is easily judged, before embarking upon higher flights.
— Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh
'On the Physics of Media that are Composed of Free and Perfectly Elastic Molecules in a State of Motion', Philosophical Transactions (1892), 183, 560.
Science quotes on:  |  Admission (10)  |  Author (39)  |  Channel (17)  |  Embarkation (2)  |  Favor (22)  |  Flight (45)  |  Hesitation (8)  |  History (302)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Limited (13)  |  Paper (52)  |  Recognition (62)  |  Record (56)  |  Scope (13)  |  Society (188)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Uncertainty (37)  |  Unknown (87)  |  Value (180)



Quotes by others about Sir John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh (1)

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)  |  Observation (418)  |  Overthrow (4)  |  Physical Science (54)  |  Practical (93)  |  Result (250)  |  Speed Of Light (11)  |  Star (251)  |  Telescope (74)  |  Uranus (2)  |  Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier (4)  |  Volume (13)


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  • 12 Nov - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Rayleigh's birth.

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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