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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Lewis Fry Richardson Quotes

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Lewis Fry Richardson
(11 Oct 1881 - 30 Sep 1953)

English mathematician, meteorologist, physicist and psychologist whose study of more detailed measurement of coastlines was a precursor to fractals. He not only applied modern mathematical techniques to weather forecasting, but also, as a Quaker pacifistand, used mathematical methods in the study of the causes of wars as a means to prevent them. He was uncle of the actor, Sir Ralph Richardson.

Science Quotes by Lewis Fry Richardson (5 quotes)

[A friend at Cambridge] told me that Helmholtz had been a medical doctor before he became a physicist. It thereupon occurred to me that Helmholtz had eaten the meal of life in the wrong order, and that I would like to spend the first half of my life under the strict discipline of physics, and afterwards to apply that training to researches on living things.
— Lewis Fry Richardson
As quoted in Stephen A. Richardson 'Lewis Fry Richardson (1881-1953): A Personal Biography', Conflict Resolution (Sep 1957), 1, No. 3, 301.
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Another advantage of a mathematical statement is that it is so definite that it might be definitely wrong; and if it is found to be wrong, there is a plenteous choice of amendments ready in the mathematicians’ stock of formulae. Some verbal statements have not this merit; they are so vague that they could hardly be wrong, and are correspondingly useless.
— Lewis Fry Richardson
From 'Mathematics of War and Foreign Politics', in James R. Newman, The World of Mathematics (1956), Vol. 2, 1248.
Science quotes on:  |  Advantage (144)  |  Amendment (2)  |  Choice (114)  |  Corresponding (3)  |  Definite (114)  |  Find (1014)  |  Formula (102)  |  Hardly (19)  |  Mathematician (407)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Merit (51)  |  Ready (43)  |  Statement (148)  |  Stock (7)  |  Useless (38)  |  Vague (50)  |  Verbal (10)  |  Wrong (246)

Big whorls have little whorls
Which feed on their velocity
And little whorls have lesser whorls,
And so on to viscosity.
[Concerning atmospheric turbulence.]
— Lewis Fry Richardson
Summary of paper, 'The Supply of Energy From and to Atmospheric Eddies' (1920). Quote reprinted in Weather Prediction by Numerical Process (1922), 66. Also quoted in Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1977, 1983), 402.
Science quotes on:  |  Atmosphere (117)  |  Butterfly Effect (6)  |  Little (717)  |  Turbulence (4)  |  Velocity (51)  |  Viscosity (3)

It is said that in a certain grassy part of the world a man will walk a mile to catch a horse, whereon to ride a quarter of a mile to pay an afternoon call. Similarly, it is not quite respectable to arrive at a mathematical destination, under the gaze of a learned society, at the mere footpace of arithmetic. Even at the expense of considerable time and effort, one should be mounted on the swift steed of symbolic analysis.
— Lewis Fry Richardson
Opening of 'How to Solve Differential Equations Approximately by Arithmetic', The Mathematical Gazette (Jul 1925), 12, No. 177, 415
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (244)  |  Arithmetic (144)  |  Destination (16)  |  Effort (243)  |  Horse (78)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Mile (43)  |  Mount (43)  |  Respectable (8)  |  Ride (23)  |  Steed (2)  |  Swift (16)  |  Time (1911)  |  Walk (138)

Perhaps some day in the dim future it will be possible to advance the computations faster than the weather advances and at a cost less than the saving to mankind due to the information gained. But that is a dream.
— Lewis Fry Richardson
Weather Prediction by Numerical Process (1922), 66. Quoted in Peter Lynch, The Emergence of Numerical Weather Prediction (2006), vii.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (298)  |  Computation (28)  |  Computer (131)  |  Cost (94)  |  Dream (222)  |  Due (143)  |  Faster (50)  |  Future (467)  |  Gain (146)  |  Information (173)  |  Mankind (356)  |  Meteorology (36)  |  Possible (560)  |  Weather (49)  |  Weather Prediction (2)  |  Will (2350)

See also:
  • 11 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Richardson'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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