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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Henry John Stephen Smith Quotes

Henry John Stephen Smith
(2 Nov 1826 - 9 Feb 1883)

Irish mathematician who was one of the most influential British pure mathematicians of the second half of the nineteenth century. He was a leading authority on theory of numbers. Later in life, from 1864, he devoted himself to elliptic functions. His name has been given to the Smith normal form of a matrix.

Science Quotes by Henry John Stephen Smith (3 quotes)

It is the peculiar beauty of this method, gentlemen, and one which endears it to the really scientific mind, that under no circumstance can it be of the smallest possible utility.
— Henry John Stephen Smith
Quoted as “It is reported that once in a lecture after explaining a new solution of an old problem he said…”, in Alexander Macfarlane, 'Henry John Stephen Smith', Lectures on Ten British Mathematicians of the Nineteenth Century (1916), 100.
Science quotes on:  |  Beauty (300)  |  Circumstance (136)  |  Method (506)  |  Mind (1339)  |  Peculiar (113)  |  Possible (554)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Scientific Mind (13)  |  Smallest (9)  |  Utility (49)

Pure mathematics; may it never be of any use to anyone.
— Henry John Stephen Smith
A banquet toast, quoted as “I believe that it was at a banquet of the Red Lions that he proposed the toast…”, in Alexander Macfarlane, 'Henry John Stephen Smith', Lectures on Ten British Mathematicians of the Nineteenth Century (1916), 100.
Science quotes on:  |  Anyone (35)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Never (1087)  |  Pure (292)  |  Pure Mathematics (67)  |  Use (766)

[The enigmatical motto of Marischal College, Aberdeen: They say; what say they; let them say.] It expresses the three stages of an undergraduate’s career. “They say”—in his first year he accepts everything he is told as if it were inspired. “What say they”—in his second year he is skeptical and asks that question. “Let them say” expresses the attitude of contempt characteristic of his third year.
— Henry John Stephen Smith
As quoted, without citation, in Alexander Macfarlane, 'Henry John Stephen Smith', Lectures on Ten British Mathematicians of the Nineteenth Century (1916), 100-101.
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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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