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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Charles Proteus Steinmetz Quotes

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Charles Proteus Steinmetz
(9 Apr 1865 - 26 Oct 1923)

German-American electrical engineer and inventor who founded the General Electric laboratory and worked on the theory of alternating-current circuitry. His more than 200 patented inventions that brought electricity into the modern era, included improvements on generators and motors. Originally named Karl August Rudolf, he was forced to leave Germany in 1888 because of his Socialist activities and fled via Switzerland to America.


Science Quotes by Charles Proteus Steinmetz (21 quotes)

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Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1922)
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As for my memory, I have a particularly good one. I never keep any record of my investigations or experiments. My memory files all these things away conveniently and reliably. I should say, though, that I didn’t cumber it up with a lot of useless matter.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
From George MacAdam, 'Steinmetz, Electricity's Mastermind, Enters Politics', New York Times (2 Nov 1913), SM3.
Science quotes on:  |  Encumber (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Matter (270)  |  Memory (81)  |  Record (56)  |  Useless (24)

Electricity is doing for the distribution of energy what the railroads have done for the distribution of materials.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
As quoted in 'C.P. Steinmetz Dies In Sudden Relapse', New York Times (27 Oct 1923), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Distribution (21)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Energy (185)  |  Material (124)  |  Railroad (10)

From a mathematical standpoint it is possible to have infinite space. In a mathematical sense space is manifoldness, or combinations of numbers. Physical space is known as the 3-dimension system. There is the 4-dimension system, the 10-dimension system.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
As quoted in 'Electricity Will Keep The World From Freezing Up', New York Times (12 Nov 1911), SM4.
Science quotes on:  |  Combination (69)  |  Dimension (26)  |  Infinite (88)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Number (179)  |  Physical (94)  |  Possible (100)  |  Space (154)  |  Standpoint (8)

In the realm of science all attempts to find any evidence of supernatural beings, of metaphysical conceptions, as God, immortality, infinity, etc., thus far have failed, and if we are honest we must confess that in science there exists no God, no immortality, no soul or mind as distinct from the body.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
In 'Religion and Modern Science', The Christian Register (16 Nov 1922), 101, 1089. The article is introduced as “the substance of an address to the Laymen’s League in All Soul’s Church (5 Nov 1922).
Science quotes on:  |  Attempt (94)  |  Body (193)  |  Conception (63)  |  Confess (9)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Exist (89)  |  Failed (3)  |  Find (248)  |  God (454)  |  Immortality (9)  |  Infinity (59)  |  Metaphysical (5)  |  Mind (544)  |  Realm (40)  |  Science (1699)  |  Soul (139)  |  Supernatural (19)

In this country all a man need to do is to attain a little eminence and immediately he begins to talk. Usually his eminence is financial, and the greater this eminence the more he talks and the further his voice reaches. I don't blame the rich people for talking; many of them don’t know what else to do with themselves. The fault is with these who listen. If no one would listen no harm would he done. But the American people are willing to listen to any one who has attained prominence. The main fact is that we've heard a man's name a great many times; that makes us ready to accept whatever he says. … We listen to the one who talks the most and loudest.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
As quoted in 'Electricity Will Keep The World From Freezing Up', New York Times (12 Nov 1911), SM4.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (37)  |  America (74)  |  Attain (21)  |  Eminence (11)  |  Listen (26)  |  Name (118)  |  Prominence (3)  |  Ready (16)  |  French Saying (61)  |  Talk (61)  |  Whatever (9)  |  Willing (6)

Indeed, the most important part of engineering work—and also of other scientific work—is the determination of the method of attacking the problem, whatever it may be, whether an experimental investigation, or a theoretical calculation. … It is by the choice of a suitable method of attack, that intricate problems are reduced to simple phenomena, and then easily solved.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
In Engineering Mathematics: A Series of Lectures Delivered at Union College (1911, 1917), Vol. 2, 275.
Science quotes on:  |  Attack (29)  |  Calculation (67)  |  Choice (64)  |  Determination (53)  |  Ease (29)  |  Engineering (115)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Intricacy (6)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Method (154)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Problem (362)  |  Reduction (35)  |  Science (1699)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Suitability (11)  |  Theory (582)  |  Work (457)

Mathematics is the most exact science, and its conclusions are capable of absolute proof. But this is so only because mathematics does not attempt to draw absolute conclusions. All mathematical truths are relative, conditional.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
(1923). Quoted, without source, in E.T. Bell, Men of Mathematics (1937), Vol. 1, li.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (65)  |  Attempt (94)  |  Capable (26)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Draw (25)  |  Exact (38)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Proof (192)  |  Relative (24)  |  Science (1699)  |  Truth (750)

Money is a stupid measure of achievement, but unfortunately it is the only universal measure we have.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
Seen quoted, without citation, since as early as The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life (1950), 486. If you know a primary source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (128)  |  Measure (70)  |  Money (125)  |  Stupid (15)  |  Unfortunately (14)  |  Universal (70)

Our civilization is an engineering civilization, and the prosperous life of the large population, which our earth now supports has become possible only by the work of the engineer. Engineering, however, is the application of science to the service of man, and so to-day science is the foundation, not only of our prosperity, but of our very existence, and thus necessarily has become the dominant power in our human society.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
In 'Religion and Modern Science', The Christian Register (16 Nov 1922), 101, 1089. The article is introduced as “the substance of an address to the Laymen’s League in All Soul’s Church (5 Nov 1922).
Science quotes on:  |  Application (117)  |  Civilization (155)  |  Earth (487)  |  Engineer (72)  |  Engineering (115)  |  Existence (254)  |  Foundation (75)  |  Life (917)  |  Population (71)  |  Possible (100)  |  Prosperity (15)  |  Science (1699)  |  Service (54)  |  Society (188)  |  Work (457)

Science derives its conclusions by the laws of logic from our sense perceptions, Thus it does not deal with the real world, of which we know nothing, but with the world as it appears to our senses. … All our sense perceptions are limited by and attached to the conceptions of time and space. … Modern physics has come to the same conclusion in the relativity theory, that absolute space and absolute time have no existence, but, time and space exist only as far as things or events fill them, that is, are forms of sense perception.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
In 'Religion and Modern Science', The Christian Register (16 Nov 1922), 101, 1089. The article is introduced as “the substance of an address to the Laymen’s League in All Soul’s Church (5 Nov 1922).
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (65)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Event (97)  |  Existence (254)  |  Know (321)  |  Law (418)  |  Logic (187)  |  Modern Physics (12)  |  Nothing (267)  |  Perception (53)  |  Real World (8)  |  Relativity (50)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sense (240)  |  Theory (582)  |  Time And Space (30)

Scientific theories need reconstruction every now and then. If they didn't need reconstruction they would be facts, not theories. The more facts we know, the less radical become the changes in our theories. Hence they are becoming more and more constant. But take the theory of gravitation; it has not been changed in four hundred years.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
As quoted in 'Electricity Will Keep The World From Freezing Up', New York Times (12 Nov 1911), SM4.
Science quotes on:  |  Change (291)  |  Constant (40)  |  Fact (609)  |  Reconstruction (13)  |  Theory (582)  |  Theory Of Gravitation (6)

Take the rose—most people think it very beautiful: I don’t care for It at all. I prefer the cactus, for the simple reason that it has a more interesting personality. It has wonderfully adapted itself to its surroundings! It is the best illustration of the theory of evolution in plant life.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
From George MacAdam, 'Steinmetz, Electricity's Mastermind, Enters Politics', New York Times (2 Nov 1913), SM3.
Science quotes on:  |  Adapt (18)  |  Beautiful (81)  |  Best (129)  |  Cactus (3)  |  Care (73)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Illustration (24)  |  Interesting (38)  |  Life (917)  |  Personality (40)  |  Plant (173)  |  Prefer (18)  |  Reason (330)  |  Rose (7)  |  Simple (111)  |  Surrounding (11)  |  Theory (582)

The mercury light doesn't show red. It makes the blood in your skin look blue-black. But see how splendidly it brings out the green in the plants.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
From George MacAdam, 'Steinmetz, Electricity's Mastermind, Enters Politics', New York Times (2 Nov 1913), SM3. Answering the reporter’s question about why he lit the cactus collection in his conservatory with the blue light from a mercury lamp, which makes a man look like a corpse.
Science quotes on:  |  Black (27)  |  Blood (95)  |  Blue (30)  |  Bring (53)  |  Green (23)  |  Light (246)  |  Mercury (39)  |  Plant (173)  |  Red (25)  |  See (197)  |  Skin (17)

The scientist is not much given to talking of the riddle of the universe. “Riddle” is not a scientific term. The conception of a riddle is “something which can he solved.” And hence the scientist does not use that popular phrase. We don’t know the why of anything. On that matter we are no further advanced than was the cavedweller. The scientist is contented if he can contribute something toward the knowledge of what is and how it is.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
As quoted in 'Electricity Will Keep The World From Freezing Up', New York Times (12 Nov 1911), SM4.
Science quotes on:  |  Advanced (10)  |  Conception (63)  |  Contribute (10)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Phrase (21)  |  Popular (21)  |  Riddle (18)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Solution (168)  |  Talking (10)  |  Term (87)  |  Universe (563)

The scientist knows that the ultimate of everything is unknowable. No matter What subject you take, the current theory of it if carried to the ultimate becomes ridiculous. Time and space are excellent examples of this.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
As quoted in 'Electricity Will Keep The World From Freezing Up', New York Times (12 Nov 1911), SM4.
Science quotes on:  |  Current (43)  |  Everything (120)  |  Example (57)  |  Excellent (15)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Ridiculous (9)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Theory (582)  |  Time And Space (30)  |  Ultimate (61)  |  Unknowable (2)

The terror of the thunderstorm led primitive man to the conception of a Supreme Being whose attribute was the thunderbolt. But when Franklin brought the lightning from the clouds and showed it to he a mere electric spark, when we learned to make the lightning harmless by the lightning-rod, and when finally we harnessed electricity to do our work, naturally our reverence for the thrower of the thunderbolt decayed. So the gods of experience vanished.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
In 'Religion and Modern Science', The Christian Register (16 Nov 1922), 101, 1089. The article is introduced as “the substance of an address to the Laymen’s League in All Soul’s Church (5 Nov 1922).
Science quotes on:  |  Bring (53)  |  Decay (31)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Experience (268)  |  Benjamin Franklin (81)  |  God (454)  |  Harmless (6)  |  Harness (15)  |  Learn (160)  |  Lightning (28)  |  Lightning-Rod (2)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Spark (18)  |  Terror (16)  |  Thunderstorm (3)  |  Vanish (10)  |  Work (457)

There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
Quoted, without citation, in Frank Crane, American Magazine (May 1923), 95, 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Fool (70)  |  Question (315)

There can be no scientific foundation of religion, and belief must always remain the foundation of religion, while that of science is logical reasoning from facts, that is, sense perceptions; and all that we can say is, that the two, science and religion, are not necessarily incompatible, but are different and unrelated activities of the human mind.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
In 'Religion and Modern Science', The Christian Register (16 Nov 1922), 101, 1089. The article is introduced as “the substance of an address to the Laymen’s League in All Soul’s Church (5 Nov 1922).
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Different (110)  |  Fact (609)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Incompatible (2)  |  Logic (187)  |  Necessary (89)  |  Perception (53)  |  Reason (330)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Sense (240)

When it comes to scientific matters the ready talkers simply run riot. There are a lot of pseudo-scientists who with a little technical jargon to spatter through their talk are always getting in the limelight. … The less they know the surer they are about it.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
As quoted in 'Electricity Will Keep The World From Freezing Up', New York Times (12 Nov 1911), SM4.
Science quotes on:  |  Jargon (6)  |  Limelight (2)  |  Matter (270)  |  Ready (16)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Talk (61)  |  Technical (26)

While electric railroading is perhaps the most important branch of electrical engineering, at least as regards commercial importance, considering the amount capital invested therein, nevertheless it is a remarkable fact that while most other branches of electrical engineering had been developed to a very high degree of perfection, even a few years ago theoretical investigation of electric railroading was still conspicuous by its almost entire absence.
All the work was done by some kind of empirical experimenting, that is, some kind of motor was fitted up with some gearing or some sort of railway car, and then run, and if the motor burned out frequently it was replaced with a larger motor, and if it did not burn out, a trailer was put on the car, and perhaps a second trailer, until the increase of the expense account in burn-outs of the motors balanced the increased carrying capacity of the train.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
'The Electric Railway', Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (1902), 125.
Science quotes on:  |  Electrical Engineering (9)  |  Empirical Science (4)  |  Money (125)  |  Motor (10)  |  Railway (13)

[I predict] the electricity generated by water power is the only thing that is going to keep future generations from freezing. Now we use coal whenever we produce electric power by steam engine, but there will be a time when there’ll be no more coal to use. That time is not in the very distant future. … Oil is too insignificant in its available supply to come into much consideration.
— Charles Proteus Steinmetz
As quoted in 'Electricity Will Keep The World From Freezing Up', New York Times (12 Nov 1911), SM4.
Science quotes on:  |  Coal (41)  |  Distant (16)  |  Electric (11)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Freezing (11)  |  Future (229)  |  Generation (111)  |  Hydroelectricity (2)  |  Power (273)  |  Prediction (67)  |  Produce (63)  |  Steam Engine (41)  |  Water (244)


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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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