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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Nicolaus Steno Quotes

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Nicolaus Steno
(10 Jan 1638 - 25 Nov 1686)

Danish anatomist and geologist.

Science Quotes by Nicolaus Steno (4 quotes)

I have said that the investigation for which the teeth of the shark had furnished an opportunity, was very near an end... But thereafter, while I was examining more carefully these details of both places and bodies [sedimentary deposits and shells], these day by day presented points of doubt to me as they followed one another in indissoluble connection, so that I saw myself again and again brought back to the starting-place, as it were, when I thought I was nearest the goal. I might compare those doubts to the heads of the Lernean Hydra, since when one of them had been got rid of, numberless others were born; at any rate, I saw that I was wandering about in a sort of labyrinth, where the nearer one approaches the exit, the wider circuits does one tread.
— Nicolaus Steno
The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno's Dissertation Concerning a Solid Body enclosed by Process of Nature within a Solid (1669), trans. J. G. Winter (1916), 206.
Science quotes on:  |  Body (229)  |  Care (91)  |  Circuit (14)  |  Detail (78)  |  Doubt (150)  |  End (186)  |  Examination (63)  |  Exit (4)  |  Hydra (2)  |  Investigation (157)  |  Labyrinth (9)  |  Opportunity (57)  |  Place (164)  |  Sediment (7)  |  Shark (7)  |  Shell (40)  |  Starting Point (13)  |  Tooth (23)  |  Tread (11)  |  Wandering (5)

In the case of those solids, whether of earth, or rock, which enclose on all sides and contain crystals, selenites, marcasites, plants and their parts, bones and the shells of animals, and other bodies of this kind which are possessed of a smooth surface, these same bodies had already become hard at the time when the matter of the earth and rock containing them was still fluid. And not only did the earth and rock not produce the bodies contained in them, but they did not even exist as such when those bodies were produced in them.
— Nicolaus Steno
The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno's Dissertation Concerning a Solid Body enclosed by Process of Nature within a Solid (1669), trans. J. G. Winter (1916), 218.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (340)  |  Bone (63)  |  Crystal (52)  |  Earth (611)  |  Enclosure (3)  |  Existence (289)  |  Fluid (18)  |  Fossil (110)  |  Hardness (3)  |  Matter (322)  |  Part (199)  |  Plant (188)  |  Production (112)  |  Rock (125)  |  Side (49)  |  Smooth (17)  |  Solid (45)  |  Surface (97)

It... [can] be easily shown:
1. That all present mountains did not exist from the beginning of things.
2. That there is no growing of mountains.
3. That the rocks or mountains have nothing in common with the bones of animals except a certain resemblance in hardness, since they agree in neither matter nor manner of production, nor in composition, nor in function, if one may be permitted to affirm aught about a subject otherwise so little known as are the functions of things.
4. That the extension of crests of mountains, or chains, as some prefer to call them, along the lines of certain definite zones of the earth, accords with neither reason nor experience.
5. That mountains can be overthrown, and fields carried over from one side of a high road across to the other; that peaks of mountains can be raised and lowered, that the earth can be opened and closed again, and that other things of this kind occur which those who in their reading of history wish to escape the name of credulous, consider myths.
— Nicolaus Steno
The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno's Dissertation Concerning a Solid Body enclosed by Process of Nature within a Solid (1669), trans. J. G. Winter (1916), 232-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (340)  |  Beginning (120)  |  Bone (63)  |  Composition (54)  |  Existence (289)  |  Fossil (110)  |  Function (120)  |  Growth (118)  |  Mountain (142)  |  Myth (46)  |  Production (112)  |  Resemblance (18)  |  Rock (125)

Scripture and Nature agree in this, that all things were covered with water; how and when this aspect began, and how long it lasted, Nature says not, Scripture relates. That there was a watery fluid, however, at a time when animals and plants were not yet to be found, and that the fluid covered all things, is proved by the strata of the higher mountains, free from all heterogeneous material. And the form of these strata bears witness to the presence of a fluid, while the substance bears witness to the absence of heterogeneous bodies. But the similarity of matter and form in the strata of mountains which are different and distant from each other, proves that the fluid was universal.
— Nicolaus Steno
The Prodromus of Nicolaus Steno's Dissertation Concerning a Solid Body enclosed by Process of Nature within a Solid (1669), trans. J. G. Winter (1916), 263-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Absence (18)  |  Agreement (37)  |  Animal (340)  |  Covering (3)  |  Distance (71)  |  Fluid (18)  |  Heterogeneous (3)  |  Material (143)  |  Mountain (142)  |  Nature (1154)  |  Plant (188)  |  Scripture (10)  |  Similarity (19)  |  Strata (19)  |  Substance (82)  |  Universality (12)  |  Water (278)  |  Witness (25)

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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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