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Who said: “A change in motion is proportional to the motive force impressed and takes place along the straight line in which that force is impressed.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Ian Stewart Quotes

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Ian Stewart
(24 Sep 1945 - )

English mathematician and author who is a prolific author of books on mathematics, for the lay reader and others for academics or as textbooks. He writes the 'Mathematical Recreations' column in Scientific American.


Science Quotes by Ian Stewart (13 quotes)

By the 18th century science had been so successful in laying bare the laws of nature that many thought there was nothing left to discover. Immutable laws prescribed the motion of every particle in the universe, exactly and forever: the task of the scientist was to elucidate the implications of those laws for any particular phenomenon of interest. Chaos gave way to a clockwork world. But the world moved on ...Today even our clocks are not made of clockwork. ... With the advent of quantum mechanics, the clockwork world has become a lottery. Fundamental events, such as the decay of a radioactive atom, are held to be determined by chance, not law.
— Ian Stewart
Does God Play Dice?: The New Mathematics of Chaos (2002). xi.
Science quotes on:  |  18th Century (21)  |  Atom (377)  |  Bare (33)  |  Become (817)  |  Century (315)  |  Chance (240)  |  Chaos (99)  |  Clock (49)  |  Decay (56)  |  Discover (566)  |  Event (218)  |  Forever (104)  |  Fundamental (258)  |  Immutable (25)  |  Interest (404)  |  Law (907)  |  Mechanic (119)  |  Mechanics (134)  |  Motion (317)  |  Nature (1973)  |  Nothing (987)  |  Particle (200)  |  Phenomenon (329)  |  Predictability (7)  |  Quantum (118)  |  Quantum Mechanics (47)  |  Radioactive (22)  |  Scientist (856)  |  Successful (131)  |  Task (149)  |  Thought (967)  |  Today (318)  |  Universe (883)  |  Way (1214)  |  World (1822)

DNA that used to have some function way back in evolution but currently does not (and might possibly be revived if, say, an ancient parasite reappeared), DNA that controls how genes switch their protein manufacturing on and off, DNA that controls those, and so on. Some may actually be genuine junk. And some (so the joke goes) may encode a message like ‘It was me, I’m God, I existed all along, ha ha.’
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 26, 'The Descent of Darwin', The Science of Discworld (1999), 193. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 26), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated. As the biologist, perhaps it was Jack Cohen who wrote this.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancient (194)  |  Back (392)  |  Control (176)  |  DNA (79)  |  Encode (2)  |  Evolution (621)  |  Exist (447)  |  Function (230)  |  Gene (104)  |  Genuine (52)  |  God (764)  |  Joke (87)  |  Junk (6)  |  Manufacturing (29)  |  Message (50)  |  Parasite (33)  |  Possibly (111)  |  Protein (55)  |  Reappear (4)  |  Say (985)  |  Science And Religion (330)  |  Switch (10)  |  Way (1214)

I don’t believe in evolution, like people believe in God … Science and technology are not advanced by people who believe, but by people who don’t know but are doing their best to find out.
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 4, 'Science and Magic', The Science of Discworld (1999), 36-37. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 4), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated. For the subject quote, the wider context suggests co-author Jack Cohen was relating his own experience.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (290)  |  Belief (596)  |  Best (464)  |  Doing (280)  |  Evolution (621)  |  Find (1003)  |  Find Out (22)  |  God (764)  |  Know (1526)  |  People (1012)  |  Science And Technology (46)  |  Technology (273)

Science is not about building a body of known “facts”. It is a method for asking awkward questions and subjecting them to a reality-check, thus avoiding the human tendency to believe whatever makes us feel good.
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 10, 'The Shape of Things', The Science of Discworld (1999), 78. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 10), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated.
Science quotes on:  |  Asking (74)  |  Avoid (118)  |  Awkward (11)  |  Belief (596)  |  Body (545)  |  Building (158)  |  Fact (1236)  |  Facts (553)  |  Feel (365)  |  Good (894)  |  Human (1491)  |  Knowledge (1610)  |  Known (451)  |  Method (517)  |  Question (640)  |  Reality (270)  |  Tendency (103)  |  Whatever (234)

Scientists repeatedly return to established theories to test them in new ways, and tend towards testiness with those priests, religious or secular, who know the answers already—whatever the questions are.
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 10, 'The Shape of Things', The Science of Discworld (1999), 78. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 10), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated.
Science quotes on:  |  Already (222)  |  Answer (380)  |  Know (1526)  |  Know The Answer (9)  |  New (1247)  |  Priest (29)  |  Question (640)  |  Religious (130)  |  Return (131)  |  Scientist (856)  |  Secular (11)  |  Tend (124)  |  Test (217)  |  Theory (998)  |  Way (1214)  |  Whatever (234)

The fact that nature deals the occasional death blow doesn’t hand us an excuse to imitate it.
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 42, 'Ways to Leave Your Planet', The Science of Discworld (1999), 301. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 42), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated.
Science quotes on:  |  Blow (44)  |  Deal (189)  |  Death (398)  |  Excuse (26)  |  Fact (1236)  |  Imitate (18)  |  Nature (1973)  |  Occasional (23)

The scientist’s task is to find ways to try to disprove things that seem to make sense.
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 28, 'The Iceberg Cometh', The Science of Discworld (Rev. Ed. 2002), 230. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 28), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated.
Science quotes on:  |  Disprove (24)  |  Find (1003)  |  Scientist (856)  |  Seem (145)  |  Sense (776)  |  Task (149)  |  Thing (1914)  |  Try (286)  |  Way (1214)

The successes of the differential equation paradigm were impressive and extensive. Many problems, including basic and important ones, led to equations that could be solved. A process of self-selection set in, whereby equations that could not be solved were automatically of less interest than those that could.
— Ian Stewart
In Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos (1989, 1997), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Automatic (16)  |  Basic (142)  |  Differential Equation (18)  |  Equation (135)  |  Extensive (33)  |  Important (219)  |  Impressive (26)  |  Interest (404)  |  Less (104)  |  Paradigm (16)  |  Problem (708)  |  Process (430)  |  Selection (128)  |  Self (267)  |  Set (396)  |  Solve (137)  |  Success (315)

They say that every formula halves the sales of a popular science book. This is rubbish–if it was true, then The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose would have sold one-eighth of a copy, whereas its actual sales were in the hundreds of thousands.
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 2, 'Squash Court Science', The Science of Discworld (1999), 21, footnote. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 2), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated.
Science quotes on:  |  Actual (117)  |  Book (400)  |  Copy (34)  |  Formula (99)  |  Hundred (231)  |  Mind (1359)  |  New (1247)  |  Sir Roger Penrose (6)  |  Popular Science (2)  |  Rubbish (12)  |  Say (985)  |  Sell (15)  |  Thousand (331)

Today even our clocks are not made of clockwork.
— Ian Stewart
Does God Play Dice?: The New Mathematics of Chaos (2002), xi.
Science quotes on:  |  Clock (49)  |  Clockwork (7)  |  Making (300)  |  Today (318)

What exploded was–nothing. Space, time, and matter are the products of that explosion: they played no part in its cause. Indeed, in a very real sense, it had no cause.
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. Explaining the Big Bang, in Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 6, 'Beginnings and Becomings', The Science of Discworld (1999), 50. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 6), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated.
Science quotes on:  |  Big Bang (44)  |  Cause (549)  |  Explode (15)  |  Explosion (48)  |  Matter (810)  |  Nothing (987)  |  Product (162)  |  Space (510)  |  Time (1890)

What is mathematics? What is it for? What are mathematicians doing nowadays? Wasn't it all finished long ago? How many new numbers can you invent anyway? Is today’s mathematics just a matter of huge calculations, with the mathematician as a kind of zookeeper, making sure the precious computers are fed and watered? If it’s not, what is it other than the incomprehensible outpourings of superpowered brainboxes with their heads in the clouds and their feet dangling from the lofty balconies of their ivory towers?
Mathematics is all of these, and none. Mostly, it’s just different. It’s not what you expect it to be, you turn your back for a moment and it's changed. It's certainly not just a fixed body of knowledge, its growth is not confined to inventing new numbers, and its hidden tendrils pervade every aspect of modern life.
— Ian Stewart
Opening paragraphs of 'Preface', From Here to Infinity (1996), vii.
Science quotes on:  |  Aspect (125)  |  Back (392)  |  Balcony (2)  |  Body (545)  |  Calculation (132)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Change (617)  |  Cloud (109)  |  Computer (130)  |  Confine (26)  |  Dangle (2)  |  Different (581)  |  Doing (280)  |  Expect (203)  |  Finish (61)  |  Finished (4)  |  Fixed (17)  |  Foot (63)  |  Growth (195)  |  Head (84)  |  Hidden (43)  |  Huge (26)  |  Incomprehensible (31)  |  Invent (54)  |  Ivory Tower (5)  |  Kind (559)  |  Knowledge (1610)  |  Life (1830)  |  Lofty (15)  |  Long (772)  |  Long Ago (11)  |  Making (300)  |  Mathematician (400)  |  Mathematics (1363)  |  Matter (810)  |  Modern (392)  |  Modern Life (3)  |  Moment (256)  |  New (1247)  |  Nowadays (6)  |  Number (704)  |  Other (2233)  |  Pervade (10)  |  Precious (42)  |  Today (318)  |  Tower (44)  |  Turn (450)  |  Water (494)  |  Zookeeper (2)

When you live in a complex world, you have to simplify it in order to understand it.
— Ian Stewart
With co-author Jack Cohen. In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Chap. 4, 'Science and Magic', The Science of Discworld (1999), 39. Pratchett wrote the fantasy story told in the odd-numbered chapters. Following each, relevant real science is provided by his co-authors, Stewart and Cohen, in the even-numbered chapters (such as Chap. 4), but which of the two wrote which lines, is not designated.
Science quotes on:  |  Complex (196)  |  Live (637)  |  Order (635)  |  Simplify (13)  |  Understand (634)  |  World (1822)


See also:

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
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

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