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Who said: “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.”
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John Tyndall
(2 Aug 1820 - 4 Dec 1893)

Irish physicist who demonstrated why the sky is blue. He wrote on diverse topics, including crystals, glaciers and radiation. His studies also included spontaneous generation, the germ theory of disease and ozone.

John Tyndall
“The First Experiment a Child Makes”

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“The first experiment a child makes is a physical experiment: the suction-pump is but an imitation of the first act of every new-born infant.”
— John Tyndall
Lecture, 'On the Study of Physics' (1854).

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This quote was given by John Tyndall in his lecture 'On the Study of Physics', which he delivered to the Royal Institution of Great Britain in the Spring of 1854. He gave his talk a longer title, “On the Importance of the Study of Physics as a Branch of Education,” and for the purpose of the lecture, he defined Physics as “that portion of natural science which lies midway between astronomy and chemistry.” The former, he said was “applied to ‘masses of enormous weight’ while the latter is Physics applied to atoms and molecules.”

As Tyndall laid out the process of exploring the world, he explained experimentation was natural from birth:

The first experiment a child makes is a physical experiment: the suction-pump is but an imitation of the first act of every new-born infant. … The child grows, but is still an experimenter: he grasps at the moon, and his failure teaches him to respect distance. At length his little fingers acquire sufficient mechanical tact to lay hold of a spoon. He thrusts the instrument into his mouth, hurts his gums, and thus learns the impenetrability of matter. He lets the spoon fall, and jumps with delight to hear it rattle against the table. The experiment made by accident is repeated with intention, and thus the young student receives his first lessons upon sound and gravitation.”

The child he describes gradually grows until an older boy, then

“As thought ripens, he desires to know the character and causes of the phenomena presented to his observation; … we may fairly claim for the study of Physics the recognition that it answers to an impulse implanted by nature in the constitution of man.”

Text by Webmaster, with quotes from 'On the Study of Physics', a Lecture delivered in the Royal Institution of Great Britain in the Spring of 1854. Fragments of Science for Unscientific People: A Series of Detached Essays, Lectures, and Reviews (1892), Vol. 1, 280-284. (source)

See also:
  • Science Quotes by John Tyndall.
  • 2 Aug - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Tyndall's birth.
  • John Tyndall - context of quote “Fatal…to blink facts” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • John Tyndall - context of quote “Fatal…to blink facts” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • John Tyndall - context of quote “The First Experiment a Child Makes” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • On Matter and Force - John Tyndall’s Lecture to general public at Dublin (1867).
  • A Vision of Modern Science: John Tyndall and the Role of the Scientist in Victorian Culture, by Ursula DeYoung. - book suggestion.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: 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) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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