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Who said: “I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, ... finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell ... whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > George Wilson Quotes

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George Wilson
(21 Feb 1818 - 22 Nov 1859)

Scottish chemist and physician who was appointed as the first Director of the Industrial Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and also the first professor of technology at the university there.

Science Quotes by George Wilson (5 quotes)

His [Henry Cavendish’s] Theory of the Universe seems to have been, that it consisted solely of a multitude of objects which could be weighed, numbered, and measured; and the vocation to which he considered himself called was, to weigh, number and measure as many of those objects as his allotted three-score years and ten would permit. This conviction biased all his doings, alike his great scientific enterprises, and the petty details of his daily life.
— George Wilson
In George Wilson, The Life of the Honourable Henry Cavendish: Including the Abstracts of his Important Scientific Papers (1851), 186.
Science quotes on:  |  Henry Cavendish (7)  |  Measurement (161)  |  Universe (686)

I would liken science and poetry in their natural independence to those binary stars, often different in colour, which Herschel’s telescope discovered to revolve round each other. “There is one light of the sun,” says St. Paul, “and another of the moon, and another of the stars: star differeth from star in glory.” It is so here. That star or sun, for it is both, with its cold, clear, white light, is SCIENCE: that other, with its gorgeous and ever-shifting hues and magnificent blaze, is POETRY. They revolve lovingly round each other in orbits of their own, pouring forth and drinking in the rays which they exchange; and they both also move round and shine towards that centre from which they came, even the throne of Him who is the Source of all truth and the Cause of all beauty.
— George Wilson
'The Alleged Antagonism between Poetry and Chemistry.' In Jesse Aitken Wilson, Memoirs of George Wilson. Quoted in Natural History Society of Montreal, 'Reviews and Notices of Books,' The Canadian Naturalist and Geologist (1861) Vol. 6, 393.
Science quotes on:  |  Poetry (124)  |  Science (2067)

We speak of it [astrology] as an extinct science; yet let but an eclipse of the sun happen, or a comet visit the evening sky, and in a moment we all believe in astrology. In vain do you tell the gazers on such spectacles that a solar eclipse is only the moon acting for the time as a candle-extinguisher to the sun, and give them bits of smoked glass to look through, and draw diagrams on the blackboard to explain it all. They listen composedly, and seem convinced, but in their secret hearts they are saying—“What though you can see it through a glass darkly, and draw it on a blackboard, does that show that it has no moral significance? You can draw a gallows or a guillotine, or write the Ten Commandments on a blackboard, but does that deprive them of meaning?” And so with the comet. No man will believe that the splendid stranger is hurrying through the sky solely on a momentous errand of his own. No! he is plainly signalling, with that flashing sword of his, something of importance to men,—something at all events that, if we could make it out, would be found of huge concern to us.
— George Wilson
From 'Introductory Lecture on Technology for 1858-59', published as The Progress of the Telegraph (1859), 19-20.
Science quotes on:  |  Astrology (41)  |  Comet (50)  |  Concern (110)  |  Deprive (11)  |  Eclipse (20)  |  Extinct (8)  |  Guillotine (5)  |  Importance (218)  |  Science (2067)  |  Sun (276)

[The compass needle] as the guide of Vasco de Gama to the East Indies, and of Columbus to the West Indies and the New World, it was pre-eminently the precursor and pioneer of the telegraph. Silently, and as with finger on its lips, it led them across the waste of waters to the new homes of the world; but when these were largely filled, and houses divided between the old and new hemispheres longed to exchange affectionate greetings, it removed its finger and broke silence. The quivering magnetic needle which lies in the coil of the galvanometer is the tongue of the electric telegraph, and already engineers talk of it as speaking.
— George Wilson
'Progress of the Telegraph.' In Jesse Aitken Wilson, Memoirs of George Wilson. Quoted in Natural History Society of Montreal, 'Reviews and Notices of Books,' The Canadian Naturalist and Geologist (1861) Vol. 6, 392.
Science quotes on:  |  Compass (24)  |  Galvanometer (4)  |  Telegraph (32)

[The popular impression about some chemists is that] the aquafortis and the chlorine of the laboratories have as effectually bleached the poetry out of them, as they destroy the colours of tissues exposed to their action.
— George Wilson
'The Alleged Antagonism between Poetry and Chemistry.' In Jesse Aitken Wilson, Memoirs of George Wilson. Quoted in Natural History Society of Montreal, 'Reviews and Notices of Books,' The Canadian Naturalist and Geologist (1861) Vol. 6, 391.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemist (89)  |  Poetry (124)

See also:
  • 21 Feb - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Wilson's birth.

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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