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Who said: “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > Tuzo Wilson Quotes

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Tuzo Wilson
(24 Oct 1908 - 15 Apr 1993)

Canadian geologist and geophysicist.


Science Quotes by Tuzo Wilson (14 quotes)

…continental blocks can join and rift at random.… The fact that two provinces of the Canadian Shield have been together during post-Cambrian time does not necessarily mean that they were formed close together or that the sediments lying in one province were derived from the province now beside it.
— Tuzo Wilson
In 'The Effect of New Orogenetic Theories Upon Ideas of the Tectonics of the Canadian Shield', collected in Royal Society of Canada, Special Publication No. 4, The Tectonics of the Canadian Shield (1962), 135-138. As quoted and cited in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Nov 1995), 41, 544. This quote’s relevance is to show that after some years of reluctance, Wilson did eventually accept the idea of continental drift.
Science quotes on:  |  Block (13)  |  Cambrian (2)  |  Close (77)  |  Continental Drift (15)  |  Derive (70)  |  Form (976)  |  Join (32)  |  Mean (810)  |  Necessarily (137)  |  Province (37)  |  Random (42)  |  Rift (4)  |  Sediment (9)  |  Shield (8)  |  Time (1911)  |  Together (392)

Beneath all the wealth of detail in a geological map lies an elegant, orderly simplicity.
— Tuzo Wilson
As quoted in G.D. Garland, 'John Tuzo Wilson', Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Nov 1995), 552.
Science quotes on:  |  Beneath (68)  |  Detail (150)  |  Elegant (37)  |  Geology (240)  |  Lie (370)  |  Map (50)  |  Order (638)  |  Orderly (38)  |  Simplicity (175)  |  Wealth (100)

Besides science museums, which hold stocks of artifacts, there are science centres which show manufactured models. Everyone knows that the best way to teach science is by doing experiments. Science centres are in effect public science laboratories … that enable the public to try scientific experiments with their own hands.
— Tuzo Wilson
In 'Early Days in University Geophysics', Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences (1982), 10, 13.
Science quotes on:  |  Artifact (5)  |  Centre (31)  |  Experiment (736)  |  Laboratory (214)  |  Model (106)  |  Public (100)  |  Science Museum (2)  |  Teach (299)

Continents are complexes of crustal scar tissue.
— Tuzo Wilson
In Sigma XI National Lecture (1957-58), published in 'Geophysics and Continental Growth', American Scientist (Mar 1959), 47, No. 1, 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Complex (202)  |  Continent (79)  |  Plate Tectonics (22)  |  Scar (8)  |  Tissue (51)

Emission of lava … during geological time … would produce more contraction than any reasonable amount of cooling of the Earth. It has been shown that contraction could lead to fracturing of a kind which might show many of the principal features observed in existing and past mountains. A vast amount remains to be done, but no other theory can explain so much. Continental drift is without a cause or a physical theory. It has never been applied to any but the last part of geological time.
— Tuzo Wilson
In Sigma XI National Lecture (1957-58), published in 'Geophysics and Continental Growth', American Scientist (Mar 1959), 47, No. 1, 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Amount (153)  |  Apply (170)  |  Cause (561)  |  Continental Drift (15)  |  Contraction (18)  |  Cool (15)  |  Earth (1076)  |  Emission (20)  |  Exist (458)  |  Explain (334)  |  Feature (49)  |  Fracture (7)  |  Lava (12)  |  Mountain (202)  |  Observe (179)  |  Part (235)  |  Past (355)  |  Physical (518)  |  Principal (69)  |  Reasonable (29)  |  Remain (355)  |  Theory (1015)  |  Vast (188)

I completed my formal education having been one of the first students in geophysics at three great universities. By today’s standards my studies were extremely casual, but I had learned to work hard, taking courses which it turned out were often irrelevant, old-fashioned, and frequently wrong. Nevertheless, the very casualness encouraged independence in thought and action.
— Tuzo Wilson
In 'Early Days in University Geophysics', Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences (1982), 10, 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (342)  |  Casual (9)  |  Course (413)  |  Education (423)  |  Encourage (43)  |  First (1302)  |  Frequent (26)  |  Geophysics (5)  |  Great (1610)  |  Independence (37)  |  Irrelevant (11)  |  Learn (672)  |  Often (109)  |  Old-Fashioned (9)  |  Standard (64)  |  Student (317)  |  Study (701)  |  Thought (995)  |  Today (321)  |  Turned Out (5)  |  University (130)  |  Work Hard (14)  |  Wrong (246)

I enjoy, and always have enjoyed, disturbing scientists.
[About pioneering with his new ideas.]
— Tuzo Wilson
As quoted by Neil Shubin in The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body (2013), 113
Science quotes on:  |  Disturbance (34)  |  Enjoy (48)  |  Idea (881)  |  New (1273)  |  Pioneer (37)  |  Revolution (133)  |  Scientist (881)

I realized that unless senior academics took their turn at administrative jobs, universities would suffer.
— Tuzo Wilson
In 'Early Days in University Geophysics', Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences (1982), 10, 12.
Science quotes on:  |  Academic (20)  |  Administration (15)  |  Realize (157)  |  Senior (7)  |  Suffer (43)  |  University (130)

If indeed the Earth is, in its own slow way, a very dynamic body and we have regarded it as essentially static, we need to discard most of our old theories and books and start again with a new viewpoint and a new science.
— Tuzo Wilson
In 'Reply to Beloussov', Geotimes (1968), 13, No. 12, 22. The public disagreement on seafloor spreading between Wilson and V.V. Beloussov is collected in Brainerd Mears, The Nature of Geology: Contemporary Readings (1970).
Science quotes on:  |  Body (557)  |  Book (413)  |  Discard (32)  |  Dynamic (16)  |  Earth (1076)  |  Essential (210)  |  Need (320)  |  New (1273)  |  Old (499)  |  Regard (312)  |  Slow (108)  |  Start (237)  |  Static (9)  |  Theory (1015)  |  Viewpoint (13)

In [1950 in] South Africa all the geologists were disciples of Alfred Wegener and A. L. du Toit, and were anxious to correct my failure to accept continental drift, but I remained inflexible for another nine years.
— Tuzo Wilson
Recalling his reluctance to accept the ideas of continental drift. As quoted, without citation, in G. D. Garland, 'John Tuzo Wilson', Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Nov 1995), 41, 544. This quote’s relevance is to contrast with his later writing (1962), quoted on this webpage beginning, “…continent blocks can join and rift at random…”.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (198)  |  Anxious (4)  |  Continental Drift (15)  |  Correct (95)  |  Disciple (8)  |  Alexander Logie Du Toit (2)  |  Failure (176)  |  Geologist (82)  |  South Africa (3)  |  Alfred L. Wegener (12)  |  Year (963)

In my youth scarcely anyone mentioned Wegener’s ideas of a mobile earth and moving continents. … The great impediment was that geologists only studied that one quarter of the earth’s surface not covered by ice or water; at that time no one had any means for exploring the great interior or the ocean floors.
— Tuzo Wilson
In 'Early Days in University Geophysics', Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences (1982), 10, 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Anyone (38)  |  Continental Drift (15)  |  Cover (40)  |  Earth (1076)  |  Exploration (161)  |  Geologist (82)  |  Great (1610)  |  Ice (58)  |  Idea (881)  |  Impediment (12)  |  Interior (35)  |  Means (587)  |  Mention (84)  |  Mobile (4)  |  Ocean Floor (6)  |  Quarter (6)  |  Scarcely (75)  |  Study (701)  |  Surface (223)  |  Water (503)  |  Alfred L. Wegener (12)  |  Youth (109)

It is believed that contraction of the Earth due to its emission of lava and volcanic gases provides a tentative theory for the building of mountains and continents which is capable of explaining more of the details of these features than any other theory yet proposed.
— Tuzo Wilson
In Sigma XI National Lecture (1957-58), published in 'Geophysics and Continental Growth', American Scientist (Mar 1959), 47, No. 1, 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Build (211)  |  Continent (79)  |  Contraction (18)  |  Detail (150)  |  Earth (1076)  |  Emission (20)  |  Explain (334)  |  Feature (49)  |  Gas (89)  |  Lava (12)  |  Mountain (202)  |  Tentative (18)  |  Theory (1015)  |  Volcano (46)

Much as I admired the elegance of physical theories, which at that time geology wholly lacked, I preferred a life in the woods to one in the laboratory.
— Tuzo Wilson
From J. Tuzo Wilson, 'Early Days in University Geophysics', Ann. Rev. Earth Planet Sci. (1982), 10, 4.
Science quotes on:  |  Admiration (61)  |  Elegance (40)  |  Geology (240)  |  Laboratory (214)  |  Lack (127)  |  Life (1870)  |  Physical (518)  |  Physics (564)  |  Prefer (27)  |  Theory (1015)  |  Time (1911)  |  Wholly (88)  |  Wood (97)  |  Woods (15)

My courses in physics and chemistry showed me that science could and indeed should have precise theories, but at that time geology lacked them and all right-minded geologists scoffed at the search for any. They said that this was armchair geology and that more maps were both the aim and the method of geology. So sterile a concept baffled me, but I was too stupid to accept, until I was fifty, the explanation which Frank Taylor and Alfred Wegener had advanced in the year I was born.
— Tuzo Wilson
In 'Early Days in University Geophysics', Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences (1982), 10, 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (198)  |  Aim (175)  |  Armchair (7)  |  Baffle (6)  |  Concept (242)  |  Explanation (246)  |  Fifty (17)  |  Geology (240)  |  Lack (127)  |  Map (50)  |  Method (531)  |  Precise (71)  |  Scoff (8)  |  Search (175)  |  Sterile (24)  |  Stupid (38)  |  Theory (1015)  |  Time (1911)  |  Alfred L. Wegener (12)


See also:
  • 24 Oct - 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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