Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “We are here to celebrate the completion of the first survey of the entire human genome. Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by human kind.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index Y > Thomas Young Quotes

Thumbnail of Thomas Young (source)
Thomas Young
(13 Jun 1773 - 10 May 1829)

English physician, physicist and Egyptologist who investigated a broad range of science topics, including the interference of light, defects of the eye's lens, elasticity and helped decipher the Rosetta Stone.


Science Quotes by Thomas Young (10 quotes)

Thomas Young
Thomas Young
Bacon first taught the world the true method of the study of nature, and rescued science from that barbarism in which the followers of Aristotle, by a too servile imitation of their master.
— Thomas Young
A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts (1845), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (146)  |  Sir Francis Bacon (167)  |  Barbarism (3)  |  Follower (7)  |  Imitation (17)  |  Master (61)  |  Method (159)  |  Nature (1081)  |  Rescue (9)  |  Science (1741)  |  Scientific Method (156)  |  Servile (3)  |  Study (349)

But it will be found... that one universal law prevails in all these phenomena. Where two portions of the same light arrive in the eye by different routes, either exactly or very nearly in the same direction, the appearance or disappearance of various colours is determined by the greater or less difference in the lengths of the paths.
— Thomas Young
Lecture XIV. 'Of Physical Optics'. In A Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on Natural and Experimental Philosophy (1802), 112-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (78)  |  Color (88)  |  Determination (54)  |  Difference (214)  |  Direction (59)  |  Disappearance (21)  |  Eye (190)  |  Law (425)  |  Length (14)  |  Light (301)  |  Path (66)  |  Phenomenon (223)  |  Portion (15)  |  Route (13)  |  Universal (77)

Exper. I. I made a small hole in a window-shutter, and covered it with a piece of thick paper, which I perforated with a fine needle. For greater convenience of observation I placed a small looking-glass without the window-shutter, in such a position as to reflect the sun's light, in a direction nearly horizontal, upon the opposite wall, and to cause the cone of diverging light to pass over a table on which were several little screens of card-paper. I brought into the sunbeam a slip of card, about one-thirtieth of an inch in breadth, and observed its shadow, either on the wall or on other cards held at different distances. Besides the fringes of colour on each side of the shadow, the shadow itself was divided by similar parallel fringes, of smaller dimensions, differing in number, according to the distance at which the shadow was observed, but leaving the middle of the shadow always white. Now these fringes were the joint effects of the portions of light passing on each side of the slip of card and inflected, or rather diffracted, into the shadow. For, a little screen being placed a few inches from the card, so as to receive either edge of the shadow on its margin, all the fringes which had before been observed in the shadow on the wall, immediately disappeared, although the light inflected on the other side was allowed to retain its course, and although this light must have undergone any modification that the proximity of the other edge of the slip of card might have been capable of occasioning... Nor was it for want of a sufficient intensity of light that one of the two portions was incapable of producing the fringes alone; for when they were both uninterrupted, the lines appeared, even if the intensity was reduced to one-tenth or one-twentieth.
— Thomas Young
'Experiments and Calculations Relative to Physical Optics' (read in 1803), Philosophical Transactions (1804), 94, 2-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (548)  |  Fringe (3)  |  Hole (14)  |  Intensity (19)  |  Interference (12)  |  Light (301)  |  Observation (421)  |  Reflection (52)  |  Screen (6)  |  Shadow (46)  |  Sunbeam (3)

I like a deep and difficult investigation when I happen to have made it easy to myself, if not to all others; and there is a spirit of gambling in this, whether, as by the cast of a die, a calculation è perte de vue shall bring out a beautiful and perfect result or shall be wholly thrown away. Scientific investigations are a sort of warfare carried on in the closet or on the couch against all one's contemporaries and predecessors; I have often gained a signal victory when I have been half asleep, but more frequently have found, upon being thoroughly awake, that the enemy had still the advantage of me, when I thought I had him fast in a corner, and all this you see keeps me alive.
— Thomas Young
Letter to Hudson Gurney, quoted in George Peacock, The Life of Thomas Young (1855), 239.
Science quotes on:  |  Advantage (48)  |  Alive (44)  |  Asleep (3)  |  Awake (8)  |  Beauty (200)  |  Calculation (68)  |  Contemporary (23)  |  Corner (27)  |  Deep (99)  |  Dice (14)  |  Difficult (73)  |  Easy (69)  |  Enemy (53)  |  Gain (53)  |  Investigation (124)  |  Perfection (75)  |  Predecessor (18)  |  Result (267)  |  Signal (15)  |  Spirit (126)  |  Throw Away (3)  |  Victory (24)  |  Warfare (6)

If we seek for the simplest arrangement, which would enable it [the eye] to receive and discriminate the impressions of the different parts of the spectrum, we may suppose three distinct sensations only to be excited by the rays of the three principal pure colours, falling on any given point of the retina, the red, the green, and the violet; while the rays occupying the intermediate spaces are capable of producing mixed sensations, the yellow those which belong to the red and green, and the blue those which belong to the green and violet.
— Thomas Young
'Chromatics', in Supplement to the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1824), Vol. 3, 142.
Science quotes on:  |  Arrangement (47)  |  Blue (52)  |  Color (88)  |  Discrimination (5)  |  Eye (190)  |  Green (27)  |  Impression (54)  |  Intermediate (16)  |  Mixed (4)  |  Reception (6)  |  Red (34)  |  Retina (4)  |  Seeking (30)  |  Simplicity (128)  |  Spectrum (24)  |  Violet (4)  |  Yellow (17)

Newton advanced, with one gigantic stride, from the regions of twilight into the noon day of science. A Boyle and a Hooke, who would otherwise have been deservedly the boast of their century, served but as obscure forerunners of Newton's glories.
— Thomas Young
A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts (1845), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Boast (13)  |  Robert Boyle (25)  |  Century (103)  |  Day (38)  |  Deserving (4)  |  Forerunner (3)  |  Gigantic (18)  |  Glory (48)  |  Robert Hooke (20)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (261)  |  Noon (6)  |  Obscurity (20)  |  Otherwise (19)  |  Region (26)  |  Science (1741)  |  Stride (7)  |  Twilight (5)

Proposition IX. Radiant light consists in Undulations of the Luminiferous Ether.
— Thomas Young
'On the Theory of Light and Colours' (read in 1801), Philosophical Transactions (1802), 92, 44.
Science quotes on:  |  Ether (24)  |  Light (301)  |  Proposition (47)  |  Radiance (6)  |  Undulation (3)

Proposition VIII. When two Undulations, from different Origins, coincide either perfectly or very nearly in Direction, their joint effect is a Combination of the Motions belonging to each.
— Thomas Young
'On the Theory of Light and Colours' (read in 1801), Philosophical Transactions (1802), 92, 34.
Science quotes on:  |  Combination (72)  |  Conincidence (4)  |  Difference (214)  |  Direction (59)  |  Effort (106)  |  Joint (11)  |  Motion (135)  |  Origin (78)  |  Proposition (47)  |  Undulation (3)

Suppose a number of equal waves of water to move upon the surface of a stagnant lake, with a certain constant velocity, and to enter a narrow channel leading out of the lake. Suppose then another similar cause to have excited another equal series of waves, which arrive at the same time, with the first. Neither series of waves will destroy the other, but their effects will be combined: if they enter the channel in such a manner that the elevations of one series coincide with those of the other, they must together produce a series of greater joint elevations; but if the elevations of one series are so situated as to correspond to the depressions of the other, they must exactly fill up those depressions. And the surface of the water must remain smooth; at least I can discover no alternative, either from theory or from experiment.
— Thomas Young
A Reply to the Animadversions of the Edinburgh Reviewers on Some Papers Published in the Philosophical Transactions (1804), 17-8.
Science quotes on:  |  Alternative (26)  |  Channel (19)  |  Coincidence (12)  |  Combination (72)  |  Constant (43)  |  Depression (18)  |  Destruction (81)  |  Elevation (5)  |  Experiment (548)  |  Greater (36)  |  Interference (12)  |  Lake (15)  |  Narrow (36)  |  Smooth (15)  |  Stagnant (4)  |  Supposition (34)  |  Surface (87)  |  Theory (585)  |  Velocity (15)  |  Water (264)  |  Wave (58)

The nature of light is a subject of no material importance to the concerns of life or to the practice of the arts, but it is in many other respects extremely interesting.
— Thomas Young
Lecture 39, 'On the Nature of Light and Colours', A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts (1845), Vol. 1, 359.
Science quotes on:  |  Concern (83)  |  Importance (186)  |  Interest (182)  |  Life (993)  |  Light (301)  |  Science And Art (159)



Quotes by others about Thomas Young (3)

I must not pass by Dr. Young called Phaenomenon Young at Cambridge. A man of universal erudition, & almost universal accomplishments. Had he limited himself to anyone department of knowledge, he must have been first in that department. But as a mathematician, a scholar, a hieroglyphist, he was eminent; & he knew so much that it is difficult to say what he did not know. He was a most amiable & good-tempered man; too fond, perhaps, of the society of persons of rank for a true philosopher.
J. Z. Fullmer, 'Davy's Sketches of his Contemporaries', Chymia (1967), 12, 135.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (63)  |  Cambridge (11)  |  Department (33)  |  Erudition (4)  |  Fond (10)  |  Knowledge (1148)  |  Limit (97)  |  Mathematician (178)  |  Person (126)  |  Phenomenon (223)  |  Philosopher (134)  |  Rank (20)  |  Scholar (31)  |  Society (195)  |  Universal (77)

[Young] was afterwards accustomed to say, that at no period of his life was he particularly fond of repeating experiments, or even of very frequently attempting to originate new ones; considering that, however necessary to the advancement of science, they demanded a great sacrifice of time, and that when the fact was once established, that time was better employed in considering the purposes to which it might be applied, or the principles which it might tend to elucidate.
Hudson Gurney, Memoir of the Life of Thomas Young, M.D. F.R.S. (1831), 12-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (37)  |  Application (119)  |  Attempt (95)  |  Consideration (67)  |  Demand (55)  |  Elucidation (6)  |  Establishment (30)  |  Experiment (548)  |  Fact (628)  |  Fond (10)  |  Frequently (18)  |  Life (993)  |  Necessary (92)  |  New (380)  |  Origination (7)  |  Particular (55)  |  Period (51)  |  Principle (232)  |  Purpose (145)  |  Repeat (28)  |  Sacrifice (27)  |  Tendency (41)  |  Time (491)

This very important property of rods, and indeed also of each kind of cone, this limitation of output to a single dimension of change, may be called the Principle of Univariance and stated thus: “The output of a receptor depends upon its quantum catch, but not upon what quanta are caught.” … Young's theory of colour vision may now be stated in terms of cone pigments. “There are three classes of cone each containing a different visual pigment. The output of each cone is univariant, depending simply upon the quantum catch of its pigment. Our sensation of colour depends upon the ratios of these three cone outputs.”
Principle of Univariance, concerning color vision, as stated in Lecture to a meeting of the Physiological Society at Chelsea College, London (17 Apr 1970), and reported in 'Pigments and Signals in Colour Vision', The Journal of Physiology (1972), 220 No. 3, 4P.
Science quotes on:  |  Color (88)  |  Cone (5)  |  Eye (190)  |  Limitation (22)  |  Output (9)  |  Photon (10)  |  Pigment (7)  |  Principle (232)  |  Property (96)  |  Ratio (16)  |  Retina (4)  |  Rod (5)  |  Theory (585)  |  Vision (78)


See also:
  • 13 Jun - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Young's birth.
  • Thomas Young - Biography - from Harper's Magazine (1890).

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 Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.