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Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index Z > Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman Quotes

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Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman
(4 Feb 1925 - )

English mathematician whose career field of study was topology, but is best known for his work in catastrophe theory.


Science Quotes by Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman (3 quotes)

Mathematics is not arithmetic. Though mathematics may have arisen from the practices of counting and measuring it really deals with logical reasoning in which theorems—general and specific statements—can be deduced from the starting assumptions. It is, perhaps, the purest and most rigorous of intellectual activities, and is often thought of as queen of the sciences.
— Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman
Essay,'Private Games', in Lewis Wolpert, Alison Richards (eds.), A Passion for Science (1988), 53.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (97)  |  Arithmetic (68)  |  Assumption (49)  |  Counting (5)  |  Deduce (8)  |  General (92)  |  Intellectual (79)  |  Logical (20)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Measuring (2)  |  Purest (2)  |  Queen (9)  |  Reasoning (79)  |  Rigorous (10)  |  Science (1699)  |  Specific (30)  |  Starting (2)  |  Theorem (46)  |  Thought (374)

Technical skill is mastery of complexity while creativity is mastery of simplicity.
— Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman
In Catastrophe Theory: selected papers, 1972-1977 (1977).
Science quotes on:  |  Complex (78)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Skill (50)

The scientist has to take 95 per cent of his subject on trust. He has to because he can't possibly do all the experiments, therefore he has to take on trust the experiments all his colleagues and predecessors have done. Whereas a mathematician doesn't have to take anything on trust. Any theorem that's proved, he doesn't believe it, really, until he goes through the proof himself, and therefore he knows his whole subject from scratch. He's absolutely 100 per cent certain of it. And that gives him an extraordinary conviction of certainty, and an arrogance that scientists don't have.
— Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman
Essay, 'Private Games', in Lewis Wolpert and Alison Richards, (eds.), A Passion for Science (1988), 61.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Colleague (19)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Predecessor (18)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Subject (129)  |  Theorem (46)  |  Trust (40)



Quotes by others about Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman (1)

An announcement of [Christopher] Zeeman’s lecture at Northwestern University in the spring of 1977 contains a quote describing catastrophe theory as the most important development in mathematics since the invention of calculus 300 years ago.
In book review of Catastrophe Theory: Collected Papers, 1972-1977, in Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (Nov 1978), 84, No. 6, 1360. Reprinted in Stephen Smale, Roderick Wong(ed.), The Collected Papers of Stephen Smale (2000), Vol. 2, 814.
Science quotes on:  |  Announcement (8)  |  Calculus (23)  |  Catastrophe Theory (2)  |  Development (228)  |  Important (124)  |  Invention (283)  |  Lecture (54)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Year (214)


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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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