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 Post subject: Eddington
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2002 9:52 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 3:01 pm
Posts: 1681
Thought you might consider adding Eddington to your author index.

All quotes from Arthur Stanley Eddington

We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about `and'.
~Eddington, Arthur (1882 - 1944)
British astronomer. The Harvest of a Quiet Eye (A. L. Mackay) 1977. The Institute of Physics, Bristol and London

As Sir Arthur Eddington quipped in the 1930s, "We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about ‘and.'"
~according to Philip Regal
Professor of Biology
University of Minnesota-St. Paul
I also saw the date 1928 associated with the quote.

"To the pure geometer the radius of curvature is an incidental characteristic - like the grin of the Cheshire cat. To the physicist it is an indispensable characteristic. It would be going too far to say that to the physicist the cat is merely incidental to the grin. Physics is concerned with interrelatedness such as the interrelatedness of cats and grins. In this case the "cat without a grin" and the "grin without a cat" are equally set aside as purely mathematical phantasies."
~ The Expanding Universe

"Science is one thing, wisdom is another. Science is an edged tool, with which men play like children, and cut their own fingers."
~ Attributed in Robert L. Weber More Random Walks in Science ( (1982)) p. 48

"If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation."
~ The Nature of the Physical World ( (1928)) ch. 14

"Every body continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, except insofar as it doesn't."
~source unknown

"Let us suppose that an ichthyologist is exploring the life of the ocean. He casts a net into the water and brings up a fishy assortment. Surveying his catch, he proceeds in the usual manner of a scientist to systematise what it reveals. He arrives at two generalisations: (1) No sea-creature is less than two inches long. (2) All sea-creatures have gills. These are both true of his catch, and he assumes tentatively that they will remain true however often he repeats it. In applying this analogy, the catch stands for the body of knowledge which constitutes physical science, and the net for the sensory and intellectual equipment which we use in obtaining it. The casting of the net corresponds to observation; for knowledge which has not been or could not be obtained by observation is not admitted into physical science. An onlooker may object that the first generalisation is wrong. "There are plenty of sea-creatures under two inches long, only your net is not adapted to catch them." The icthyologist dismisses this objection contemptuously. "Anything uncatchable by my net is ipso facto outside the scope of icthyological knowledge. In short, "what my net can't catch isn't fish." Or--to translate the analogy--"If you are not simply guessing, you are claiming a knowledge of the physical universe discovered in some other way than by the methods of physical science, and admittedly unverifiable by such methods. You are a metaphysician. Bah!"
Sir Arthur Eddington, The Philosophy of Physical Science, Ann Arbor Paperbacks, The University of Michigan Press, 1958, p 16.
Sir Arthur Eddington
(1882-1944) b. England

"We are bits of stellar matter that got cold by accident, bits of a star gone wrong."
~source unknown

I have already said that science is no longer disposed to identify reality with concreteness. Materialism in its literal sense is long since dead. But its place has been taken by other philosophies which represent a virtually equivalent outlook. The tendency today is not to reduce everything to manifestations of matter -- since matter now has only a minor place in the physical world -- but to reduce it to manifestations of the operation of natural law. By 'natural law' is here meant laws of the type prevailing in geometry, mechanics, and physics, which are found to have this common characteristic -- that they are ultimately reducible to mathematical equations. . . .
It is probably true that the recent changes of scientific thought remove some of the obstacles to a reconciliation of religion with science; but this must be carefully distinguished from any proposal to base religion on scientific discovery. For my own part I am wholly opposed to any such attempt. Briefly the position is this. We have learnt that the exploration of the external world by the methods of physical science leads not to a concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols, beneath which those methods are unadapted for penetrating. Feeling that there must be more behind, we return to our starting point in human consciousness -- the one center where more might become known. There we find other stirrings, other revelations (true or false) than those conditioned by the world of symbols. Are not these too of significance?
~Arthur Stanley Eddington, F. R. S., Plumian Professor of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, in his Swarthmore Lecture of 1929, printed in that year in a small book entitled Science and the Unseen World-- pp. 50 and 73

"Philosophically the notion of a beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply do not believe the present order of things started off with a bang…the expanding Universe is preposterous… it leaves me cold."
~ Nature 127, 1931, 450.

"Let us get away from Creation back to problems that we may possibly know something about."
~1933 (source unknown)

"For the truth of the conclusions of physical science, observation is the supreme Court of Appeal. It does not follow that every item which we confidently accept as physical knowledge has actually been certified by the Court; our confidence is that it would be certified by the Court if it were submitted. But it does follow that every item of physical knowledge is of a form which might be submitted to the Court. It must be such that we can specify (although it may be impracticable to carry out) an observational procedure which would decide whether it is true or not. Clearly a statement cannot be tested by observation unless it is an assertion about the results of observation. Every item of physical knowledge must therefore be an assertion of what has been or would be the result of carrying out a specified observational procedure."
~ The Philosophy of Physical Science
http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~histor ... ngton.html

"Something unknown is doing we don't know what."
~ Sir Arthur Eddington's comment on the Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics. (1927)

"An ocean traveler has even more vividly the impression that the ocean is made of waves than that it is made of water."

"But are we sure of our observational facts? Scientific men are rather fond of saying pontifically that one ought to be quite sure of one's observational facts before embarking on theory. Fortunately those who give this advice do not practice what they preach. Observation and theory get on best when they are mixed together, both helping one another in the pursuit of truth. It is a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in a theory until it has been confirmed by observation. I hope I shall not shock the experimental physicists too much if I add that it is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they have been confirmed by theory." (1959)

"The idea of a universal mind or Logos would be, I think, a fairly plausible inference from the present state of scientific theory."

Proof is the idol before whom the pure mathematician tortures himself.
~ The Nature of the Physical World
quoted in N. Rose Mathematical Maxims and Minims, Raleigh NC: Rome Press Inc., 1988.

We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origins. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprint. And lo! It is our own.
~Space, Time and Gravitation. 1920.

It is impossible to trap modern physics into predicting anything with perfect determinism because it deals with probabilities from the outset.
~In J. R. Newman (ed.) The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956.

I believe there are 15,747,724,136,275,002,577,605,653,961,181,555,468,044,717,914,527,116,709,366,231,425,076,185,631,031,296 protons in the universe and the same number of electrons.
~The Philosophy of Physical Science. Cambridge, 1939. [(136 x 2256) Tarner lecture 1938]

Human life is proverbially uncertain; few things are more certain than the solvency of a life-insurance company.
~In J. R. Newman (ed.) The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956.

Let us draw an arrow arbitrarily. If as we follow the arrow we find more and more of the random element in the world, then the arrow is pointing towards the future; if the random element decreases the arrow points towards the past...I shall use the phrase 'time's arrow' to express this one-way property of time which has no analogue in space.
~The Nature of the Physical World ( (1928)) ch. 4

I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun-- a fraction of a second too early or too late, the plank would be miles away. I must do this whilst hanging from a round planet, head outward into space, and with a wind of aether blowing at no one knows how many miles a second through every interstice of my body.
~The Nature of the Physical World ( (1928)) ch. 15

I ask you to look both ways. For the road to a knowledge of the stars leads through the atom; and important knowledge of the atom has been reached through the stars.
~Stars and Atoms ( (1928)) Lecture 1

Shuffling is the only thing which Nature cannot undo.
~Quoted in D MacHale, Comic Sections (Dublin 1993)

There once was a brainy baboon,
Who always breathed down a bassoon,
For he said, "It appears
That in billions of years
I shall certainly hit on a tune".
~New Pathways in Science (Cambridge 1939)

Schrödinger's wave-mechanics is not a physical theory, but a dodge -- and a very good dodge too.
~Nature of the Physical World (Cambridge 1928)

The quest of the absolute leads into the four-dimensional world.
~The Nature of the Physical World

The solution goes on famously; but just as we have got rid of all the other unknowns, behold! V disappears as well, and we are left with the indisputable but irritating conclusion:
0 = 0
~source unknown

This is a favourite device that mathematical equations resort to, when we propound stupid questions.
~The Nature of the Physical World

The mathematics is not there till we put it there.
~The Philosophy of Physical Science

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2002 3:59 am 
Site Admin
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2002 12:45 am
Posts: 497
Location: Utah
I added a bunch of these:
http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Si ... Eddington/

I also created a 'physics' topic since there are now enough quotes for one, and added a couple of the new quotes to 'mathematics' and 'science'.


As always thanks for the contributions.

Michael Moncur
Owner and maintainer, The Quotations Page

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