Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

1882 - 1944

A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on stellar matter, cold, star, and wrong

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

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

Something unknown is doing we don't know what.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on learning

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.'

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Source: N. Rose Mathematical Maxims and Minims, Raleigh NC: Rome Press Inc., 1988.

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on certainty, company, life, and uncertainty

Human life is proverbially uncertain; few things are more certain than the solvency of a life-insurance company.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Source: J. R. Newman (ed.) The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956.

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on cats, concern, physics, and purity

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.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Source: The Expanding Universe

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on control, laws, mind, nature, and success

It is one thing for the human mind to extract from the phenomena of nature the laws which it has itself put into them; it may be a far harder thing to extract laws over which it has no control. It is even possible that laws which have not their origin in the mind may be irrational, and we can never succeed in formulating them.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Source: Space, Time and Gravitation. 1920.

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on theory

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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.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Source: Space, Time and Gravitation. 1920.

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on mind, nature, and science

We have found that where science has progressed the farthest, the mind has but regained from nature that which the mind put into nature.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Source: Space, Time and Gravitation. 1920.

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on acceptance, confidence, decisions, knowledge, observation, science, and truth

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.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Source: The Philosophy of Physical Science, The University of Michigan Press, 1958

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A Quote by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington on assumptions, body, discovery, exploring, knowledge, life, observation, science, scientists, universe, and water

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 systematize what it reveals. He arrives at two generalizations: (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 generalization 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 Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Source: The Philosophy of Physical Science, The University of Michigan Press, 1958

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