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.

— Arthur Eddington

The most genuine Arthur Eddington quotes that are new and everybody is talking about

If an army of monkeys were strumming on typewriters, they might write all the books in the British Museum.

78

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

53

The pursuit of truth in science transcends national boundaries.

It takes us beyond hatred and anger and fear. It is the best of us.

25

Whether in the intellectual pursuits of science or in the mystical pursuits of the spirit, the light beckons ahead, and the purpose surging in our nature responds.

23

It is impossible to trap modern physics into predicting anything with perfect determinism because it deals with probabilities from the outset.

21

The physical world is entirely abstract and without actuality apart from its linkage to consciousness.

20

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'.

19

Do not put too much confidence in experimental results until they have been confirmed by theory.

18

Unless the structure of the nucleus has a surprise in store for us, the conclusion seems plain — there is nothing in the whole system of laws of physics that cannot be deduced unambiguously from epistemological considerations.

13

The understanding between a non-technical writer and his reader is that he shall talk more or less like a human being and not like an Act of Parliament. I take it that the aim of such books must be to convey exact thought in inexact language... he can never succeed without the co-operation of the reader.

12

The helium which we handle must have been put together at some time and some place. We do not argue with the critic who urges that the stars are not hot enough for this process; we tell him to go and find a hotter place.

12

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

10

About Arthur Eddington

Quotes 80 sayings
Nationality British
Profession Scientist
Birthday October 16

In Einstein's theory of relativity the observer is a man who sets out in quest of truth armed with a measuring-rod. In quantum theory he sets out with a sieve.

10

Oh leave the Wise our measures to collate.

One thing at least is certain, light has weight. One thing is certain and the rest debate. Light rays, when near the Sun, do not go straight.

7

The electron, as it leaves the atom, crystallises out of Schrodinger's mist like a genie emerging from his bottle.

7

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.

5

So far as physics is concerned, time's arrow is a property of entropy alone.

5

The mathematics is not there till we put it there.

5

Time is the supreme Law of nature.

5

But it is necessary to insist more strongly than usual that what I am putting before you is a model-the Bohr model atom-because later I shall take you to a profounder level of representation in which the electron instead of being confined to a particular locality is distributed in a sort of probability haze all over the atom.

4

Man is slightly nearer to the atom than to the star.

... From his central position man can survey the grandest works of Nature with the astronomer, or the minutest works with the physicist. ... [K]nowledge of the stars leads through the atom; and important knowledge of the atom has been reached through the stars.

3

Shuffling is the only thing which Nature cannot undo.

3

Asked in 1919 whether it was true that only three people in the world understood the theory of general relativity, [Eddington] allegedly replied: "Who's the third?"

3

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.

3

Probably the simplest hypothesis... is that there may be a slow process of annihilation of matter.

3

Falling in love is one of the activities forbidden that tiresome person, the consistently reasonable man.

3

[When thinking about the new relativity and quantum theories] I have felt a homesickness for the paths of physical science where there are ore or less discernible handrails to keep us from the worst morasses of foolishness.

1

Electrical force is defined as something which causes motion of electrical charge; an electrical charge is something which exerts electric force.

0

A star is drawing on some vast reservoir of energy by means unknown to us.

This reservoir can scarcely be other than the subatomic energy which, it is known exists abundantly in all matter; we sometimes dream that man will one day learn how to release it and use it for his service. The store is well nigh inexhaustible, if only it could be tapped. There is sufficient in the Sun to maintain its output of heat for 15 billion years.

0

Science is one thing, wisdom is another.

Science is an edged tool, with which men play like children, and cut their own fingers. If you look at the results which science has brought in its train, you will find them to consist almost wholly in elements of mischief. See how much belongs to the word "Explosion" alone, of which the ancients knew nothing.

0

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.

0

On one occasion when [William] Smart found him engrossed with his fundamental theory, he asked Eddington how many people he thought would understand what he was writing-after a pause came the reply, 'Perhaps seven.'

0

For the truth of the conclusions of physical science, observation is the supreme Court of Appeal.

0

The word reality frightens me.

0

In any attempt to bridge the domains of experience belonging to the spiritual and physical sides of nature, time occupies the key position.

0

I don't believe any experiment until it is confirmed by theory.

I find this is a witty inversion of "conventional" wisdom.

0

Schrödinger's wave-mechanics is not a physical theory, but a dodge - and a very good dodge too.

0

The quest of the absolute leads into the four-dimensional world.

0

Life would be stunted and narrow if we could feel no significance in the world around us beyond that which can be weighed and measured with the tools of the physicist or described by the metrical symbols of the mathematician.

0

A hundred thousand million Stars make one Galaxy;

A hundred thousand million Galaxies make one Universe. The figures may not be very trustworthy, but I think they give a correct impression.

0

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

0

Whatever else there may be in our nature, responsibility toward truth is one of its attributes.

0

An electron is no more (and no less) hypothetical than a star.

Nowadays we count electrons one by one in a Geiger counter, as we count the stars one by one on a photographic plate.

0

What we makes of the world must be largely dependent on the sense-organs that we happen to possess. How the world must have changed since the man came to rely on his eyes rather than his nose.

0

It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory.

0

What is possible in the Cavendish Laboratory may not be too difficult in the sun.

0

Never accept a fact until it has been verified by theory.

0

Something unknown is doing we don't know what.

0

Something unknown is doing we don't know what-that is what our theory amounts to.

0
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