I have looked into most philosophical systems and I have seen that none will work without God.

— James Clerk Maxwell

The most lavish James Clerk Maxwell quotes that will transform you to a better person

The true Logic for this world is the Calculus of Probabilities, which takes account of the magnitude of the probability.

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Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science.

76

The only laws of matter are those that our minds must fabricate and the only laws of mind are fabricated for it by matter.

66

At quite uncertain times and places, The atoms left their heavenly path, And by fortuitous embraces, Engendered all that being hath. And though they seem to cling together, And form 'associations' here, Yet, soon or late, they burst their tether, And through the depths of space career.

50

All the mathematical sciences are founded on relations between physical laws and laws of numbers.

43

Mathematicians may flatter themselves that they possess new ideas which mere human language is as yet unable to express.

43

Gin a body meet a body Flyin' through the air, Gin a body hit a body, Will it fly? and where?

31

In your letter you apply the word imponderable to a molecule.

Don't do that again. It may also be worth knowing that the aether cannot be molecular. If it were, it would be a gas, and a pint of it would have the same properties as regards heat, etc., as a pint of air, except that it would not be so heavy.

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Heat may be generated and destroyed by certain processes, and this shows that heat is not a substance.

21

In speaking of the Energy of the field, however, I wish to be understood literally. All energy is the same as mechanical energy, whether it exists in the form of motion or in that of elasticity, or in any other form. The energy in electromagnetic phenomena is mechanical energy.

21

What, then, is light according to the electromagnetic theory? It consists of alternate and opposite rapidly recurring transverse magnetic disturbances, accompanied with electric displacements, the direction of the electric displacement being at the right angles to the magnetic disturbance, and both at right angles to the direction of the ray.

13

We can scarcely avoid the inference that light consists in the transverse undulations of the same medium which is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena.

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About James Clerk Maxwell

Quotes 53 sayings
Profession Physicist
Birthday October 16

The vast interplanetary and vast interstellar regions will no longer be regarded as waste places in the universe. We shall find them to be already full of this wonderful medium; so full that no human power can remove it from the smallest portion of space or produce the slightest flaw in its infinite continuity.

10

The mind of man has perplexed itself with many hard questions.

Is space infinite, and in what sense? Is the material world infinite in extent, and are all places within that extent equally full of matter? Do atoms exist or is matter infinitely divisible?

8

An Experiment, like every other event which takes place, is a natural phenomenon; but in a Scientific Experiment the circumstances are so arranged that the relations between a particular set of phenomena may be studied to the best advantage.

8

The 2nd law of thermodynamics has the same degree of truth as the statement that if you throw a tumblerful of water into the sea, you cannot get the same tumblerful of water out again.

7

The theory I propose may therefore be called a theory of the Electromagnetic Field because it has to do with the space in the neighbourhood of the electric or magnetic bodies, and it may be called a Dynamical Theory, because it assumes that in the space there is matter in motion, by which the observed electromagnetic phenomena are produced.

5

All the mathematical sciences are founded on relations between physical laws and laws of numbers, so that the aim of exact science is to reduce the problems of nature to the determination of quantities by operations with numbers.

4

I have also a paper afloat, with an electromagnetic theory of light, which, till I am convinced to the contrary, I hold to be great guns.

4

... that, in a few years, all great physical constants will have been approximately estimated, and that the only occupation which will be left to men of science will be to carry these measurements to another place of decimals.

4

It is a universal condition of the enjoyable that the mind must believe in the existence of a law, and yet have a mystery to move about in.

3

The University of Cambridge, in accordance with that law of its evolution, by which, while maintaining the strictest continuity between the successive phases of its history, it adapts itself with more or less promptness to the requirements of the times, has lately instituted a course of Experimental Physics.

3

The dimmed outlines of phenomenal things all merge into one another unless we put on the focusing-glass of theory, and screw it up sometimes to one pitch of definition and sometimes to another, so as to see down into different depths through the great millstone of the world.

3

Thus number may be said to rule the whole world of quantity, and the four rules of arithmetic may be regarded as the complete equipment of the mathematician.

3

The mathematical difficulties of the theory of rotation arise chiefly from the want of geometrical illustrations and sensible images, by which we might fix the results of analysis in our minds.

3

But when we face the great questions about gravitation Does it require time? Is it polar to the 'outside of the universe' or to anything? Has it any reference to electricity? or does it stand on the very foundation of matter-mass or inertia? then we feel the need of tests, whether they be comets or nebulae or laboratory experiments or bold questions as to the truth of received opinions.

1

Thus science strips off, one after the other, the more or less gross materialisations by which we endeavour to form an objective image of the soul, till men of science, speculating, in their non-scientific intervals, like other men on what science may possibly lead to, have prophesied that we shall soon have to confess that the soul is nothing else than a function of certain complex material systems.

0

The chief philosophical value of physics is that it gives the mind something distinct to lay hold of, which, if you don't, Nature at once tells you you are wrong.

0

The student who uses home made apparatus, which is always going wrong, often learns more than one who has the use of carefully adjusted instruments, to which he is apt to trust and which he dares not take to pieces.

0

Very few of us can now place ourselves in the mental condition in which even such philosophers as the great Descartes were involved in the days before Newton had announced the true laws of the motion of bodies.

0

Science appears to us with a very different aspect after we have found out that it is not in lecture rooms only, and by means of the electric light projected on a screen, that we may witness physical phenomena, but that we may find illustrations of the highest doctrines of science in games and gymnastics, in travelling by land and by water, in storms of the air and of the sea, and wherever there is matter in motion.

0

I have the capacity of being more wicked than any example that man could set me.

0

Faraday is, and must always remain, the father of that enlarged science of electromagnetism.

0

The equations at which we arrive must be such that a person of any nation, by substituting the numerical values of the quantities as measured by his own national units, would obtain a true result.

0

What's the go of that? What's the particular go of that?

0

One of the chief peculiarities of this treatise is the doctrine that the true electric current, on which the electromagnetic phenomena depend, is not the same thing as the current of conduction, but that the time-variation of the electric displacement must [also] be taken into account.

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In Science, it is when we take some interest in the great discoverers and their lives that it becomes endurable, and only when we begin to trace the development of ideas that it becomes fascinating.

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Colour as perceived by us is a function of three independent variables at least three are I think sufficient, but time will show if I thrive.

0

If we betake ourselves to the statistical method, we do so confessing that we are unable to follow the details of each individual case, and expecting that the effects of widespread causes, though very different in each individual, will produce an average result on the whole nation, from a study of which we may estimate the character and propensities of an imaginary being called the Mean Man.

0

Ampere was the Newton of Electricity.

0

Francis Galton, whose mission it seems to be to ride other men's hobbies to death, has invented the felicitous expression 'structureless germs'.

0

But I should be very sorry if an interpretation founded on a most conjectural scientific hypothesis were to get fastened to the text in Genesis... The rate of change of scientific hypothesis is naturally much more rapid than that of Biblical interpretations, so that if an interpretation is founded on such an hypothesis, it may help to keep the hypothesis above ground long after it ought to be buried and forgotten.

0

The popularisation of scientific doctrines is producing as great an alteration in the mental state of society as the material applications of science are effecting in its outward life. Such indeed is the respect paid to science, that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recals [sic] some well-known scientific phrase.

0

It is of great advantage to the student of any subject to read the original memoirs on that subject, for science is always most completely assimilated when it is in the nascent state.

0

We define thermodynamics ... as the investigation of the dynamical and thermal properties of bodies, deduced entirely from the first and second law of thermodynamics, without speculation as to the molecular constitution.

0

Gases are distinguished from other forms of matter, not only by their power of indefinite expansion so as to fill any vessel, however large, and by the great effect heat has in dilating them, but by the uniformity and simplicity of the laws which regulate these changes.

0

But though the professed aim of all scientific work is to unravel the secrets of nature, it has another effect, not less valuable, on the mind of the worker. It leaves him in possession of methods which nothing but scientific work could have led him to invent.

0

Every existence above a certain rank has its singular points;

the higher the rank the more of them. At these points, influences whose physical magnitude is too small to be taken account of by a finite being may produce results of the greatest importance.

0

Whether this vast homogeneous expanse of isotropic matter is fitted not only to be a medium of physical interaction between distant bodies, and to fulfil other physical functions of which perhaps we have as yet no conception, but also to constitute the material organism of beings exercising functions of life and mind as high or higher than ours are at present is a question far transcending the limits of physical speculation.

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