In 1860 a total eclipse of the sun was visible in British America.— Simon Newcomb
The most genuine Simon Newcomb quotes that are little-known but priceless
Whenever a total eclipse of the sun was visible in an accessible region parties were sent out to observe it.
My father was the most rational and the most dispassionate of men.
The beginning of 1856 found me teaching in the family of a planter named Bryan, residing in Prince George County, Md., some fifteen or twenty miles from Washington.
As the existence of a corps of professors of mathematics is peculiar to our navy, as well as an apparent, perhaps a real, anomaly, some account of it may be of interest.
As years passed away I have formed the habit of looking back upon that former self as upon another person, the remembrance of whose emotions has been a solace in adversity and added zest to the enjoyment of prosperity.
The reports of the eclipse parties not only described the scientific observations in great detail, but also the travels and experiences, and were sometimes marked by a piquancy not common in official documents.
Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.
Quite likely the twentieth century is destined to see the natural forces which will enable us to fly from continent to continent with a speed far exceeding that of a bird.
We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy.
One hardly knows where, in the history of science, to look for an important movement that had its effective start in so pure and simple an accident as that which led to the building of the great Washington telescope, and went on to the discovery of the satellites of Mars.
So far as the economic condition of society and the general mode of living and thinking were concerned, I might claim to have lived in the time of the American Revolution.
When about fifteen I once made a great scandal by taking out my knife in prayer meeting and assaulting a young man who, while I was kneeling down during the prayer, stood above me and squeezed my neck.
Though born in Nova Scotia, I am of almost pure New England descent.
In 1858 I received the degree of D. S. from the Lawrence Scientific School, and thereafter remained on the rolls of the university as a resident graduate.
Until I was four years old I lived in the house of my paternal grandfather, about two miles from the pretty little village of Wallace, at the mouth of the river of that name.
Construction of an aerial vehicle which can carry even a single man .
. . requires the discovery of some new metal or force. Even with such a discovery, we could not expect one to do more than carry its owner.
I finally reached the conclusion that mathematics was the study I was best fitted to follow, though I did not clearly see in what way I should turn the subject to account.
My father followed, during most of his life, the precarious occupation of a country school teacher.
The result was that, if it happened to clear off after a cloudy evening, I frequently arose from my bed at any hour of the night or morning and walked two miles to the observatory to make some observation included in the programme.
I had not yet gotten into the world of light.
But I felt as one who, standing outside, could knock against the wall and hear an answering knock from within.
The demonstration that no possible combination of known substances, known forms of machinery and known forms of force, can be united in a practical machine by which men shall fly along distances through the air, seems to the writer as complete as it is possible for the demonstration to be.
If my impressions are correct, our educational planing mill cuts down all the knots of genius, and reduces the best of the men who go through it to much the same standard.
My first undertaking in the way of scientific experiment was in the field of economics and psychology.
What we now call school training, the pursuit of fixed studies at stated hours under the constant guidance of a teacher, I could scarcely be said to have enjoyed.
Ten decimal places of π are sufficient to give the circumference of the earth to a fraction of an inch, and thirty decimal places would give the circumference of the visible universe to a quantity imperceptible to the most powerful microscope.
The mathematician of to-day admits that he can neither square the circle, duplicate the cube or trisect the angle. May not our mechanicians, in like manner, be ultimately forced to admit that aerial flight is one of that great class of problems with which men can never cope... I do not claim that this is a necessary conclusion from any past experience. But I do think that success must await progress of a different kind from that of invention.
Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which men will never have to cope.
Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which man will never be able to cope. . . . The example of the bird does not prove that man can fly. Imagine the proud possessor of the aeroplane darting through the air at a speed of several hundred feet per second. It is the speed alone that sustains him. How is he ever going to stop?
One of the most beautiful hypotheses ever propounded in physics is ... the Dynamical Theory of Gases
The time was not yet ripe for the growth of mathematical science among us, and any development that might have taken place in that direction was rudely stopped by the civil war.
I was taught the alphabet by my aunts before I was four years old, and I was reading the Bible in class and beginning geography when I was six.
A few years later the Naval Academy was founded at Annapolis, and a similar course was pursued to provide it with a corps of instructors.
All attempts at artificial aviation are not only dangerous to human life, but foredoomed to failure from the engineering standpoint.
James Edward Oliver might have been one of the great mathematicians of his time had he not been absolutely wanting in the power of continuous work.