19th-century Physicist Quotes
According to my views, aiming at quantitative investigations, that is at establishing relations between measurements of phenomena, should take first place in the experimental practice of physics. By measurement to knowledge [door meten tot weten] I should like to write as a motto above the entrance to every physics laboratory.
It must be confessed that the new quantum mechanics is far from satisfying the requirements of the layman who seeks to clothe his conceptions in figurative language. Indeed, its originators probably hold that such symbolic representation is inherently impossible. It is earnestly to be hoped that this is not their last word on the subject, and that they may yet be successful in expressing the quantum postulate in picturesque form.
A scientific man, in so far as he influences the progress of science cannot be far ahead of his time, and though his writings may be read and admired centuries after his death, he will have written in vain if he has not been appreciated by his contemporaries or by those who immediately followed.
A simple calculation shows that from the classical theory follows that we should find a broadening of the beam with the maximum intensity on the place of the beam without field. However, from the quantum theory follows that we should find there no intensity at all, and deflected molecules on both sides. The beam should split up in two beams corresponding to the two orientations of the magnet. The experiment decided in favor of the quantum theory.
If a poet could at the same time be a physicist, he might convey to others the pleasure, the satisfaction, almost the reverence, which the subject inspires. The aesthetic side of the subject is, I confess, by no means the least attractive to me. Especially is its fascination felt in the branch which deals with light.
The highest object to which the natural sciences are constrained to aim, but which they will never reach, is the determination of the forces, which are present in nature, and of the state of matter at any given moment - that is, the reduction of all the phenomena of nature to mechanics.
I thank God humbly and sincerely. God, who has visited us with many trials, and led us like the Israelites of old from place to place without any certain abode, bless, we beseech Thee, our return home, and mercifully grant that the afflictions and anxieties of that long probation may bear fruit in a more self-denying and godly life ; and that we may have our hearts fixed on a yet more abiding resting-place, eternal in the heavens, for Jesus Christ's sake.'
Compare, for instance, the accuracy with which we can describe and foretell the path of a planet with our ignorance of the movements of the atmosphere as dependent on the heat of the sun. The planet keeps to the astronomer's timetable, but the wind still bloweth almost where it listeth.
I ndeed, one of the most important of our fundamental assumptions must be that the ether not only occupies all space between molecules, atoms, or electrons, but that it pervades all these particles. We shall add the hypothesis that, though the particles may move, the ether always remains at rest.