20th-century Astronomer Quotes
It is no secret that our lives are patterned by personal experience, and by our observations of the experience of others. So it is with the entire human family, staring outward from a place that we know to others that we do not. Our knowledge of home helps us to understand the ways of planets beyond our ken.
An astronomical observatory of today looks more like a factory plant than an abode for philosophers. The poetry of constellations has given way to the lure of plate libraries, and the angel of cosmogenic speculation has been caught in a cobweb of facts insistently clamoring for explanations.
The old dream of wireless communication through space has now been realized in an entirely different manner than many had expected. The cosmos' short waves bring us neither the stock market nor jazz from distant worlds. With soft noises they rather tell the physicist of the endless love play between electrons and protons.
The whole procedure [of shooting rockets into space]. presents difficulties of so fundamental a nature, that we are forced to dismiss the notion as essentially impracticable, in spite of the author's insistent appeal to put aside prejudice and to recollect the supposed impossibility of heavier-than-air flight before it was actually accomplished.
Science has a beauty and uplifting spirit which rivals any of the other cultural attainments of humanity. This aesthetic response arose in a recent congressional hearing. When asked how particle physics contributes to the defense of our country, Robert Wilson replied that it makes the country worth defending.
The discovery of spiral arms and — later — of molecular clouds in our Galaxy, combined with a rapidly growing understanding of the birth and decay process of stars, changed interstellar space from a stationary "medium" into an "environment" with great variations in space and time.
Among the innumerable celestial objects that may be seen through a telescope, the most beautiful of all is perhaps the planet Saturn. When viewed in the evening twilight while the sky is still bright, the yellow gold ball and its unbelievable rings shimmer in a brilliant blue medium, more like a rare work of art than a natural phenomenon.