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It is remarkable that a science which began with the consideration of games of chance, should have become the most important object of human knowledge.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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The word 'chance' then expresses only our ignorance of the causes of the phenomena that we observe to occur and to succeed one another in no apparent order. Probability is relative in part to this ignorance, and in part to our knowledge.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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A luminous star, of the same density as the Earth, and whose diameter should be two hundred and fifty times larger than that of the Sun, would not, in consequence of its attraction, allow any of its rays to arrive at us; it is therefore possible that the largest luminous bodies in the universe, may, through this cause, be invisible.
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Our passions, our prejudices, and dominating opinions, by exaggerating the probabilities which are favorable to them and by attenuating the contrary probabilities, are the abundant sources of dangerous illusions.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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The phenomena of nature are most often enveloped by so many strange circumstances, and so great a number of disturbing causes mix their influence, that it is very difficult to recognize them. We may arrive at them only by multiplying the observations or the experiences, so that the strange effects finally destroy reciprocally each other.
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All events, even those which on account of their insignificance do not seem to follow the great laws of nature, are a result of it just as necessarily as the revolutions of the sun.
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One sees, from this Essay, that the theory of probabilities is basically just common sense reduced to calculus; it makes one appreciate with exactness that which accurate minds feel with a sort of instinct, often without being able to account for it.
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The simplicity of nature is not to be measured by that of our conceptions. Infinitely varied in its effects, nature is simple only in its causes, and its economy consists in producing a great number of phenomena, often very complicated, by means of a small number of general laws.
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Such is the advantage of a well constructed language that its simplified notation often becomes the source of profound theories.
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Even in the mathematical sciences, our principal instruments to discover the truth are induction and analogy.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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Had man restricted himself to a mere compilation of facts, the sciences would present nothing but a barren nomenclature, and a knowledge of the great laws of nature would never have been attained.
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The progress of astronomy depends on these three things: the measure of time, that of angles, and the perfection of optical instruments. The two first are nearly as perfect as we could wish; it is therefore to the improvement of the latter that our attention should be directed.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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The theory of probabilities is basically only common sense reduced to a calculus. It makes one estimate accurately what right-minded people feel by a sort of instinct, often without being able to give a reason for it.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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The mind has its illusions as the sense of sight; and in the same manner that the sense of feeling corrects the latter, reflection and calculation correct the former.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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Contemplated as one grand whole, astronomy is the most beautiful monument of the human mind; the noblest record of its intelligence.
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Analysis and natural philosophy owe their most important discoveries to this fruitful means, which is called induction. Newton was indebted to it for his theorem of the binomial and the principle of universal gravity.
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There is no question here of vague causes, which cannot be submitted to analysis, and which the imagination modifies at pleasure to accommodate them to the phenomena.
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Nature laughs at the difficulties of integration.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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Of all the natural sciences, astronomy is that which presents the longest series of discoveries. The first appearance of the heavens is indeed far removed from that enlarged view, by which we comprehend at the present day, the past and future states of the system of the world. Translated Henry H. Harte
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Astronomy, considered in the most general way, is a great problem of mechanics, the arbitrary data of which are the elements of the celestial movements; its solution depends both on the accuracy of observations and on the perfection of analysis.
Pierre-Simon Laplace
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of computers: But they are useless. They can only give you answers.
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Pierre-Simon Laplace
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Born:
March 23, 1749
Died:
March 5, 1827
(aged 77)
Bio:
Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace was an influential French scholar whose work was important to the development of mathematics, statistics, physics, and astronomy.
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