Mathematical discoveries, like springtime violets in the woods, have their season which no human can hasten or retard.
Mathematics Teacher In Israel Kleiner
Thinking the Unthinkable: The Story of Complex Numbers
(with a Moral) (p. 590) Volume 81, Number 7, October 1988
First, I should be clear about what the act of discovery entails. It is rarely on the frontier of knowledge or elsewhere, that new facts are "discovered" in the sense of being encountered, as Newton suggests, in the form of islands of truth in an uncharted sea of ignorance. Or if they appear to be discovered in this way, it is almost always thanks to some happy hypothesis about where to navigate. Discovery, just like surprise favors the well-prepared mind.
On Knowing—Essays for the Left Hand The Act Of Discovery (p. 82)
Clerke, Agnes M.
It is impossible to follow with intelligent interest the course of astronomical discovery without feeling some curiosity as to the means by which such surpassing results have been secured. Indeed, the bare acquaintance with what has been achieved, without any corresponding knowledge of how it has been achieved, supplies food for barren wonder rather than for fruitful and profitable thought.
A Popular History of Astronomy during the Nineteenth Century
A great discovery does not leap completely achieved from the brain of the scientist, as Minerva sprang, all panoplied, from the head of Jupiter; it is the fruit of accumulated preliminary work.
Pierre Curie Chapter VII (p. 144)
Eddington, Sir Arthur Stanley
...we have not to discover the properties of a thing which we have recognized in nature, but to discover how to recognize in nature a thing whose properties we have assigned.
The Mathematical Theory of Relativity Introduction (p. 6)
We are like the explorers of a great continent who have penetrated to its margins in most points of the compass and have mapped the major mountain chains and rivers. There are still innumerable details to fill in, but the endless horizons no longer exist.
Science: Endless Horizons or Golden Age? (p. 24) Volume 171, Number 3966, January 8,1971
...it is precisely because the drive toward discovery is in a sense irrational that it is so powerful.
Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought: Kepler to Einstein
Here it is a question not only of leading the reader to an understanding of the subject matter in the easiest way, but also, chiefly, of the arguments, meanderings, or even chance occurrences by which I the author first came upon that understanding. Thus, in telling of Christopher Columbus, Magellan, and of the Portuguese, we do not simply ignore the errors by which the first opened up America, the second, the China Sea, and the last, the coast of Africa; rather, we would not wish them omitted, which would indeed be to deprive ourselves of an enormous pleasure in reading.
New Astronomy Summaries of the individual chapters (p. 78)
It is sometimes said that the great discovery of the nineteenth century was that the equations of nature were linear, and the great discovery of the twentieth century is that they are not.
Fourier Analysis Chapter 24 (p. 99)
The road to discovery is not an easy one to travel...There is to add to its forbiddingness no warm compensating reception at its end, except in one's own glow of attainment. For progress is first obstructed by the reticence of nature and then opposed by the denunciation of man. Nature does not help and humanity hinders. If nature abhors a vacuum, mankind abhors filling it. A really new idea is a foundling without friends. Indeed a doorstep acquisition is welcome compared with the gift of a brand new upsetting thought. The undesired outsider is ignored, pooh-poohed, denounced, or all three according to circumstances. A generation or more is needed to secure it a hearing and more time still before its worth is recognized.
In William Graves Hoyt Lowell and Mars Chapter 15 (p. 299)
"Oh!" said Pooh again. "What is the North Pole?" he asked.
"It's just a thing you discover," said Christopher Robin carelessly, not being quite sure himself.
Winnie the Pooh
Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole
...in the distance tower still higher peaks, which will yield to those who ascend them, still wider prospects.
Inaugural Address (p. 257) Volume 81, Number 2078, 26 August, 1909
Do not engage to find things as you think they are.
The Writings of Henry David Thoreau Volume 6
Letter, August 9, 1850 to Harrison Blake (p. 186)
Pioneers occupy new land. Only later, one comes to understand that the cabins they built were really cathedrals.
In Jeremy Bernstein Experiencing Science Chapter 1(p. 3)
von Lenard, Philipp E.A.
...I have by no means always been numbered among those who pluck the fruit; I have been repeatedly only one of those who planted or cared for the trees. . .
In Nobel Foundation Nobel Lecture Physics 1901-1921 Nobel Lecture of Philipp E.A. von Lenard May 28, 1906 (p. 105)
Was this article helpful?