To every investigator there come moments when his thought is baffled, when the limits of experimental possibility seem to have been reached and he faces a barrier which defies his curiosity. Then it is that imagination, like a glorious greyhound, comes bounding along, leaps the barrier, and a vision is flashed before the mind—a vision no doubt that is partly false, but a vision that may be partly true.
Atlantic Monthly From Atoms to Stars (p. 158) Volume 144, Number 2, August 1929
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
The Saturday Evening Post What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck
October 26, 1929
If we indulge a fanciful imagination and build worlds of our own, we must not wonder at our going wide from the path of truth and nature; but these will vanish like the Cartesian vortices, that soon give way when better theories were offered.
Philosophical Transactions The Construction of the Heavens (p. 213) Volume LXXV, February 3,1785
Jeans, Sir James
...are there any limits at all to the extent of space?
Even a generation ago I think most scientists would have answered this question in the negative. They would have argued that space could be limited only by the presence of something which is not space. We, or rather our imaginations, could only be prevented from journeying for ever through space by running against a wall of something different from space. And, hard though it may be to imagine space extending for ever, it is far harder to imagine a barrier of something different from space which could prevent our imaginations from passing into a further space beyond.
The Universe Around Us Chapter I (p. 70)
Imagination is the single source of the new. ..reason, like a balance wheel, only keeping the action regular. For reason. ..compares what we imagine with what we know, and gives us the answer in terms of the here and now, which we call the actual. But the actual...does not mark the limit of the possible.
In William Graves Hoyt Lowell and Mars Chapter 2 (p. 20)
A good education is indispensable, one as broad as it is long; without it he runs the risk of becoming a crank. Then enters the important quality of imagination. This word to the routine rabble of science is a red rag to a bull; partly because it is beyond their conception, partly because they do not comprehend how it is used. To their thinking to call a man imaginative is to damn him; when, did they but know it, it is admitting the very genius they would fain deny. For all great work imagination is vital; just as necessary in science and business as it is in novels and art. ..The difference between the everyday and scientific use of it is in that in science every imagining must be tested to see whether it explains the facts. Imagination harnessed to reason is the force that pulls an idea through. Reason, too, of the most complete, uncompromising kind. Imagination supplies the motive power, reason the guiding rein.
In William Graves Hoyt Lowell and Mars Chapter 2 (p. 21)
We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.
In Phebe Mitchell Kendall Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters, and Journals Chapter IX (p. 187)
...the imagination, give it the least license, dives deeper and soars higher than Nature goes.
Chapter XVI (p. 286)
You have to have the imagination to recognize a discovery when you make one. When they examined Voyager images and saw for the first time the volcanic eruptions on Io, that called for some intuitive imagination. I would suggest that above everything else, in observing you have to be very alert to everything. You have to be able to recognize a discovery as such. There are so many people who don't seem to have that talent. A research astronomer cannot afford to be in such a rut. I might say that different types of personalities in astronomy make certain types of discoveries that are in line with their personalities.
In David H. Levy Clyde Tombaugh: Discoverer of Planet Pluto Chapter 5 (p. 61)
Imagination coupled with skepticism and an ability to wonder—if you possess these, bountiful nature will hand you some of the secrets out of her inexhaustible store. The pleasure you will experience in discovering truth will repay you for your work; don't expect other compensation, because it may not come. Yet dare.
Earth In Upheaval Supplement
Worlds in Collision in the Light of Recent Finds in Archaeology, Geology, and Astronomy
Address Princeton University October 14, 1953 (p. 279)
Wheeler, John Archibald
The vision of the Universe that is so vivid in our minds is framed by a few iron posts of true observation—themselves resting on theory for their meaning—but most of all the walls and towers in the vision are of paper-mache, plastered in between those posts by an immense labor of imagination and theory.
In John Archibald Wheeler and Wojciech Hubert Zurek (eds)
Quantum Theory and Measurement Law Without Law (p. 203)
Our idea of the universe as a whole remains a product of the imagination.
The Structure and Evolution of the Universe Chapter 8 (p. 197)
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