Holton, Gerald Roller, Duane H.D.

If we liken the facts to be explained to fish in a pond, then the law or set of laws is the net with which we make the catch. It may turn out that our particular net is not fine enough to haul in all fish, large and small, but it may still be quite satisfactory for supplying our ordinary needs. We may go even further and maintain that to be useful at all, our conceptual schemes, like our nets, must contain holes; if it were otherwise (if, so to speak, we were to go fishing with large buckets instead of nets), we should not be able to distinguish between the significant and the trivial, the fish and the water.

Foundations of Modern Physical Science Chapter 15 (p. 260)

Hoyle, Fred

It is not only the smallest features of the Universe that are controlled by the laws of physics. The behavior of matter on the very large scale that concerns us in astronomy is also determined by physics. The heavenly bodies dance like puppets on strings. If we are to understand why they dance as they do, it is necessary to find out how the strings are manipulated.

Frontiers of Astronomy Chapter 3 (p. 40)

LaPlace, Pierre Simon

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. In ignorance of the ties which unite such events to the entire system of the universe, they have been made to depend upon final causes or upon hazard, according as they occur and are repeated with regularity, or appear without regard to order; but these imaginary causes have gradually receded with the widening bounds of knowledge and disappear entirely before sound philosophy, which sees in them only the expression of our ignorance of the true causes.

A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities Chapter II (p. 3)

Mitchell, Maria

The laws of nature. ..are not discovered by accident; theories do not come by chance even to the greatest minds; they are not born of the hurry and worry of daily toil; they are diligently sought; they are patiently waited for, they are received with cautious reserve, they are accepted with reverence and awe. And until able women have given their lives to investigation, it is idle to discuss their capacity for original work.

In Helen Wright Sweeper in the Sky Chapter 10 (pp. 203-4)

The laws which regulate the influence of sun and planets are complex; the nature of the influence is not yet understood. The telescope, the spectroscope, and the camera are all at work, and although the unknown must always be infinite, Nature yields one truth after another to the earnest seeker.

In Helen Wright Sweeper in the Sky Chapter 11 (p. 219)

The immense spaces of creation cannot be spanned by our finite powers; these great cycles of time cannot be lived even by the life of a race. And yet, small as is our whole system compared with the infinitude of creation, brief as is our life compared with cycles of time, we are tethered to all by the beautiful dependencies of law, that not only the sparrow's fall is felt to the outermost bound, but the vibrations set in motion by the words that we utter reach through all space and the tremor is felt through all time.

In Helen Wright Sweeper in the Sky Chapter 11 (p. 227)

Pagels, Heinz

The fact that the universe is governed by simple natural laws is remarkable, profound and on the face of it absurd. How can the vast variety in nature, the multitude of things and processes all be subject to a few simple, universal laws.

Perfect Symmetry Part 2

Rowland, Henry

He who makes two blades of grass grow where one grew before is the benefactor of mankind; but he who obscurely worked to find the laws of such growth is the intellectual superior as well as the greater benefactor of the two.

The Physical Papers of Henry Augustus Rowland The Highest Aim of the Physicist (p. 669)

Russell, Bertrand

The discovery that all mathematics follows inevitably from a small collection of fundamental laws is one which immeasurably enhances the intellectual beauty of the whole; to those who have been oppressed by the fragmentary and incomplete nature of most existing chains of deduction this discovery comes with all the overwhelming force of a revelation; like a palace emerging from the autumn mist as the traveler ascends an Italian hill-side, the stately storeys of the mathematical edifice appear in their due order and proportion, with a new perfection in every part.

Mysticism and Logic Chapter IV (pp. 67-8)

Schwarzschild, Martin

If simple perfect laws uniquely rule the universe, should not pure thought be capable of uncovering this perfect set of laws without having to lean on the crutches of tenuously assembled observations? True, the laws to be discovered may be perfect, but the human brain is not. Left on its own, it is prone to stray, as many past examples sadly prove. In fact, we have missed few chances to err until new data freshly gleaned from nature set us right again for the next steps. Thus pillars rather than crutches are the observations on which we base our theories; and for the theory of stellar evolution these pillars must be there before we can get far on the right track.

Structure and Evolution of the Stars Chapter 1 (p. 1)


The universe does not have laws, it has habits, and habits can be broken.

Source unknown

Weyl, Hermann

To gaze up from the ruins of the oppressive present toward the stars is to recognise the indestructible world of laws, to strengthen faith in reason, to realise the "harmonia mundi" that transfuses all phenomena, and never has been, nor will be, disturbed.

Space, Time, Matter Preface to the Third Edition (p. vi)

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