Clerke, Agnes M.
Progress is the result, not so much of sudden flights of genius, as of sustained patient, often commonplace endeavor; and the true lesson of scientific history lies in the close connection which it discloses between the most brilliant developments of knowledge and the faithful accomplishment of his daily task by each individual thinker and worker.
A Popular History of Astronomy during the Nineteenth Century
Scientific progress has often been compared to a mounting tide; applied to the evolution of physical theories, this comparison seems to us very appropriate, and it may be pursued in further detail.
Whoever casts a brief glance at the waves striking a beach does not see the tide mount; he sees a wave rise, run, uncurl itself, and cover a narrow strip of sand, then withdraw by leaving dry the terrain which it had seemed to conquer; a new wave follows, sometimes going a little farther than the preceding one, but also sometimes not even reaching the sea shell made wet by the former wave. But under this superficial to-and-fro motion, another movement is produced, deeper, slower, imperceptible to the casual observer; it is a progressive movement continuing steadily in the same direction and by virtue of it the sea continually rises. The going and coming of the waves is the faithful image of those attempts at explanation which arise only to be crumbled, which advance only to retreat; underneath there continues the slow and constant progress whose flow steadily conquers new lands, and guarantees to physical doctrines the continuity of a tradition.
The Aim and Structure ofPhysical Theory
The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: Anything goes.
Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge
Lee, Tsung Dao
The progress of science has always been the result of a close interplay between our concepts of the universe and our observations on nature. The former can only evolve out of the latter and yet the latter is also conditioned greatly by the former. Thus, in our exploration of nature, the interplay between our concepts and our observations may sometimes lead to totally unexpected aspects among already familiar phenomena.
In Nobel Foundation Nobel Lecture Physics 1942-62 Nobel Lecture of Tsung Dao Lee December 11, 1957 (p. 417)
There are no limits to progress, and the field of our investigations has no boundaries. Evolution will continue with invincible force. What we today call the unknowable, will retreat further and further before science, which will never stay her onward march. Thus physics will give greater and increasing satisfaction to the mind by furnishing new interpretations of phenomena; but it will accomplish, for the whole of society, more valuable work still, by rendering, by the improvements it suggests, life every day more easy and more agreeable, and by providing mankind with weapons against the hostile forces of Nature.
The New Physics and Its Evolution Chapter XI (p. 328)
Whitehead, Alfred North
The progress of Science consists in observing interconnections and in showing with a patient ingenuity that the events of this ever-shifting world are but examples of a few general relations, called laws. To see what is general in what is particular, and what is permanent in what is transitory, is the aim of scientific thought.
An Introduction to Mathematics Introduction (p. 4)
Was this article helpful?