Puzzles Of Science


Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. ~Edwin Powell Hubble, The Nature of Science, 1954



Science has wonders far transcending those of superstition, and they are poor philosophers who try to bring Nature down to the level of their small capacities instead of striving to exalt those capacities to the height of creation's truth. No savage, worshipping the most preposterous idol, ever believed greater absurdities than a modern sceptic, who makes his small modicum of reason the standard by which to measure the boundless universe. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful



The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart. ~Walter Lippmann



Let us begin by defining science, at least in terms of general understanding. It is, presumably, the total knowledge of any aspect of physical reality, whether it be of living organisms or of Nature. But how difficult it is for the soul of man, locked as it is within a physical box of limited perceptions, and unaware even of its limitations, to arrive at such knowledge! ~Morris Hyman, M.D. (b.1908),



Until about a hundred years ago rational men lived like spies in an enemy country. They never walked abroad unless disguised in irony or allegory. To have revealed their true selves would have been fatal. Today their status is more that of guerrillas. They snipe from cover, ambush stragglers, harass retreating rear guards, cut communications, and now and then execute swift forays against detached units of the enemy. But they dare not yet risk an open engagement with the main force; they would be massacred.... This book is intended as a sort of handbook for young recruits in the gay cause of common sense. ~Bergen Evans, "Here's Looking at You," The Natural History of Nonsense, 1946



It is not the observation of rare and hidden phenomena that can be produced only by experiments, but the study of those that are obvious and accessible to everyone, which will lead to the discovery of the most important truths. Therefore the problem is not so much that of seeing what no one has yet seen, but rather of thinking in the case of something seen by everyone that which no one has yet thought. For this reason, it also takes very much more to be a philosopher than a physicist. ~Arthur Schopenhauer



Science is the free activity of man's divine faculties of reason and imagination. It is the answer of the few to the demands of the many for wealth, comfort, and victory, which it will grant only in exchange for peace and security. It is man's gradual conquest, first of space and time, then of matter as such, then of his own body and those of other living beings, and finally the subjugation of the dark and evil elements in his own soul. None of these conquests will ever be complete but all, I believe will be progressive. It may be urged that these powers are only fit to be placed in the hands of a being who has learned to control himself, and that man armed with science is like a baby armed with a box of matches.... I think then that the tendency of applied science is to magnify injustices until they become too intolerable to be borne, and the average man whom all the prophets and poets could not move, turns at last and extinguishes the evil at its source. ~J.B.S. Haldane, "Daedalus: or, Science and the Future," 1923

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