Recovered: EU-Relevant Quotes from Famous Scientists

Many Internet forums have carried discussion of the Electric Universe hypothesis. Much of that discussion has added more confusion than clarity, due to common misunderstandings of the electrical principles. Here we invite participants to discuss their experiences and to summarize questions that have yet to be answered.

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Recovered: EU-Relevant Quotes from Famous Scientists

Unread postby pln2bz » Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:07 pm

Part 1

I've been reading bio's for the big players lately, and I'm finding a wealth of quotes that relate to and support EU Theory. I'm going to create a new thread here for people to post such quotes, and I'll be adding to it regularly myself.

From The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 78, an excerpt from an 1819 lecture by Faraday (where "philosophical" refers to "natural philosophy", which we today call "science"):

Nothing is more difficult and requires more care than philosophical deduction, nor is there anything more adverse to its accuracy than fixidity of opinion. The man who is certain he is right is almost sure to be wrong; and he has the additional misfortune of inevitably remaining so. All our theories are fixed upon uncertain data, and all of them want alteration and support. Ever since the world began opinion has changed with the progress of things, and it is something more than absurd to suppose that we have a certain claim to perfection; or that we are in possession of the acme of intellectuality which has or can result from human thought. Why our successors should not displace us in our opinions, as well as in our persons, it is difficult to say; it ever has been so, and from an analogy would be supposed to continue so. And yet with all the practical evidence of the fallibility of our opinions, all -- and none more than philosophers -- are ready to assert the real truth of their opinions ... All I wish to point out is ... the necessity of cautious and slow decision on philosophical points, the care with which evidence ought to be admitted, and the continual guard against philosophical prejudices which should be preserved in the mind. The man who wishes to advance in knowledge should never of himself fix obstacles in the way.

This story is not just analogous to what's happening right now, but it is actually a perfect replica down to every single detail. Amazing! ...

From The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirshfeld, page 73:

On October 1, 1820, Humphrey Davy swept into the laboratory of the Roayl Institution with remarkable news for Michael Faraday. While performing a demonstration before a science class, Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted had noticed that an electrical current flowing in a wire moved a nearby magnetic compass needle. Whenever Oersted brought the compass toward the wire, something wrested the needle from its tenuous alignment with the earth's magnetic field and swung it in a different direction. Evidently, current in a wire creates its own halo of force -- later proved to be a magnetic field, not from an ordinary magnet, but from an electrical impostor. Oersted's observation confirmed what some scientists had suspected: Electricity and magnetism were fundamentally related. (This hunch was based on a philosophical stance that all forces are manifestations of a single fundamental force; scientists today are still trying to prove such a "grand uninified theory."

That no one before Oersted had observed the magnetic aspect of electricity may seem astonishing in retrospect, especially when battery-powered electric circuits were common in 1820s-era laboratories, and compasses had been around for centuries. True, the influence of a current-carrying wire on a compass needle can be subtle. (I've tried. It helps to wrap the wire several times around the compass to concentrate the magnetic effect.) But, more important, most scientists at the time had been educated (indoctrinated?) to believe that electricity and magnetism were distinct phenomena. In France, for example, where the ideas of the influential eighteenth-century physicist Charles Coulomb dominated the scientific community, electricity and magnetism were understood to be different fluids that do not interact with each other. After Oersted's announcement, physicist Andre-Marie Ampere lamented to a friend, "You are quite right to say that it is inconceivable that for twenty years no one tried the action of the voltaic pile on a magnet. I believe, however, that I can assign a cause for this; it lies in Coulomb's hypothesis on the nature of magnetic action; this hypothesis was believed as though it were a fact [and] it rejected any idea of action between electricity and the so-called magnetic wires. This prohibition was such that when [physicist] M Arago spoke of these new phenomena at the Institute, they were rejected ... Every one decided that they were impossible.

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 71-72:

In particular, the Dandemanian belief in human fallibility permitted him to fearlessly explore frontiers of science, with full knowledge that some of his conjectures would be overturned. There was no purpose in hitching his ego to the correctness of his conclusions. Faraday noted Job's admonition in his personal Bible: "If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse" (Job 9:20)

And this from page 65:

In his fifth lecture, he suspended the didactic narrative to declare his core scientific philosophy: "The [natural] philosopher should be a man willing to listen to every suggestion, but determined to judge for himself. He should not be biassed by appearances; have no favorite hypothesis; be of no school; and in doctrine have no master. He should not be a respecter of persons, but of things. Truth should be his primary object. If to these qualities be added industry, he may indeed hope to walk with the veil of the temple of nature."

From page xii of the same book:

If there was one overriding element to Faraday's character, it was humility. His "conviction of deficiency," as he called it, stemmed in part from his deep religiosity and affected practically every facet of his life. Thus Faraday approached both his science and his everyday conduct unhampered by ego, envy, or negative emotion. In his work, he assumed the inevitability of error and failure; whenever possible, he harnessed these as guides toward further investigation. Faraday adhered to no particular school of scientific thought. Nor did he flinch when a favored hypothesis fell to the rigors of experiment. In th personal realm, Faraday subjected himself to constant self-examination and correction.

These quotes originate from The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell by Basil Mahon.

Page 17:

He went on in later years to read the work of all the pioneers in each area of science to which he turned his hand.

The great men became his friends; he appreciated their struggles, knowing that most discoveries come only after a period of stumbling and fumbling. By also studying philosophy he gained a deeper insight into the processes of scientific discovery than any other man of his time. Nobody understood better than Maxwell the broad sweep of historical development in science. Set alongside this knowledge was his own extraordinary originality and intuition. Together, these components produced what the great American physicist Robert Millikin described as 'one of the most penetrating intellects of all time.'

Pages 24 - 25:

To understand what this philosophical approach was, and why it was so important, we must take a short historical diversion. David Hume, the great eighteenth century Scottish philosopher, had put the cat among the pigeons with his notion of scepticism: that nothing can be proved, except in mathematics, and that much of what we take to be fact is merely conjecture. This alarmed some of his hard-headed countrymen, who reacted by starting their own 'Common Sense' school. They thought it was daft to doubt whether the world exists and wrong to doubt whether God exists. But, these things given, they rejected any belief or method that did not proceed directly from observed fact. The way to make scientific progress, they said, was by simple accretion of experimental results, a narrow interprettion of the principle of induction that the Englishman Francis Bacon had advocated more than a century earlier. Imagination had no place in their system.

In fact, the Common Sense school could hardly have been more wrong; empirical evidence is vital but all innovative scientists are strongly imaginative and make full use of working hypotheses which are often drawn by analogy with other branches of science. Luckily the school's adherents eventually realized this and came to a view that truly was common sense: analogies and imaginative hypotheses can be wonderful but should be kept in their place; a scientist should remain sceptical about his own pet fancies even when they have led to progress. Many scientists cease to be creative when they fail this test and become slaves to their own creations. Maxwell never did.

In an exercise on the properties of matter, James Maxwell had to correct people of the distinction between matter and mass (page 25):

They had defined mass incorrectly and had to be told 'matter is never perceived by the senses'.

There is an excellent explanation within this book regarding how Maxwell originated Maxwell's Equations, and anybody who wants some perspective on EU Theory needs to read about this. But due to its length and because it's not topical to what I'm excerpting here, it will have to wait until later.

Here's a great EU quote from Maxwell (page 70 and on):

I have no reason to believe that the human intellect is able to weave a system of physics out of its own resources without experimental labor. Whenever the attempt has been made it has resulted in an unnatural and self-contradictory mass of rubbish.

With no shortage of irony to spare, Maxwell was especially intrigued (and attempted to mathematically model) Saturn's rings (page 73) ...

It was never has way to concentrate on one research topic to the exclusion of all others but there was one problem that took up most of his free time in 1857 -- Saturn's rings.

Saturn, with its extraordinary set of vast, flat rings, was the most mysterious object in the universe. How could such a strange structure be stable? Why did the rings not break up, crash down into Saturn, or drift off into space? This problem had been puzzling astronomers for 200 years but it was now getting special attention because St John's College, Cambridge, had chosen it as the topic for their prestigious Adams' Prize.

The Prize had been founded to commemorate John Couch Adams' discovery of the planet Neptune. It may also have been an attempt by the British scientific establishment to atone for its abject performance at the time of the discovery. Adams had spent 4 years doing manual calculations to predict the position of a new planet from small wobbles in the movement of Uranus, then the outermost known planet, but his prediction, made in 1845, was ignored by the Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy. The following year, the Frenchman Urbain Leverrier indepdnently made a similar prediction. He sent it to the Berlin Observatory, who straightaway trained their telescopes to the spot and found the planet. Perhaps to soothe his conscience, Airy made a retrospective claim on Adams' behalf. Some ill-mannered squabbling followed, from which the only person to emerge with credit was Adams, who had kept a dignified silence. In the end good sense prevailed: Adams and Leverrier were given equal credit. Adams later became Astronomer Royal.

The Adams' Prize was a biennial competition; the Saturn problem had been set in 1855 and entries had to be in by December 1857. The problem was fearsomely difficult. It had defeated many mathematical astronomers; even the great Pierre Simon Laplace, author of the standard work La mecanique celeste, could not get far with it. Perhaps the examiners had set the problem more in hope than expectation. They asked under what conditions (if any) the rings would be stable if they were (1) solid, (2) fluid or (3) composed of many separate pieces of matter; and they expected a full mathematical account.

James tackled the solid ring hypothesis first. Laplace had shown that a uniform solid ring would be unstable and had conjectured, but could not prove, that a solid ring could be stable if its mass were distributed unevenly. James took it from there. Perhaps thinking 'where on Earth can I start?", he started at the center of Saturn, forming the equations of motion in terms of the gravitational potential at that point due to the rings. (Potential in gravitation is roughly equivalent to pressure in water systems; difference in potential gives rise to forces.)

In an astonishing sequence of calculations, using mathematical methods which had been known for years but in unheard-of combinations, he showed that a solid ring could not be stable, except in one bizarre arrangement where about four-fifths of tis mass was concentrated in one point on the circumference and the rest was evenly distributed. Since telescopes clearly showed that the structure was not lopsided to that extent, the solid ring hypothesis was despatched. James sent his friend Lewis Campbell a progress report, drawing on the Crimean war for his metaphors:

I have been battering away at Saturn, returning to the charge every now and then. I have effected several breaches in the solid ring and am now splash into the fluid one, amid a clash of symbols truly astounding. When I reappear it will be in the dusky ring, which is something like the siege of Sebastopol conducted from a forest of guns 100 miles one way, and 30,000 miles the other, and the shot never to stop, but to go spinning away round in a circle, radius 170,000 miles.

Could fluid rings be stable? This depended on how internal wave motions behaved. Would they stabilise themselves or grow bigger and bigger until the fluid broke up? James used the methods of Fourier t analyze the various types of waves that could occur, and showed that fluid rings would inevitably break up into separate blobs.

He had thus shown, by elimination, that although the rings appear to us as continuous they must consist of many separate bodies orbiting independently. But there was more work to do: the examiners wanted a mathematical analysis of the conditions of stability. A complete analysis of the motion of an indeterminately large number of different-sized objects was clearly impossible, but to get an idea of what could happen James took the special case of a single ring of equally spaced particles.

He showed that such a ring would vibrate in four different ways, and that as long as its average density was low enough compared with that of Saturn the system would be stable. When he considered two such rings, one inside the other, he found that some arrangements were stable but others were not: for certain ratios of the radii the vibrations would build up and destroy the rings. This was as far as he could go with calculation but he recognized that there would be collisions between the particles -- a type of friction -- and predicted that this would cause the inner rings to move inwards and the outer ones outwards, possibly on a very long time-scale.

James was awarded the Adams' Prize. In fact, his was the only entry. This boosted rather than diminished his kudos because it demonstrated the difficulty of the task; no one else had got far enough to make it worth sending in an entry. The Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy, was not, as we have seen, the most reliable judge of scientific merit but he was on safe ground when he declared James' essay to be 'One of the most remarkable applications of Mathematics to Physics that I have ever seen'. The work had been a Herculean labor. In fact it was a triumph of determination as much as creativity; the mathematics was so intricate that errors had crept in at every stage, and much of the time was taken up in painstakingly rooting them out. In all it was a marvellous demonstration of vision, intuition, skill and sheer doggedness and it earned James recognition by Britain's top physicists; he was now treated as an equal by such men as George Gabriel Stokes and William Thomson.

Interestingly, no-one since Maxwell has been able to take our understanding of the rings much further. But flypast pictures from Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in the early 1980s showed them to have exactly the type of structure that he predicted. Although the essay had won the prize, James spent a lot of time over the next 2 years developing it and trying to make it more intelligible to general readers before publishing it in 1859.

One can only imagine Maxwell hitting himself on the head if he was to learn that the rings are actually held in place electromagnetically.

On page 150:

The human mind is seldom satisfied, and is certainly never exercising its highest functions, when it is doing the work of a calculating machine ... There are, as I have said, some minds which can go on contemplating with satisfaction pure quantities represented to the eye by symbols, and to the mind in a form which none but mathematicians can conceive. There are others who feel more enjoyment in following geometrical forms, which they draw on paper, or build up in the empty space before them. Others, again, are not content unless they can project their whole physical energies into the scene which they conjure up. They learn at what a rate the planets rush through space, and they experience a delightful feeling of exhilaration. They calculate the forces with which the heavenly bodies pull at one another, and they feel their own muscles straining with the effort. To such men momentum, energy, mass are not mere abstract expressions of the results of scientific inquiry. They are words of power, which stir their souls like the memories of childhood.

For the sake of persons of these diferent types, scientific truth should be presented in different forms, and should be regarded as equally scientific, whether it appears in the robust form and the vivid coloring of a physical illustration, or in the tenuity and paleness of a symbolic expression.

And from page 151, this great little story:

All new ventures have their detractors, and James had his full share with the Cavendish project. One diminishing but still powerful school of critics held that, while experiments were necessary in research, they brought no benefit to teaching. A typical member was Isaac Todhunter, the celebrated mathematical tutor, who argued that the only evidence a student needed of a scientific truth was the word of his teacher, who was 'probably a clergyman of mature knowledge, recognized ability, and blameless character'. One afternoon James bumped into Todhunter on King's Parade and invited him to pop into the Cavendish to see a demonstration of conical refraction. Horrified, Todhunter replied: 'No, I have been teaching it all my life and don't want my ideas upset by seeing it now!'

From page 154:

To James, scientific facts were incomplete without the knowledge of how they came to be discovered. The process of discovery held as much interest as the result. Scientific history was at least as important as political history and needed to be complete.

And in a final chapter on Maxwell's legacy, the author notes (on page 176):

He started a revolution in the way physicists look at the world. It was he who began to think that the objects and forces that we see and feel may be merely our limited perception of an underlying reality which is inaccessible to our senses but may be described mathematically.

Page 177:

It is sometimes said, with no more than slight overstatement, that if you trace every line of modern physical research to its starting point you come back to Maxwell. Professor CA Coulson put it another way: 'There is scarcely a single topic that he touched upon which he did not change almost beyond recognition.'

From The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 97-98, quoting Faraday ...

The laws of nature, as we understand them, are the foundation of our knowledge in natural things. So much as we know of them has been developed by the successive energies of the highest intellects, exerted through many ages. After a most rigid and scrutinizing examination upon principle and trial, a definite expression has been given to them; they have become, as it were, our belief or trust. From day to day we still examine and test our expressions of them. We have no interest in their retention if erroneous; on the contrary, the greatest discovery a man could make would be to prove that one of these accepted laws was erroneous, and his greatest honour would be the discovery. Neither should there be any desire to retain the former expression :- for we know that the new or amended law would be far more productive in results, would greatly increase our intellectual acquisitions, and would prove an abundant source of fresh delight to the mind.

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 125:

"It is quite comfortable to me," he tells Phillips, "to find that experiment need not quail before mathematics but is quite competent to rival it in discovery and I am amused to find that what high mathematicians have announced ... has so little foundation ..."

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, Page 139, the point of the quote for this forum being the last sentence:

In Faraday's time, the various electrostatic phenomena were explained in the same way as those of electric current: by the actions of imponderable electrical fluids. In the two-fluid model, a neutral object contains equal amounts of positive and negative electrical fluids, whereas a positively charged object has excess positive fluid and a negatively charged object excess negative fluid. Proponents of the competing one-fluid model accounted for positive and negaitve chages by a surplus or a dearth of the single electrical fluid. In either case, bringing objects into contact with each other supposedly incurred a transfer of excess fluid between them, with a concomitant change in each object's overall charge. Excess electrical fluid could also be siphoned off through a "ground" connection -- a wire clamped to a plumbing pipe or to a rod hammered into the earth. Or, if desired, charge could be retained indefinitely by placing the object on an insulating stand. The fluid theories stood largely in accord with the observed phenomena of static electricity and had a secure mathematical basis.

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, pages 144 - 146. The key here is to realize that Faraday's lack of mathematical rigor was critical to the advancement of electrostatics as it enabled him to look at the problem in a completely different light than others. When a field is populated by people who are all trained the same way and taught the same things, consensus overtakes controversy as the driving force, and an outsider must come in and disrupt this unhealthy state of equilibrium:

For two years, Faraday had assembled his array of evidence against electrical fluids and the action-at-a-distance theory. In this effort he was almost alone among scientists. "In whatever way I view it," he told his colleagues, "and with great suspicion of the influence of favourite notions over myself, I cannot perceive how the ordinary theory applied to explain induction can be a correct representation of that great natural principle of electrical action." He knew that his ideas marked a frontal assault on long-established theories posed by such notables as Charles Coulomb, Andrew-Marie Ampere, and Simeon Denis Poisson. He was trying to overturn the belief system in a branch of physics -- electrostatics -- that was firmly supported by mathematical theories he himself could not understand. He had previously challenged action-at-a-distance in the area of electrochemistry, but that field's theoretical underpinnings had not yet crystallized; there his conclusions were welcomed because they imposed order on what had been chaos.

While honored in public, Faraday was scorned by many of his university-trained counterparts, who found both his manner of scientific expression obtuse and his lack of mathematical rigor frustrating. Some of them probably looked on bemused as the self-taught, experimental genius struggled to make himself understood in the theoretical arena. Faraday was aware of the disadvantage under which he operated. To Ampere, he once confided: "I am unfortunate in a want of mathematical knowledge and the power of entering with facility into abstract reasoning. I am obliged to feel my way by facts placed closely together, so that it often happens I am left behind in the progress of a branch of science not merely from the want of attention but from the incapability I lay under of following it, notwithstanding all my exertions ... I fancy the habit I got into of attending too closely to experiment has somewhat fettered my powers of reasonsing, and chains me down, and I cannot help now and then comparing myself to a timid ignorant navigator who (though he might boldly and safely steer across a bay or an ocean by the aid of a compass which in its actions and principles is infallible) is afraid to leave sight of the shore because he understands not the power of the instrument that is to guide him." Yet Faraday was also quick to point out that the mathematical approach has its own pitfalls when stacked against experiment: "I have far more confidence in the one man who works mentally and bodily at a matter than in the six who merely talk about it ... Nothing is so good as an experiment which whilst it sets error right gives us a reward for our humility in being refreshed by an absolute advancement in knowledge."

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 164, quoting Faraday ...

I cannot doubt but that he who, as a wise philosopher, has most power of penetrating the secrets of nature, and by guessing by hypothesis at her mode of working, will also be most careful, for his own safe progress and that of others, to distinguish that knowledge which consists of assumption, by which I mean theory and hypothesis, from that which is the knowledge of facts and laws; never raising for former to the dignity or authority of the latter, nor confusing the latter more than is inevitable with the former.

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 169:

Faraday was unswayed by the criticisms. He had crossed a Rubicon in speculative science and had no intention of retreating. He sought to "shake men's minds from their habitual trust" in long-held but (in his opinion) specious views. "It is better to be aware, or even to suspect, we are wrong, than to be unconsciously or easily led to accept an error as right." The mutability of science had been a constant for him since the beginning, inspired no doubt by the venerated guide of his youth, Isaac Watts: "Do not think learning in general is arrived at its perfection," Watts declares in Improvement of the Mind, "or that the knowledge of any particular subject in any science cannot be improved, merely because it has lain five hundred or a thousand years without improvement. The present age, by the blessing of God on the ingenuity and diligence of men, has brought to light such truths in natural philsophy, and such discoveries in the heavens and the earth as seemed beyond the reach of man."

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 171, quoting Faraday ...

At present we are accustomed to admit action at sensible distances, as of one magnet upon another, or of the sun upon the earth, as if such admission were itself a perfect answer to any inquiry into the nature of the physical means which cause distant bodies to affect each other; and the man who hesitates to admit the sufficiency of the answer, of of the assumption on which it rests, and asks for a more satisfactory account, runs the risk of appearing ridiculous or ignorant before the world of science.

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, pages 172-173:

Despite repeated attempts, Faraday made little headway convincing scientists of the viability of his speculations. George Biddell Airy spoke for the scientific community when he said, "I can hardly imagine anyone who practically and numerically knows this agreement [between experiments and accepted mathematical laws], to hesitate an instant in the choice between this simple and precise action, on the one hand, and anything so vague and varying as lines of force, on teh other hand." Lines of force, ray-vibrations, fields -- all sounded so strange and contrived compared to more comfortable notions that held sway. "How few understand the physical lines of force!" Faraday lamented to his niece, Margery Ann Reid, in 1855. "They will not see them, yet all researches on the subject tend to confirm the views I put forth many years since."

Faraday's frustration was understandable. "The lines of force ... stood before his intellectual eye," German physicist Heinrich Hertz remarked, "... as tensions, swirls, currents, whatever they might be -- that he himself was unable to state -- but they were there, acting upon each other, pushing and pulling bodies about, spreading themselves about and carrying the action from point to point." Faraday needed a translator. Someone who could pick up where William Thomson had left off in the 1840s. Someone who could turn his complex ideas into the hard rubric of equations and, with mathematical authority, speak out on his behalf.

By the mid-1850s, having run hard up against the limits of his own intellect, Faraday had no choice but to wait for someone else to prove -- or disprove -- his fantastic speculations. Until then, he could console himself with a passage he had once jotted in his diary -- the knowing passage of one who had stood at the frontier of discovery and thrilled to the possibility of what lay beyond: "Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature ..."

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 182:

Maxwell, the consummate mathematician, nonetheless understood the power of mathematics to mislead when not anchored in experiment or observation. In Faraday's Researches, he encountered science in its purest form, "untainted" by mathematical manipulation. Here, he decided, would be the entry point for his own investigations into electricity and magnetism. In a later reflection, Maxwell sounds almost relieved that Faraday had stuck to his particular brand of investigation, thereby blazing a trail that Maxwell himself could follow: "It was perhaps for the advantage of science that Faraday, though thoroughly conscious of the fundamental forms of space, time, and force, was not a professed mathematician. He was not tempted to enter into the many interesting researches in pure mathematics which his discoveries would have suggested if they had been exhibited in a mathematical form, and he did not feel called upon either to force his results into a shape acceptable to the mathematical taste of the time, or to express them in a form which mathematicians might attack. He was thus left at leisure to do his proper work, to coordinate his ideas with his facts, and to express them in natural, untechnical language.

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 190, for the record, the author's comments on Maxwell's Equations. It's important to realize that Feynman's scaffolding analogy, although popular, should be viewed as one particular view on the subject. One could also argue, and possibly even in contradiction to Maxwell's own assertions that the physical models are not meant to be taken literally, that the scaffolding works for a reason:

An electromagnetic field, in Maxwell's conception, is some fundamental alteration of space wrought by embedded electric and magnetic sources. Maxwell's equations do not reveal what an electromagnetic field is, just how to compute its mathematical properties and how these properties give rise to observable phenomena. Inspired by Faraday's geometrical musings, Maxwell created an electromagnetic universe that cannot be effectively reduced to mental images. All self-imagined analogs to visualize the field are in some way deficient. Yet the mathematical rendering of the field is complete and accurate. Maxwell likened the situation to that of a bell ringer who tugs ropes that dangle through holes in the ceiling of the belfry; the bells themselves and their actuating mechanism remain a mystery. Maxwell's contemporary, Heinrich Hertz, put it more bluntly: "Maxwell's theory is Maxwell's equations." Or in the words of Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, nearly a century later, "Today, we understand better that what counts are the equations themselves and not the model used to get them. We may only question whether the equations are true or false. This is answered by doing experiments and untold numbers of experiments have confirmed Maxwell's equations. If we take away the scaffolding he used to build it, we find that Maxwell's beautiful edifice stands on its own. He brought together all of the laws of electricity and magnetism and made one complete and beautiful theory."

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 201 ... One could be forgiven for thinking he was talking about mainstream astrophysicists here, and Faraday appears to lock onto the source of the lack of humility within that discipline (a lack of feedback from their thought experiments):

Faraday outlined his philosophy of education in an 1854 lecture at the Royal Institution. He reiterated his long-held view that "education has for its first and its last step humility. It can commence only because of a conviction of deficiency; and if we are not disheartened under the growing revelations which it will make, that conviction will become stronger unto the end ... The first step in correction is to learn our deficiencies, and having learned them, the next step is almost complete: for no man who has discovered that his judgment is hasty, or illogical, or imperfect, would go on with the same degree of haste, or irrationality, or presumption as before." Whatever systemic reforms might be implemented, Faraday continued, there was always a place for self-education like his own. "It is necessary that a man examine himself, and that not carelessly. On the contrary, as he advances, he should become more and more strict, till he ultimately prove a sharper critic to himself than any one else can be; and he ought to intend this, for, so far as he consciously falls short of it, he acknowledges that others may have reason on their side when they criticise him." And in a touching reference to his own experience, he lamented how the self-educated are often derided by the university-educated.

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday by Alan Hirschfeld, page 211:

As Faraday recognized, we are the eyes of the universe gazing upon itself, absorbing into our consciousness its vast and intricate puzzle.
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Recovered: EU-Relevant Quotes from Famous Scientists

Unread postby pln2bz » Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:08 pm

Part 2

That sums up everything relevant I found in those first two books. The third book is The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago, which is of course Kristian Birkeland's biography. It's a good read -- especially the short epilogue -- but it is somewhat unfortunate that Jago completely fails to mention Sydney Chapman's infamous refusal to observe Birkeland's terrella in operation. Anyways ...

From pages 54 - 55, some minimal background on the belief at the time regarding electricity in space:

[Birkeland] started to research what was known about auroras and read that they frequently coincided with the appearance of sunspots. He had immediately sent a telegram to an acquaintance, the famous Parisian astronomer Camille Flammarion, at the Paris Observatoire, requesting information about sunspot activity around the time of the assassination. Flammarion had confirmed that there were several unusually large sunspot groups passing hte sun's meridian three days before the massive auroras were seen over Europe.

The connection between sunspots and auroras was mentioned by Birkeland in the article he wrote following the assassination, entitled "A Message from the Sun." The title was a direct reference to Galileo's Starry Messenger, published in 1610, in which the famous astronomer promoted the heliocentric concept of the solar system first suggested by Nicolaus Copernicus a hundred years earlier. In this system, the sun, and not the Earth, was at the center of the solar system, and Birkeland believed the sun's importance in the phenomenon of the aurora was greater than anyone had so far imagined. Sunspots were not the only event on the sun related to auroras. In 1859 Sir Richard Carrington of the Kew Observatory was the first to observe a flare coming from the sun -- "two patches of intensely bright and white light broke out." He noted that this "conflagration" was followed eighteen hours later by a great magnetic storm that disrupted telegraphic communications and coincided with tremendous auroras seen in Hawaii, Jamaica, Chile, and Australia. Despite this seemingly direct correlation, Carrington "would not have us suppose that he even leans towards hastily connecting" these events; "one swallow does not make a summer." Many scientists dismissed the connection between activity on the sun and auroras because there were often sunspots without auroras, or vice versa, and because they did not believe that charged particles could reach the Earth from such a distance. Birkeland, however, was becoming more and more convinced of a solar-terrestrial relationship.

And along the same lines, from The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago, pages 56 - 57:

Only in 1897 did the British scientist JJ Thompson show that cathode rays consisted of high-velocity streams of negatively charged particles: electrons. Birkeland was sure that the sun emitted similar beams that were narrow and focused and often missed the Earth completely, which was why sunspots did not always result in auroras. Birkeland surmised that sometimes these active particles hit the magnetic field of the Earth and followed the field lines down toward the poles, where they struck atoms in the atmosphere and the energy created by the collisions was emitted as light -- the Northern Lights. That explained why they appeared only during magnetic storms: the cathode frays from the sun were moving beams of electrons that created electric currents; these, in turn, made their own magnetic fields, which were recorded by the magnetometers. These same beams of charged particles, on reaching the upper levels of the atmosphere, created the auroras. Birkeland never gained any significant readings of air electricity near the ground because the force that disrupted the magnetic field did not come from Earth, as so many scientists believed, but from space, from the sun.

From The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago, pages 79 - 81:

In England, reviews of Birkeland's book were few and unfavorable. As it was published in French, a number of journals did not even review it, assuming their subscribers would not be reading it. Those that did, particularly the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, attacked the book as fundamentally flawed. British scientists had one very strong belief: that space was an empty vacuum. This uniformity of opinion of the British scientists was in part due to the hegemony of the Royal Society over scientific institutions in Britain. The Royal Society, once chaired by Sir Isaac Newton, vetted scientific papers, awared prizes, and conferred influence upon those with whose theories the chariman and his committee agreed. Election to the Royal Society was a great honor and a badge of approval for the work of hte new member. By the time Birkeland published his book, the Royal Society was fast becoming the most influential scientific institution in the western world and the man elected its president was treated with awe. Until recently, the positio had been held by Lord Kelvin, a very great mathematician and physicist, whose work in thermodynamics helped to develop the law of the conservation of energy and the absolute energy scale, from then on measured in degrees Kelvin. He also presented the dynamical theory of heat, developed theorems for the mathematical analysis of electricity and magnetism, and investigated hydrodynamics, particularly wave motion and vortex motion. Birkeland had enormous respect for Kelvin, but the great man had made an almost throwaway remark in 1892 that had been slavishly followed ever since. The Proceedings of the Royal Society published in May that yar reported that Kelvin's statement that the sun could have no effect on geomagnetic activity and that the correlation between these storms and sunspots was illusory.

There is absolutely conclusive evidence against the supposition that terrestrial magnetic storms are due to magnetic actions of the sun; or to any kin dof dynamical action taking place within the sun, or in connection with hurricanes in its atmosphere, or anywhere near the sun.


The supposed connection between magnetic storms and sunspots is unreal, and the seeming agreement between the periods has been mere coincidence.

Given the esteem in which Kelvin was held, few scientists were prepared to stand up against such an unequivocal statement. It was doubly ironic that Kelvin was, inadvertently, the source of his present woe because it was Birkeland who had been instrumental in Norway's being represented at the celebrations to mark Kelvin's fiftieth year in science. Because of Kelvin's pronouncement on the matter, the British had thrown out Birkeland's entire thesis and he was bitterly disappointed at their offhand and negative reception. He suspected that in Britain, the Norwegians were thought of as the poor relatives of Vikings, fisherfolk with a quaint attachment to skiing and polar exploration, and that he himself was regarded as just a small man, in a tiny physics department, from an unremarkable university in a diminutive colony of Sweden. As he saw it, the argument between him and his British colleagues was a perfect reflection of Norway's and Britain's relative positions in the world. He perceived the Earth as a small planet, part of a huge solar system, under the influence of a much larger force -- the sun -- but with its own protection and independence in teh form of the magnetic field. For the British scientists, as far as Birkeland could tell, Earth stood in splendid isolation in empty space, impenetrable to outside cosmic forces other than that of gravity, which, after all, was British.

From The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago, pages 86 - 87:

Bryn could see that what set Birkeland above his peers was his ability to extract big ideas from tiny seeds of chance. He seemed to have an intuitive understanding of events that allowed him to push them instantly to their limits while other people were trying to categorize, regulate, repeat, systematize, and render "scientific" their experience. Birkeland was so instinctive a scientist that he had the confidence to use his imagination like an artist; he could picture what space must be like because he understood so well the essential forces that kept the world turning.

I find the materials that relate to Birkeland's treatment to be just as valuable as the findings themselves ...

From The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago, pages 173 - 176:

The book's conclusions were no less extraordinary. From the recordings around the globe, Birkeland divided all known storm patterns into three categories, one of which, the "polar elementary storm," was his own discovery. Birkeland had suspected this form of magnetic disturbance was responsible for creating the auroras during his first trip to Haldde, but did not mention it in the resulting book because he lacked proof. His single Arctic station was too limited to reveal magnetic changes across the region, and most other magnetic observatories were in the midlatitudes and did not pick up evidence of polar perturbations. Establishing four stations during the second expedition had provided the evidence he needed to describe this new category of magnetic disturbance and its relationship to the auroras. Through his study of these well-defined and quite local storms, Birkeland was able to deduce, from his knowledge of electromagnetism, that the energy powering these storms and the Northern Lights had to originate outside the Earth, in space, ultimately from the sun.

This was the most controversial element in his book, as many scientists refused to believe that the sun could be the origin of cathode rays that reached as far as the Earth. Their main objection was that if only electrons, negatively charged rays, were emitted, the sun would eventually become positively charged and also that the repulsive electric forces between electrons would quickly disperse the beams. Birkeland, however, knew that corpuscles of both charges escaped from the sun but deduced, accurately, that mainly negative charged electrons caused magnetic storms and auroras.

From a physical point of view it is most probable that solar rays are neither exclusively negative nor positive rays, but of both kinds ... if any positive rays do penetrate into the Earth's atmosphere, they had hardly any perceptible magnetic effect.

In this way, by using the terrellas in conjunction with magnetic results, Birkeland had surmised the existence of a continuous outpouring of equal numbers of positively and negatively charged particles from the sun. He knew that the sun must continuously emit charged particles and suggested that the cathode rays that caused auroras were forced into space from the areas around sunspots, and that some were responsible for magnetic storms around the Earth. This conclusion had far-reaching consequences, as Birkeland wrote in his book:

Besides making clear the origin of important terrestrial phenomena, the investigations give promise of the possibility of drawing, from the energy of the corpuscular precipitation on the Earth, well-founded conclusions regarding the conditions on the sun ... Further researches may lead to a solution of the most attractive scientific problems of our age -- the origin of terrestrial magnetism and the origin of the sun's heat.

Birkeland believed that the electromagnetic influence of the sun on near and distant space was as important as that of gravity. He took the laws of electric and magnetic forces, first written in Maxwell's equations, and applied them to space. It was a major advance in the understanding of the forces at work in the solar system. Before Newton, it was believed that terrestrial mechanics and celestial mechanics obeyed different laws, but Newton showed that a falling apple on the Earth moved according to the same laws as it does the moon -- a great breakthrough in physics and particularly in mechanics. Although later scientists revealed limitations in Newtonian law, Birkeland was the first to stress the importance of electromagnetic effects in cosmic physics. As he realized, cosmic matter is usually conducting and magnetized and these effects are often as great as -- if not greater than -- mechanical forces in near and distant space. From trying to understand the origins of the aurora borealis, he now wanted to test the boundaries of his theoretical electromagnetic universe.

Copies of Birkeland's 300-page book were sent to the great scientists of Europe, to crowned heads of state, to Wallenberg and Eyde. He received acknowledgments from King Edward, King Haakon, King Oscar, and Kaiser Wilhelm, as well as from Henri Poincare, Sir William Crookes, and many other scientists. In France, his work was read with interest but elsewhere, particularly in Britain, it was largely ignored, and the few reviews it received were negative. Birkeland was furious that the British refused to even consider the possibility that he might be correct and was disappointed that he was now unlikely to be proposed as a Fellow of the Royal Society. It would have been a great achievement to convert his detractors to his ideas, as he knew that British science was increasingly predominant int eh world and that it was necessary for the British scientific establishment to accept his theories if they were ever to become widely disseminated. There seemed no chance of that now. As Arthur Schuster, Fellow of the Royal Society and a prominent scientist in the field of terrestrial magnetism, said about Birkeland's work, "The limits of allowable heterodoxy in science are soon reached" and Birkeland had stepped too far out of line. Schuster condemned Birkeland's theories for assuming that only negative rays were emitted by the sun. Had he read more carefully, or with a more open mind, Schuster would have realized that Birkeland knew that both positive and negative particles were thrown out, but had deduced that only negative ones caused auroras. However, Schuster dismissed Birkeland's huge volume with a terse comment in the Society's Proceedings:

Even originally well-defined pencils of cathode rays from the sun cannot reach the Earth. For Birkeland's theories to be correct, the existence of such cathode rays is clearly presupposed to be necessary ... and this assumption is untenable.

Lucy Jago's Epilogue is sure to spark some controversy within mainstream astrophysical circles. I've been told once by a mainstream advocate on Slashdot that there were issues with her recounting of Birkeland's story, and I have to think that the person was referring at least partially to the Epilogue. I'm going to reproduce a large chunk of it here as it is especially relevant to EU Theory, and this will conclude relevant EU quotes from the biographies of James Maxwell, Michael Faraday and Kristian Birkeland.

So, from The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago, pages 271 - 276:

For fifty years after his lonely death his scientific reputation sank inexorably into oblivion along with the Peking. One man in particular, Sydney Chapman, continued the tradition of opposition by British scientists to Birkeland's work. Chapman had seen Birkeland checking some magnetic records in Greenwich en route to Egypt, but they had not spoken. He was a young, ambitious mathematician who became the leading scientist in the field of geomagnetism after the First World War, holding a dominant position in British science until his death in 1970. Chapman's career was the mirror opposite to Birkeland's. He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1919 at the early age of thirty-one, was invited to serve as president of five important scientific societies, and was awarded numerous prizes for his work.

Chapman considered Birkeland's intrepid expeditions into the Arctic unnecessary and anachronistic and the Norwegian professor's theories too "curious" for consideration. His antipathy was caused primarily by his disbelief in Birkeland's main hypothesis: that cathode rays from the sun were guided into the Earth's atmosphere along magnetic field lines, causing the Northern Lights and magnetic perturbations. Chapman himself had once written, in a paper in 1918, that rays of a single charge could stream from the sun, but when his theory was attacked he abandoned the idea and ridiculed Birkeland for suggesting it. Apart from being somewhat hypocritical, Chapman's criticisms revealed an ignorance of Birkeland's work. In 1916 Birkeland had published a paper outlining his theory concerning the rays emitted by the sun, in which he stated: "From a physical point of view it is most probable that these new solar rays are neither exclusively negative nor positive rays, but of both kinds." Chapman later advocated this correct theory, without reference to Birkeland.

He appeared to have a general disregard for Scandinavian science, making condescending comments about Birkeland's colleage Stormer, and the Nobel laureate Hannes Alfven, whome he called "that Swedish engineer." Over five decades he effectively eradicated the memory of Birkeland's work and entirely dismissed his contribution to science, as can be seen from his opening address to the Birkeland Symposium in Sandefjord, Norway, in 1967:

Though Birkeland was certainly intensely interested in the aurora, it must be confessed that his direct observational contributions to auroral knowledge were slight.

The apparently unshakeable hold on Birkeland's mind of his basic but invalid conception of intense electron beams, mingled error inextricably with truth in the presentation of his ideas and experiments on auroras and magnetic storms. His breadth of mind and wide interests led him astray.

One young American scientist at the symposium, Alex Dessler, questioned Chapman about Birkeland. "I asked him whether Birkeland's work had any influence on him at all. He glared at me and said, 'How could it? It was all wrong.'"

In the last three years of Chapman's life, however, space satellites found incontrovertible evidence supporting Birkeland's ideas of a flow of electric particles from the sun. In 1962 instruments on board NASA's Mariner II spacecraft on its way to Venus recorded the presence of an electrified gas traveling through space at speeds ranging from 300 to 700 kilometers per second. A similar phenomenon had been observed the previous year by the Soviet Lunik 2 spacecraft on its way to the moon, but western scientists had dismissed the Soviet data as unreliable. After Mariner, other craft were launched into space and soon it was acknowledged that "empty space" was not empty at all but filled with a million-degree electrified gas, hotter, thinner, and faster than any wind on Earth, blowing at hundreds of kilometers per second through the solar system and now called the "solar wind." Composed of an equal number of negative particles, or electrons, and positive particles, mainly protons, this wind forms a neutrally charged "plasma." Birkeland had predicted a similar wind more than sixty years earlier (although the term "plasma" did not exist then and he called it "solar rays," "beams," or "pencils") when he wrote: "Small storms are almost continuously present ... almost any time pencils of electric rays from the sun are striking the earth."

It was not until 1966, however, when a US Navy navigation satellite observed magnetic disturbances on nearly every pass over the polar regions, that Birkeland's own star began to rise. Since 1967 scientists have been looking at the satellite data in relation to phenomena such as the Northern Lights, rediscovering Birkeland's extraordinarily prophetic theories and completely reassessing his work. Today, he is credited as the first scientist to propose an essentially correct explanation of the aurora borealis, supported by theoretical, observational, and experimental evidence. He was also the first to give a three-dimensional and global picture of the currents giving rise to polar elementary storms, now called "polar substorms." Birkeland suggested that these magnetic perturbations were caused by horizontal currents running along the auroral zone, maintained by a constant supply of electricity from without" that flowed almost vertically down to auroral heights along the Earth's magnetic field lines. The vertical currents, first christened "Birkeland Currents" in 1967 by Alex Dessler, are now understood to cause substorms and auroras and to drive most of the current systems in the ionosphere -- the region, about a hundred kilometers above the Earth's surface, where ionized particles can reflect radio waves.

Birkeland's understanding that the same charged particles that caused magnetic storms also caused the auroras is fully accepted today, although a more sophisticated model of how the particles reach the poles is now available. Satellites have shown that the magnetic field around the Earth is strongly deformed by its interaction with the solar wind, compressing the field on the day side to about ten Earth radii and stretching into a cometlike tail on the night side, typically ten times the moon's distance or more. The magnetic field lines are drawn so far out into space in the tail that they explosively collapse back toward the Earth, generally every few hours, accelerating the plasma particles back up to the poles and creating the dancing auroral displays.

The magnetic field is constantly reacting to the solar wind, which, like an ordinary wind, has gusts and gales created by strong eruptions from the sun, called "flares" (explosive events related to complex groups of sunspots) and "coronal mass ejections" (usually referred to as CMEs). During these eruptions large amounts of plasma escape the sun's magnetic field and are accelerated outward. If the plasma travels toward Earth, it can cause substantial disruption to telecommunications, electric grids and pipelines, magnetic disturbances, and bright auroras. The sun also has "coronal holes," areas where hot plasma streams out unhindered by the sun's magnetic field, that can survive several solar rotations, giving rise to patterns of magnetic activity on Earth that are repeated every twenty-seven days -- the time it takes for a complete rotation of the sun. Birkeland noticed this periodicity during his first expedition to Haldde and correctly linked it to particularly active regions of the sun emitting corpuscular radiation associated with, but not issuing from, sunspots. Large solar eruptions occur more frequently during the most active period of the sun's eleven-year cycle, although Birkeland's "polar elementary storms" are much more frequent, with two or three occurring most days, even during the sun's quiet phase. As Birkeland surmised, all these explosive events on the sun, which have a dramatic effect upon the rest of the solar system, are electromagnetic in nature, controlled by Maxwell's equations and not Newton's gravity.

His great work, The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition, 1902-1903, contained other ideas that were not to be proved until fifty years after his death:

Note: I feel that this appears to be a legitimate first claim that interstellar charged particles would constitute the majority of matter in space. Without using the phrase "dark matter", it's perhaps as close as he could have come to predicting something that remains to this day not fully realized by the mainstream (the idea that the universe's primary constituent, dark matter, is in fact charged particles). Although Lucy Jago doesn't appear as though she would be averse to EU Theory, it appears as though the full significance of this quote has possibly slipped by her ...

Continuing ...

1. "The earth's magnetism will cause there to be a cavity around the earth in which the [solar] corpuscles are, so to speak, swept away" -- an early indication of wfhat is now called the "magnetosphere," the region surrounding a planet or star in which the magnetic field controls the behavior of charged particles.

2. "It seems to be a natural consequence of our point of view to assume that the whole of space is filled with electrons and flying ions of all kinds. We assume each stellar system in evolution throws off electric corpuscles into space. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to think that the greater part of the material masses in the universe is found not in the solar systems or nebulae, but in 'empty' space." Here, Birkeland predicts the "stellar wind," a concept that emerged in astronomy after the solar wind was established. He then points out the possible existence and importance of stellar matter around which, in the last few decades, a discussion has been steadily growing. Today, interstellar matter is regarded as a key component of the universe.

3. That comet tails and their direction (pointing away from the sun) may be a result of the interaction of material sputtered off the comet head, interacting with teh solar corpuscular stream.

Birkeland's wider cosmogonic theory, in which he claimed that electromagnetic forces played a role as important as gravity in near and more distant regions of space, is certainly correct, although it took decades for his assertion to be generally accepted by astrophysicists. Since the satellite revolution, scientists can see even further into space, and the physics of plasmas and electromagnetic forces introduced by Birkeland has emerged from the shadows to dominate current views about the cosmic environment.


Birkeland now has a crater on the moon named after him, which, together with Birkeland Currents and the wider acceptance of his work, should prevent his memory from fading, but rejection of his theories probably slowed the advance of geomagnetic and auroral physics for nearly half a century.

From The Extinction of the Mammoth by Charles Ginenthal, page 154:

Dr Edward de Bono's book on practical thinking ... makes interesting reading for archaeologists, and indeed for those concerned with the problems of interpretation in the historical sciences, with the aid of an ingenious experiment, he analyzes the way the human mind works and identified 'five ways to be wrong,' 'four ways to be right,' and 'five ways to understand.' Among the ways to be right -- which means ways in which one can convince onself one is right -- is what he calls the 'village Venus,' or 'unique rightness' method, a mental process which he believes to be particularly common among scientists and academics. If one has lived one's whole life in a remote village, cut off from contact with other people, the village Venus must be the most beautiful girl in the world because one cannot imagine anyone more beautiful. In the same way a scientist or scholar who cannot imagine, or who has not heard of any explanation which will fit a given body of evidence, as well as the one he has thought of (or, one might add, has been taught), is capable of being fully convinced of its unique rightness. Consciously he tells himself, and he believes, that it is right because it fits all the facts; but actually its rightness derives solely from the lack of rival explanations." (quote from Evan W. Mackie, "Wise Men in Antiquity," Astronomy and Society in Britain During the Period 4,000 - 1,500 BC, CLN Ruggles, AWR Whittle, eds., (Oxford, Eng., 1981), p 111)

From The Extinction of the Mammoths by Charles Ginenthal, pages 154 - 155:

The great bulk of scientific work never sees the light of a published day ... Truly false starts are deposited in circular files -- fair enough. But experiments carried forth and leading to negative results end up, all too often, unpublished in manila folders within steel-drawer files, known only to those who did the work and quickly forgotten even by them. We all know that thousands of novels, considered substandard by their authors, lie in drawers throughout the world. Do we also understand that experiments with negative results fill even more scientific cabinets?

Positive results, on the other hand, tell interesting stories, and are usually written up for publication. Consequently, the available literature may present a strongly biased impression of efficacy and achieved understanding. (from Stephen Jay Gould, Dinosaur in a Haystack, (New York, 1995), p. 124))

From The Extinction of the Mammoths by Charles Ginenthal, page 74:

Central to Lakatos' analysis is his distinction between 'progressive' and 'degenerating' research programs. Each step of a progressive program increases its empirical content, predicting new facts as it movves along, and seeing those predictions corroborated as time passes. In contrast, degenerating programs are marked by the accretion of ad hoc hypotheses designed to protect the heart of the program [theory] from important inconsistencies, while failing to predict new and unexpected phenomena (from Grayson, "Explaining Pleistocene Extinctions," op cit., p. 821; see also, I. Lakatos, "Falsification and the Methodology of scientific research programs," The Methodology of Scientific Research Programs, J. Worral, G. Currie, ed. (Cambridge, Eng., 1978), pp 8 - 110.)

From The Extinction of the Mammoths by Charles Ginenthal, pages 5-6. This is the famous Fred Hoyle quote:

Science is unique to human activities in that it possesses vast areas of certain knowledge. The collective opinion of scientists in these areas about any problem covered by them will almost always be correct. It is unlikely that much in these areas will be changed in the future, even in a thousand years. And because technology rests almost exclusively on these areas the products of technology work as they are intended to.

But for areas of uncertain knowledge the story is very different. Indeed, the story is pretty well the exact opposite, with the collective opinion of scientists almost always incorrect. There is an easy proof of this statement. Because of the large number of scientists nowadays and because of the large financial support which they enjoy, certain problems would mostly have been cleared up already if it were otherwise. So you can be pretty certain that wherever problems resist solution for an appreciable time by an appreciable number of scientists the ideas used for attacking them must be wrong. It is therefore a mistake to have anything to do with popular ideas for solving uncertain issues, and the more respectable the ideas may be the more certain it is that they are wrong (Sir Fred Hoyle, The Origin of hte Universe and the Origin of Religion, (Wakefield, RI, 1993) pp 17-18 )
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Re: Recovered: EU-Relevant Quotes from Famous Scientists, Part 2

Unread postby MGmirkin » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:24 pm

Not sure whether this needs to be a separate thread...?
If not, would you mind terribly if I merged it with the other "quotes" thread?

~Michael Gmirkin

Update (3-22-08): For the sake of economy / efficiency and not forking the conversation, I've merged the Part 1 and Part 2 posts (were separate threads) into a single thread. Hopefully this is okay. Best, in my opinion to have these directly related topics / posts in the same thread so that all discussions of the same material will also be in the same thread. Yes, for the best, I think. ~MG
"The purpose of science is to investigate the unexplained, not to explain the uninvestigated." ~Dr. Stephen Rorke
"For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD." ~Gibson's law
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Re: Recovered: EU-Relevant Quotes from Famous Scientists

Unread postby MGmirkin » Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:46 pm

Not necessarily a "Resource," per se (Resources are more like science sites, news sites, paper archives for doing research, I think). So, I've moved it over to to he NetTalk section of the forum (having to deal with issues of how EU is perceived, how science is/should/shouldn't be done, etc.). However, I've left a copy of the link in the "Resources" forum, in case anyone is expecting to find it there.

~Michael Gmirkin
"The purpose of science is to investigate the unexplained, not to explain the uninvestigated." ~Dr. Stephen Rorke
"For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD." ~Gibson's law
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