„To understand the phenomena of the physical world it is necessary to know the equations which the symbols obey but not the nature of that which is being symbolised.“

—  Arthur Stanley Eddington, Science and the Unseen World (1929), Context: If to-day you ask a physicist what he has finally made out the æther or the electron to be, the answer will not be a description in terms of billiard balls or fly-wheels or anything concrete; he will point instead to a number of symbols and a set of mathematical equations which they satisfy. What do the symbols stand for? The mysterious reply is given that physics is indifferent to that; it has no means of probing beneath the symbolism. To understand the phenomena of the physical world it is necessary to know the equations which the symbols obey but not the nature of that which is being symbolised.... this newer outlook has modified the challenge from the material to the spiritual world.<!--III, p.30
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Michael Faraday photo
Arthur Stanley Eddington photo

„The exploration of the external world by the methods of physical science leads not to a concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols, beneath which those methods are unadapted for penetrating.“

—  Arthur Stanley Eddington British astrophysicist 1882 - 1944
Science and the Unseen World (1929), Context: The exploration of the external world by the methods of physical science leads not to a concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols, beneath which those methods are unadapted for penetrating.<!--VII, p.73

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Richard Feynman photo
Edgard Varèse photo

„I was not influenced by composers as much as by natural objects and physical phenomena.“

—  Edgard Varèse French composer 1883 - 1965
Context: I was not influenced by composers as much as by natural objects and physical phenomena. As a child, I was tremendously impressed by the qualities and character of the granite I found in Burgundy, where I often visited my grandfather... So I was always in touch with things of stone and with this kind of pure structural architecture — without frills or unnecessary decoration. All of this became an integral part of my thinking at a very early stage. Interview with Gunther Schuller (1965, p. 34), quoted in Sound Structure in Music (1975) bu Robert Erickson; University of California Press. .

P. D. Ouspensky photo

„Learn to see it in thyself and thou wilt understand the infinite essence, hidden in all illusory forms. Understand that the world which thou knowest is only one of the aspects of the infinite world, and things and phenomena are merely hierolgyphics of deeper ideas.“

—  P. D. Ouspensky Russian esotericist 1878 - 1947
The Symbolism of the Tarot (1913), Context: The vision disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. A weird silence fell on me. "What does it mean?" I asked in wonder. "It is the image of the world," the voice said, "but it can be understood only after the Temple has been entered. This is a vision of the world in the circle of Time, amidst the four principles. But thou seest differently because thou seest the world outside thyself. Learn to see it in thyself and thou wilt understand the infinite essence, hidden in all illusory forms. Understand that the world which thou knowest is only one of the aspects of the infinite world, and things and phenomena are merely hierolgyphics of deeper ideas." Card XXI : The World

George Holmes Howison photo
Alexander Bogdanov photo
Alexander von Humboldt photo

„The principal impulse by which I was directed was the earnest endeavor to comprehend the phenomena of physical objects in their general connection, and to represent nature as one great whole, moved and animated by internal forces.“

—  Alexander von Humboldt Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer 1769 - 1859
Kosmos (1845 - 1847), Context: The principal impulse by which I was directed was the earnest endeavor to comprehend the phenomena of physical objects in their general connection, and to represent nature as one great whole, moved and animated by internal forces. My intercourse with highly-gifted men early led me to discover that, without an earnest striving to attain to a knowledge of special branches of study, all attempts to give a grand and general view of the universe would be nothing more than a vain illusion. These special departments in the great domain of natural science are, moreover, capable of being reciprocally fructified by means of the appropriative forces by which they are endowed.

Bernhard Riemann photo
Shiraz Minwalla photo

„The improved understanding of the equations of hydrodynamics is general in nature; it applies to all quantum field theories, including those like quantum chromodynamics that are of interest to real world experiments.“

—  Shiraz Minwalla Indian physicist 1972
Interview in The Hindu (2013), Context: The improved understanding of the equations of hydrodynamics is general in nature; it applies to all quantum field theories, including those like quantum chromodynamics that are of interest to real world experiments. I think this is a good (though minor) example of the impact of string theory on experiments. At our current stage of understanding of string theory, we can effectively do calculations only in particularly simple — particularly symmetric — theories. But we are able to analyse these theories very completely; do the calculations completely correctly. We can then use these calculations to test various general predictions about the behaviour of all quantum field theories. These expectations sometimes turn out to be incorrect. With the string calculations to guide you can then correct these predictions. The corrected general expectations then apply to all quantum field theories, not just those very symmetric ones that string theory is able to analyse in detail.

Francis Bacon photo

„Nature cannot be commanded except by being obeyed.“

—  Francis Bacon English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author 1561 - 1626

Arthur Stanley Eddington photo

„It is to this background that our own personality and consciousness belong, and those spiritual aspects of our nature not to be described by any symbolism… to which mathematical physics has hitherto restricted itself.“

—  Arthur Stanley Eddington British astrophysicist 1882 - 1944
Science and the Unseen World (1929), Context: It remains a real world if there is a background to the symbols—an unknown quantity which the mathematical symbol x stands for. We think we are not wholly cut off from this background. It is to this background that our own personality and consciousness belong, and those spiritual aspects of our nature not to be described by any symbolism... to which mathematical physics has hitherto restricted itself.<!--III, p.37-38

William John Macquorn Rankine photo

„The objects of instruction in purely scientific mechanics and physics are, first, to produce in the student that improvement of the understanding which results from the cultivation of natural knowledge, and that elevation of mind which flows from the contemplation of the order of the universe“

—  William John Macquorn Rankine civil engineer 1820 - 1872
"On the Harmony of Theory and Practice in Mechanics" (Jan. 3, 1856), Context: The objects of instruction in purely scientific mechanics and physics are, first, to produce in the student that improvement of the understanding which results from the cultivation of natural knowledge, and that elevation of mind which flows from the contemplation of the order of the universe; and secondly, if possible, to qualify him to become a scientific discoverer.<!--p. 176

Arthur Stanley Eddington photo

„Matter and all else that is in the physical world have been reduced to a shadowy symbolism.“

—  Arthur Stanley Eddington British astrophysicist 1882 - 1944
Science and the Unseen World (1929), Context: Matter and all else that is in the physical world have been reduced to a shadowy symbolism.<!--III, p.33

Arthur Stanley Eddington photo

„There is no concept in the whole field of physics which is more difficult to understand than is the concept of entropy, nor is there one which is more fundamental.“

—  Francis Sears American physicist 1898 - 1975
[Francis Weston Sears, Mechanics, heat and sound, Addison-Wesley principles of physics series Volume 1, 2nd Edition, Addison-Wesley Press, 1950, 447]

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