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Vastness Quotes (4 quotes)

A discovery in science, or a new theory, even when it appears most unitary and most all-embracing, deals with some immediate element of novelty or paradox within the framework of far vaster, unanalysed, unarticulated reserves of knowledge, experience, faith, and presupposition. Our progress is narrow; it takes a vast world unchallenged and for granted. This is one reason why, however great the novelty or scope of new discovery, we neither can, nor need, rebuild the house of the mind very rapidly. This is one reason why science, for all its revolutions, is conservative. This is why we will have to accept the fact that no one of us really will ever know very much. This is why we shall have to find comfort in the fact that, taken together, we know more and more.
Science and the Common Understanding (1954), 53-4.
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See, thro' this air, this ocean, and this earth,
All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
Above, how high progressive life may go!
Around, how wide! how deep extend below!
Vast chain of being, which from God began,
Natures ethereal, human, angel, man,
Beast, bird, fish, insect! what no eye can see,
No glass can reach! from Infinite to thee,
From thee to Nothing—On superior pow'rs
Were we to press, inferior might on ours:
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd:
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.
'An Essay on Man' (1733-4), Epistle I. In John Butt (ed.), The Poems of Alexander Pope (1965), 513.
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The entire world we apprehend through our senses is no more than a tiny fragment in the vastness of Nature.
The Universe in the Light of Modern Physics (1931), 8.
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[When I was a child] I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and I was a street kid. ... [T]here was one aspect of that environment that, for some reason, struck me as different, and that was the stars. ... I could tell they were lights in the sky, but that wasn't an explanation. I mean, what were they? Little electric bulbs on long black wires, so you couldn't see what they were held up by? What were they? ... My mother said to me, "Look, we've just got you a library card ... get out a book and find the answer." ... It was in there. It was stunning. The answer was that the Sun was a star, except very far away. ... The dazzling idea of a universe vast beyond imagining swept over me. ... I sensed awe.
In 'Wonder and Skepticism', Skeptical Enquirer (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1.
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
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- 90 -
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Euclid
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- 80 -
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Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
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- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
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Martin Fischer
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Avicenna
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- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
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Rachel Carson
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Henry Adams
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- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
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JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
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- 30 -
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James Hutton
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- 20 -
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- 10 -
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