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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Sir Arthur Schuster Quotes

Sir Arthur Schuster
(12 Sep 1851 - 17 Oct 1934)

German-British physicist who studied the spectra of the solar corona and of the stars, as well as doing work in calorimetry, radiometry, seismology, and terrestrial magnetism. He was chief of the 1875 eclipse expedition to Siam. He coined the term for “anti-matter,” speculating long before it was discovered in reality.

Science Quotes by Sir Arthur Schuster (3 quotes)

In the expressions we adopt to prescribe physical phenomena we necessarily hover between two extremes. We either have to choose a word which implies more than we can prove, or we have to use vague and general terms which hide the essential point, instead of bringing it out. The history of electrical theories furnishes a good example.
— Sir Arthur Schuster
Opening Address to the Annual Meeting of the British Association by Prof. Arthur Schuster, in Nature (4 Aug 1892), 46, 325.
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One of the principal obstacles to the rapid diffusion of a new idea lies in the difficulty of finding suitable expression to convey its essential point to other minds. Words may have to be strained into a new sense, and scientific controversies constantly resolve themselves into differences about the meaning of words. On the other hand, a happy nomenclature has sometimes been more powerful than rigorous logic in allowing a new train of thought to be quickly and generally accepted.
— Sir Arthur Schuster
Opening Address to the Annual Meeting of the British Association by Prof. Arthur Schuster, in Nature (4 Aug 1892), 46, 325.
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Surely something is wanting in our conception of the universe. We know positive and negative electricity, north and south magnetism, and why not some extra terrestrial matter related to terrestrial matter, as the source is to the sink. ... Worlds may have formed of this stuff, with element and compounds possessing identical properties with out own, indistinguishable from them until they are brought into each other's vicinity. ... Astronomy, the oldest and most juvenile of the sciences, may still have some surprises in store. Many anti-matter be commended to its care! ... Do dreams ever come true?
[Purely whimsical prediction long before the 1932 discovery of the positron, the antiparticle of the electron.]
— Sir Arthur Schuster
'Potential Matter—A Holiday Dream', Letter to the Editor, Nature (18 Aug 1898), 58, 367. Quoted in Edward Robert Harrison, Cosmology: the Science of the Universe (2000), 433.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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