This page features a collection of interesting and relevant quotations by authors and scholars on topics ranging from the Enlightenment, Copernican Revolution, NASA, Science, and Philosophy.
“ As for walking on the moon, sometimes I wonder if that really happened. I can honestly say—and it's a great surprise to me that I have never had a dream about being on the moon. It's a great disappointment to me. ”
—Neil Armstrong (Wagener, One Giant Leap, p. 303) (Source)
“ Today we have with us a group of students, among America's best. To you we say we have only completed a beginning. We leave you much that is undone. There are great ideas undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of the truth's protective layers. There are places to go beyond belief... ”
—Neil Armstrong, Speech on 25th anniversary of Apollo landing, July 20, 1994 (Source)
“ A beautiful story. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we’re pioneers or explorers or selfless discovers. We went to the Moon because Cold War politics made it the militarily expedient thing to do. ”
—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophyscist, Space chronicles: facing the ultimate frontier (2012), p.200
“ Notwithstanding the sanitized memories so many of us have of the Apollo era, Americans were not first on the Moon because we're explorers by nature or because our country is committed to the pursuit of knowledge. We get to the Moon first because the United States was out to beat the Soviet Union, to win the Cold War any way we could. Kennedy made that clear when he complained to top NASA officials in November 1962:
- I’m not that interested in space. I think it’s good, I think we ought to know about it, we’re ready to spend reasonable amounts of money. But we’re talking about these fantastic expenditures which wreck our budget and all these other domestic programs and the only justification for it in my opinion to do it in this time or fashion is because we hope to beat [the Soviet Union] and demonstrate that starting behind, as we did by a couple of years, by God, we passed them.
Like it or not, war (cold or hot) is the most powerful funding driver in the public arsenal. Lofty goals such as curiosity, discovery, exploration, and science can get you money for modest-size projects, provided they resonate with the political and cultural views of the moment. But big, expensive activities are inherently long term, and require sustained investment that must survive economic fluctuations and changes in the political winds.
In all eras, across time and culture, only war, greed, and the celebration of royal or religious power have fulfilled that funding requirement. Today, the power of kings is supplanted by elected governments, and the power of religion is often expressed in nonarchitectural undertakings, leaving war and greed to run the show. ”
—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Space chronicles: facing the ultimate frontier (2012), p.219
“ In the late 1960's our simulation technology had progressed to the point where it became virtually impossible to separate the training from actual missions. The simulations became full dress rehearsals tor the missions down to the smallest detail. The simulation tested out the crew's and controller's responses to normal and emergency conditions. It checked out the exact flight plan, mission rules, and procedures that the crew and controllers would use for a later flight. ”
—Apollo Flight Director Gene Kranz, Failure Is Not an Option
“ The simulations were so real that no controller could discern the difference between the training and the real mission. ”
—Apollo Flight Director Gene Kranz, Failure Is Not an Option
“ So when George “Jay” Keyworth, a forty-three-year-old weapons designer from Los Alamos, became Ronald Reagan’s science adviser, NASA faced a crisis of survival. He did not trust the space agency. “Of all the organizations that I have dealt with, some so wrapped up in their bureaucratic interests that they were certainly counter to the directions . . . the country was going in. Some of them filled with incompetent people. Some of them outstanding. I have only seen one that lied. It was NASA. From the top to the bottom they lie. . . . The reason they lie, of course, is because they are wrapped up in a higher calling. In their eyes they are white lies. They tell lies in order to do what has to be done. Because in the end the result will be for the betterment of the public. So they are not lying from evil. But, nevertheless, they are lying,” Keyworth asserts.13 He believed that the entire basis of the shuttle was a lie. ”
—Investigative Reporter Joseph J. Trento, Prescription for disaster, p.184
“ All government agencies lie part of the time, but NASA is the only one I've ever encountered that does so routinely. ”
—George A. Keyworth, Science Advisor to President Regan in testimony before Congress, March 14, 1985
“ Of all the organizations that I have dealt with . . . I have only seen one that lied. It was NASA," science adviser Keyworth says today. "The reason they lie, of course, is because they are wrapped up in a higher calling. In their eyes these are white lies. They tell lies in order to do what has to be done. Because in the end the result will be for the betterment of the public. So they are not lying from evil. But, nevertheless, they are lying. ”
—George A. Keyworth, LATimes - Why Challenger Was Doomed, Jan 18 1987 (Source)
“ As the team and the money began to grow, Webb got a message from Bernard A. Schriever, who was responsible for all Air Force ICBMS including the troubled Atlas. Then Seamans’ aide David Williamson recalls what happened. “There is a famous secret telegram dealing with all of it and it was sent to James Webb saying don’t make it [NASA’s Atlas tests] public, because if you fly a big public mission on my Atlas and my Atlas breaks, I won’t be able to lie to Congress and to the people of America about how far ahead of the Russians we are. That’s not what he said but that’s what he meant. What he said was that it will hurt national security because it will give the Soviets a feeling that our deterrent isn’t credible. Okay, well that’s a legitimate argument. In fact it [the Atlas] wasn’t credible and wasn’t going to be credible for about three years. What he was saying in a premature way, we [NASA] will tell everybody in the world that we’re not as good as we think. And that is one of the big differences between the old NASA and DOD [Department of Defense] throughout. We never thought to use secrecy for embarrassment reasons of that kind.” ”
—Investigative Reporter Joseph J. Trento, Prescription for disaster, p.40
“ Space has been politicized and militarized from the opening moments of the race to reach it. ”
—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Accessory to War
“ As NASA dazzled the American public by pulling off one spectacular event after another, another equally massive space program was taking place out of the public’s view. What is known as the “black” space program became equal to NASA in dollars and by the late 1970's surpassed the civil program in spending. David Williamson, who had the job of NASA and DOD liaison, estimates that more than half of space activity is secret. “You simply cannot write about it because they will put you in jail.” ”
—Investigative Reporter Joseph J. Trento, Prescription for disaster, p.122
“ The science and technology did not exist in 1961 to make the moon shot at that time. And many scientists thought that it was impossible to create this technology by the end of the decade. But enough scientists existed who did not reject the idea as totally impossible, and they set to work to invent everything necessary to make it happen. And, of course, on July 20, 1969, the United States reached the moon and returned the Apollo crew safely home a few days later. An almost impossible stretch was accomplished. ”
—Robert M. Sheehan, Jr., Mission Impact: Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits
“ When I was a child, I read the popular comic strip Buck Rogers. Rogers wore a funny-looking outfit and traveled around in space in a shiny rocket. I liked reading Buck Rogers because it was like magic—the world of make-believe for young people. But later, the U.S. actually did it: we landed men on the moon and we got them back to Earth. In the 1958 two Harvard scientists conclusively proved that space travel was impossible (because of the weight of the fuel). Today we take Space travel for granted.
These achievements were all perceived to be impossible, but they were accomplished. If these things were possible, what else is possible? ”
—Don Soderquist, The Wal-Mart Way: The Inside Story of the Success of the World's Largest Company
“ Unlike the problem of hunger, in which solutions already exist, there were no solutions to the problem of getting a man to the moon in 1961. President Kennedy created a context called "A man on the moon in 10 years," and out of that context, in which the question of feasibility was merely one of many positions within the context, came the workable solution: the Congressional approval, appropriations of money, technological breakthroughs, NASA, and, ultimately, men on the moon. Before then, space travel was not possible because the attempts to make it real existed in a condition of unworkability. ”
—Werner Erhard, 1977, The Hunger Project Source Document
“ To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth - all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances. ”
—Electrionics and Radio Pioneer Lee De Forest, Ph.D., Yale University, 1957
“ We did not ask ourselves whether space exploration was possible. We simply assumed that it was, and that it could brought about in our time ”
—Astronautics & Aeronautics - Volume 19 - Page 37, 1981
“ My great grandma went from covered wagons to moon landings. It's cool to see how far we go. ”
—Anonymous Reddit Post
“ In 1963, when most scientists doubted the possibility of interstellar space travel, Carl Sagan embraced the notion enthusiastically. He advocated direct physical contact among galactic communities by means of relativistic interstellar flight. ”
—Science Historian George Basalla, Civilized Life in the Universe (Source)
“ The rocket engineers and promoters were often science-fiction fans and writers themselves. Tsiolkovsky, Oberth and Von Braun all wrote space fiction at one time or another. Oberth and the VfR were technical advisers for Fritz Lang's movie Frau im Mond, receiving enough money to build an actual rocket they intended to launch in connection with the film's premiere. The plan went awry, but at least one prominent rocket engineer, Krafft Ehricke, designer of the Atlas booster which sent the first Americans into orbit, was "converted to space travel" by the movie.11 G. Edwards Pendray and Nathan Schachner, both presidents of the American Rocket Society, wrote for science-fiction magazines under pseudonyms, as did Ley himself. Arthur Clarke was an officer of the British Interplanetary Society before he became a successful science-fiction writer. Among a long string of technical articles predating his debut as a professional fiction writer was Clarke's proposal for a communications satellite, written in October, 1945.12 ”
—Albert I. Berger, Science-Fiction Critiques of the American Space Program 1945-1958, Science Fiction Studies, Volume 5, Part 2, July 1978 (Source)
“ If respectable science could not open the road to the stars, there was only one alternative, "to go to the crackpots." ”
—On Futurian James Blish's SF commentary on government integrity, Albert I. Berger, Science-Fiction Critiques of the American Space Program 1945-1958, Science Fiction Studies, Volume 5, Part 2, July 1978 (Source)
“ Poll: Over Half of Russians Don't Believe America Landed on the Moon - NASA's six manned lunar missions, known as the Apollo program, which was conducted from July 1969 to December 1972, have attracted a great deal of interest among conspiracy theorists who hold that the entire program was a hoax aimed at pulling one over on the Soviets during the Cold War.
Some 57 percent of Russians believe that there has never been a manned lunar landing and are convinced that the US government falsified videos, photos and other material evidence regarding the 1969 expedition, a new poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (Russian acronym VCIOM) has revealed. ”
—Sputnik News, July 27, 2018 (Archive)
“ Why do 76% of Russians refuse to believe that the Americans were on the Moon? ”
—Russia Beyond, Jan 14, 2019 (Source)
“ 52 Percent Of The British Public Think The Moon Landings Were Faked, Claims Survey ”
“ The International Space Station is an orbital turkey....No important science has come out of it. I could almost say no science has come out of it. And I would go beyond that and say that the whole manned spaceflight program, which is so enormously expensive, has produced nothing of scientific value. ”
—Professor Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize in Physics (Source)
“ But some kind of satellite, built by any means necessary, had to be launched ASAP. Luckily, during the closing weeks and immediate aftermath of World War II in Europe, the United States had acquired a worthy challenger to Sergei Korolev: the German engineer and physicist Wernher von Braun, former leader of the team that had developed the terrifying V-2 ballistic missile. We also acquired more than a hundred members of his team.
Instead of being put on trial at Nuremburg for war crimes, von Braun became America’s savior, the progenitor and public face of the US space program. His first high-profile task was to provide the first rocket for the first successful launch of America’s first satellite. On January 31, 1958—less
than four months after Sputnik 1’s round-the-world tour—he and his rocketeers got the thirty-pound Explorer 1, plus its eighteen pounds of scientific
instrumentation, into orbit. ”
—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, p.125
“ For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covet means for expanding its sphere of influence on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a “tightly knit”, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. ”
—John F. Kennedy, April 27, 1961
“ History is created, manipulated and written by those who are predominantly on the Victorious side of the nation which has supreme political, and especially military, dominance. Any ‘truth’ which has the slightest potential of weakening their total hold over the masses is not tolerated. Any truth which can impact their power is squelched or cunningly hidden by them, usually in a manufactured media release to the unsuspecting public, often in a jovial manner to render the information a laughing matter and display it as harmless. ”
—Clark C McClelland, Former Apollo engineer
“ History is a lie, commonly agreed upon. ”
—Voltaire, French philosopher
“ Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen. ”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher
“ Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity. ”
—Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), Canadian philosopher of communication theory
“ You oughta put something in context; If you want to do something with three and a half trillion dollars, you can do whatever you want. Whatever you judge to be important to the profile of the nation you are trying to build and sustain. ”
—Neil deGrasse Tyson
“ A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: "I, the state, am the people." ”
“ Governments are supposed to lie to their citizens ”
“ I have certain rules I live by. My First Rule; I don't believe anything the government tells me. ”
“ I tell people that they shouldn't believe what the government tells them. Just start with the assumption that it isn't right, it isn't true, and that they are lying to us. ”
—Ron Paul, Former American Congressman (Source 1 2)
“ The lies the government and media tell are amplifications of the lies we tell ourselves. To stop being conned, stop conning yourself. ”
—James Wolcott, American Journalist
“ "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
"Plato is my friend - Aristotle is my friend - but my greatest friend is truth...Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things." ”
“ Today's scientists have substituded mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. ”
“ Nobody that I know of in my field uses the so-called scientific method. In our field it is by the seat of your pants, leaps of logic. It is guesswork. ”
—Michio Kaku, C-SPAN Interview (Source)
“ It has astounded the world of mathematics, and physics and now you can't move in the physics world without bumping into somebody who wants to talk about the tenth dimension, the eleventh dimension, the multi-verse, hyper space, time travel. All the things that were once considered science fiction are now centerpiece in our understanding of the nature of everything. ”
“ They defend the old theories by complicating things to the point of incomprehensibility. ”
—Fred Hoyle, British Mathematician and Astronomer
“ When I began my physical studies [in Munich in 1874] and sought advice from my venerable teacher Philipp von Jolly...he portrayed to me physics as a highly developed, almost fully matured science...Possibly in one or another nook there would perhaps be a dust particle or a small bubble to be examined and classified, but the system as a whole stood there fairly secured, and theoretical physics approached visibly that degree of perfection which, for example, geometry has had already for centuries. ”
—Max Plank, Nobel Prize, Physics
“ Experiment is the only means of knowledge at our disposal. Everything else is poetry imagination. ”
“ Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ”
“ I know one thing, that I know nothing. ”
“ The more you know, the more you know you don't know. ”
“ Advances are made by answering questions. Discoveries are made by questioning answers. ”
—Bernard Haisch, Astrophysicist (c. 2000)
“ The whole history of science shows that each generation finds the universe to be stranger than the preceding generation ever conceived it to be. ”
“ We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress. ”
—Richard Feynman, Physicist
“ When presented with two possibilities, scientists tend to choose the wrong one. ”
—Halton C. Arp, Astrophyscist
“ ...the scientist, reverenced for their beards and the fur on their gowns, who teach that they alone are wise while the rest of mortal men flit about as shadows. How pleasantly they dote, indeed, while they construct their numberless worlds, and measure the sun, moon, stars, and spheres as with thumb and line. They assign causes for lightening, winds, eclipses, and other inexplicable things, never hesitating a whit, as if they were privy to the secrets of nature, artificer of things, or as if they visited us fresh from the council of the gods. Yet all the while nature is laughing grandly at them and their conjectures. For to prove that they have good intelligence of nothing, this is a sufficient argument: they can never explain why they disagree with each other on every subject. Thus knowing nothing in general, they profess to know all things in particular; though they are ignorant even of themselves, and on occasion do not see the ditch or the stone lying across their path, because many of them are blear-eyed or absent-minded; yet they proclaim that they perceive ideas, universals, forms without matter ”
—The Praise of Folly by Erasmus (1511)
“ A definition of science: Something that is direct, observable, physical, natural, repeatable, unambiguous and comprehensive – in other words not hearsay, popular opinion, “expert” testimony, majority view, personal conviction, organisational ruling, conventional usage, superficial analogy, appeal to “simplicity”, or other indirect means of persuasion. ”
—R.G. Elmendorf: The Foucault Pendulum, PA, USA, 1994.
“ A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. ”
“ The motto of the Royal Society is “Nullius in verba,” which roughly means: “Take nobody’s word for it.” On the Royal Society’s website they expand this meaning thus:
- “ [The motto]…is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment. ”
The quote reinforces the concept of not accepting as “self-evident” that which authorities (or equations) suggest would be found where we have not yet actually looked. ”
—Richard Benish, Correspondence with Professors
“ Science today is locked into paradigms. Every avenue is blocked by beliefs that are wrong, and if you try to get anything published in a journal today, you will run up against a paradigm, and the editors will turn you down. ”
“ I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. ”
“ Anybody who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: 'Ye must have faith.' ”
Rotation and Revolution
“ We know that the difference between a heliocentric theory and a geocentric theory is one of relative motion only, and that such a difference has no physical significance. ”
—Fred Hoyle, Astronomer
“ People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations, For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations. You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that. ”
—Cosmologist George Ellis, in Scientific American, "Thinking Globally, Acting Universally", October 1995
“ The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, 'the sun is at rest and the earth moves,' or 'the sun moves and the earth is at rest,' would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [Coordinate Systems]. ”
—Einstein and Infeld, The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.
“ Accordingly, since nothing prevents the earth from moving, I suggest that we should now consider also whether several motions suit it, so that it can be regarded as one of the planets. For, it is not the center of all the revolutions. ”
“ I demonstrate by means of philosophy that the earth is round, and is inhabited on all sides; that it is insignificantly small, and is borne through the stars. ”
“ We might hope therefore that the Einstein theory, which is well suited to such problems, would throw more light on the matter. But instead of adding further support to the heliocentric picture of the planetary motions, the Einstein theory goes in the opposite direction, giving increased respectability to the geocentric picture ”
—Sir Fred Hoyle, Nicolaus Copernicus: An Essay on His Life and Work, p. 87
“ ...all masses, all motion, indeed all forces are relative. There is no way to discern relative from absolute motion when we encounter them...Whenever modern writers infer an imaginary distinction between relative and absolute motion from a Newtonian framework, they do not stop to think that the Ptolemaic and Copernican are both equally true. ”
—Ernst Mach, Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwicklung historisch-kritisch dargestellt, eighth ed, Leipzig, p. 222, 1921.
“ According to Einstein, the argument over whether the earth turns around or the heavens revolve around it, is seen to be no more than an argument over the choice of reference frames. There is no frame of reference from which an observer would not see the effects of the flattening of the poles. Thus in frame number 1 (the earth turns round while the sky is at rest), the centrifugal force is a consequence of the earth’s motion (uniform acceleration) relative to the heavens. This causes the flattening. In the latter frame, number 2 (the sky rotates and the earth stands still), the centrifugal force should be understood as being an effect of “the rotating heavens,” which is generating a gravitational field that causes the flattening of the poles. The two explanations are equivalent as there is equivalence between inertial and gravitational mass. ”
—Einstein’s Ether: D. Rotational Motion of the Earth,” Galina Granek, Department of Philosophy, Haifa University, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel, Apeiron, Vol. 8, No. 2, April 2001, p. 61.
“ So which is real, the Ptolemaic or the Copernican system? Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest. Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest. ”
—Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design, pages 41-42.
“ I have two things to say that might surprise you: first, geocentrism is a valid frame of reference, and second, heliocentrism is not any more or less correct. ”
—Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer
“ Before Copernicus, people thought that the earth stood still and that the heavens revolved about it once a day. Copernicus taught that "really" the earth revolves once a day, and the daily rotation of sun and stars is only "apparent"... But in the modern theory the question between Copernicus and his predecessors is merely one of convenience; all motion is relative, and there is no difference between the two... Astronomy is easier if we take the sun as fixed than if we take the earth... But to say more for Copernicus is to assume absolute motion, which is a fiction. It is a mere convention to take one body as at rest. All such conventions are equally legitimate, though not all are equally convenient. ”
—Bertrand Russell, The ABC of Relativity [ London: Allen & Unwin, 1958, p.13]
“ Let it be understood at the outset that it makes no difference, from the point of view of describing planetary motion, whether we take the Earth or the Sun as the center of the solar system. Since the issue is one of relative motion only, there are infinitely many exactly equivalent descriptions referred to different centers - in principle any point will do, the Moon. Jupiter...So the passions loosed on the world by the publication of Copernicus' book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri VI were logically irrelevant... ”
—Sir Fred Hoyle, Nicolaus Copernicus. An Essay on His Life and Work, p.1
“ The ancient argument over Whether the Earth rotates or the heavens revolve around it (as Aristotle taught) is seen to be no more than an argument over the simplest choice of a frame of reference. Obviously. the most convenient choice is the universe.... Nothing except inconvenience prevents us from choosing the Earth as a fixed frame of reference...If We choose to make the Earth our ﬁxed frame of reference, we do not even do violence to everyday speech. We say that the sun rises in the morning, sets in the evening: the Big Dipper revolves around the North Star. Which point of view is “correct”? Do the heavens revolve or does the Earth rotate. The question is meaninglessness. ”
—The Relativity Explosion: Martin Gardner, 1976, pp 86-87
“ One could just as legitimately assume the Earth to be fixed and the entire universe, with its great spherical cloud of black-body radiation, to be moving. The equations are the same. Indeed, from the standpoint of relativity the choice of reference frame is arbitrary. Naturally, it is simpler to assume the universe is fixed and the Earth moving than the other way around, but the two ways of talking about the Earth's relative motion are two ways of saying the same thing. ”
—'The Relativity Explosion', Martin Gardner, pp. 184-185. On another page Gardner writes: "Do the heavens revolve or does the Earth rotate? The question is meaningless. A waitress may just as sensibly ask a customer if he wanted ice cream on top of his pie or the pie placed under his ice cream" (ibid., p. 87).
“ We can talk with precision of a body as spinning around relative to something or another, but there is no such thing as absolute spin: the Earth is not spinning to those of us who live on its surface and our point of view is as good as anyone else’s – but no better. ”
—F. Hoyle: Frontiers of Astronomy, New York, Harper & Row, 1966, p344
“ Examined more closely, this simple idea acquires capital importance; there is no way of settling the question, no experiment can disprove the principle that there is no absolute space, all displacements we can observe are relative displacements. I have often had occasion to express these considerations so familiar to philosophers. They have even given me a publicity I would gladly have avoided. All the reactionary French journals have made me prove that the sun turns around the earth. In the famous case between the Inquisition and Galileo, Galileo should be all wrong. ”
—“The New Mechanics,” Henri Poincaré, 1913, The Monist, Vol. 23, pp. 385-395
“ The failure of the many attempts to measure terrestrially any effects of the earth's motion... ”
—Wolfgang Pauli, Physicist (1900-1958)
“ We do not have and cannot have any means of discovering whether or not we are carried along in a uniform motion of translation. ”
—Physicist, Henri Poincaré, Physcist (1854-1912)
“ A great deal of research has been carried out concerning the influence of the Earth's movement. The results were always negative. ”
—Physicist, Henri Poincaré, Physcist (1854-1912)
“ The Copernican revolution outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes, mere internal displacements, within the system of medieval Christendom. Since it changed the character of men's habitual mental operations even in the conduct of the non-material sciences, while transforming the whole diagram of the physical universe and the very texture of human life itself, it looms so large as the real origin both of the modern world and of the modern mentality, that our customary periodisation of European history has become an anachronism and an encumbrance. ”
—Historian Herbert Butterfield, The Origins of Modern Science: 1300-1800, New York, The Free Press, 1957, pp. 7-8.
“ The work, published in 1543, was called On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres. It stated that the center of the universe was a spot somewhere near the sun...The scheme met the requirements of philosophical and theological belief in circular motion. In every other respect, however, Copernicus struck at the heart of Aristotelian and Christian belief. He removed the Earth from the center of the universe and so from the focus of God’s purpose. In the new scheme man was no longer the creature for whose use and elucidation the cosmos had been created. His system also placed the Earth in the heavens, and in doing so removed the barrier separating the incorruptible from the corruptible. ”
—James Burke, The Day the Universe Changed, p. 135
“ If the people of Europe had known as much of astronomy and geology when the bible was introduced among them, as they do now, there never could have been one believer in the doctrine of inspiration. If the writers of the various parts of the bible had known as much about the sciences as is now known by every intelligent man, the book never could have been written. It was produced by ignorance, and has been believed and defended by its author. It has lost power in the proportion that man has gained knowledge. A few years ago, this book was appealed to in the settlement of all scientific questions; but now, even the clergy confess that in such matters, it has ceased to speak with the voice of authority. For the establishment of facts, the word of man is now considered far better than the word of God. In the world of science, Jehovah was superseded by Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. All that God told Moses, admitting the entire account to be true, is dust and ashes compared to the discoveries of Descartes, Laplace, and Humboldt. In matters of fact, the bible has ceased to be regarded as a standard. Science has succeeded in breaking the chains of theology. A few years ago, Science endeavored to show that it was not inconsistent with the bible. The tables have been turned, and now, Religion is endeavoring to prove that the bible is not inconsistent with Science. The standard has been changed. ”
—Robert G. Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses
“ Christianity is dead and rotting since Galileo cut its throat. ”
—Slote, The Winds of War
“ Copernicus studied in Bologna under the Platonist Novara; and Copernicus’ idea of placing the sun rather than the earth in the center of the universe was not the result of new observations but of a new interpretation of old and well-known facts in the light of semi-religious Platonic and Neo-Platonic ideas. The crucial idea can be traced back to the sixth book of Plato’s Republic, where we can read that the sun plays the same role in the realm of visible things as does the idea of the good in the realm of ideas. Now the idea of the good is the highest in the hierarchy of Platonic ideas. Accordingly the sun, which endows visible things with their visibility, vitality, growth and progress, is the highest in the hierarchy of the visible things in nature…Now if the sun was to be given pride of place, if the sun merited a divine status…then it was hardly possible for it to revolve about the earth. The only fitting place for so exalted a star was the center of the universe. So the earth was bound to revolve about the sun. This Platonic idea, then, forms the historical background of the Copernican revolution. It does not start with observations, but with a religious or mythological idea. ”
—Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, p. 187
“ Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler did not solve an old problem, they asked a new question, and in doing so they changed the whole basis on which the old questions had been framed. ”
“ It has often been noted that three major revolutions in thought have threatened the idea of human centrality. First, Copernicus demonstrated that Earth was not the center about which all celestial bodies revolved. Next, Darwin showed us that we were not central in the chain of life but, like all other creatures, had evolved from other life-forms. Third, Freud demonstrated that we are not masters in our own house-that much of our behavior is governed by forced outside of our consciousness. There is no doubt that Freud’s unacknowledged co-revolutionary was Arthur Schopenhauer, who, long before Freud’s birth, had posited that we are governed by deep biological forces and then delude ourselves into thinking that we consciously choose our activities. ”
—Irvin D. Yalom, The Schopenhauer Cure
“ The superior simplicity of the Copernican theory was just as much of a myth as its superior accuracy. The myth of superior simplicity was dispelled by the careful and professional work of modern historians. They reminded us that while Copernican theory solves certain problems in a simpler way than does the Ptolemaic one. the price of the simplification is unexpected complications in the solution of other problems. The Copernican system is certainly simpler since it dispenses with equants and some eccentrics: but each equant and eccentric removed has to be replaced by new epicycles and epicyclets. . .he also has to put the center of the universe not at the Sun. as he originally intended. but at an empty point fairly near to it.....I think it is fair to say that the ‘simplicity balance” between Ptolemy’s and Copernicus’ system is roughly even. ”
—The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes, Imre Lakatos, pp 173-174
“ The popular belief that Copernicus' heliocentric system constitutes a significant simplification of the Ptolemaic system is obviously wrong. The choice of the reference system has no effect on the structure of the model, and the Copernican models themselves require about twice as many circles as the Ptolemaic models and are far less elegant and adaptable!"
Modern historians, making ample use of the advantage of hindsight, stress the revolutionary significance of the heliocentric system and the simplification it had introduced. In fact, the actual computation of planetary positions follows exactly the ancient patterns and the results are the same. The Copernican solar theory is definitely a step in the wrong direction for the actual computation as well as for the underlying kinematic concepts ”
—'On Three Planetary Theory of Copernicus' - Otto Neugebauer 1968, p 103
“ The personality of Galileo, as it emerges from works of popular science, has even less relation to historic fact than Canon Koppernigk’s…[H]e appears…in rationalist mythography as the Maid of Orleans of Science, the St. George who slew the dragon of the Inquisition. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the fame of this outstanding genius rests mostly on discoveries he never made, and on feats he never performed. Contrary to statements in even recent outlines of science, Galileo did not invent the telescope; nor the microscope; nor the thermometer; nor the pendulum clock. He did not discover the law of inertia; nor the parallelogram of forces or motions; not the sun spots. He made no contribution to theoretical astronomy; he did not throw down weights from the leaning tower of Pisa and did not prove the truth of the Copernican system. He was not tortured by the Inquisition, did not languish in its dungeons, did not say ‘eppur si muove’; and he was not a martyr of science ”
—Arthur Koestler, The Sleepwalkers, p. 358.
“ …in the Renaissance movement championed by Marsiglio Ficino, the doctrine came alive again, but in a somewhat altered form; one might say that what Ficino instituted was indeed a religion, a kind of neo-paganism. Copernicus himself was profoundly influenced by this movement, as can be clearly seen from numerous passages in the De Revolutionibus." ”
—Wolfgang Smith, The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology, p. 174).
“ In the middle of all sits Sun enthroned. In this most beautiful temple could we place this luminary in any better position from which he can illuminate the whole at once? He is rightly called the Lamp, the Mind, the Ruler of the Universe: Hermes Trismegistus names him the Visible God, Sophocles’ Electra calls him the All-seeing. So the Sun sits as upon a royal throne ruling his children the planets which circle round him. The Earth has the Moon at her service. As Aristotle says, in his On Animals, the Moon has the closest relationship with the Earth. Meanwhile the Earth conceives by the Sun, and becomes pregnant with an annual rebirth. ”
—Nicolaus Copernicus , De Revolutionibus, Of the Order of the Heavenly Bodies 10.
“ [Copernicus’] reasons for his revolutionary change were essentially philosophic and aesthetic,” and in a later edition he is more convinced that the “reasons were mystical rather than scientific ”
—J. D. Bernal, Science in History, 1st edition, London, Watts, 1954; 2nd edition, 1965).
“ Actually neither this Galileo, nor his mentor Copernicus, had a shred of truly tangible and unequivocal evidence for their heliocentric belief – and well do historians, astronomers, and philosophers of science know it! As I recently found it succinctly expressed in a research paper “Since Galileo science has shed logical proofs in favour of plausibility.” [Chris Biebricher: ‘Evolutionary Research,’ in Vincent Brummer, Interpreting the Universe as Creation. Kampen Kok Pharos, 1991, p.93.] Indeed, by this “scientific method” of adding plausible explanations to plausible explanations astronomy has arrived at the present view of the cosmos. However, those who forget that “plausible” and “proven” are not synonyms inevitably will see their chickens come home to roost. ”
—Walter van der Kamp: The Cosmos Einstein and Truth (1993), p.28.
“ Among all the discoveries and convictions, probably not a single fact has had a deeper influence on the human spirit than the teaching of Copernicus ... Humanity has probably never been asked to do more; for consider all that went up in smoke as a result of realising this change: a second paradise, a world of innocence, poetry and piety, the witness of the senses, the conviction of a poetic and religious faith; small wonder that one did not want to give this up, that people in every possible way resisted such a doctrine, which those who accepted it justified and summoned to a so far unknown, yet unthought of freedom of thinking and greatness of vision. ”
—German poet Johann von Goethe (1749-1832), Geschichte der Farbenlehre, Chicago, University Press, p.67.
“ More recently, Arthur Koestler describes the transition like so: Their cosmic quest destroyed the medieval vision of an immutable social order in a walled-in Universe, with its fixed hierarchy of moral values, and transformed the European landscape, society, culture, habits and general outlook as thoroughly as if a new species had arisen on this planet. ”
—Arthur Koestler, The Sleepwalkers, Grosset & Dunlop, New York, 1963, p.13.
“ I have already known a long time that we do not yet have proof for the system of Copernicus, but I shall not take the risk to be the first one attacking it ”
—Alexander von Humboldt(1769-1859), Quoted in F.K. Schultze's synopsis and translation of F.E. Pasche's "Christliche Weltanschauuing
“ But among all the discoveries and corrections probably none has resulted in a deeper influence on the human spirit than the doctrine of Copernicus…. Possibly mankind has never been demanded to do more, for considering all that went up in smoke as a result of realizing this change: a second Paradise, a world of innocence, poetry and piety: the witness of the senses, the conviction of a poetical and religious faith. No wonder his contemporaries did not wish to let all this go and offered every possible resistance to a doctrine which in its converts authorized and demanded a freedom of view and greatness of thought so far unknown indeed not even dreamed of. ”
—Johann von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre, Materialien zur Geschichte der Farbenlehre, Frankfurt am Main, 1991, Seite 666.
“ The falsity of the Copernican system should not in any way be called into question, above all, not by Catholics, since we have the unshakeable authority of the Sacred Scripture, interpreted by the most erudite theologians, whose consensus gives us certainty regarding the stability of the Earth, situated in the center, and the motion of the sun around the Earth. The conjectures employed by Copernicus and his followers in maintaining the contrary thesis are all sufficiently rebutted by that most solid argument deriving from the omnipotence of God. He is able to bring about in different ways, indeed, in an infinite number of ways, things that, according to our opinion and observation, appear to happen in one particular way. We should not seek to shorten the hand of God and boldly insist on something beyond the limits of our competence. ”
—Le Opere Di Galileo Galilei, p. 316, footnote #2.
“ I don't think there is one person in many, many thousands--regardless of education--who knows that the Copernican Model had to turn the Moon's observable direction around and give it a new speed to accommodate the phases and eclipses. ”
“ The Moon presented a special math problem for the construction of the heliocentricity model. The only way to make the Moon fit in with the other assumptions was to reverse its direction from that of what everyone who has ever lived has seen it go. The math model couldn't just stop the Moon like it did the Sun, that wouldn’t work. And it couldn’t let it continue to go East to West as we see it go, either at the same speed or at a different speed. The only option was to reverse its observed East to West direction and change its speed from about 64,000 miles an hour to about 2,200 miles an hour. This reversal along with the change in speed were unavoidable assumptions that needed to be adopted if the model was to have a chance of mimicking reality. ”
“ There is no planetary observation by which we on Earth can prove that the Earth is moving in an orbit around the sun. Thus all Galileo’s discoveries with the telescope can be accommodated to the system invented by Tycho Brahe just before Galileo began his observations of the heavens. In this Tychonic system, the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn move in orbits around the sun, while the sun moves in an orbit around the Earth in a year. Furthermore, the daily rotation of the heavens is communicated to the sun and planets, so that the Earth itself neither rotates nor revolves in an orbit. ”
—Physicist I. Bernard Cohen, Birth of a New Physics, revised and updated, New York: W. W. Norton, 1985, p.78.
“ It is often said that Tycho’s model implies the absence of parallax, and that Copernicus’ requires parallax. However, it would not be a major conceptual change to have the stars orbit the sun (like the planets) for Tycho, which would give the same yearly shifts in their apparent positions as parallax gives. Thus if parallax were observed, a flexible Tychonean could adjust the theory to account for it, without undue complexity. What if parallax were not observed? For Copernicus, one only requires that the stars be far enough away for the parallax to be unmeasurable. Therefore the presence or absence of parallax doesn’t force the choice of one type of model over the other. If different stars were to show different amounts of parallax, that would rule out the possibility of them all being on one sphere, but still not really decide between Tycho and Copernicus.
In fact, if we don’t worry about the distant stars, these two models describe identical relative motions of all the objects in the solar system. So the role of observation is not as direct as you might have guessed. There is no bare observation that can distinguish whether Tycho (taken broadly) or Copernicus (taken broadly) is right. ”
—University of Illinois, Physics 319, Spring 2004, Lecture 03, p. 8
“ In order for the Earth to be at rest in the center of the system of the Sun, Planets, and Comets, there is required both universal gravity and another force in addition that acts on all bodies equally according to the quantity of matter in each of them and is equal and opposite to the accelerative gravity with which the Earth tends to the Sun…Since this force is equal and opposite to its gravity toward the Sun, the Earth can truly remain in equilibrium between these two forces and be at rest. And thus celestial bodies can move around the Earth at rest, as in the Tychonic system. ”
—Isaac Newton, Proposition 43.
“ Kepler knew that in Tycho’s possession were the raw observations that he, as “architect,” longed to assemble into a coherent picture of planetary motion. And Tycho knew that the gifted Kepler had the mathematical wherewithal to prove the validity of the Tychonic [geocentric] system of the heavens. But Kepler was a confirmed Copernican; Tycho’s model had no appeal to him, and he had no intention of polishing this flawed edifice to the great man’s ego. ”
—Alan W. Hirshfeld, Parallax: The Race to Measure the Universe, New York: W. H. Freeman and Co, 2001, pp. 92-93).
“ Let all keep silence and hark to Tycho who has devoted thirty-five years to his observations… For Tycho alone do I wait; he shall explain to me the order and arrangement of the orbits… Then I hope I shall one day, if God keeps me alive, erect a wonderful edifice....
Brahe may discourage me from Copernicus (or even from the five perfect solids) but rather I think about striking Tycho himself with a sword…I think thus about Tycho: he abounds in riches, which like most rich people he does not rightly use. Therefore great effort has to be given that we may wrest his riches away from him. We will have to go begging, of course, so that he may sincerely spread his observations around ”
—Kepler, Letter to Michael Maestlin, February 16 1599, Gesammelte Werke, vol. xiii, p. 289; See Also: Joshua Gilder and Anne-Lee Gilder, "Heavenly Intrigue: Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and the Murder Behind one of History’s Greatest Scientific Discoveries", New York: Doubleday, 2004
“ I confess that when Tycho died, I quickly took advantage of the absence, or lack of circumspection, of the heirs, by taking the observations under my care, or perhaps usurping them… ”
—Kepler as quoted by Stephen Hawking (2004). The Illustrated On the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy. Philadelphia: Running Press. p. 108
“ A careful examination of Newton’s writings have revealed that some of the errors in the Principia were a deliberate and dishonest attempt to mislead. In the Principia, Newton proposed that the exact quantitative agreement between theory and observation was the ultimate criterion of scientific truth. As he said in the preface, ‘He that works with less accuracy is an imperfect mechanic, and if any could work with perfect accuracy, he would be the most perfect mechanic of all.’ And to convince his audience he would be the ‘most perfect mechanic,’ he proceeded to fabricate the required agreement between theory and observation, by fair means or foul. Newton faked some theoretical calculations and he engaged in flagrant cherry-picking of observational data, discarding those data that did not quite fit his calculations. Richard Westfall, one of Newton’s most incisive biographers, called this ‘nothing short of deliberate fraud,’ and he labeled Newton a master of the . . . ‘fudge factor’ . . . examples of . . . fakery are found in Newton’s theoretical calculations of the precession of the equinoxes, the magnitude of the force of gravity acting on the moon, THE HEIGHT OF THE TIDES . . . In all of these cases he has a good qualitative understanding of the underlying physics, but inadequate mathematical tools and/or inadequate observational data for an adequate quantitative analysis…
These instances of fraud by Newton are somewhat reminiscent of . . . that Galileo perpetrated with his theory of tides. But whereas we might give Galileo the benefit of the doubt and charity regarding his mistaken theory of tides as an isolated case of self-delusion, no such excuse will serve for Newton. His acts of fraud occurred repeatedly, much too often to admit of self-delusion as a plausible explanation. In the perpetration of fraud, Newton was a recidivist, deserving of no charity. Besides, we have documentary evidence from letters between Newton and Roger Cotes, the editor of the second edition of the Principia, that they engaged in collusion to ‘mend’ the numbers. Cotes would propose some fraudulent adjustment of observational data ‘to make that Scholium appear to best advantage as to the numbers’ and Newton would do Cotes one better by contriving some fudge factor that suited the occasion. ”
—Physicist Hans C. Ohanian (bio), Einstein’s Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius (NY 2008), pp. 71-72. (Source)
On the Sun Newton states:
“ It matters not whether we reckon it 28 or 54 million miles distant for either would do just as well. ”
“ Newtonian laws operate in a world-model that is very different from everyday intuition. Because Newtonian space is infinite and homogeneous, Earth and its surface are not special places. The directions "up," "down," and "sideways" are fundamentally similar. Nor is rest privileged over uniform motion. None of these concepts matches everyday experience. They troubled Newton's contemporaries, and even Newton himself. ”
—Frank Wilczek, Professor of Physics at MIT, Nobel Prize winner of 2004, in his book "THE LIGHTNESS OF BEING: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces" page 1. (Basic Books; September 2, 2008).
“ The Newtonian theory of gravitation, on its appearance, disturbed almost all investigators of nature because it was founded on an uncommon unintelligibility. People tried to reduce gravitation to pressure and impact. At the present day gravitation no longer disturbs anybody: it has become common unintelligibility. ”
—Physicist Ernst Mach (1872-1911), On action-at-a-distance
“ The Big Bang theory deserves to be taken at least as seriously as anything geologists or paleontologists tell us about the early history of our Earth: the inferences that Earth scientists make are just as indirect (and less quantitative). The theory’s survival gives me (and I suspect most cosmologists today) 99 percent confidence in extrapolating right back to the first few seconds of cosmic history. I would prudently leave the other one percent for the possibility that our satisfaction is as illusory as that of a Ptolemaic astronomer who had successfully fitted some more epicycles. Cosmologists are sometimes chided for being often in error but never in doubt. ”
—Martin Rees, Our Cosmic Habitat: New Edition (Source)
“ Less than 50 years after the birth of what we are pleased to call ‘modern cosmology,’ when so few empirical facts are passably well established, when so many different over-simplified models of the universe are still competing for attention, is it, may we ask, really credible to claim, or even reasonable to hope, that we are presently close to a definitive solution of the cosmological problem?…Unfortunately, a study of the history of cosmology reveals disturbing parallelisms between modern cosmology and medieval scholasticism; often the borderline between sophistication and sophistry, between numeration and numerology, seems very precarious indeed. Above all I am concerned by an apparent loss of contact withempirical evidence and observational facts, and, worse, by a deliberate refusal on the part of some theorists to accept such results when they appear to be in conflict with some of the present oversimplified and therefore intellectually appealing theories of the universe…doctrines that frequently seem to be more concerned with the fictitious properties of ideal (and therefore nonexistent) universes than with the actual world revealed by observations. ”
—Gerard de Vaucouleurs, University of Texas, formulater of de Vaucouleurs modified Hubble sequence, awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship by the American Astronomical Society in 1988. He was awarded the Prix Jules Janssen of the French Astronomical Society in the same year.
“ Cosmology is not even astrophysics: all the principal assumptions in this field are unverified (or unverifiable) in the laboratory, and researchers are quite comfortable with inventing unknowns to explain the unknown. How then could, after fifty years of failed attempt in finding dark matter, the fields of dark matter..dark energy have become such lofty priorities in astronomy funding, to the detriment of all other branches of astronomy? I demonstrate in this article that while some of is based upon truth, at least just as much of CBR cosmology has been propped by a paralyzing amount of propaganda which suppress counter evidence and subdue competing models. [...] I believe astronomy is no longer heading towards a healthy future, unless funding agencies re-think their master plans by backing away from such high a emphasis on groping in the dark. ”
—Richard Lieu, 'CBR cosmology: how much suppression of credible evidence, and does the model really lead its competitors, using all evidence?', 2007, abstract. (Source)
“ Dark energy appears to be the dominant component of the physical Universe, yet there is no persuasive theoretical explanation for its existence or magnitude. The acceleration of the Universe is, along with dark matter, the observed phenomenon that most directly demonstrates that our theories of fundamental particles and gravity are either incorrect or incomplete. Most experts believe that nothing short of a revolution in our understanding of fundamental physics will be required to achieve a full understanding of the cosmic acceleration. For these reasons, the nature of dark energy ranks among the very most compelling of all outstanding problems in physical science. These circumstances demand an ambitious observational program to determine the dark energy properties as well as possible. ”
—Report of the Dark Energy Task Force, 2006 (Source)
“ On Logic: All theories and concepts have a shelf-life. Back when the Greeks first started thinking of these things, the universe was thought to be only a few thousand years old. Now the estimate is between 7 and 20 billion. It seems that as science matures, estimated universe ages get older. Why doesn’t it follow, logically, that we’ll be a lot more sophisticated when we estimate that the universe is infinitely old?
Scientists do not readily admit to the use of logic, because the term implies judgment, and true science is not supposed to be judgmental as much as it is experimental and causal. But logic is not the same as “common sense.” Logic: the solving of syllogisms, is indeed mathematical; but scientists realize that the best logic can be faulty if one or more premises of the syllogism are faulty. Be that as it may, logic is not all that foreign to science: logic — even common sense — is applied to observation and test results in spite of best efforts to avoid it, because the rawest data must be put in perspective if it is to be communicated and applied. This, then, is why those 40 scholars, scientists, and other experts felt that they had to defend the scientific method. and urge a return to reason and logic.
The poor cosmologists have almost no choice but to try to apply logic, judgment, and unavoidably, common sense, to their observations; because they have little else. Almost all their data is questionable, and there are almost no tests that produce concrete results. It is inevitable then, that even though they share the same data, cosmologists suffer many different conclusions. Equally highly trained scientists frequently differ in their interpretation of observation, and the future offers precious little hope that we will ever find out which, if any, is correct. Logic might have it then, that if scientific experience is not a determinant for applying logic, or common sense, or reason to what we observe in the sky; you and I might as well try our hand at it. ”
—Roy C. Martin, Astronomy on Trial (Source)