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date: 28 February 2020


  1. Observation is a passive science, experimentation an active science.
    Claude Bernard 1813–78 French physiologist: An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865, tr. H. C. Green)
  2. Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature, and in such things as these, experiment is the best test of such consistency.
    Michael Faraday 1791–1867 English physicist and chemist: diary, 19 March 1849
  3. What I cannot create, I do not understand.
    Richard Phillips Feynman 1918–88 American theoretical physicist: written on his blackboard at Caltech at the time of his death
  4. The best scale for an experiment is 12 inches to a foot.
    John Arbuthnot Fisher 1841–1920 British admiral: Memories (1919)
  5. If anyone wishes to observe the works of nature, he should put his trust not in books of anatomy but in his own eyes.
    Galen ad 129–199 Greek physician: On the Usefulness of the Parts of the Body
  6. An exhortation to the fellows and members of the said college to search and study out the secret of nature by way of experiment.
    frequently quoted as ‘to search out and study the secrets of nature by way of experiment’ or ‘to study and search out the secrets of nature by way of experiment’
    William Harvey 1578–1657 English physician: terms of the trust deed of 21 June 1656, giving his estate to the College of Physicians (later the Royal College of Physicians)
  7. It may be so, there is no arguing against facts and experiments.
    when told of an experiment which appeared to destroy his theory
    Isaac Newton 1642–1727 English mathematician and physicist: reported by John Conduit, 1726
  8. Where observation is concerned, chance favours only the prepared mind.
    Louis Pasteur 1822–95 French chemist and bacteriologist: address given on the inauguration of the Faculty of Science, University of Lille, 7 December 1854
  9. Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.
    Bertrand Russell 1872–1970 British philosopher and mathematician: The Impact of Science on Society (1952)
  10. It is much easier to make measurements than to know exactly what you are measuring.
    J. W. N. Sullivan 1886–1937 English journalist and science writer: comment, 1928
  11. An experiment is a device to make Nature speak intelligibly. After that one has only to listen.
    George Wald 1904–97 American biochemist: in Science vol. 162 (1968)