In physical science a first essential step in the direction of learning any subject is to find principles of numerical reckoning and practicable methods for measuring some quality connected with it. I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.
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Scientific wealth tends to accumulate according to the law of compound interest. Every addition to knowledge of the properties of matter supplies the physical scientist with new instrumental means for discovering and interpreting phenomena of nature, which in their turn afford foundations of fresh generalisations, bringing gains of permanent value into the great storehouse of natural philosophy.
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It is conceivable that animal life might have the attribute of using the heat of surrounding matter, at its natural temperature, as a source of energy for mechanical effect . . . .The influence of animal or vegetable life on matter is infinitely beyond the range of any scientific enquiry hitherto entered on. Its power of directing the motions of moving particles, in the demonstrated daily miracle of our human free-will, and in the growth of generation after generation of plants from a single seed, are infinitely different from any possible result of the fortuitous concurrence of atoms.
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Christianity without the cross is nothing. The cross was the fitting close of a life of rejection, scorn and defeat. But in no true sense have these things ceased or changed. Jesus is still He whom man despiseth, and the rejected of men. The world has never admired Jesus, for moral courage is yet needed in every one of its high places by him who would "confess" Christ. The "offense" of the cross, therefore, has led men in all ages to endeavor to be rid of it, and to deny that it is the power of God in the world.
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Suppose that you could mark the molecules in a glass of water; then pour the contents of the glass into the ocean and stir the latter throughly so as to distribute the marked molecules uniformly throughout the seven seas; if then you took a glass of water anywhere out of the ocean, you would find in it about a hundred of your marked molecules.
Accurate and minute measurement seems to the non-scientific imagination, a less lofty and dignified work than looking for something new. But nearly all the grandest discoveries of science have been but the rewards of accurate measurement and patient long-continued labour in the minute sifting of numerical results.
I need scarcely say that the beginning and maintenance of life on earth is absolutely and infinitely beyond the range of all sound speculation in dynamical science. The only contribution of dynamics to theoretical biology is absolute negation of automatic commencement or automatic maintenance of life.
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