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The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them. Albert Einstein, cited Principles of Research 1918
Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness (= fairly low level of entropy) really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment. Erwin Schrödinger, What is Life?
The law that entropy always increases, holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 1928
Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it. Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica, Laws of Motion I
The alternation of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impressed. ibid. Laws of Motion II
To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or, the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts. ibid. Laws of Motion III
On his return to Cambridge, Newton has discovered fundamental laws of the universe. Mystery Files: Isaac Newton, National Geographic 2011
Hooke had spurned the one man with the mathematical talents to help him understand the laws of the universe. Genius of Britain: The Scientists Who Changed the World, Jim Al-Khalili, Channel 4 2012
The greatest book ever written in history ... Principia Mathematica. ibid.
The Principia spelled out for the first time the mathematical principles that governed the universe. And the law of gravity that holds all matter in place. ibid.
How did humans acquire the power to transform the planet like this? Looking at the Earth at night reveals to us just how successful we’ve been in harnessing and manipulating energy, and how important it is to our existence. Energy is vital to us all. We use it to build the structures that surround and protect us. Order and Disorder With Jim Al-Khalili I: Energy, BBC 2012
Energy is essential to life itself. ibid.
What exactly is energy? And what makes it so useful to us? ibid.
Scientists would come up with a strange set of laws that would link together everything from engines to humans to stars. ibid.
Almost no-one had understood the fundamental nature of the steam engine; very few were aware of the cosmic principle that underpinned it. ibid.
Left alone energy always seems to go from being concentrated to being dispersed. ibid.
The second law of thermodynamics and it turned out to be stranger and more beautiful, more universal ... All things that gave off heat were in some way connected together. All things that gave off heat were part of an irreversible process that was happening everywhere. A process of spreading out and dispersing, a process of increasing entropy. It seemed that somehow the universe shared the same fate as a cup of tea. ibid.
Entropy – why was it always increasing? ibid.
Entropy was in fact a measure of the disorder of things. ibid.
Boyle’s List: all but two of twenty-four things on this list have now been achieved by science. Science Britannica III: Clear Blue Skies
George Watt and George Stevenson harnessed steam power. Where Rutherford and Chadwick unravelled the architecture of the atom. Where Edward Jenner worked out the principles of vaccination ... ibid.
The purpose of scientific enquiry is not to compile an inventory of factual information, nor to build up a totalitarian world picture of natural Laws in which every event that is not compulsory is forbidden. We should think of it rather as a logically articulated structure of justifiable beliefs about nature. Peter Medawar, Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought, 1969
Scientific principles and laws do not lie on the surface of nature. They are hidden, and must be wrested from nature by an active and elaborate technique of inquiry. John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy
The same laws of physics apply everywhere throughout the cosmos. Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, Cosmos: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean, PBS 1980
The extraordinary thing is not that there are laws but that we can understand them. Why should we be able to understand them? Dr David Deutsch
It’s the comprehensibility of the Laws of Physics that makes the Anthropic Principle work. Dr David Deutsch
In effect, we have redefined the task of science to be the discovery of laws that will enable us to predict events up to the limits set by the uncertainty principle. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 1988
The second law of thermodynamics: it states that the entropy of an isolated system always increases, and that when two systems are joined together, the entropy of the combined system is greater than the sum of the entropies of the individual systems. ibid. p112
Why is the universe the way it is? Why does it follow rules and laws? Why is there order instead of chaos? Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design: The Key to the Cosmos, Discovery 2012
The tiny electrons appeared to be defying the laws of physics. ibid.
It seems that M Theory is the system of laws that governs everything – the Grand Design. ibid.
The universe is a machine governed by principles or laws – laws that can be understood by the human mind. Stephen Hawking’s Great Design: Did God Create the Universe?
I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside stars. Professor Fred Hoyle
This universe we live in: scientists have discovered some remarkably strange things about it. So strange they are having to use the most disturbing principles to describe what’s going on. Horizon: The Anthropic Principle, BBC 1987
Galileo’s masterstroke was to discover that what goes on around us depends on mathematical laws. ibid.
In billions of years’ time if you look out into the night sky you may see nothing. Absolute darkness. A new discovery about the fate of the universe has sent scientists in turmoil and challenged our understanding of the fundamental laws of physics. Horizon: From Here to Infinity, BBC 1999
Whether the universe goes on expanding for ever or re-collapses depends on only one thing: Gravity. ibid.
Supernovae would be the key to measuring the expansion of the universe and reveal how it would all end. ibid.
They could not believe what they were seeing. They knew the universe should be slowing down in its expansion, that gravity should be tugging on it, pulling it in. But they were seeing something that defied the known laws of Physics, and all their expectations. The universe was speeding up not slowing down. ibid.
There had to be some unknown and mysterious energy out there in the cosmos pushing everything apart, fighting against Gravity. What could this powerful energy be? Why had it never been seen before? What generates it, and where was it hiding? The theorists’ extraordinary conclusion was that this unknown energy came from the very vacuum of space. ibid.
Werner Heisenberg proposed a whole new law of physics. He said that it was impossible to measure both the speed and the position of a particle. Because strangely the mere act of observing these tiny objects radically affected their behaviour. But if that was true it had profound implications. If you couldn’t be precise about a particle’s speed and position, then it would be impossible to make accurate predictions about its movements. And Einstein believed everything should be predictable ... The best you could hope for was a science based on probabilities. Horizon: Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony, BBC 2005