Quotation added by staff
All science is either physics or stamp collecting.Kelvin, Lord
Rutherford was distinguishing between two levels of the scientific method: the second and the fifth. The first level is collecting data; the second is organizing the data, usually in the form of taxonomy; the third is developing one or more hypotheses that explain the relationship among the data; the fourth is testing the hypotheses to accept or reject them; the final level is the development of a theory that is confirmatory and predictive. Stamp collectors take data (stamps) and organize the data by the value of the postage, the date of the printing or postmark and the country of origin. There are never any hypotheses concerning the reasons for such organization and certainly no theories. An analog in chemistry was the development of the periodic table based on a linearly increasing atomic weight and a folding according to chemical activity. This occurred about 50 years before the theory of electron shells and about a decade after Rutherford’s statement. Thus the periodic table was for Rutherford an example of stamp collecting, while physics had developed theories of classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, relativity and quantum mechanics. Level two was the primary scientific method of all other sciences at the time of Rutherford's statement. Rutherford probably meant his statement as more of a tease than a dogma. Some physicists, even knighted ones, have a sense of humor. Contributed to Quotations Book by George Oser. · This quote is about science · Search on Google Books to find all references and sources for this quotation.
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