Last modified on 10 July 2014, at 11:00

Oliver Heaviside

If you are different, you had better hide it, and pretend to be solemn and wooden-headed. Until you make your fortune. For most wooden-headed people worship money; and, really, I do not see what else they can do.

Oliver Heaviside (18 May 18503 February 1925) was a self-taught English electrical engineer, mathematician, and physicist who adapted complex numbers to the study of electrical circuits, invented mathematical techniques to the solution of differential equations (later found to be equivalent to Laplace transforms), reformulated Maxwell's field equations in terms of electric and magnetic forces and energy flux, and independently co-formulated vector analysis.

SourcedEdit

  • However absurd it may seem, I do in all seriousness hereby declare that I am animated mainly by philanthropic motives. I desire to do good to my fellow creatures, even to the Cui bonos.
    • Electrical Papers (1882), Vol. I; Preface, p.vii; Maxmillan and Co., London and New York. Full Text
  • Waves from moving sources: Adagio. Andante. Allegro moderato.
    • Electromagnetic Theory (1912), Volume III; p.1; "The Electrician" Pub. Co., London. Full Text
  • The following story is true. There was a little boy, and his father said, “Do try to be like other people. Don’t frown.” And he tried and tried, but could not. So his father beat him with a strap; and then he was eaten up by lions.
    Reader, if young, take warning by his sad life and death. For though it may be an honour to be different from other people, if Carlyle’s dictum about the 30 million be still true, yet other people do not like it. So, if you are different, you had better hide it, and pretend to be solemn and wooden-headed. Until you make your fortune. For most wooden-headed people worship money; and, really, I do not see what else they can do. In particular, if you are going to write a book, remember the wooden-headed. So be rigorous; that will cover a multitude of sins. And do not frown.
    • Electromagnetic Theory (1912), Volume III; p.1; "The Electrician" Pub. Co., London.
  • Electric and magnetic forces. May they live for ever, and never be forgot, if only to remind us that the science of electromagnetics, in spite of the abstract nature of its theory, involving quantities whose nature is entirely unknown at the present, is really and truly founded on the observations of real Newtonian forces, electric and magnetic respectively.
    • Electromagnetic Theory (1912), Volume III; p.1; "The Electrician" Pub. Co., London.
  • Mathematics is of two kinds, Rigorous and Physical. The former is Narrow: the latter Bold and Broad. To have to stop to formulate rigorous demonstrations would put a stop to most physico-mathematical inquiries. Am I to refuse to eat because I do not fully understand the mechanism of digestion?
  • We do not dwell in the Palace of Truth. But, as was mentioned to me not long since, "There is a time coming when all things shall be found out." I am not so sanguine myself, believing that the well in which Truth is said to reside is really a bottomless pit.
    • Electromagnetic Theory, Volume I; p. 1; "The Electrician" Pub. Co., London.

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