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Philosophical Saturday: George Wald

by PhilipJ on 6 April 2008

George Wald made considerable progress in our understanding of the chemistry and physiology of vision (which just so happens to be the area I find myself in now). He won the Nobel Prize (physiology or medicine) in 1967, and his lecture in Stockholm opened with a beautiful description of experimental science:

I have often had cause to feel that my hands are cleverer than my head. That is a crude way of characterizing the dialectics of experimentation. When it is going well, it is like a quiet conversation with Nature. One asks a question and gets an answer; then one asks the next question, and gets the next answer. An experiment is a device to make Nature speak intelligibly. After that one has only to listen.

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