Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Oliver Lodge, fully Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge

English Physicist and Writer involved in key patents in wireless telegraphy

"Free will was granted to humanity. Man became conscious of good and evil, and his power of free choice. He acquired simultaneously Freedom and Responsibility. Henceforth he could help or he could hinder."

"Nothing is too great or too good to be true. Do not believe that we can imagine things better than they are. In the long run, in the ultimate outlook, in the eye of the Creator, the possibilities of existence, the possibilities open to us, are beyond our imagination."

"We are rising to the conviction that we are a part of nature, and so a part of God; that the whole creation – the One and the many and the All-One – is travailing together toward some great end; and that now, after ages of development, we have at length become conscious portions of the great scheme, and can cooperate in it with knowledge and joy."

"Death is not a foe, but an inevitable adventure."

"Basing my conclusions on experience I am absolutely convinced not only of survival but of demonstrated survival, demonstrated by occasional interaction with matter in such a way as to produce physical results."

"But although life is not energy, any more than it is matter, yet it directs energy and thereby controls arrangements of matter."

"Death is not a word to fear, any more than birth is/ We change our state at birth, and come into the world of air and sense and myriad existence; we change our state at death and enter a region of – what? Of ether, I think, and still more myriad existence; a region in which communion is more akin to what we here call telepathy, and where intercourse is not conducted by the accustomed indirect physical process; but a region in which beauty and knowledge are as vivid as they are here, a region in which progress is possible, and in which ‘admiration, hope, and love’ are even more real and dominant. It is in this sense that we can truly say, ‘The dead are not dead, but alive.’"

"Death is not extinction. Neither the soul nor the body is extinguished or put out of existence."

"Genuine religion has its root deep down in the heart of humanity and in the reality of things. It is not surprising that by our methods we fail to grasp it: the actions of the Deity make no appeal to any special sense, only a universal appeal; and our methods are, as we know, incompetent to detect complete uniformity. There is a principle of Relativity here, and unless we encounter flaw or jar or change, nothing in us responds; we are deaf and blind therefore to the Immanent Grandeur, unless we have insight enough to recognise in the woven fabric of existence, flowing steadily from the loom in an infinite progress towards perfection, the ever-growing garment of a transcendent God."

"If the 'Principle of Relativity' in an extreme sense establishes itself, it seems as if even Time would become discontinuous and be supplied in atoms, as money is doled out in pence or centimes instead of continuously;—in which case our customary existence will turn out to be no more really continuous than the events on a kinematograph screen;—while that great agent of continuity, the Ether of Space, will be relegated to the museum of historical curiosities."

"In other cases, when the medium becomes entranced, the demonstration of a communicator's separate intelligence may become stronger and the sophistication less."

"In size the electron bears the same relation to an atom that a baseball bears to the earth. Or, as Sir Oliver Lodge puts it, if a hydrogen atom were magnified to the size of a church, an electron would be a speck of dust in that church."

"It is probable that the scheme of physics will be enlarged so as to embrace the behaviour of living organisms under the influence of life and mind. Biology and psychology are not alien sciences; their operations are not solely mechanical, nor can they be formulated by physics as it is today; but they belong to a physical universe, and their mode of action ought to be capable of being formulated in terms of an enlarged physics in the future, in which the ether will take a predominant place. On the other hand it may be thought that those entities cannot be brought to book so easily, and that they will always elude our ken. If so, there will be a dualism in the universe, which posterity will find staggering, but that will not alter the facts."

"Any person without invincible prejudice who had the same experience would come to the same broad conclusion, viz., that things hitherto held impossible do actually occur."

"Life must be considered sui generis; it is not a form of energy, nor can it be expressed in terms of something else."

"No one can explain everything that happens when I wiggle my little finger."

"Of mediumship there are many grades, one of the simplest forms being the capacity to receive an impression or automatic writing, under peaceful conditions, in an ordinary state; but the whole subject is too large to be treated here."

"The hypothesis of surviving intelligence and personality - not only surviving but anxious and able with difficulty to communicate - is the simplest and most straightforward and the only one that fits all the facts."

"Men of Science would do well to talk plain English. The most abstruse questions can very well be discussed in our own tongue ... I make a particular appeal to the botanists, who appear to delight in troublesome words."

"It ought, however, to be admitted at once by Natural Philosophers that the unscientific character of prayer for rain depends really not upon its conflict with any known physical law, since it need involve no greater interference with the order of nature than is implied in a request to a gardener to water the garden—it does not really depend upon the impossibility of causing rain to fall when otherwise it might not—but upon the disbelief of science in any power who can and will attend and act. To prove this, let us bethink ourselves that it is not an inconceivable possibility that at some future date mankind may acquire some control over the weather, and be able to influence it; not merely in an indirect manner, as at present they can affect climate, by felling forests or flooding deserts, but in some more direct fashion; in that case prayers for rain would begin again,—only the petitions would be addressed, not to heaven, but to the Meteorological Office. We do not at present ask the secretary of that government department to improve our seasons, simply because we do not think that he knows how; if we thought he did, we should not be debarred from approaching him by a suspicion of his possible non-existence, or a fear that our request would not be delivered. Professor Tyndall’s dogma, if pressed, will be found to necessitate one of these last alternatives; although, superficially, it pretends to make the somewhat grotesque suggestion that the alteration requested is so complicated and involved, that really, with the best intentions in the world, the Deity does not know how to do it."

"Matter moves, but Ether is strained."

"The first thing to realize about the Ether is its absolute continuity."

"The discovery which has been pointed to by theory is always one of profound interest and importance, but it is usually the close and crown of a long and fruitful period, whereas the discovery which comes as a puzzle and surprise usually marks a fresh epoch and opens a new chapter in science."

"The amount of sophistication varies according to the quality of the medium, and to the state of the same medium at different times; it must be attributed in the best cases physiologically to the medium, intellectually to the control."

"The properties which differentiate living matter from any kind of inorganic imitation may be instinctively felt, but can hardly be formulated without expert knowledge."

"The old series of sittings with Mrs. Piper convinced me of survival for reasons which I should find it hard to formulate in any strict fashion, but that was their distinct effect."

"There is a conservation of matter and of energy, there may be a conservation of life; or if not of life, of something which transcends life."

"There must be some great truth underlying the instinct for worship."

"There is no instrument for measuring the pressure of the Ether, which is probably millions of times greater: it is altogether too uniform for direct apprehension. A deep-sea fish has probably no means of apprehending the existence of water, it is too uniformly immersed in it: and that is our condition in regard to the Ether."

"We know that communication must be hampered, and its form largely determined, by the unconscious but inevitable influence of a transmitting mechanism, whether that be of a merely mechanical or of a physiological character."

"They definitely mean to maintain that the process called death is a mere severence of soul and body, and that the soul is freed rather than injured thereby."

"Whatever life may really be, it is to us an abstraction: for the word is a generalized term to signify that which is common to all animals and plants, and which is not directly operative in the inorganic world."

"Firm support has been found for the assertion that electricity occurs at thousands of points where we at most conjectured that it was present. Innumerable electrical particles oscillate in every flame and light source. We can in fact assume that every heat source is filled with electrons which will continue to oscillate ceaselessly and indefinitely. All these electrons leave their impression on the emitted rays. We can hope that experimental study of the radiation phenomena, which are exposed to various influences, but in particular to the effect of magnetism, will provide us with useful data concerning a new field, that of atomistic astronomy, as Lodge called it, populated with atoms and electrons instead of planets and worlds."

"However the facts are to be explained, the possibility of the facts I am constrained to admit; there is no further room in my mind for doubt."

"People of sense will not take its absurd triviality as anything but helpful in contributing to the proof of the survival of personal identity."

"Mediums have perhaps but little conscious information to give us concerning their powers; we must learn from what they do, not from what they say."

"The trouble is it is a very simplistic and broad brush thing to say and do and if it's taken literally, it could have all sorts of unintended consequences in some cases."

"This whole theory of electrostatics constitutes a group of abstract ideas and general propositions, formulated in the clear and precise language of geometry and algebra, and connected with one another by the rules of strict logic. This whole fully satisfies the reason of a French physicist and his taste for clarity, simplicity and order. The same does not hold for the Englishman. These abstract notions of material points, force, line of force, and equipotential surface do not satisfy his need to imagine concrete, material, visible, and tangible things. 'So long as we cling to this mode of representation,' says an English physicist, 'we cannot form a mental representation of the phenomena which are really happening.' It is to satisfy the need that he goes and creates a model. The French or German physicist conceives, in the space separating two conductors, abstract lines of force having no thickness or real existence; the English physicist materializes these lines and thickens them to the dimensions of a tube which he will fill with vulcanized rubber. In place of a family of lines of ideal forces, conceivable only by reason, he will have a bundle of elastic strings, visible and tangible, firmly glued at both ends to the surfaces of the two conductors, and, when stretched, trying both to contact and to expand. When the two conductors approach each other, he sees the elastic strings drawing closer together; then he sees each of them bunch up and grow large. Such is the famous model of electrostatic action imagined by Faraday and admired as a work of genius by Maxwell and the whole English school. The employment of similar mechanical models, recalling by certain more or less rough analogies the particular features of the theory being expounded, is a regular feature of the English treatises on physics. Here is a book* [by Oliver Lodge] intended to expound the modern theories of electricity and to expound a new theory. In it are nothing but strings which move around pulleys, which roll around drums, which go through pearl beads, which carry weights; and tubes which pump water while others swell and contract; toothed wheels which are geared to one another and engage hooks. We thought we were entering the tranquil and neatly ordered abode of reason, but we find ourselves in a factory."