Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Physicist, Academic

1742 – 1799

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Who was Georg Christoph Lichtenberg?

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was a German scientist, satirist, and Anglophile. As a scientist, he was the first to hold a professorship explicitly dedicated to experimental physics in Germany. Today, he is remembered for his posthumously published notebooks, which he himself called Sudelbücher, a description modeled on the English bookkeeping term "scrapbooks", and for his discovery of the strange tree-like patterns now called Lichtenberg figures.

Famous Quotes:

  • If an angel were ever to tell us anything of his philosophy I believe many propositions would sound like 2 times 2 equals 13.
  • Man can acquire accomplishments or he can become an animal, whichever he wants. God makes the animals, man makes himself.
  • The most perfect ape cannot draw an ape; only man can do that; but, likewise, only man regards the ability to do this as a sign of superiority.
  • One cannot demand of a scholar that he show himself a scholar everywhere in society, but the whole tenor of his behavior must none the less betray the thinker, he must always be instructive, his way of judging a thing must even in the smallest matters be such that people can see what it will amount to when, quietly and self-collected, he puts this power to scholarly use.
  • If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.
  • First we have to believe, and then we believe.
  • Just as the performance of the vilest and most wicked deeds requires spirit and talent, so even the greatest demand a certain insensitivity which under other circumstances we would call stupidity.
  • He was then in his fifty-fourth year, when even in the case of poets reason and passion begin to discuss a peace treaty and usually conclude it not very long afterwards.
  • Man loves company, even if it is only that of a smoldering candle.
  • If people should ever start to do only what is necessary millions would die of hunger.

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Jul 1, 1742
  • Germany
  • University of Göttingen
Feb 24, 1799

on July 23, 2013


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