Tides, Statistics and the Art of Discovery

  • Pieter C. van der Kruit
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 416)


An excursion into the theory of tides resulted in the presentation of a completely incorrect explanation. To help biologists understand statistics, Kapteyn performed a detailed study of skew frequency distributions, which resulted in a bitter disagreement with Karl Pearson, an authority in these matters. Kapteyn also published an extensive study on correlation theory. He was asked to represent the US Academy of Sciences at the tercentennial of Groningen University. Hale and Kapteyn kept up a lively correspondence in 1915 on the importance of inductive vis-á-vis deductive methods of scientific research, Kapteyn promoting the inductive approach and the Hale the deductive one. In this correspondence Kapteyn described his approach to research in great detail. The letters also contained comments on World War I. Kapteyn, being prevented from visiting Mount Wilson, had to be kept from resigning his position as Research Associate in California. Hale told him that he could do the work that came with this appointment anywhere he liked.


Proper Motion Carnegie Institution Evil Spirit Deductive Method Royal Observatory 
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Chapter  14. Tides, Statistics and the Art of Discovery

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pieter C. van der Kruit
    • 1
  1. 1.Kapteyn Astronomical InstituteUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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