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I remember hearing a quote or maybe rather an anecdote about a famous astronomer but I can't recall the exact wording and I also forgot who allegedly said it. Unfortunately, that has thwarted all my googling attempts.

It goes like this:

The retired astronomer gets asked by a journalist if he would do it all again and he replies something along the lines of:

Only if selective to total extinction were constant.

Is this something that really happened? If so, who said it and what is the exact wording?

Please also provide a source if possible.

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Well, I managed to contact the person I heard this from.

Apparently it was Walter Baade who was asked:

If you had your life to live over, would you be an astronomer again?

To which he answered:

Only if the ratio of total to selective absorption is everywhere the same.


I will not accept this answer as I have not been able to find a source yet. If anyone can find one, feel free to answer and I'll accept.


EDIT: Decided to accept after all, since apparently no one here knows a source. Follow up question regarding the source here.

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    $\begingroup$ find "only if" in pages.astronomy.ua.edu/keel/galaxies/dust.html I think that's close enough :-) $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 21 '20 at 3:11
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh thanks! Unfortunately, they also don't provide an authoritative source. If it even exists... $\endgroup$ – user35915 Mar 21 '20 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ Walter Baade (March 24, 1893 – June 25, 1960) can probably be considered a historical figure in science, and so questions about verification of something he may have said might also be on-topic in History of Science and Math SE. I don't know if it's possible to ask a related question there different-enough from this one so as not to be cross-posting. Sometimes I will just paste a link to a question in their chat room if it seems that it might be of interest, but I don't know if anyone reads those. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 21 '20 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I didn't that SE site, thanks. Let me see if I can come up with something or maybe I'll just post in their chat as you suggest. $\endgroup$ – user35915 Mar 21 '20 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh hsm.stackexchange.com/q/11567/11237 Let's see whether it'll be closed. $\endgroup$ – user35915 Mar 21 '20 at 14:45

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