George Wald quote

"Four elements, Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, also provide an example of the astonishing togetherness of our universe. They make up the "organic" molecules that constitute living organisms on a planet, and the nuclei of these same elements interact to generate the light of its star. Then the organisms on the planet come to depend wholly on that starlight, as they must if life is to persist. So it is that all life on the Earth runs on sunlight. [Referring to photosynthesis]"

George Wald

Born: November 18, 1906

Die: April 12, 1997

Occupation: Scientist

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More quotes of George Wald

George Wald

There are only two possible explanations as to how life arose: Spontaneous generation arising to evolution or a supernatural creative act of God.... There is no other possibility. Spontaneous generation...

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George Wald

Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing.

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George Wald

One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are-as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.

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George Wald

When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads...

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George Wald

The Vietnamese have a secret weapon. It's their willingness to die beyond our willingness to kill. In effect, they've been saying, You can kill us, but you'll have to kill a lot of us; you may have to...

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George Wald

I tell my students to try early in life to find an unattainable objective.

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George Wald

When you have no experience of pain, it is rather hard to experience joy.

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George Wald

Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.

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George Wald

Death seems to have been a rather late invention in evolution. One can go a long way in evolution before encountering an authentic corpse.

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George Wald

Evolution advances, not by a priori design, but by the selection of what works best out of whatever choices offer. We are the products of editing, rather than of authorship.

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George Wald

If the germ plasm wants to swim in the ocean, it makes itself a fish; if the germ plasm wants to fly in the air, it makes itself a bird. If it wants to go to Harvard, it makes itself a man. The strangest...

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George Wald

I have lived much of my life among molecules. They are good company. I tell my students to try to know molecules, so well that when they have some question involving molecules, they can ask themselves,...

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George Wald

Our challenge is to give what account we can of what becomes of life in the solar system, this corner of the universe that is our home; and, most of all, what becomes of men-all men, of all nations, colors,...

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George Wald

We are living in a world in which all wars are wars of defense.

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George Wald

As you lecture, you keep watching the faces, and information keeps coming back to you all the time.

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George Wald

A lecture is much more of a dialogue than many of you probably realize.

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George Wald

Dropping those atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime.

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George Wald

A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms.

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George Wald

The thought that we're in competition with Russians or with Chinese is all a mistake, and trivial. We are one species, with a world to win.

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George Wald

All War Departments are now Defense Departments. This is all part of the doubletalk of our time. The aggressor is always on the other side.

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George Wald

We are the products of editing, rather than of authorship.

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George Wald

There is nothing worth having that can he obtained by nuclear war - nothing material or ideological - no tradition that it can defend. It is utterly self-defeating.

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George Wald

We've committed many war crimes in Vietnam - but I'll tell you something interesting about that. We were committing war crimes in World War II, before the Nuremberg trials were held and the principle of...

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George Wald

It would be a poor thing to be an atom in a universe without physicists, and physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms.

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George Wald

A peacetime draft is the most un-American thing I know.

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George Wald

A scientist should be the happiest of men.

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George Wald

Our business is with life, not death.

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George Wald

Nuclear weapons offer us nothing but a balance of terror, and a balance of terror is still terror.

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George Wald

The only use for an atomic bomb is to keep somebody else from using one. It can give us no protection-only the doubtful satisfaction of retaliation.

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George Wald

Four elements, Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, also provide an example of the astonishing togetherness of our universe. They make up the "organic" molecules that constitute living organisms on a...

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George Wald

I tell my students, with a feeling of pride that I hope they will share, that the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen that make up ninety-nine per cent of our living substance were cooked in the deep interiors...

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George Wald

A scientist lives with all reality. There is nothing better. To know reality is to accept it, and eventually to love it.

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George Wald

A scientist should be the happiest of men. Not that science isn't serious; but as everyone knows, being serious is one way of being happy, just as being gay is one way of being unhappy.

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George Wald

Science goes from question to question; big questions, and little, tentative answers. The questions as they age grow ever broader, the answers are seen to be more limited.

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George Wald

A scientist is in a sense a learned small boy. There is something of the scientist in every small boy. Others must outgrow it. Scientists can stay that way all their lives.

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George Wald

About two million years ago, man appeared. He has become the dominant species on the earth. All other living things, animal and plant, live by his sufferance. He is the custodian of life on earth, and...

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George Wald

Every creature alive on the earth today represents an unbroken line of life that stretches back to the first primitive organism to appear on this planet; and that is about three billion years.

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George Wald

I think if a physician wrote on a death certificate that old age was the cause of death, he'd be thrown out of the union. There is always some final event, some failure of an organ, some last attack of...

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George Wald

Not all living creatures die. An amoeba, for example, need never die; it need not even, like certain generals, fade away. It just divides and becomes two new amoebas.

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George Wald

We have fallen in love with the body. That's that thing that looks back at us from the mirror. That's the repository of that lovely identity that you keep chasing all your life.

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George Wald

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...

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George Wald

There was a golden period that I look back upon with great regret, in which the cheapest of experimental animals were medical students. Graduate students were even better. In the old days, if you offered...

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George Wald

I can conceive of no nightmare so terrifying as establishing communication with a so-called superior (or, if you wish, advanced) technology in outer space.

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Related quote

George Wald

Four elements, Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, also provide an example of the astonishing togetherness of our universe. They make up the "organic" molecules that constitute living organisms on a...

Read more


George Wald

I tell my students, with a feeling of pride that I hope they will share, that the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen that make up ninety-nine per cent of our living substance were cooked in the deep interiors...

Read more


Michael Pollan

Originally, the atoms of carbon from which we're made were floating in the air, part of a carbon dioxide molecule. The only way to recruit these carbon atoms for the molecules necessary to support life-the...

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James Clerk Maxwell

In the heavens we discover [stars] by their light, and by their light alone ... the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds ... that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds...

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Aldous Huxley

One third, more or less, of all the sorrow that the person I think I am must endure is unavoidable. It is the sorrow inherent in the human condition, the price we must pay for being sentient and self-conscious...

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Walter Houser Brattain

I would like to start by emphasizing the importance of surfaces. It is at a surface where many of our most interesting and useful phenomena occur. We live for example on the surface of a planet. It is...

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Michele Bachmann

Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can’t even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life,...

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Mike deGruy

Before the discovery of these [underwater] vents, all life on Earth, the key to life on Earth, was believed to be the sun and photosynthesis. But down there, there is no sun, there is no photosynthesis;...

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Robert Wright

Think of it : zillions and zillions of organisms running around, each under the hypnotic spell of a single truth, all these truths identical, and all logically incompatible with one another : 'My hereditary...

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Empedocles

The force that unites the elements to become all things is Love, also called Aphrodite; Love brings together dissimilar elements into a unity, to become a composite thing. Love is the same force that human...

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Primal Plant is going be the strangest creature in the world, which Nature herself must envy me. With this model and the key to it, it will be possible to go on for ever inventing plants and know that...

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Haruki Murakami

The sun sliced through the windshield, sealing me in light. I closed my eyes and felt the warmth on my eyelids. Sunlight traveled a long distance to reach this planet; an infinitesimal portion of that...

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Piero Ferrucci

Psychosynthesis brings the matter to a point of extreme simplicity, seeing the self as the most elementary and distinctive part of our beings - in other words, its core. This core is of an entirely different...

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Lawrence M. Krauss

You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded. Because the elements, the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution weren't created at the beginning of time. They were created...

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Stephen Hawking

The universe and the Laws of Physics seem to have been specifically designed for us. If any one of about 40 physical qualities had more than slightly different values, life as we know it could not exist:...

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Neil deGrasse Tyson

Stars die and reborn […] They get so hot that the nuclei of the atoms fuse together deep within them to make the oxygen we breathe, the carbon in our muscles, the calcium in our bones, the iron in our...

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Pope Benedict XVI

To make a concrete response to the appeal of our brothers and sisters in humanity, we must come to grips with the first of these challenges: solidarity among generations, solidarity between countries and...

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Bryant H. McGill

There is a deep interconnectedness of all life on earth, from the tiniest organisms, to the largest ecosystems, and absolutely between each person.

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Robert E. Lee

Life processes take place in an aqueous medium. All organisms are composed mostly of water, whether they dwell in the oceans, lakes, and rivers, or on the land. Because the physical and chemical properties...

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Augusten Burroughs

Think of the actual physical elements that compose our bodies: we are 98 percent hydrogen and oxygen and carbon. That's table sugar. You are made of the same stuff as table sugar. Just a couple of tiny...

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Friedrich Nietzsche

Read from a distant star, the majuscule script of our earthly existence would perhaps lead to the conclusion that the earth was the distinctively ascetic planet, a nook of disgruntled, arrogant creatures...

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“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

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