Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
more quiz questions >>
Thumbnail of François Arago (source)
François Arago
(26 Feb 1786 - 2 Oct 1853)

French physicist and astronomer whose accomplishments include discovering the chromosphere of the sun, and the laws of light polarization. He later entered French politics.


François Arago
“Destiny of a scientist”

Illustrated Quote - Large (800 x 400 px)

“To get to know, to discover, to publish—this is the destiny of a scientist.”
— François Arago
From 'De L’Utilité des Pensions.'

More François Arago quotes on science >>

This quote comes from a work, published postumously, in which Arago pointed out, as the title makes clear: The Usefulness of Pensions Granted to Scientists, Writers and Artists. The Frenchman, François Arago, had already made significant contributions to science when later in life he became a republican politician. This gave him the opportunity to recommend to the government that certain savants in France be supported with state pensions to enable the nation to advance in science, technology, and the arts. Genius should be nurtured so an individual can be productive without the struggles of poverty.

After describing the worthy work of French scientists, Arego wrote (in his original French):

“Connaître, découvrir, communiquer, telle est, au fond, notre honorable destinée.”

which can be found translated as:

“To get to know, to discover, to publish—this is the destiny of a scientist.”

A translation closer to the original words could be: “To know, to discover, to publish, this is, basically, our honorable destiny.” The above translation, was clarified by adding the word “scientist” from the context.

To justify government supporting them financially to concentrate on their work, he continued:

“Sans doute, il existe des hommes de haute intelligence, chez qui ces nobles passions sont primées par l'amour des richesses; mais ces mêmes hommes courraient-ils donc avec moins d'ardeur vers le bonheur imaginaire que la fortune promet, si le sort les avait mis aux prises avec la misère?”

Translated loosely,1 he was saying that no doubt there are highly intelligent men among whom love of wealth rewards these passions, but the same men would have less zeal if fate had left them struggling with poverty and an imagined happiness of promised fortune.

1 Translated by Webmaster, who would welcome suggested improvements from a bilingual person.

Text by Webmaster. The first translation is as it appears in A.L. MacKay, A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1991), 10. The original French quotes are from François Arago, Oeuvres de François Arago (1855), Vol. 3, 621. (source)


See also:
  • Science Quotes by François Arago.
  • 26 Feb - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Arago's birth.
  • François Arago - context of quote “Destiny of a scientist” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)


- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.