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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > Henry Cavendish Quotes

Thumbnail of Henry Cavendish (source)
Henry Cavendish
(10 Oct 1731 - 24 Feb 1810)

English chemist and physicist who determined the mass and density of the Earth He also showed that water was a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, and measured the specific heat of various substances.

Science Quotes by Henry Cavendish (1 quote)

Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish (source)
A small bubble of air remained unabsorbed... if there is any part of the phlogisticated air [nitrogen] of our atmosphere which differs from the rest, and cannot be reduced to nitrous acid, we may safely conclude that it is not more than 1/120 part of the whole.
Cavendish did not realize the significance of the remaining small bubble. Not until a century later were the air’s Noble Gases appreciated.
— Henry Cavendish
'Experiments on Air', read 2 June 1785, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 1785, 75, 382.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (190)  |  Nitrogen (19)  |  Noble Gas (4)

Quotes by others about Henry Cavendish (6)

His [Henry Cavendish’s] Theory of the Universe seems to have been, that it consisted solely of a multitude of objects which could be weighed, numbered, and measured; and the vocation to which he considered himself called was, to weigh, number and measure as many of those objects as his allotted three-score years and ten would permit. This conviction biased all his doings, alike his great scientific enterprises, and the petty details of his daily life.
In George Wilson, The Life of the Honourable Henry Cavendish: Including the Abstracts of his Important Scientific Papers (1851), 186.
Science quotes on:  |  Measurement (161)  |  Universe (686)

Cavendish was a great Man with extraordinary singularities—His voice was squeaking his manner nervous He was afraid of strangers & seemed when embarrassed to articulate with difficulty—He wore the costume of our grandfathers. Was enormously rich but made no use of his wealth... He Cavendish lived latterly the life of a solitary, came to the Club dinner & to the Royal Society: but received nobody at his home. He was acute sagacious & profound & I think the most accomplished British Philosopher of his time.
Quoted in J. Z. Fullmer, 'Davy's Sketches of his Contemporaries', Chymia, 1967, 12, 133.
Science quotes on:  |  Philosopher (166)  |  Royal Society (10)

Only about seventy years ago was chemistry, like a grain of seed from a ripe fruit, separated from the other physical sciences. With Black, Cavendish and Priestley, its new era began. Medicine, pharmacy, and the useful arts, had prepared the soil upon which this seed was to germinate and to flourish.
Familiar Letters on Chemistry (1851),5.
Science quotes on:  |  Joseph Black (14)  |  Chemistry (252)  |  Medicine (344)  |  Pharmacy (2)  |  Joseph Priestley (16)

[Henry Cavendish] fixed the weight of the earth; he established the proportions of the constituents of the air; he occupied himself with the quantitative study of the laws of heat; and lastly, he demonstrated the nature of water and determined its volumetric composition. Earth, air, fire, and water—each and all came within the range of his observations.
Essays in Historical Chemistry (1894), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (190)  |  Composition (60)  |  Constituent (16)  |  Density (12)  |  Earth (638)  |  Fire (133)  |  Gravitation (38)  |  Law (515)  |  Observation (450)  |  Proportion (72)  |  Quantitative (19)  |  Study (476)  |  Water (293)  |  Weight (77)

Wollaston may be compared to Dalton for originality of view & was far his superior in accuracy. He was an admirable manipulator, steady, cautious & sure. His judgement was cool.—His views sagacious.—His inductions made with care, slowly formed & seldom renounced. He had much of the same spirit of Philosophy as Cavendish, he applied science to purposes of profit & for many years sold manufactured platinum. He died very rich.
In J. Z. Fullmer, 'Davy's Sketches of his Contemporaries', Chymia (1967), 12, 134.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (60)  |  John Dalton (21)  |  Judgment (101)  |  Manipulator (4)  |  Platinum (6)  |  Profit (39)  |  Sagacity (8)  |  William Hyde Wollaston (3)

Cavendish gave me once some bits of platinum for my experiments, and came to see my results on the decomposition of the alkalis, and seemed to take an interest in them; but he encouraged no intimacy with any one, and received nobody at his own house. … He was acute, sagacious, and profound, and, I think, the most accomplished British philosopher of his time.
As quoted in Victor Robinson, Pathfinders in Medicine (1912), 143.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (80)  |  Acute (7)  |  Alkali (6)  |  British (10)  |  Decomposition (12)  |  Encourage (24)  |  Experiment (602)  |  Give (201)  |  House (43)  |  Interest (237)  |  Intimacy (6)  |  Nobody (49)  |  Philosopher (166)  |  Platinum (6)  |  Profound (59)  |  Receive (60)  |  Result (389)  |  Sagacious (4)

See also:
  • 10 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Cavendish's birth.
  • Henry Cavendish - biography from Essays in Historical Chemistry (1894).
  • Cavendish: The Experimental Life, by Christa Jungnickel and Russell McCormmach. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Henry Cavendish.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail 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) -- Carl Sagan
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