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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index D > James Dwight Dana Quotes

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James Dwight Dana
(12 Feb 1813 - 14 Apr 1895)

American geologist, mineralogist and zoologist who studied mountain building, volcanic activity, sea life, and the origin and structure of continents and ocean basins.


Science Quotes by James Dwight Dana (17 quotes)

Oil portrait of James Dwight Dana, head and shoulders, facing right
James Dwight Dana in 1858
Artist: Daniel Huntington (source)
Are coral reefs growing from the depths of the oceans? ... [The] reply is a simple negative; and a single fact establishes its truth. The reef-forming coral zoophytes, as has been shown, cannot grow at greater depths than 100 or 120 feet; and therefore in seas deeper than this, the formation or growth of reefs over the bottom is impossible.
— James Dwight Dana
On Coral Reefs and Islands (1853), 138.
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A map of the moon... should be in every geological lecture room; for no where can we have a more complete or more magnificent illustration of volcanic operations. Our sublimest volcanoes would rank among the smaller lunar eminences; and our Etnas are but spitting furnaces.
— James Dwight Dana
'On the Volcanoes of the Moon', American Journal of Science, 1846, 2 (2nd Series), 347.
Science quotes on:  |  Complete (208)  |  Eminence (25)  |  Etna (5)  |  Illustration (50)  |  Lecture (110)  |  Magnificent (46)  |  Map (48)  |  Moon (251)  |  More (2559)  |  Operation (219)  |  Operations (107)  |  Rank (69)  |  Volcano (45)

Beneath the soil and waters of the earth’s surface there is everywhere a basement of rocks.
— James Dwight Dana
First sentence of 'Introduction', A Text-book of Geology: Designed for Schools and Academies (1863), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Basement (4)  |  Beneath (66)  |  Earth (1063)  |  Everywhere (97)  |  Rock (176)  |  Soil (97)  |  Surface (219)  |  Water (500)

Earth’s history, which it is the object of Geology to teach, is the true introduction to human history.
— James Dwight Dana
In 'Concluding Remarks', A Text-book of Geology: Designed for Schools and Academies (1863), 339.
Science quotes on:  |  Earth (1063)  |  Geology (235)  |  History (705)  |  Human History (7)  |  Introduction (37)  |  Object (434)  |  Teach (293)

Geology is rapidly taking its place as an introduction to the higher history of man. If the author has sought to exalt a favorite science, it has been with the desire that man—in whom geological history had its consummation, the prophecies of the successive ages their fulfilment—might better comprehend his own nobility and the true purpose of his existence.
— James Dwight Dana
Concluding remark in Preface (1 Nov 1862), in Manual of Geology, Treating of the Principles of the Science (1863), ix.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (504)  |  Author (172)  |  Better (487)  |  Comprehension (68)  |  Consummation (7)  |  Desire (211)  |  Exalt (28)  |  Existence (477)  |  Favorite (37)  |  Fulfillment (19)  |  Geology (235)  |  History (705)  |  Introduction (37)  |  Man (2252)  |  Nobility (5)  |  Prophecy (14)  |  Purpose (329)  |  Rapidly (67)  |  Successive (73)

Geology may seem to be audacious in its attempts to unveil the mysteries of creation. Yet what it reveals are only some of the methods by which the Creator has performed his will; and many deeper mysteries it leaves untouched.
— James Dwight Dana
In 'Concluding Remarks', A Text-book of Geology: Designed for Schools and Academies (1863), 336.
Science quotes on:  |  Attempt (262)  |  Audacious (5)  |  Creation (348)  |  Creator (96)  |  Geology (235)  |  Method (527)  |  Mystery (187)  |  Perform (123)  |  Reveal (151)  |  Untouched (5)

In using the present in order to reveal the past, we assume that the forces in the world are essentially the same through all time; for these forces are based on the very nature of matter, and could not have changed. The ocean has always had its waves, and those waves have always acted in the same manner. Running water on the land has ever had the same power of wear and transportation and mathematical value to its force. The laws of chemistry, heat, electricity, and mechanics have been the same through time. The plan of living structures has been fundamentally one, for the whole series belongs to one system, as much almost as the parts of an animal to the one body; and the relations of life to light and heat, and to the atmosphere, have ever been the same as now.
— James Dwight Dana
In 'Introduction', Manual of Geology: Treating of the Principles of the Science (1863), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Act (277)  |  Animal (642)  |  Assume (42)  |  Atmosphere (115)  |  Base (119)  |  Belong (166)  |  Body (548)  |  Change (630)  |  Chemistry (372)  |  Electricity (166)  |  Essentially (15)  |  Force (495)  |  Fundamental (262)  |  Heat (178)  |  Land (128)  |  Law (910)  |  Life (1853)  |  Light (628)  |  Live (645)  |  Living (492)  |  Mathematics (1385)  |  Matter (816)  |  Mechanic (119)  |  Mechanics (136)  |  Nature (2000)  |  Ocean (213)  |  Order (638)  |  Part (230)  |  Past (350)  |  Plan (120)  |  Power (761)  |  Present (627)  |  Relation (165)  |  Reveal (151)  |  Running (61)  |  Same (162)  |  Series (150)  |  Structure (363)  |  System (542)  |  Through (846)  |  Time (1900)  |  Transportation (19)  |  Uniformitarianism (9)  |  Value (382)  |  Water (500)  |  Wave (112)  |  Wear (20)  |  Whole (753)  |  World (1837)

Most of the beds [of rock] contain shells, corals, and other related forms, called fossils,—so named because dug out of the earth, the word being from the Latin fossilis, meaning, that which is dug up. … The various species that have left their remains in any bed must have been in existence when that bed was in progress of formation…. The study of the fossils of the successive beds is the study of the succession of living species that have existed in the earth’s history.
— James Dwight Dana
In 'Introduction', A Text-book of Geology: Designed for Schools and Academies (1863), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Bed (25)  |  Dig (25)  |  Earth (1063)  |  Exist (452)  |  Existence (477)  |  Formation (100)  |  Fossil (142)  |  History (705)  |  Latin (43)  |  Leave (136)  |  Life (1853)  |  Name (355)  |  Progress (488)  |  Remain (354)  |  Rock (176)  |  Shell (68)  |  Species (431)  |  Study (686)  |  Succession (80)  |  Various (203)  |  Word (644)

Mr Hall's hypothesis has its cause for subsidence, but none for the lifting of the thickened sunken crust into mountains. It is a theory for the origin of mountains, with the origin of mountains left out.
— James Dwight Dana
In 'Observations on the Origin of Some of the Earth’s Features', The American Journal of Science (Sep 1866), Second Series, 42, No. 125, 210.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (555)  |  Crust (42)  |  Hypothesis (314)  |  Mountain (199)  |  Origin (248)  |  Theory (1002)  |  Uniformitarianism (9)

Science, while it penetrates deeply the system of things about us, sees everywhere, in the dim limits of vision, the word mystery.
— James Dwight Dana
In Corals and Coral Islands (1879), 17-18.
Science quotes on:  |  Everywhere (97)  |  Limit (293)  |  Mystery (187)  |  Penetrate (68)  |  See (1089)  |  System (542)  |  Thing (1914)  |  Vision (127)  |  Word (644)

Some writers, rejecting the idea which science had reached, that reefs of rocks could be due in any way to “animalcules,” have talked of electrical forces, the first and last appeal of ignorance.
— James Dwight Dana
In Corals and Coral Islands (1879), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Animalcule (12)  |  Appeal (46)  |  Due (142)  |  Electrical (57)  |  Electricity (166)  |  First (1297)  |  Force (495)  |  Idea (869)  |  Ignorance (250)  |  Last (425)  |  Reach (286)  |  Reef (7)  |  Rejection (36)  |  Rock (176)  |  Talk (106)  |  Way (1214)  |  Writer (90)

The profoundest facts in the earth’s history prove that the oceans have always been oceans.
— James Dwight Dana
In Corals and Coral Islands (1879), 371.
Science quotes on:  |  Earth (1063)  |  Fact (1242)  |  Facts (553)  |  History (705)  |  Ocean (213)  |  Prove (257)

The succession of rocks in the earth’s crust is…like a series of historical volumes, and full of inscriptions. It is the endeavor of Geology to examine and interpret these inscriptions.
— James Dwight Dana
In 'Introduction', A Text-book of Geology: Designed for Schools and Academies (1863), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Crust (42)  |  Earth (1063)  |  Endeavor (72)  |  Examine (84)  |  Geology (235)  |  History (705)  |  Inscription (12)  |  Interpret (23)  |  Rock (176)  |  Succession (80)  |  Volume (25)

The “grand old Book of God still stands”, and this grand old earth, the more its leaves are turned over and pondered, the more it will sustain, enlighten and illustrate the Sacred word.
— James Dwight Dana
In Science and the Bible, a Review of ‘The Six Days of Creation’ of Prof. Tayler Lewis (1856), 128-129. Published as Article III, from the Bibliotheca Sacra (Jan 1856). Prof. Lewis, a Professor of Greek, published a book (1855) based on his lecture series (1853) interpreting Scripture, which slighted scientific discoveries of Geology, such that Prof. Dana was moved to write his extensive rebuttal.
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There can be no real conflict between the two Books of the Great Author. Both are revelations made by Him to man,—the earlier telling of God-made harmonies coming up from the deep past, and rising to their height when man appeared, the later teaching man's relations to his Maker, and speaking of loftier harmonies in the eternal future.
— James Dwight Dana
Conclusion of 'Cosmogony', the last chapter in Manual of Geology, Treating of the Principles of the Science (1863), 746.
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There have been men, like Dalton, of humble origin and retiring habits, unable to command the advantages of a public position, and scantily provided with the means for private research, who by speculation and experiment confined to some one branch have reached the highest eminence in science, and discovered laws of nature with which their names are thenceforth connected.
— James Dwight Dana
In obituary, Benjamin Silliman, Benjamin Silliman Jr., and James D. Dana (eds.), Art. XXXI, 'Heinrich Rose', American Journal of Science and Arts (Nov 1864), s2-38, No. 114, 305. The article title gives no author name, but it ends with a one-letter signature, “D.”, [For attribution, Webmaster has assumed this is the initial identifying one of the journal editors, of which only the name James Dana corresponds.]
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[The earth’s rocks] were so arranged, in their formation, that they should best serve Man’s purposes. The strata were subjected to metamorphism, and so crystallized, that he might be provided with the most perfect material for his art, his statues, temples, and dwellings; at the same time, they were filled with veins, in order to supply him with gold and silver and other treasures. The rocks were also made to enclose abundant beds of coal and iron ore, that Man might have fuel for his hearths and iron for his utensils and machinery. Mountains were raised to temper hot climates, to diversify the earth’s productiveness, and, pre-eminently, to gather the clouds into river-channels, thence to moisten the fields for agriculture, afford facilities for travel, and supply the world with springs and fountains.
— James Dwight Dana
In 'Concluding Remarks', A Text-book of Geology: Designed for Schools and Academies (1863), 338.
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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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