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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index D > Sir Humphry Davy Quotes > Biography

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Sir Humphry Davy
(17 Dec 1778 - 29 May 1829)

English chemist who discovered several chemical elements and compounds, invented the miner's safety lamp, and epitomized the scientific method.


Sir Humphry Davy Quotes on Biography (4 quotes)

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Cuvier had even in his address & manner the character of a superior Man, much general power & eloquence in conversation & great variety of information on scientific as well as popular subjects. I should say of him that he is the most distinguished man of talents I have ever known on the continent: but I doubt if He be entitled to the appellation of a Man of Genius.
— Sir Humphry Davy
J. Z. Fullmer, 'Davy's Sketches of his Contemporaries', Chymia, 1967, 12, 132.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (228)

John Dalton was a very singular Man, a quaker by profession & practice: He has none of the manners or ways of the world. A tolerable mathematician He gained his livelihood I believe by teaching the mathematics to young people. He pursued science always with mathematical views. He seemed little attentive to the labours of men except when they countenanced or confirmed his own ideas... He was a very disinterested man, seemed to have no ambition beyond that of being thought a good Philosopher. He was a very coarse Experimenter & almost always found the results he required.—Memory & observation were subordinate qualities in his mind. He followed with ardour analogies & inductions & however his claims to originality may admit of question I have no doubt that he was one of the most original philosophers of his time & one of the most ingenious.
— Sir Humphry Davy
J. Z. Fullmer, 'Davy's Sketches of his Contemporaries', Chymia, 1967, 12, 133-134.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (228)  |  John Dalton (21)

The moment after, I began to respire 20 quarts of unmingled nitrous oxide. A thrilling, extending from the chest to the extremities, was almost immediately produced. I felt a sense of tangible extension highly pleasurable in every limb; my visible impressions were dazzling, and apparently magnified, I heard distinctly every sound in the room and was perfectly aware of my situation. By degrees, as the pleasurable sensations increased, I last all connection with external things; trains of vivid visible images rapidly passed through my mind, and were connected with words in such a manner, as to produce perceptions perfectly novel. I existed in a world of newly connected and newly modified ideas. I theorised—I imagined that I made discoveries. When I was awakened from this semi-delirious trance by Dr. Kinglake, who took the bag from my mouth, indignation and pride were the first feelings produced by the sight of the persons about me. My emotions were enthusiastic and sublime; and for a minute I walked round the room, perfectly regardless of what was said to me. As I recovered my former state of mind, I felt an inclination to communicate the discoveries I had made during the experiment. I endeavoured to recall the ideas, they were feeble and indistinct; one collection of terms, however, presented itself: and with the most intense belief and prophetic manner, I exclaimed to Dr Kinglake, 'Nothing exists but thoughts!—the universe is composed of impressions, ideas, pleasures and pains!'
— Sir Humphry Davy
Researches, Chemical and Philosophical (1800), in J. Davy (ed.), The Collected Works of Sir Humphry Davy (1839-40), Vol 3, 289-90.
Science quotes on:  |  Anaesthetic (2)  |  Biography (228)  |  Experiment (548)

To me there never has been a higher source of earthly honour or distinction than that connected with advances in science. I have not possessed enough of the eagle in my character to make a direct flight to the loftiest altitudes in the social world; and I certainly never endeavored to reach those heights by using the creeping powers of the reptile, who, in ascending, generally chooses the dirtiest path, because it is the easiest.
— Sir Humphry Davy
In Maturin Murray Ballou, Treasury of Thought (1894), 459.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (228)  |  Honour (23)  |  Recognition (64)


See also:
  • 17 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Davy's birth.
  • Humphry Davy: Life Beyond the Lamp, by Raymond Lamont-Brown. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Humphry Davy.

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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