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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index H > John Scott Haldane Quotes

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John Scott Haldane
(3 May 1860 - 14 Mar 1936)

Scottish physiologist and philosopher of science whose extensive work on human respiration included the effects of pulmonary diseases, the physiology of the blood, and the exchange of gases into and out of the body.


Science Quotes by John Scott Haldane (1 quote)

A mouse can fall down a mine shaft a third of a mile deep without injury. A rat falling the same distance would break his bones; a man would simply splash ... Elephants have their legs thickened to an extent that seems disproportionate to us, but this is necessary if their unwieldly bulk is to be moved at all ... A 60-ft. man would weigh 1000 times as much as a normal man, but his thigh bone would have its area increased by only 100 times ... Consequently such an unfortunate monster would break his legs the moment he tried to move.
Expressing, in picturesque terms, the strength of an organism relative to its bulk.
— John Scott Haldane
Address at the annual congress of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Quoted in 'On the Itchen', Time Magazine (Mon. 14 Sep 1925).



Quotes by others about John Scott Haldane (2)

[John Scott Haldane] preferred to work on himself or other human beings who were sufficiently interested in the work to ignore pain or fear … [His] object was not to achieve this state of [pain or fear] but to achieve knowledge which could save other men's lives. His attitute was much more like a good soldier who will risk his life and endure wounds in order to gain victory than that of an ascetic who deliberately undergoes pain. The soldier does not get himself wounded deliberately, and my father did not seek pain in his work though he greeted pain which would have made some people writhe or groan, with laughter.
In R.W. Clark, JBS: The Life and Work of J.B.S. Haldane (1968), quoted in Lawrence K. Altman, Who Goes First? (1986), 215.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)

Knox was engaged in a theological discussion with scientist John Scott Haldane. “In a universe containing millions of planets,” reasoned Haldane, “is it not inevitable that life should appear on at least one of them?”
“Sir,” replied Knox, “if Scotland Yard found a body in your cabin trunk, would you tell them: ‘There are millions of trunks in the world; surely one of them must contain a body?’ I think they would still want to know who put it there.”
Quoted in Clifton Fadiman and Andrι Bernard (eds.), Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes (2000), 324. See also Richard Hazelett and Dean Turner, Benevolent Living (1990), 49, citing John J. McAleer
Science quotes on:  |  Body (193)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Life (917)  |  Planet (199)  |  Turn (72)  |  Universe (563)


See also:
  • 3 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Haldane's birth.
  • Suffer and Survive: The Extreme Life of J.S. Haldane, by Martin Goodman. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for J.S. Haldane.

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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