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Who said: “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.”
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Thomas Jefferson
(13 Apr 1743 - 4 Jul 1826)

American statesman, astronomer, scholar and inventor who wrote the Declaration of Independence (1776) and organized the Lewis and Clark expedition (1803). His only full-length book, Notes on the State of Virginia contains an outline of the geography, flora and fauna of Virginia, and established his reputation as a scholar and a pioneering American scientist.


Thomas Jefferson
“Chemistry … among the most useful of sciences”

Illustrated Quote - Medium (500 x 250 px)

“Consider chemistry … among the most useful of sciences, and big with future discoveries for the utility and safety of the human race.”
— Thomas Jefferson
In letter to Rev. James Madison (1788)

More Thomas Jefferson quotes on science >>

During a stay in France, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter, on 19 Jul 1788, to Rev. James Madison of William and Mary College. Jefferson disputed the French naturalist Comte de Buffon’s opinion, but instead foresaw the many useful discoveries to be made in chemistry:

“Speaking one day to Monsieur de Buffon, on the present ardor of chemical inquiry, he affected to consider chemistry but as cookery, and to place the toils of the laboratory on the footing with those of the kitchen. I think it, on the contrary, among the most useful of sciences, and big with future discoveries for the utility and safety of the human race.”

This letter reveals how Jefferson took an active interest in the progress of arts and sciences during the time he spent in Europe. He continued, speaking about the science of chemistry:

“It is yet, indeed, a mere embryon. Its principles are contested; experiments seem contradictory, their subjects are so minute as to escape our senses; and their results too fallacious to satisfy the mind. It is probably an age too soon to propose the establishment of a system. The attempts, therefore, of Lavoisier to reform the chemical nomenclature is premature.

“One single experiment may destroy the whole filiation of his terms, and his string of sulphates, sulphites, and sulphures may have served no other end than to have retarded the progress of the science, by a jargon, from the confusion of which time will be requisite to extricate us. Accordingly, it is not likely to be admitted generally.”

Letter to Rev. James Madison (Paris, 19 Jul 1788). In Thomas Jefferson and John P. Foley (ed.), The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia (1900), 135. From H.A. Washington, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1853-54). Vol 2, 431. (source)


See also:
  • Science Quotes by Thomas Jefferson.
  • 13 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Jefferson's birth.
  • Jefferson As A Man Of Science - Preface to The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 19.
  • Thomas Jefferson on Education and Science from a report on establishing the University of Virginia (1818).
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “To indulge in the rich fields of nature” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “To indulge in the rich fields of nature” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “The plough ... is really like sorcery” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “The plough ... is really like sorcery” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “Chemistry … among the most useful of sciences” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “The patient … sometimes gets well in spite of the medicine. ” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “The patient … sometimes gets well in spite of the medicine. ” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson on Quack Medicine - from Letter to Dr. Caspar Wistar (1807)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “The ocean ... like the air, is the common birthright of mankind” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson - context of quote “The ocean ... like the air, is the common birthright of mankind” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Thomas Jefferson: Scientist, by Edwin Thomas Martin. - book suggestion.

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)
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- 90 -
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- 80 -
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Bible
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- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
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Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
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- 60 -
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Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
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Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
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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
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- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
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James Maxwell
Marie Curie
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Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
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- 10 -
Aristotle
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