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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index L > Willard Frank Libby Quotes

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Willard Frank Libby
(17 Dec 1908 - 8 Sep 1980)

American chemist.


Science Quotes by Willard Frank Libby (4 quotes)

Leakey’s work on the Olduvai Canyon man has depended a great deal on the observance of a notched break in the shinbones of good-sized animals, which is assumed to have been made by striking a bone with a sharp rock before breaking it over the knee to expose the bone marrow which is edible and nourishing. When he found broken bones with the tell-tale notch, he knew that man must have been there and so began his search.
— Willard Frank Libby
In 'Man’s Place in the Physical Universe', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Sep 1965), 21, No. 7, 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (617)  |  Archaeology (49)  |  Bone (95)  |  Break (99)  |  Broken (56)  |  Clue (17)  |  Deal (188)  |  Depend (228)  |  Edible (6)  |  Expose (23)  |  Food (199)  |  Good (889)  |  Great (1574)  |  Louis S.B. Leakey (2)  |  Man (2251)  |  Marrow (5)  |  Must (1526)  |  Observation (555)  |  Rock (161)  |  Search (162)  |  Striking (48)  |  Tell (340)  |  Work (1351)

Newton’s laws of motion made it possible to state on one page facts about nature which would otherwise require whole libraries. Maxwell’s laws of electricity and magnetism also had an abbreviating effect.
— Willard Frank Libby
In 'Man’s Place in the Physical Universe', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Sep 1965), 21, No. 7, 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Abbreviate (2)  |  Effect (393)  |  Electricity (159)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  Law (894)  |  Law Of Motion (14)  |  Laws Of Motion (10)  |  Library (48)  |  Magnetism (41)  |  Maxwell (42)  |  Maxwell’s Equations (2)  |  James Clerk Maxwell (87)  |  Motion (310)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Page (30)  |  Possible (552)  |  Require (219)  |  State (491)  |  Whole (738)

No other animals have ever lighted fires as far as we can tell. In field archeology, a charcoal deposit found in such a location that it could not have been made by a forest fire is taken as conclusive evidence of man. A circular dark disk in the soil five or six feet in diameter is such a find. … With … modern radioactive dating methods, we can trace man’s history.
— Willard Frank Libby
In 'Man’s Place in the Physical Universe', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Sep 1965), 21, No. 7, 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (617)  |  Archaeology (49)  |  Charcoal (10)  |  Circular (19)  |  Conclusive (11)  |  Dark (140)  |  Diameter (28)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Field (364)  |  Find (998)  |  Fire (189)  |  Forest (150)  |  History (673)  |  Light (607)  |  Location (15)  |  Man (2251)  |  Mankind (339)  |  Method (505)  |  Methods (204)  |  Modern (385)  |  Other (2236)  |  Radioactive (22)  |  Soil (86)  |  Tell (340)  |  Trace (103)

Once you ask the question, where is the Carbon-14, and where does it go, it’s like one, two, three, you have [radiocarbon] dating.
— Willard Frank Libby
As quoted, without citation, in Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), 120.
Science quotes on:  |  Ask (411)  |  Carbon (65)  |  Carbon-14 (2)  |  Invention (369)  |  Question (621)  |  Two (937)



Quotes by others about Willard Frank Libby (1)

One of the memorable moments of my life was when Willard Libby came to Princeton with a little jar full of crystals of barium xenate. A stable compound, looking like common salt, but much heavier. This was the magic of chemistry, to see xenon trapped into a crystal.
Letter to Oliver Sacks. Quoted in Oliver Sacks, Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood (2001), footnote, 203.
Science quotes on:  |  Barium (4)  |  Chemistry (353)  |  Common (436)  |  Compound (113)  |  Crystal (68)  |  Jar (9)  |  Life (1795)  |  Little (707)  |  Looking (189)  |  Magic (86)  |  Memorable (4)  |  Moment (253)  |  Noble Gas (4)  |  Princeton (4)  |  Salt (46)  |  See (1081)  |  Stable (30)  |  Trap (6)  |  Visit (26)  |  Xenon (5)


See also:
  • 17 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Libby's birth.
  • Radiocarbon Dating, by Willard F. Libby. - book suggestion.

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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