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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis Quotes

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Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis
(28 Sep 1698 - 27 Jul 1759)

French mathematician, biologist, biologist, astronomer and astronomer.


Science Quotes by Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (3 quotes)

However dangerous might be the shock of a comet, it might be so slight, that it would only do damage at the part of the Earth where it actually struck; perhaps even we might cry quits if while one kingdom were devastated, the rest of the Earth were to enjoy the rarities which a body which came from so far might bring it. Perhaps we should be very surprised to find that the debris of these masses that we despised were formed of gold and diamonds; but who would be the most astonished, we, or the comet-dwellers, who would be cast on our Earth? What strange being each would find the other!
— Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis
From 'Lettre sur la comθte', Œuvres de M. Maupertuis (1752), 203. As quoted in Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979), 95-96.
Science quotes on:  |  Alien (34)  |  Astonish (37)  |  Being (1278)  |  Body (537)  |  Cast (67)  |  Comet (61)  |  Cry (29)  |  Damage (34)  |  Dangerous (105)  |  Debris (7)  |  Diamond (21)  |  Do (1908)  |  Earth (998)  |  Find (999)  |  Form (960)  |  Gold (98)  |  Kingdom (78)  |  Most (1729)  |  Other (2236)  |  Rest (281)  |  Shock (37)  |  Strange (157)

In order to turn natural history into a true science, one would have to devote oneself to investigations capable of telling us not the particular shape of such and such an animal, but the general procedures of nature in the animal's production and preservation.
— Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis
'Lettre sur le progress des sciences' in Oeuvres de Mr. De Maupertuis (1756), Vol. 2, 386. Quoted in Jacques Roger, The Life Sciences in Eighteenth-Century French Thought, ed. Keith R. Benson and trans. Robert Ellrich (1997), 392.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (617)  |  Capable (168)  |  General (511)  |  History (675)  |  Investigation (231)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural History (70)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Oneself (33)  |  Order (632)  |  Preservation (33)  |  Procedure (41)  |  Production (183)  |  Science (3880)  |  Shape (73)  |  True Science (23)  |  Turn (447)

Might one not say that in the chance combination of nature's production, since only those endowed with certain relations of suitability could survive, it is no cause for wonder that this suitability is found in all species that exist today? Chance, one might say, produced an innumerable multitude of individuals; a small number turned out to be constructed in such fashion that the parts of the animal could satisfy its needs; in another, infinitely greater number, there was neither suitability nor order: all of the later have perished; animals without a mouth could not live, others lacking organs for reproduction could not perpetuate themselves: the only ones to have remained are those in which were found order and suitability; and these species, which we see today, are only the smallest part of what blind fate produced.
— Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis
'Essai de Cosmologie' in Oeuvres de Mr. De Maupertuis (1756), Vol. 1, 11-12. Quoted in Jacques Roger, The Life Sciences in Eighteenth-Century French Thought, ed. Keith R. Benson and trans. Robert Ellrich (1997), 381.
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See also:
  • 28 Sep - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Maupertuis's birth.

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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