Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Thomas Hunt Morgan Quotes

Thumbnail of Thomas Hunt Morgan (source)
Thomas Hunt Morgan
(25 Sep 1866 - 4 Dec 1945)

American geneticist and zoologist.


Science Quotes by Thomas Hunt Morgan (13 quotes)

Certain students of genetics inferred that the Mendelian units responsible for the selected character were genes producing only a single effect. This was careless logic. It took a good deal of hammering to get rid of this erroneous idea. As facts accumulated it became evident that each gene produces not a single effect, but in some cases a multitude of effects on the characters of the individual. It is true that in most genetic work only one of these character-effects is selected for study—the one that is most sharply defined and separable from its contrasted character—but in most cases minor differences also are recognizable that are just as much the product of the same gene as is the major effect.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
'The Relation of Genetics to Physiology and Medicine', Nobel Lecture (4 Jun 1934). In Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1922-1941 (1965), 317.
Science quotes on:  |  Character (82)  |  Difference (208)  |  Effect (133)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Fact (609)  |  Gene (68)  |  Genetics (98)  |  Inference (26)  |  Gregor Mendel (20)  |  Recognize (41)  |  Student (131)  |  Study (331)

Except for the rare cases of plastid inheritance, the inheritance of all known cooacters can be sufficiently accounted for by the presence of genes in the chromosomes. In a word the cytoplasm may be ignored genetically.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
'Genetics and the Physiology of Development', The American Naturalist (1926), 60, 491.
Science quotes on:  |  Chromosome (17)  |  Cytoplasm (4)  |  Gene (68)  |  Inheritance (19)

Her [Nettie Stevens] single-mindedness and devotion, combined with keen powers of observation; her thoughtfulness and patience, united to a well-balanced judgment, account, in part, for her remarkable accomplishment.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
In obituary, 'The Scientific Work of Miss N.M. Steves', Science (11 Oct 1912), 36, No. 928, 470.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (57)  |  Combine (15)  |  Devotion (24)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Keen (8)  |  Observation (418)  |  Patience (31)  |  Power (273)  |  Remarkable (34)  |  Nettie Maria Stevens (4)  |  United (8)  |  Well-Balanced (3)

In the modern interpretation of Mendelism, facts are being transformed into factors at a rapid rate. If one factor will not explain the facts, then two are involved; if two prove insufficient, three will sometimes work out. The superior jugglery sometimes necessary to account for the results may blind us, if taken too naively, to the common-place that the results are often so excellently 'explained' because the explanation was invented to explain them. We work backwards from the facts to the factors, and then, presto! explain the facts by the very factors that we invented to account for them. I am not unappreciative of the distinct advantages that this method has in handling the facts. I realize how valuable it has been to us to be able to marshal our results under a few simple assumptions, yet I cannot but fear that we are rapidly developing a sort of Mendelian ritual by which to explain the extraordinary facts of alternative inheritance. So long as we do not lose sight of the purely arbitrary and formal nature of our formulae, little harm will be done; and it is only fair to state that those who are doing the actual work of progress along Mendelian lines are aware of the hypothetical nature of the factor-assumption.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
'What are 'Factors' in Mendelian Explanations?', American Breeders Association (1909), 5, 365.
Science quotes on:  |  Arbitrary (16)  |  Assumption (49)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fact (609)  |  Factor (34)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Gregor Mendel (20)  |  Progress (317)  |  Ritual (8)  |  Transformation (47)

Miss Stevens’s work is characterized by its precision, and by a caution that seldom ventures far from the immediate observation. Her contributions are models of brevity—a brevity amounting at times almost to meagerness.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
In obituary, 'The Scientific Work of Miss N.M. Steves', Science (11 Oct 1912), 36, No. 928, 470.
Science quotes on:  |  Brevity (3)  |  Caution (15)  |  Characterized (2)  |  Contribution (49)  |  Immediate (27)  |  Model (64)  |  Observation (418)  |  Precision (38)  |  Seldom (21)  |  Nettie Maria Stevens (4)  |  Time (439)  |  Venture (12)  |  Work (457)

Modern cytological work involves an intricacy of detail, the significance of which can be appreciated by the specialist alone; but Miss Stevens had a share in a discovery of importance, and her work will be remembered for this, when the minutiae of detailed investigations that she carried out have become incorporated in the general body of the subject.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
In obituary, 'The Scientific Work of Miss N.M. Steves', Science (11 Oct 1912), 36, No. 928, 468.
Science quotes on:  |  Appreciate (17)  |  Body (193)  |  Carry (35)  |  Cytology (5)  |  Detail (65)  |  Discovery (591)  |  General (92)  |  Importance (183)  |  Incorporate (3)  |  Intricacy (6)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Involve (27)  |  Minutiae (6)  |  Modern (104)  |  Remember (53)  |  Share (30)  |  Significance (60)  |  Specialist (20)  |  Nettie Maria Stevens (4)  |  Subject (129)  |  Work (457)

Now that we locate them [genes] in the chromosomes are we justified in regarding them as material units; as chemical bodies of a higher order than molecules? Frankly, these are questions with which the working geneticist has not much concern himself, except now and then to speculate as to the nature of the postulated elements. There is no consensus of opinion amongst geneticists as to what the genes are—whether they are real or purely fictitious—because at the level at which the genetic experiments lie, it does not make the slightest difference whether the gene is a hypothetical unit, or whether the gene is a material particle. In either case the unit is associated with a specific chromosome, and can be localized there by purely genetic analysis. Hence, if the gene is a material unit, it is a piece of chromosome; if it is a fictitious unit, it must be referred to a definite location in a chromosome—the same place as on the other hypothesis. Therefore, it makes no difference in the actual work in genetics which point of view is taken. Between the characters that are used by the geneticist and the genes that his theory postulates lies the whole field of embryonic development.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
'The Relation of Genetics to Physiology and Medicine', Nobel Lecture (4 Jun 1934). In Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1922-1941 (1965), 315.
Science quotes on:  |  Chromosome (17)  |  Consensus (5)  |  Embryo (22)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Gene (68)  |  Geneticist (11)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Molecule (125)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Postulate (23)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Theory (582)

Realizing how often ingenious speculation in the complex biological world has led nowhere and how often the real advances in biology as well as in chemistry, physics and astronomy have kept within the bounds of mechanistic interpretation, we geneticists should rejoice, even with our noses on the grindstone (which means both eyes on the objectives), that we have at command an additional means of testing whatever original ideas pop into our heads.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
'The Rise of Genetics', Science (1932), 1969, 264.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Biology (150)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Complexity (80)  |  Geneticist (11)  |  Idea (440)  |  Ingenuity (27)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Physics (301)  |  Rejoice (9)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Test (96)

She [Nettie Stevens] was a trained expert in the modern sense—in the sense in which biology has ceased to be a playground for the amateur and a plaything for the mystic.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
In obituary, 'The Scientific Work of Miss N.M. Steves', Science (11 Oct 1912), 36, No. 928, 470.
Science quotes on:  |  Amateur (18)  |  Biology (150)  |  Cease (23)  |  Expert (42)  |  Modern (104)  |  Mystic (10)  |  Playground (5)  |  Plaything (3)  |  Sense (240)  |  Nettie Maria Stevens (4)  |  Trained (5)

That the fundamental aspects of heredity should have turned out to be so extraordinarily simple supports us in the hope that nature may, after all, be entirely approachable. Her much-advertised inscrutability has once more been found to be an illusion due to our ignorance. This is encouraging, for, if the world in which we live were as complicated as some of our friends would have us believe we might well despair that biology could ever become an exact science.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
The Physical Basis of Heredity (1919), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Biology (150)  |  Complication (20)  |  Despair (25)  |  Exact (38)  |  Heredity (51)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Illusion (38)  |  Inscrutability (2)  |  Simplicity (126)

The origin of an adaptive structure and the purposes it comes to fulfill are only chance combinations. Purposefulness is a very human conception for usefulness. It is usefulness looked at backwards. Hard as it is to imagine, inconceivably hard it may appear to many, that there is no direct relation between the origin of useful variations and the ends they come to serve, yet the modern zoologist takes his stand as a man of science on this ground. He may admit in secret to his father confessor, the metaphysician, that his poor intellect staggers under such a supposition, but he bravely carries forward his work of investigation along the only lines that he has found fruitful.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
'For Darwin', The Popular Science Monthly (1909), 74, 380.
Science quotes on:  |  Adaptation (40)  |  Chance (122)  |  Combination (69)  |  Conception (63)  |  Fruitful (31)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Investigation (123)  |  Metaphysician (4)  |  Origin (77)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Relation (96)  |  Structure (191)  |  Supposition (33)  |  Usefulness (70)  |  Variation (50)  |  Zoologist (10)

Within the last five or six years [from 1916], from a common wild species of fly, the fruit fly, Drosophila ampelophila, which we have brought into the laboratory, have arisen over a hundred and twenty-five new types whose origin is completely known.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
In A Critique of the Theory of Evolution (1916), 60.
Science quotes on:  |  Completely (19)  |  Drosophila (3)  |  Fruit Fly (5)  |  Know (321)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  New (340)  |  Origin (77)  |  Wild (39)

Within the nucleus [of a cell] is a network of fibers, a sap fills the interstices of the network. The network resolves itself into a definite number of threads at each division of the cell. These threads we call chromosomes. Each species of animals and plants possesses a characteristic number of these threads which have definite size and sometimes a specific shape and even characteristic granules at different levels. Beyond this point our strongest microscopes fail to penetrate.
— Thomas Hunt Morgan
In A Critique of the Theory of Evolution (1916), 91.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Call (68)  |  Cell (125)  |  Characteristic (66)  |  Chromosome (17)  |  Division (27)  |  Fibers (2)  |  Genetics (98)  |  Granule (3)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Network (10)  |  Nucleus (30)  |  Plant (173)  |  Sap (3)  |  Shape (52)  |  Size (47)  |  Species (181)  |  Specific (30)  |  Thread (14)



Quotes by others about Thomas Hunt Morgan (1)

The foundations of population genetics were laid chiefly by mathematical deduction from basic premises contained in the works of Mendel and Morgan and their followers. Haldane, Wright, and Fisher are the pioneers of population genetics whose main research equipment was paper and ink rather than microscopes, experimental fields, Drosophila bottles, or mouse cages. Theirs is theoretical biology at its best, and it has provided a guiding light for rigorous quantitative experimentation and observation.
'A Review of Some Fundamental Concepts and Problems of Population Genetics', Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, 1955, 20, 13-14.
Science quotes on:  |  Drosphilia (3)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fischer_Ronald (2)  |  Genetics (98)  |  J.B.S. Haldane (45)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Gregor Mendel (20)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Observation (418)  |  Sewall Wright (8)


See also:
  • 25 Sep - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Morgan's birth.
  • Thomas Hunt Morgan: The Man and His Science, by Garland E. Allen. - 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
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
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
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.