Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Dangerous... to take shelter under a tree, during a thunder-gust. It has been fatal to many, both men and beasts.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index P > Category: Penicillin

Penicillin Quotes (17 quotes)

... we ought to have saints' days to commemorate the great discoveries which have been made for all mankind, and perhaps for all time—or for whatever time may be left to us. Nature ... is a prodigal of pain. I should like to find a day when we can take a holiday, a day of jubilation when we can fête good Saint Anaesthesia and chaste and pure Saint Antiseptic. ... I should be bound to celebrate, among others, Saint Penicillin...
Speech at Guildhall, London (10 Sep 1947). Collected in Winston Churchill and Randolph Spencer Churchill (ed.), Europe Unite: Speeches, 1947 and 1948 (1950), 138.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Anaesthesia (4)  |  Anesthesia (5)  |  Antiseptic (8)  |  Bound (119)  |  Celebrate (19)  |  Commemorate (3)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Find (998)  |  Good (889)  |  Great (1574)  |  Holiday (9)  |  Mankind (339)  |  Medicine (378)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Other (2236)  |  Pain (136)  |  Pure (291)  |  Saint (17)  |  Time (1877)  |  Whatever (234)

Bernard: Oh, you’re going to zap me with penicillin and pesticides. Spare me that and I’ll spare you the bomb and aerosols. But don’t confuse progress with perfectibility. A great poet is always timely. A great philosopher is an urgent need. There’s no rush for Isaac Newton. We were quite happy with Aristotle’s cosmos. Personally, I preferred it. Fifty-five crystal spheres geared to God’s crankshaft is my idea of a satisfying universe. I can’t think of anything more trivial than the speed of light. Quarks, quasars—big bangs, black holes—who [cares]? How did you people con us out of all that status? All that money? And why are you so pleased with yourselves?
Chloe: Are you against penicillin, Bernard?
Bernard: Don’t feed the animals.
In the play, Acadia (1993), Act 2, Scene 5, 61.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Aerosol (2)  |  Against (332)  |  All (4108)  |  Animal (617)  |  Aristotle (163)  |  Bang (29)  |  Big Bang (39)  |  Black Hole (17)  |  Bomb (18)  |  Care (186)  |  Confusion (57)  |  Cosmos (63)  |  Crystal (68)  |  Feed (27)  |  Gear (4)  |  God (757)  |  Great (1574)  |  Greatness (54)  |  Happiness (115)  |  Happy (105)  |  Idea (843)  |  Light (607)  |  Money (170)  |  More (2559)  |  Need (290)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  People (1005)  |  Perfectibility (3)  |  Pesticide (5)  |  Philosopher (258)  |  Pleasure (178)  |  Poet (83)  |  Progress (465)  |  Quark (7)  |  Quasar (4)  |  Rush (18)  |  Satisfaction (74)  |  Sparing (2)  |  Speed (65)  |  Speed Of Light (17)  |  Sphere (116)  |  Status (35)  |  Think (1086)  |  Timely (3)  |  Trivial (57)  |  Universe (857)  |  Urgency (12)  |  Urgent (13)  |  Why (491)

Applied research generates improvements, not breakthroughs. Great scientific advances spring from pure research. Even scientists renowned for their “useful” applied discoveries often achieved success only when they abandoned their ostensible applied-science goal and allowed their minds to soar—as when Alexander Fleming, “just playing about,” refrained from throwing away green molds that had ruined his experiment, studied them, and discovered penicillin. Or when C. A. Clarke, a physician affiliated with the University of Liverpool, became intrigued in the 1950s by genetically created color patterns that emerged when he cross-bred butterflies as a hobby. His fascination led him—“by the pleasant route of pursuing idle curiosity”—to the successful idea for preventing the sometimes fatal anemia that threatened babies born of a positive-Rhesus-factor father and a negative-Rhesus-factor mother.
In Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schiefelbein, The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World (2007), 214-215.
Science quotes on:  |  Abandon (68)  |  Advance (280)  |  Applied (177)  |  Applied Research (2)  |  Applied Science (34)  |  Breakthrough (15)  |  Butterfly (22)  |  Color (137)  |  Curiosity (128)  |  Discover (553)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Experiment (695)  |  Fascination (32)  |  Father (110)  |  Sir Alexander Fleming (19)  |  Genetics (101)  |  Goal (145)  |  Great (1574)  |  Green (63)  |  Idea (843)  |  Idle (33)  |  Improvement (108)  |  Intrigued (4)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Mold (33)  |  Mother (114)  |  Negative (63)  |  Pattern (110)  |  Physician (273)  |  Playing (42)  |  Positive (94)  |  Pure (291)  |  Pursuing (27)  |  Refrain (9)  |  Research (664)  |  Ruin (42)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Serendipity (15)  |  Soar (23)  |  Spring (133)  |  Success (302)  |  Successful (123)  |  Threaten (32)  |  Throwing (17)  |  University (121)  |  Useful (250)

Faced with the admitted difficulty of managing the creative process, we are doubling our efforts to do so. Is this because science has failed to deliver, having given us nothing more than nuclear power, penicillin, space travel, genetic engineering, transistors, and superconductors? Or is it because governments everywhere regard as a reproach activities they cannot advantageously control? They felt that way about the marketplace for goods, but trillions of wasted dollars later, they have come to recognize the efficiency of this self-regulating system. Not so, however, with the marketplace for ideas.
Quoted in Martin Moskovits (ed.), Science and Society, the John C. Polanyi Nobel Lareates Lectures (1995), 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Control (167)  |  Creative (137)  |  Creativity (76)  |  Deliver (29)  |  Difficulty (196)  |  Do (1908)  |  Efficiency (44)  |  Effort (227)  |  Engineering (175)  |  Everywhere (94)  |  Fail (185)  |  Genetic (108)  |  Genetic Engineering (15)  |  Good (889)  |  Government (110)  |  Idea (843)  |  More (2559)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Nuclear (107)  |  Nuclear Power (12)  |  Power (746)  |  Process (423)  |  Recognize (125)  |  Regard (305)  |  Science (3879)  |  Self (267)  |  Self-Regulating (3)  |  Space (500)  |  Space Travel (19)  |  System (537)  |  Transistor (5)  |  Travel (114)  |  Way (1217)

I doubt that Fleming could have obtained a grant for the discovery of penicillin on that basis [a requirement for highly detailed research plans] because he could not have said, 'I propose to have an accident in a culture so that it will be spoiled by a mould falling on it, and I propose to recognize the possibility of extracting an antibiotic from this mould.'
Remarks to the Canadian Senate on Science Policy, in From Dream to Discovery: On Being a Scientist (1964). In Ken G. Smith (ed.) and Michael A. Hitt (ed), Great Minds in Management: the Theory of Process Development (2005), 368
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (88)  |  Basis (173)  |  Culture (143)  |  Detail (146)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Extract (40)  |  Sir Alexander Fleming (19)  |  Grant (73)  |  Mold (33)  |  Obtain (163)  |  Plan (117)  |  Possibility (164)  |  Propose (23)  |  Recognize (125)  |  Requirement (63)  |  Research (664)  |  Will (2355)

I had fallen in love with a young man..., and we were planning to get married. And then he died of subacute bacterial endocarditis... Two years later with the advent of penicillin, he would have been saved. It reinforced in my mind the importance of scientific discovery...
Quoted in Susan Ambrose et al., Journeys of Women in Science and Engineering: No Universal Constants (1997)
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (240)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Importance (286)  |  Love (309)  |  Man (2251)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Planning (20)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Two (937)  |  Year (933)  |  Young (227)

If it is good to teach students about the chemical industry then why is it not good to assign ethical qualities to substances along with their physical and chemical ones? We might for instance say that CS [gas] is a bad chemical because it can only ever be used by a few people with something to protect against many people with nothing to lose. Terylene or indigotin are neutral chemicals. Under capitalism their production is an exploitive process, under socialism they are used for the common good. Penicillin is a good chemical.
Quoted in T. Pateman (ed.), Countercourse (1972), 215.
Science quotes on:  |  Against (332)  |  Bad (180)  |  Capitalism (10)  |  Chemical (292)  |  Common (436)  |  Ethic (40)  |  Ethical (34)  |  Exploitation (14)  |  Gas (83)  |  Good (889)  |  Industry (137)  |  Lose (159)  |  Loss (110)  |  Neutral (13)  |  Nothing (966)  |  People (1005)  |  Physical (508)  |  Process (423)  |  Production (183)  |  Protect (58)  |  Protection (36)  |  Quality (135)  |  Say (984)  |  Socialism (4)  |  Something (719)  |  Student (300)  |  Substance (248)  |  Teach (277)  |  Use (766)  |  Why (491)

In my first publication I might have claimed that I had come to the conclusion, as a result of serious study of the literature and deep thought, that valuable antibacterial substances were made by moulds and that I set out to investigate the problem. That would have been untrue and I preferred to tell the truth that penicillin started as a chance observation. My only merit is that I did not neglect the observation and that I pursued the subject as a bacteriologist. My publication in 1929 was the starting-point of the work of others who developed penicillin especially in the chemical field.
'Penicillin', Nobel Lecture, 11 Dec 1945. In Nobel Lectures: Physiology or Medicine 1942-1962 (1964), 83.
Science quotes on:  |  Bacteriologist (5)  |  Bacteriology (5)  |  Chance (239)  |  Chemical (292)  |  Claim (146)  |  Conclusion (254)  |  Deep (233)  |  Develop (268)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Field (364)  |  First (1283)  |  Investigate (103)  |  Literature (103)  |  Merit (50)  |  Neglect (63)  |  Observation (555)  |  Other (2236)  |  Point (580)  |  Problem (676)  |  Publication (101)  |  Result (677)  |  Serious (91)  |  Set (394)  |  Start (221)  |  Study (653)  |  Subject (521)  |  Substance (248)  |  Tell (340)  |  Thought (953)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Untrue (12)  |  Work (1351)

It has been demonstrated that a species of penicillium produces in culture a very powerful antibacterial substance which affects different bacteria in different degrees. Generally speaking it may be said that the least sensitive bacteria are the Gram-negative bacilli, and the most susceptible are the pyogenic cocci ... In addition to its possible use in the treatment of bacterial infections penicillin is certainly useful... for its power of inhibiting unwanted microbes in bacterial cultures so that penicillin insensitive bacteria can readily be isolated.
'On the Antibacterial Action of Cultures of a Penicillium, with Special Reference to their Use in the Isolation of B. Influenzae', British Journal of Experimental Pathology, 1929, 10, 235-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Addition (66)  |  Bacteria (48)  |  Bacteriology (5)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Culture (143)  |  Degree (276)  |  Different (577)  |  Infection (27)  |  Microbe (28)  |  Microbes (14)  |  Most (1731)  |  Negative (63)  |  Penicillium (3)  |  Possible (552)  |  Power (746)  |  Powerful (139)  |  Speaking (119)  |  Species (401)  |  Substance (248)  |  Treatment (130)  |  Use (766)  |  Useful (250)

It is possible that in ten years’ time penicillin itself will be a back number and will be replaced by something better. It is quite certain though that to displace penicillin any newcomer will have to be very, very good.
In 'Truman Hails Fleming For Penicillin Drug', New York Times (26 Jul 1945), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Back (390)  |  Better (486)  |  Certain (550)  |  Displace (8)  |  Good (889)  |  Number (699)  |  Possible (552)  |  Replace (31)  |  Something (719)  |  Time (1877)  |  Will (2355)  |  Year (933)

It was astonishing that for some considerable distance around the mould growth the staphococcal colonies were undergoing lysis. What had formerly been a well-grown colony was now a faint shadow of its former self...I was sufficiently interested to pursue the subject.
[Sep 1928, the first observation of penicillin. Lysis is the dissolution or destruction of cells.]
Sarah R. Riedman and Elton T. Gustafson, Portraits of Nobel Laureates in Medicine and Physiology (1964), 72.
Science quotes on:  |  Astonishing (27)  |  Astonishment (30)  |  Bacteria (48)  |  Considerable (75)  |  Destruction (125)  |  Dissolution (11)  |  Distance (161)  |  First (1283)  |  Former (137)  |  Growth (187)  |  Interest (386)  |  Lysis (4)  |  Mold (33)  |  Observation (555)  |  Pursue (58)  |  Self (267)  |  Shadow (72)  |  Staphylococcus (2)  |  Subject (521)

Stay in college, get the knowledge. And stay there until you’re through. If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.
Advice to a young person to continue his education.
From address to students at New School for Social Research, New York City, 'Words of the Week',Jet (3 Jan 1980), 57, No. 16, 32.
Science quotes on:  |  Advice (55)  |  Bread (39)  |  College (66)  |  Continue (165)  |  Education (378)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Mold (33)  |  Person (363)  |  Something (719)  |  Through (849)  |  Young (227)

The active agent is readily filterable and the name “penicillin” has been given to filtrates of broth cultures of the mould. … It is suggested that it may be an efficient antiseptic for application to, or injection into, areas infected with penicillin-sensitive microbes.
From Fleming’s paper that was his first on the subject of penicillin, which he named, in 'On the Antibacterial Action of Cultures of a Penicillium, with Special Reference to Their Use in the Isolation of B. influenzae', British Journal of Experimental Pathology (1929), 10, 236.
Science quotes on:  |  Active (76)  |  Agent (70)  |  Antiseptic (8)  |  Application (242)  |  Broth (2)  |  Culture (143)  |  Efficient (26)  |  Filter (9)  |  Infection (27)  |  Injection (9)  |  Microbe (28)  |  Microbes (14)  |  Mold (33)  |  Name (333)  |  Sensitive (14)  |  Suggest (34)

The genius of Man in our time has gone into jet-propulsion, atom-splitting, penicillin-curing, etc. There is left none over for works of imagination; of spiritual insight or mystical enlightenment. I asked for bread and was given a tranquilizer. It is important to recognize that in our time man has not written one word, thought one thought, put two notes or two bricks together, splashed color on to canvas or concrete into space, in a manner which will be of any conceivable imaginative interest to posterity.
The Most of Malcolm Muggeridge (1966), 70.
Science quotes on:  |  Ask (411)  |  Atom (355)  |  Bread (39)  |  Brick (18)  |  Color (137)  |  Conceivable (28)  |  Concrete (51)  |  Enlightenment (20)  |  Genius (284)  |  Imagination (328)  |  Insight (102)  |  Interest (386)  |  Jet (4)  |  Man (2251)  |  Posterity (29)  |  Propulsion (10)  |  Recognize (125)  |  Space (500)  |  Spiritual (91)  |  Thought (953)  |  Time (1877)  |  Together (387)  |  Tranquilizer (4)  |  Two (937)  |  Will (2355)  |  Word (619)  |  Work (1351)

The greatest possibility of evil in self-medication [with penicillin] is the use of too-small doses, so that, instead of clearing up the infection, the microbes are educated to resist penicillin and a host of penicillin-fast organisms is bred out which can be passed on to other individuals and perhaps from there to others until they reach someone who gets a septicemia or a pneumonia which penicillin cannot save. In such a case the thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who finally succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism. I hope this evil can be averted.
In 'Penicillin’s Finder Assays Its Future: Sir Alexander Fleming Says Improved Dosage Method is Needed to Extend Use', New York Times (26 Jun 1945), 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Avert (4)  |  Breed (24)  |  Clear (100)  |  Death (388)  |  Dose (16)  |  Educate (13)  |  Evil (116)  |  Greatest (328)  |  Hope (299)  |  Individual (404)  |  Infection (27)  |  Man (2251)  |  Medication (8)  |  Microbe (28)  |  Microbes (14)  |  Moral (195)  |  Organism (220)  |  Other (2236)  |  Pass (238)  |  Person (363)  |  Playing (42)  |  Pneumonia (7)  |  Possibility (164)  |  Reach (281)  |  Resistant (3)  |  Responsibility (66)  |  Save (118)  |  Self (267)  |  Small (477)  |  Succumb (6)  |  Treatment (130)  |  Use (766)

The history of penicillin is one of the disgraces of medical research. Fleming published his classic paper in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology for June, 1929, but it was not until 1939 that Florey followed up the clue. An antiseptic which is almost ideal, inasmuch as it has no toxic effects, was allowed to slumber for ten years. Had it not been for the exigencies of the present war it might be slumbering still.
In book review, 'The Story of a Neglected Miracle', New York Times (25 Mar 1945), BR3. (The book being reviewed was J.D. Ratcliff, Yellow Magic: The Story of Penicillin.)
Science quotes on:  |  Allow (45)  |  Antiseptic (8)  |  British (41)  |  Classic (11)  |  Clue (17)  |  Disgrace (12)  |  Effect (393)  |  Exigency (3)  |  Experimental (192)  |  Sir Alexander Fleming (19)  |  Sir Howard Walter Florey (3)  |  Follow (378)  |  History (673)  |  Ideal (99)  |  Journal (30)  |  Medical (26)  |  Paper (182)  |  Pathology (18)  |  Present (619)  |  Publish (36)  |  Research (664)  |  Slumber (6)  |  Still (613)  |  Toxic (2)  |  War (225)  |  Year (933)

While working with staphylococcus variants a number of culture-plates were set aside on the laboratory bench and examined from time to time. In the examinations these plates were necessarily exposed to the air and they became contaminated with various micro-organisms. It was noticed that around a large colony of a contaminating mould the staphylococcus colonies became transparent and were obviously undergoing lysis. Subcultures of this mould were made and experiments conducted with a view to ascertaining something of the properties of the bacteriolytic substance which had evidently been formed in the mould culture and which had diffused into the surrounding medium. It was found that broth in which the mould had been grown at room temperature for one or two weeks had acquired marked inhibitory, bacteriocidal and bacteriolytic properties to many of the more common pathogenic bacteria.
'On the Antibacterial Action of Cultures of a Penicillium, with Special Reference to their Use in the Isolation of B. Influenzae', British Journal of Experimental Pathology, 1929, 10, 226.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquired (78)  |  Air (347)  |  Bacteria (48)  |  Bacteriology (5)  |  Bench (8)  |  Common (436)  |  Conduct (69)  |  Culture (143)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Evidently (26)  |  Examination (98)  |  Experiment (695)  |  Exposed (33)  |  Form (959)  |  Laboratory (196)  |  Large (394)  |  Lysis (4)  |  Marked (55)  |  Micro-Organism (3)  |  More (2559)  |  Necessarily (135)  |  Number (699)  |  Organism (220)  |  Set (394)  |  Something (719)  |  Staphylococcus (2)  |  Substance (248)  |  Temperature (79)  |  Time (1877)  |  Transparent (16)  |  Two (937)  |  Variant (9)  |  Various (200)  |  View (488)  |  Week (70)


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 EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (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.