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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index S > Category: Sterility

Sterility Quotes (10 quotes)

It is really laughable to see what different ideas are prominent in various naturalists’ minds, when they speak of “species”; in some, resemblance is everything and descent of little weight—in some, resemblance seems to go for nothing, and Creation the reigning idea—in some, descent is the key,—in some, sterility an unfailing test, with others it is not worth a farthing. It all comes, I believe, from trying to define the undefinable.
Letter to J. D. Hooker (24 Dec 1856). In Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (1888), 446.
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It may very properly be asked whether the attempt to define distinct species, of a more or less permanent nature, such as we are accustomed to deal with amongst the higher plants and animals, is not altogether illusory amongst such lowly organised forms of life as the bacteria. No biologist nowadays believes in the absolute fixity of species … but there are two circumstances which here render the problem of specificity even more difficult of solution. The bacteriologist is deprived of the test of mutual fertility or sterility, so valuable in determining specific limits amongst organisms in which sexual reproduction prevails. Further, the extreme rapidity with which generation succeeds generation amongst bacteria offers to the forces of variation and natural selection a field for their operation wholly unparalleled amongst higher forms of life.
'The Evolution of the Streptococci', The Lancet, 1906, 2, 1415-6.
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It need scarcely be pointed out that with such a mechanism complete isolation of portion of a species should result relatively rapidly in specific differentiation, and one that is not necessarily adaptive. The effective inter­group competition leading to adaptive advance may be between species rather than races. Such isolation is doubtless usually geographic in character at the outset but may be clinched by the development of hybrid sterility. The usual difference of the chromosome complements of related species puts the importance of chromosome aberration as an evolutionary process beyond question, but, as I see it, this importance is not in the character differences which they bring (slight in balanced types), but rather in leading to the sterility of hybrids and thus making permanent the isolation of two groups.
How far do the observations of actual species and their subdivisions conform to this picture? This is naturally too large a subject for more than a few suggestions.
That evolution involves non-adaptive differentiation to a large extent at the subspecies and even the species level is indicated by the kinds of differences by which such groups are actually distinguished by systematics. It is only at the subfamily and family levels that clear-cut adaptive differences become the rule. The principal evolutionary mechanism in the origin of species must thus be an essentially nonadaptive one.
In Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Genetics: Ithaca, New York, 1932 (1932) Vol. 1, 363-364.
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Laboratory and discovery are related terms. Do away with laboratories, and the physical sciences will be become the image of the sterility of death.
Laboratoires et découvertes sont des termes corrélatifs. Supprimez les laboratoires, les sciences physiques deviendront l’image de la stérilité et de la mort.
In article 'The Budget of Science', Revue des Cours Scientifiques (1 Feb 1868) and published as a pamphlet, Some Reflections on Science in France. As translated in Patrice Debré and Elborg Forster (trans.), Louis Pasteur (2000), 143. Original French quote in René Vallery-Radot, La Vie de Pasteur (1900), 215. Note: Pasteur was fighting for a new laboratory building, but funding had been withdrawn—yet many millions were being spent to build an opera house. The full article, which was scorching, had been first sent to the newspaper, Moniteur in early Jan 1868, but it was declined as too politically controversial. Napoleon III was notified, and he was sympathetic. Other translations include: “Laboratories and discoveries are correlative terms. If you suppress laboratories, physical science will become stricken with barrenness and death.” In René Vallery-Radot and Mrs R. L. Devonshire (trans.) The Life of Pasteur (1902), 199.
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Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death.
'On Statistics'. In On the Silence of the Sea and Other Essays (1941),199-200.
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The advance of science is not comparable to the changes of a city, where old edifices are pitilessly torn down to give place to new, but to the continuous evolution of zoologic types which develop ceaselessly and end by becoming unrecognisable to the common sight, but where an expert eye finds always traces of the prior work of the centuries past. One must not think then that the old-fashioned theories have been sterile and vain.
The Value of Science (1905), in The Foundations of Science: Science and Hypothesis, The Value of Science, Science and Method(1946), trans. by George Bruce Halsted, 208.
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To fall back, to live on oneself, to withdraw is sterility. Communication with the exterior means fertility.
As quoted in The Artist (1978), 93, 5.
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To isolate mathematics from the practical demands of the sciences is to invite the sterility of a cow shut away from the bulls.
As quoted, without citation, in In J.E. Littlewood, A Mathematician’s Miscellany (1953), , reissued as Béla Bollobás (ed.), Littlewood’s Miscellany (1986).
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Tranquilizers to overcome angst, pep pills to wake us up, life pills to ensure blissful sterility. I will lift up my ears unto the pills whence cometh my help.
New Statesman (3 Aug 1962). In Thelma C. Altshuler, Martha M. McDonough and Audrey J. Roth, Prose as Ewxperience (2007), 5.
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With respect to those who may ask why Nature does not produce new beings? We may enquire of them in turn, upon what foundation they suppose this fact? What it is that authorizes them to believe this sterility in Nature? Know they if, in the various combinations which she is every instant forming, Nature be not occupied in producing new beings, without the cognizance of these observers? Who has informed them that this Nature is not actually assembling, in her immense elaboratory, the elements suitable to bring to light, generations entirely new, that will have nothing in common with those of the species at present existing? What absurdity then, or what want of just inference would there be, to imagine that the man, the horse, the fish, the bird will be no more? Are these animals so indispensably requisite to Nature, that without them she cannot continue her eternal course? Does not all change around us? Do we not ourselves change? ... Nature contains no one constant form.
The System of Nature (1770), trans. Samuel Wilkinson (1820), Vol. 1, 94-95.
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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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