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

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Politics is more difficult than physics.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index T > Category: Thumb

Thumb Quotes (8 quotes)

As evolutionary time is measured, we have only just turned up and have hardly had time to catch breath, still marveling at our thumbs, still learning to use the brand-new gift of language. Being so young, we can be excused all sorts of folly and can permit ourselves the hope that someday, as a species, we will begin to grow up.
From 'Introduction' written by Lewis Thomas for Horace Freeland Judson, The Search for Solutions (1980, 1987), xvii.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (114)  |  Breath (24)  |  Catch (21)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Excuse (15)  |  Folly (27)  |  Gift (47)  |  Growth (111)  |  Hardly (12)  |  Hope (129)  |  Language (155)  |  Learning (174)  |  Marvel (24)  |  Measurement (148)  |  New (340)  |  Ourselves (34)  |  Permission (5)  |  Someday (4)  |  Species (181)  |  Time (439)  |  Turn (72)  |  Young (72)

Evolution is the conviction that organisms developed their current forms by an extended history of continual transformation, and that ties of genealogy bind all living things into one nexus. Panselectionism is a denial of history, for perfection covers the tracks of time. A perfect wing may have evolved to its current state, but it may have been created just as we find it. We simply cannot tell if perfection be our only evidence. As Darwin himself understood so well, the primary proofs of evolution are oddities and imperfections that must record pathways of historical descent–the panda’s thumb and the flamingo’s smile of my book titles (chosen to illustrate this paramount principle of history).
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Bind (18)  |  Book (181)  |  Choose (35)  |  Continual (13)  |  Conviction (57)  |  Cover (23)  |  Create (98)  |  Current (43)  |  Darwin (12)  |  Denial (13)  |  Descent (14)  |  Develop (55)  |  Evidence (157)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Extend (20)  |  Find (248)  |  Flamingo (2)  |  Form (210)  |  Genealogy (4)  |  Historical (10)  |  History (302)  |  Illustrate (5)  |  Imperfection (19)  |  Living Things (3)  |  Nexus (3)  |  Oddity (4)  |  Organism (126)  |  Panda (2)  |  Paramount (6)  |  Pathway (11)  |  Perfect (46)  |  Perfection (71)  |  Primary (29)  |  Principle (228)  |  Proof (192)  |  Record (56)  |  Simply (34)  |  Smile (13)  |  State (96)  |  Tell (67)  |  Tie (21)  |  Time (439)  |  Title (10)  |  Track (9)  |  Transformation (47)  |  Understand (189)  |  Wing (36)

From religion comes a man's purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.
In Sir Kerr Grant, The Life and Work of Sir William Bragg (1952), 43.
Science quotes on:  |  Achieve (36)  |  Finger (38)  |  Hand (103)  |  Man (345)  |  Means (109)  |  Opposition (29)  |  Power (273)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Religion (210)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Sense (240)

How did I discover saccharin? Well, it was partly by accident and partly by study. I had worked a long time on the compound radicals and substitution products of coal tar... One evening I was so interested in my laboratory that I forgot about my supper till quite late, and then rushed off for a meal without stopping to wash my hands. I sat down, broke a piece of bread, and put it to my lips. It tasted unspeakably sweet. I did not ask why it was so, probably because I thought it was some cake or sweetmeat. I rinsed my mouth with water, and dried my moustache with my napkin, when, to my surprise the napkin tasted sweeter than the bread. Then I was puzzled. I again raised my goblet, and, as fortune would have it, applied my mouth where my fingers had touched it before. The water seemed syrup. It flashed on me that I was the cause of the singular universal sweetness, and I accordingly tasted the end of my thumb, and found it surpassed any confectionery I had ever eaten. I saw the whole thing at once. I had discovered some coal tar substance which out-sugared sugar. I dropped my dinner, and ran back to the laboratory. There, in my excitement, I tasted the contents of every beaker and evaporating dish on the table.
Interview with American Analyst. Reprinted in Pacific Record of Medicine and Surgery (1886), 1, No. 3, 78.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (54)  |  Artificial (26)  |  Bread (19)  |  Cake (3)  |  Coal Tar (2)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Finger (38)  |  Fortune (23)  |  Meal (14)  |  Mouth (16)  |  Napkin (2)  |  Puzzle (30)  |  Research (517)  |  Saccharin (2)  |  Serendipity (13)  |  Sugar (13)  |  Sweetness (8)  |  Taste (35)  |  Touch (48)  |  Water (244)

If some race of quadrumanous animals, especially one of the most perfect of them, were to lose, by force of circumstances or some other cause, the habit of climbing trees and grasping the branches with its feet in the same way as with its hands, in order to hold on to them; and if the individuals of this race were forced for a series of generations to use their feet only for walking, and to give up using their hands like feet; there is no doubt, according to the observations detailed in the preceding chapter, that these quadrumanous animals would at length be transformed into bimanous, and that the thumbs on their feet would cease to be separated from the other digits, when they only used their feet for walking.
Philosophie Zoologique (1809), Vol. 1, 349, trans. Hugh Elliot (1914), 170.
Science quotes on:  |  Ape (39)  |  Climb (14)  |  Tree (143)

In a sense [for the Copenhagen Interpretation], the observer picks what happens. One of the unsolved questions is whether the observer’s mind or will somehow determines the choice, or whether it is simply a case of sticking in a thumb and pulling out a plum at random.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Case (64)  |  Choice (64)  |  Copenhagen (3)  |  Determine (45)  |  Happen (63)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Mind (544)  |  Observer (33)  |  Pick (14)  |  Plum (3)  |  Pull (11)  |  Question (315)  |  Random (21)  |  Sense (240)  |  Simply (34)  |  Stick (19)  |  Unsolved (7)

In want of other proofs, the thumb would convince me of the existence of a God.
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 42
Science quotes on:  |  Convince (17)  |  Existence (254)  |  God (454)  |  Proof (192)  |  Want (120)

Of all the constituents of the human body, bone is the hardest, the driest, the earthiest, and the coldest; and, excepting only the teeth, it is devoid of sensation. God, the great Creator of all things, formed its substance to this specification with good reason, intending it to be like a foundation for the whole body; for in the fabric of the human body bones perform the same function as do walls and beams in houses, poles in tents, and keels and ribs in boats.
Bones Differentiated by Function
Some bones, by reason of their strength, form as it were props for the body; these include the tibia, the femur, the spinal vertebrae, and most of the bony framework. Others are like bastions, defense walls, and ramparts, affording natural protection to other parts; examples are the skull, the spines and transverse processes of the vertebrae, the breast bone, the ribs. Others stand in front of the joints between certain bones, to ensure that the joint does not move too loosely or bend to too acute an angle. This is the function of the tiny bones, likened by the professors of anatomy to the size of a sesame seed, which are attached to the second internode of the thumb, the first internode of the other four fingers and the first internodes of the five toes. The teeth, on the other hand, serve specifically to cut, crush, pound and grind our food, and similarly the two ossicles in the organ of hearing perform a specifically auditory function.
From De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem: (1543), Book I, 1, as translated by William Frank Richardson, in 'Nature of Bone; Function of Bones', On The Fabric of the Human Body: Book I: The Bones and Cartilages (1998), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Acute (6)  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Angle (15)  |  Attached (2)  |  Bastion (2)  |  Beam (9)  |  Bend (8)  |  Boat (13)  |  Body (193)  |  Bone (57)  |  Breast (6)  |  Constituent (13)  |  Creator (40)  |  Crush (6)  |  Cut (36)  |  Defense (15)  |  Devoid (5)  |  Differentiation (17)  |  Driest (2)  |  Exception (33)  |  Fabric (13)  |  Finger (38)  |  Food (139)  |  Form (210)  |  Foundation (75)  |  Framework (15)  |  Function (90)  |  God (454)  |  Grind (8)  |  Hand (103)  |  Hardest (2)  |  Hearing (27)  |  House (36)  |  Human (445)  |  Joint (11)  |  Keel (3)  |  Move (58)  |  Natural (128)  |  Organ (60)  |  Pole (14)  |  Pound (7)  |  Process (201)  |  Professor (39)  |  Prop (6)  |  Protection (23)  |  Reason (330)  |  Rib (4)  |  Seed (52)  |  Sensation (22)  |  Serve (34)  |  Sesame (2)  |  Size (47)  |  Skull (5)  |  Specification (5)  |  Spine (5)  |  Strength (63)  |  Substance (73)  |  Teeth (11)  |  Tent (4)  |  Toe (5)  |  Vertebra (4)  |  Wall (20)


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.