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

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I was going to record talking... the foil was put on; I then shouted 'Mary had a little lamb',... and the machine reproduced it perfectly.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index T > Category: Tragedy

Tragedy Quotes (19 quotes)

A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.
Anonymous
According to Ralph Keyes in The Quote Verifier this is not a quote by Joseph Stalin. Although a 1958 book review in the New York Times used similar words, no citation was provided, and likely because there is none. However, the quote is often seen incorrectly attributed to Stalin, and sometimes Lenin or Heinrich Himmler.
Science quotes on:  |  Death (270)  |  Million (89)  |  Statistics (125)

As Karl Marx once noted: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes trial was a tragedy. The creationists and intelligent design theorists are a farce.
In '75 Years and Still No Peace'. Humanist (Sep 2000)
Science quotes on:  |  William Jennings Bryan (20)  |  Creationist (15)  |  Fact (609)  |  Farce (4)  |  History (302)  |  Intelligent Design (4)  |  Karl Marx (21)  |  John T. Scopes (5)  |  Trial (23)

Each and every loss becomes an instance of ultimate tragedy–something that once was, but shall never be known to us. The hump of the giant deer–as a nonfossilizable item of soft anatomy–should have fallen into the maw of erased history. But our ancestors provided a wondrous rescue, and we should rejoice mightily. Every new item can instruct us; every unexpected object possesses beauty for its own sake; every rescue from history’s great shredding machine is–and I don’t know how else to say this–a holy act of salvation for a bit of totality.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Act (80)  |  Anatomy (59)  |  Ancestor (35)  |  Beauty (171)  |  Become (100)  |  Bit (13)  |  Deer (6)  |  Erase (3)  |  Fall (89)  |  Giant (28)  |  Great (300)  |  History (302)  |  Holy (14)  |  Hump (3)  |  Instance (18)  |  Instruction (51)  |  Item (3)  |  Know (321)  |  Loss (62)  |  Machine (133)  |  Mightily (2)  |  New (340)  |  Object (110)  |  Possess (19)  |  Provide (48)  |  Rejoice (9)  |  Rescue (8)  |  Sake (17)  |  Salvation (7)  |  Say (126)  |  Shred (6)  |  Soft (10)  |  Totality (9)  |  Ultimate (61)  |  Unexpected (26)  |  Wondrous (7)

Few men live lives of more devoted self-sacrifice than the family physician, but he may become so completely absorbed in work that leisure is unknown…. More than most men he feels the tragedy of isolation—that inner isolation so well expressed in Matthew Arnold’s line “We mortal millions live alone.”
Address to the Canadian Medical Association, Montreal (17 Sep 1902), 'Chauvinism in Medicine', published in The Montreal Medical Journal (1902), 31, 267. Collected in Aequanimitas, with Other Addresses to Medical Students, Nurses and Practitioners of Medicine (1904), 299.
Science quotes on:  |  Alone (61)  |  Matthew Arnold (14)  |  Devote (23)  |  Family (37)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Leisure (11)  |  Live (186)  |  Millions (13)  |  Mortal (19)  |  Physician (232)  |  Self-Sacrifice (5)  |  Work (457)

For nearly twelve years I travelled and lived mostly among uncivilised or completely savage races, and I became convinced that they all possessed good qualities, some of them in a very remarkable degree, and that in all the great characteristics of humanity they are wonderfully like ourselves. Some, indeed, among the brown Polynesians especially, are declared by numerous independent and unprejudiced observers, to be physically, mentally, and intellectually our equals, if not our superiors; and it has always seemed to me one of the disgraces of our civilisation that these fine people have not in a single case been protected from contamination by the vices and follies of our more degraded classes, and allowed to develope their own social and political organislll under the advice of some of our best and wisest men and the protection of our world-wide power. That would have been indeed a worthy trophy of our civilisation. What we have actually done, and left undone, resulting in the degradation and lingering extermination of so fine a people, is one of the most pathetic of its tragedies.
In 'The Native Problem in South Africa and Elsewhere', Independent Review (1906), 11, 182.
Science quotes on:  |  Characteristic (66)  |  Civilization (155)  |  Contamination (4)  |  Degradation (12)  |  Development (228)  |  Disgrace (6)  |  Extermination (10)  |  Folly (27)  |  Humanity (104)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Observer (33)  |  Organism (126)  |  Political (31)  |  Race (76)  |  Savage (23)  |  Trophy (2)  |  Vice (15)

I have been asked whether I would agree that the tragedy of the scientist is that he is able to bring about great advances in our knowledge, which mankind may then proceed to use for purposes of destruction. My answer is that this is not the tragedy of the scientist; it is the tragedy of mankind.
S. R. Weart and G. W. Sallard (eds.), Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts (1978), 229.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Answer (201)  |  Asking (23)  |  Destruction (80)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Proceeding (13)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Question (315)  |  Scientist (447)

Imagine a room awash in gasoline, and there are two implacable enemies in that room. One of them has nine thousand matches. The other has seven thousand matches. Each of them is concerned about who's ahead, who's stronger. Well that's the kind of situation we are actually in. The amount of weapons that are available to the United States and the Soviet Union are so bloated, so grossly in excess of what's needed to dissuade the other, that if it weren't so tragic, it would be laughable. What is necessary is to reduce the matches and to clean up the gasoline.
From Sagan's analogy about the nuclear arms race and the need for disarmament, during a panel discussion in ABC News Viewpoint following the TV movie The Day After (20 Nov 1983). Transcribed by Webmaster from a video recording. It is seen misquoted in summary form as “The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.”
Science quotes on:  |  Ahead (14)  |  Arms Race (2)  |  Atomic Bomb (101)  |  Clean Up (3)  |  Concern (76)  |  Enemy (52)  |  Excess (8)  |  Gasoline (4)  |  Implacable (2)  |  Match (13)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Need (211)  |  Nuclear (24)  |  Reduce (32)  |  Soviet Union (3)  |  Stronger (4)  |  Thousand (106)  |  United States (31)  |  Weapon (57)

Life’s greatest tragedy is to lose God and not to miss him.
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 153
Science quotes on:  |  God (454)  |  Great (300)  |  Life (917)  |  Lose (53)  |  Miss (16)

One death is a tragedy, 100,000 deaths are statistics.
The Crazy Ape (1970), 29.
Science quotes on:  |  Death (270)  |  Statistics (125)

Seldom has there occurred a more pitifully tragic disaster than the sudden fall of the Wright aeroplane, involving the death of that promising young officer Lieut. Thomas Selfridge, and inflicting shocking injuries on the talented inventor, Orville Wright. But although the accident is deplorable, it should not be allowed to discredit the art of aeroplane navigation. If it emphasizes the risks, there is nothing in the mishap to shake our faith in the principles upon which the Wright brothers built their machine, and achieved such brilliant success.
Magazine
In Scientific American (Sep 1908). As cited in '50, 100 & 150 Years Ago', Scientific American (Sep 2008), 299, No. 3, 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (54)  |  Achievement (128)  |  Allowing (2)  |  Art (205)  |  Brilliance (8)  |  Brother (16)  |  Building (51)  |  Crash (8)  |  Death (270)  |  Deplorable (2)  |  Disaster (36)  |  Discredit (7)  |  Emphasis (14)  |  Faith (131)  |  Fall (89)  |  Inflicting (2)  |  Injury (14)  |  Inventor (49)  |  Machine (133)  |  Mishap (2)  |  Navigation (12)  |  Officer (6)  |  Pitiful (2)  |  Principle (228)  |  Risk (29)  |  Shake (19)  |  Shocking (3)  |  Success (202)  |  Talent (49)  |  Orville Wright (6)

Srinivasa Ramanujan was the strangest man in all of mathematics, probably in the entire history of science. He has been compared to a bursting supernova, illuminating the darkest, most profound corners of mathematics, before being tragically struck down by tuberculosis at the age of 33... Working in total isolation from the main currents of his field, he was able to rederive 100 years’ worth of Western mathematics on his own. The tragedy of his life is that much of his work was wasted rediscovering known mathematics.
In Hyperspace:A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension (1994), 172.
Science quotes on:  |  Bursting (3)  |  Comparison (53)  |  Corner (24)  |  Dark (49)  |  Derivation (12)  |  History Of Science (53)  |  Illuminating (3)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Known (15)  |  Life (917)  |  Man (345)  |  Mathematician (177)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Profound (46)  |  Srinivasa Ramanujan (15)  |  Strangest (4)  |  Supernova (7)  |  Tuberculosis (8)  |  Waste (57)  |  Western (14)  |  Working (20)

Suddenly there was an enormous explosion, like a violent volcano. The nuclear reactions had led to overheating in the underground burial grounds. The explosion poured radioactive dust and materials high up into the sky. It was just the wrong weather for such a tragedy. Strong winds blew the radioactive clouds hundreds of miles away. It was difficult to gauge the extent of the disaster immediately, and no evacuation plan was put into operation right away. Many villages and towns were only ordered to evacuate when the symptoms of radiation sickness were already quite apparent. Tens of thousands of people were affected, hundreds dying, though the real figures have never been made public. The large area, where the accident happened, is still considered dangerous and is closed to the public.
'Two Decades of Dissidence', New Scientist (4 Nov 1976), 72, No. 72, 265.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (54)  |  Affected (3)  |  Apparent (26)  |  Area (18)  |  Atomic Energy (21)  |  Burial (7)  |  Closed (9)  |  Cloud (44)  |  Considered (10)  |  Dangerous (45)  |  Die (46)  |  Difficult (62)  |  Disaster (36)  |  Dust (42)  |  Enormous (33)  |  Explosion (24)  |  Extent (30)  |  Gauge (2)  |  Ground (63)  |  Happened (2)  |  Heat (90)  |  Hundred (46)  |  Immediate (27)  |  Mile (24)  |  Nuclear (24)  |  Operation (96)  |  People (269)  |  Plan (69)  |  Public (82)  |  Radiation (22)  |  Radioactive (7)  |  Reaction (59)  |  Real (95)  |  Sickness (20)  |  Sky (68)  |  Strong (47)  |  Sudden (21)  |  Symptom (16)  |  Thousand (106)  |  Total (29)  |  Town (18)  |  Underground (5)  |  Village (6)  |  Violent (15)  |  Volcano (36)  |  Weather (27)  |  Wind (52)  |  Wrong (116)

The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.
In The First Three Minutes (1977), 155.
Science quotes on:  |  Effort (94)  |  Farce (4)  |  Grace (13)  |  Human (445)  |  Life (917)  |  Lift (17)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Universe (563)

The life of a wild animal always has a tragic end.
In Wild Animals I Have Known (1898), 12
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  End (141)  |  Life (917)  |  Wild (39)

The oppressive weight of disaster and tragedy in our lives does not arise from a high percentage of evil among the summed total of all acts, but from the extraordinary power of exceedingly rare incidents of depravity to inflict catastrophic damage, especially in our technological age when airplanes can become powerful bombs. (An even more evil man, armed only with a longbow, could not have wreaked such havoc at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.)
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Act (80)  |  Age (137)  |  Airplane (32)  |  Arise (32)  |  Arm (17)  |  Battle (30)  |  Become (100)  |  Bomb (17)  |  Catastrophic (2)  |  Damage (18)  |  Depravity (3)  |  Disaster (36)  |  Especially (18)  |  Evil (67)  |  Exceedingly (3)  |  Extraordinary (32)  |  Havoc (5)  |  High (78)  |  Incident (3)  |  Inflict (4)  |  Live (186)  |  Percentage (6)  |  Power (273)  |  Powerful (51)  |  Rare (31)  |  Sum (30)  |  Technological (15)  |  Total (29)  |  Weight (61)

The real tragedy of human existence is not that we are nasty by nature, but that a cruel structural asymmetry grants to rare events of meanness such power to shape our history.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Asymmetry (4)  |  Cruel (10)  |  Event (97)  |  Existence (254)  |  Grant (21)  |  History (302)  |  Human (445)  |  Meanness (5)  |  Nasty (6)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Power (273)  |  Rare (31)  |  Real (95)  |  Shape (52)  |  Structural (8)

The tragedy of deforestation in Amazonia as well as elsewhere in the tropics is that its costs, in... economic, social, cultural, and aesthetic terms, far outweigh its benefits. In many cases, destruction of the region’s rainforests is motivated by short-term gains rather than the long-term productive capacity of the land. And, as a result, deforestation usually leaves behind landscapes that are economically as well as ecologically impoverished.
From Anthony Bennett Anderson (ed.), Alternatives to Deforestation: Steps Toward Sustainable Use of the Amazon Rain Forest (1990), xi. As cited in Lykke E. Andersen (ed.), The Dynamics of Deforestation and Economic Growth in the Brazilian Amazon (2002), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Aesthetic (26)  |  Amazon (6)  |  Benefit (54)  |  Capacity (42)  |  Cost (31)  |  Cultural (16)  |  Deforestation (39)  |  Destruction (80)  |  Ecology (55)  |  Economy (46)  |  Gain (48)  |  Impoverished (2)  |  Landscape (23)  |  Long-Term (6)  |  Motivate (4)  |  Productive (10)  |  Rain Forest (21)  |  Result (250)  |  Short-Term (2)  |  Social (93)  |  Term (87)  |  Tropic (2)

Undeterred by poverty, failure, domestic tragedy, and persecution, but sustained by his mystical belief in an attainable mathematical harmony and perfection of nature, Kepler persisted for fifteen years before finding the simple regularity [of planetary orbits] he sought… . What stimulated Kepler to keep slaving all those fifteen years? An utter absurdity. In addition to his faith in the mathematical perfectibility of astronomy, Kepler also believed wholeheartedly in astrology. This was nothing against him. For a scientist of Kepler’s generation astrology was as respectable scientifically and mathematically as the quantum theory or relativity is to theoretical physicists today. Nonsense now, astrology was not nonsense in the sixteenth century.
In The Handmaiden of the Sciences (1937), 30.
Science quotes on:  |  16th Century (3)  |  Astrology (35)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Belief (400)  |  Failure (118)  |  Harmony (55)  |  Johannes Kepler (72)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Mystical (7)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Nonsense (32)  |  Orbit (58)  |  Perfection (71)  |  Persecution (9)  |  Planet (199)  |  Poverty (29)  |  Quantum Theory (55)  |  Relativity (50)  |  Theoretical Physicist (12)

When I started my work in 1909 there was about one fatality for every 2000 miles of flight and probably a few crashes for every 100 miles. Much of the design and flight knowledge that is now taken for granted was then unknown and … had to be learned through failures and tragedies.
In address (16 Nov 1964) presented to the Wings Club, New York City, published as Recollections and Thoughts of a Pioneer (1964), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Crash (8)  |  Design (92)  |  Failure (118)  |  Fatality (3)  |  Flight (45)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Learned (20)  |  Unknown (87)


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.