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Who said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
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Worm Quotes (42 quotes)

[Answering question whether he was tired of life:] Tired! Not so long as there is an undescribed intestinal worm, or the riddle of a fossil bone, or a rhizopod new to me.
Related about Joseph Leidy by Dr. Weir Mitchell, as stated in Richard A. Gregory, Discovery: Or, The Spirit and Service of Science (1916), 17.
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All Modern Men are descended from a Wormlike creature but it shows more on some people.
The Great Bustard and Other People (1944), 30.
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All versions written for nonscientists speak of fused males as the curious tale of the anglerfish–just as we so often hear about the monkey swinging through the trees, or the worm burrowing through soil. But if nature teaches us any lesson, it loudly proclaims life’s diversity. There ain’t no such abstraction as the clam, the fly, or the anglerfish. Ceratioid anglerfishes come in nearly 100 species, and each has its own peculiarity.
…...
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Amoeba has her picture in the book,
Proud Protozoon!—Yet beware of pride,
All she can do is fatten and divide;
She cannot even read, or sew, or cook…
The Worm can crawl
But has no eyes to look.
The Jelly-fish can swim
But lacks a bride.
Essay read at the Heretics Club, Cambridge (May 1922), 'Philosophic Ants', collected in Essays of a Biologist (1923), 176.
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And therefore, sir, as you desire to live,
A day or two before your laxative,
Take just three worms, nor under nor above,
Because the gods unequal numbers love.
These digestives prepare you for your purge,
Of fumetery, centaury, and spurge;
And of ground-ivy add a leaf or two.
All which within our yard or garden grow.
Eat these, and be, my lord, of better cheer:
Your father’s son was never born to fear.
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APOTHECARY, n. The physician's accomplice, undertaker's benefactor and grave worm's provider
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  24.
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BODY-SNATCHER, n. A robber of grave-worms. One who supplies the young physicians with that with which the old physicians have supplied the undertaker. 
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  38-39.
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Earthworms, though in appearance a small and despicable link in the chain of nature, yet, if lost, would make a lamentable chasm … worms seem to be the great promoters of vegetation, which would proceed but lamely without them.
[Showing an early awareness in ecology.]
Letter XXXV, to Daines Barrington, (20 May 1777) in The Natural History of Selborne (1789), 216 and (1899), 174.
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EDIBLE, adj. Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm.
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  79.
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Electronic calculators can solve problems which the man who made them cannot solve but no government-subsidized commission of engineers and physicists could create a worm.
In 'March', The Twelve Seasons: A Perpetual Calendar for the Country (1949), 184.
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Every bird which flies has the thread of the infinite in its claw. Germination includes the hatching of a meteor and the tap of a swallow's bill breaking the egg, and it leads forward the birth of an earth-worm and the advent of Socrates.
Victor Hugo and Charles E. Wilbour (trans.), Les Misérables (1862), 41.
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Facts may belong to the past history of mankind, to the social statistics of our great cities, to the atmosphere of the most distant stars, to the digestive organs of a worm, or to the life of a scarcely visible bacillus. It is not the facts themselves which form science, but the method in which they are dealt with.
From The Grammar of Science (1892), 15.
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Frogs will eat red-flannel worms fed to them by biologists; this proves a great deal about both parties concerned.
Quoted in Joseph Wood Krutch, The Best of Two Worlds (1953), 105.
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GEOLOGY, n. The science of the earth's crust —to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones of mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  115.
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How I hate the man who talks about the “brute creation”, with an ugly emphasis on Brute. Only Christians are capable of it. As for me, I am proud of my close kinship with other animals. I take a jealous pride in my Simian ancestry. I like to think that I was once a magnificent hairy fellow living in the trees and that my frame has come down through geological time via sea jelly and worms and Amphioxus, Fish, Dinosaurs, and Apes. Who would exchange these for the pallid couple in the Garden of Eden?
In W.N.P. Barbellion, The Journal of a Disappointed Man (1919), 27-28.
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I am entitled to say, if I like, that awareness exists in all the individual creatures on the planet—worms, sea urchins, gnats, whales, subhuman primates, superprimate humans, the lot. I can say this because we do not know what we are talking about: consciousness is so much a total mystery for our own species that we cannot begin to guess about its existence in others.
In Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony(1984), 223.
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I am glad that the life of pandas is so dull by human standards, for our efforts at conservation have little moral value if we preserve creatures only as human ornaments; I shall be impressed when we show solicitude for warty toads and slithering worms.
…...
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I now saw very distinctly that these were little eels or worms... Lying huddled together and wriggling, just as if you saw with your naked eye a whole tubful of very little eels and water, the eels moving about in swarms; and the whole water seemed to be alive with the multitudinous animalcules. For me this was among all the marvels that I have discovered in nature the most marvellous of all, and I must say that, for my part, no more pleasant sight has yet met my eye than this of so many thousands of living creatures in one small drop of water, all huddling and moving, but each creature having its own motion.
Letter to H. Oldenburg, 9 Oct 1676. In The Collected Letters of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (l957), Vol. 2, 115.
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I often get letters … from people who say … I never give credit to the almighty power that created nature. … I reply … “Well, it’s funny that the people, when they say that this is evidence of the Almighty, always quote beautiful things … orchids and hummingbirds and butterflies and roses.” But I always have to think too of a little boy sitting on the banks of a river in west Africa who has a worm boring through his eyeball, turning him blind before he’s five years old. And I … say, “Well, presumably the God you speak about created the worm as well,” and now, I find that baffling to credit a merciful God with that action. And therefore it seems to me safer to show things that I know to be truth, truthful and factual, and allow people to make up their own minds about the moralities of this thing, or indeed the theology of this thing.
From BBC TV, Life on Air (2002).
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I shall take as a starting point for our flight into space two contrasted statements about geography. The first is that of a boy who said that the earth is a ball filled inside with dirt and worms and covered all over on the outside with
'Genetic Geography: The Development of the Geographic Sense and Concept', Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 1920, 10, 4.
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I wish I were a glow-worm.
A glow-worm’s never glum.
How can you be unhappy,
When a light shines out your bum.
Anonymous
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If worms have the power of acquiring some notion, however rude, of the shape of an object and over their burrows, as seems the case, they deserve to be called intelligent; for they act in nearly the same manner as would man under similar circumstances.
Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms
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In New England they once thought blackbirds useless, and mischievous to the corn. They made efforts to destroy them. The consequence was, the blackbirds were diminished; but a kind of worm, which devoured their grass, and which the blackbirds used to feed on, increased prodigiously; then, finding their loss in grass much greater than their saving in corn, they wished again for their blackbirds.
Letter to Richard Jackson, 5 May 1753. In Albert Henry Smyth, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin (1905), Vol. 3, 135.
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In the mountains of Parma and Piacenza, multitudes of shells and corals filled with worm-holes may be seen still adhering to the rocks, and when I was making the great horse at Milan a large sack of those which had been found in these parts was brought to my workshop by some peasants... The red stone of the mountains of Verona is found with shells all intermingled, which have become part of this stone... And if you should say that these shells have been and still constantly are being created in such places as these by the nature of the locality or by potency of the heavens in these spots, such an opinion cannot exist in brains possessed of any extensive powers of reasoning because the years of their growth are numbered upon the outer coverings of their shells; and both small and large ones may be seen; and these would not have grown without feeding, or fed without movement, and here [embedded in rock] they would not have been able to move... The peaks of the Apennines once stood up in a sea, in the form of islands surrounded by salt water... and above the plains of Italy where flocks of birds are flying today, fishes were once moving in large shoals.
'Physical Geography', in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy (1938), Vol. 1, 355-6, 359.
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It is infinitely better to transplant a heart than to bury it to be devoured by worms.
In 'People', Time (31 Oct 1969).
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It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
Concluding remarks in final chapter, The Origin of Species (1859), 490. In the second edition, Darwin changed “breathed” to “breathed by the Creator”.
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It’s funny how worms can turn leaves into silk.
But funnier far is the cow:
She changes a field of green grass into milk
And not a professor knows how.
In Dorothy Caruso, Enrico Caruso: His Life and Death (1963), 42. Written for Michael Pupin, who made a similar statement in prose: “Look at those animals and remember the greatest scientists in the world have never discovered how to make grass into milk.”
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Nature has provided two great gifts: life and then the diversity of living things, jellyfish and humans, worms and crocodiles. I don't undervalue the investigation of commonalities but can't avoid the conclusion that diversity has been relatively neglected, especially as concerns the brain.
Theodore H. Bullock', in Larry R. Squire (ed.), The History of Science in Autobiography (1996), Vol. I, 144. The History of Science in Autobiography (1996), Vol. I, 144.
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No creature is too bulky or formidable for man's destructive energies—none too minute and insignificant for his keen detection and skill of capture. It was ordained from the beginning that we should be the masters and subduers of all inferior animals. Let us remember, however, that we ourselves, like the creatures we slay, subjugate, and modify, are the results of the same Almighty creative will—temporary sojourners here, and co-tenants with the worm and the whale of one small planet. In the exercise, therefore, of those superior powers that have been intrusted to us, let us ever bear in mind that our responsibilities are heightened in proportion.
Lecture to the London Society of Arts, 'The Raw Materials of the Animal Kingdom', collected in Lectures on the Results of the Great Exhibition of 1851' (1852), 131.
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Passing just lately over this lake, … and examining this water next day, I found floating therein divers earthy particles, and some green streaks, spirally wound serpent-wise, and orderly arranged, after the manner of the copper or tin worms, which distillers use to cool their liquors as they distil over. The whole circumference of each of these streaks was about the thickness of a hair of one's head. … all consisted of very small green globules joined together: and there were very many small green globules as well. [The earliest recorded observation of the common green alga Spyrogyra.]
Letter to the Royal Society, London (7 Sep 1674). In John Carey, Eyewitness to Science (1997), 28-29
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So erst the Sage [Pythagoras] with scientific truth
In Grecian temples taught the attentive youth;
With ceaseless change how restless atoms pass
From life to life, a transmigrating mass;
How the same organs, which to-day compose
The poisonous henbane, or the fragrant rose,
May with to-morrow's sun new forms compile,
Frown in the Hero, in the Beauty smile.
Whence drew the enlighten'd Sage the moral plan,
That man should ever be the friend of man;
Should eye with tenderness all living forms,
His brother-emmets, and his sister-worms.
The Temple of Nature (1803), canto 4, lines 417-28, page 163.
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The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding), lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.
Epitaph on his tombstone
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The cell was the first invention of the animal kingdom, and all higher animals are and must be cellular in structure. Our tissues were formed ages on ages ago; they have all persisted. Most of our organs are as old as worms. All these are very old, older than the mountains.
In The Whence and Whither of Man; a Brief History of his Origin and Development through Conformity to Environment; being the Morse Lectures of 1895. (1896), 173. The Morse lectureship was founded by Prof. Samuel F.B. Morse in 1865 at Union Theological Seminary, the lectures to deal with “the relation of the Bible to any of the sciences.”
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The colours of insects and many smaller animals contribute to conceal them from the larger ones which prey upon them. Caterpillars which feed on leaves are generally green; and earth-worms the colour of the earth which they inhabit; butter-flies, which frequent flowers, are coloured like them; small birds which frequent hedges have greenish backs like the leaves, and light-coloured bellies like the sky, and are hence less visible to the hawk who passes under them or over them.
The Botanic Garden (1791), part 2, note to canto I, line 375, page 38.
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The Earthworm plows the whole world with his tunnels, drains and aerates the earth… If you ever buy any land, be sure it has plenty of Earthworms toiling and moiling all day so that you can sit down and relax. (1949)
How to Attract the Wombat (2002), 165
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There is a tradition of opposition between adherents of induction and of deduction. In my view it would be just as sensible for the two ends of a worm to quarrel.
From address to the Mathematical and Physical Science Section of the British Association, Newcastle-on-Tyne (1916). In The Chemical News and Journal of Physical Science (22 Sep 1916), 142.114, No. 2965,
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Thus, we have three principles for increasing adequacy of data: if you must work with a single object, look for imperfections that record historical descent; if several objects are available, try to render them as stages of a single historical process; if processes can be directly observed, sum up their effects through time. One may discuss these principles directly or recognize the ‘little problems’ that Darwin used to exemplify them: orchids, coral reefs, and worms–the middle book, the first, and the last.
…...
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To choose a rough example, think of a thorn which has stuck in a finger and produces an inflammation and suppuration. Should the thorn be discharged with the pus, then the finger of another individual may be pricked with it, and the disease may be produced a second time. In this case it would not be the disease, not even its product, that would be transmitted by the thorn, but rather the stimulus which engendered it. Now supposing that the thorn is capable of multiplying in the sick body, or that every smallest part may again become a thorn, then one would be able to excite the same disease, inflammation and suppuration, in other individuals by transmitting any of its smallest parts. The disease is not the parasite but the thorn. Diseases resemble one another, because their causes resemble each other. The contagion in our sense is therefore not the germ or seed of the disease, but rather the cause of the disease. For example, the egg of a taenia is not the product of a worm disease even though the worm disease may have been the cause, which first gave rise to the taenia in the intestinal contents—nor of the individual afflicted with the worm disease, but rather of the parasitic body, which, no matter how it may have come into the world at first, now reproduces itself by means of eggs, and produces the symptoms of the worm disease, at least in part. It is not the seed of the disease; the latter multiplies in the sick organism, and is again excreted at the end of the disease.
'On Miasmata and Contagia', trans. G. Rosen, Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine (1938), 6, 924.
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What a chimera ... is man ! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a subject of contradiction, what a prodigy! A judge of all things, feeble worm of the earth, depository of the truth, cloacae of uncertainty and error, the glory and the shame of the universe!
…...
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What, then, shall we say about the receipts of alchemy, and about the diversity of its vessels and instruments? These are furnaces, glasses, jars, waters, oils, limes, sulphurs, salts, saltpeters, alums, vitriols, chrysocollae, copper greens, atraments, auripigments, fel vitri, ceruse, red earth, thucia, wax, lutum sapientiae, pounded glass, verdigris, soot, crocus of Mars, soap, crystal, arsenic, antimony, minium, elixir, lazarium, gold leaf salt niter, sal ammoniac, calamine stone, magnesia, bolus armenus, and many other things. Then, again, concerning herbs, roots, seeds, woods, stones, animals, worms, bone dust, snail shells, other shells, and pitch. These and the like, whereof there are some very farfetched in alchemy, are mere incumbrances of work; since even if Sol and Luna [gold and silver] could be made by them they rather hinder and delay than further one’s purpose.
In Paracelsus and Arthur Edward Waite (ed.), The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus (1894), Vol. 1, 13.
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Who are the farmer’s servants? … Geology and Chemistry, the quarry of the air, the water of the brook, the lightning of the cloud, the castings of the worm, the plough of the frost.
From 'Farming' in Society and Solitude (1870). Collected in Emerson's Complete Works (1883), Vol. 7, 138.
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[Reporting after the now infamous 22 Jun 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River:] Some River! Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows. “Anyone who falls into the Cuyahoga does not drown,” Cleveland's citizens joke grimly. “He decays”... The Federal Water Pollution Control Administration dryly notes: “The lower Cuyahoga has no visible signs of life, not even low forms such as leeches and sludge worms that usually thrive on wastes.” It is also—literally—-a fire hazard.
Magazine
As reported in Time magazine (1 Aug 1969).
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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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Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
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Marcel Proust
William Harvey
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John Keynes
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- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
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Euclid
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Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
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Bible
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- 70 -
Samuel Morse
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- 60 -
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Avicenna
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- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
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- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
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- 30 -
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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



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