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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Ira Remsen Quotes

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Ira Remsen
(10 Feb 1846 - 4 Mar 1927)

American chemist who co-discovered saccharin. He spent most of his career teaching chemistry at Johns Hopkins University.

Science Quotes by Ira Remsen (5 quotes)

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Ira Remsen
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[Responding to a student whose friend asked about studying Agricultural Chemistry at Johns Hopkins:]
We would be glad to have your friend come here to study, but tell him that we teach Chemistry here and not Agricultural Chemistry, nor any other special kind of chemistry. ... We teach Chemistry.
— Ira Remsen
In Frederick Hutton Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen, 71.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (242)  |  Johns Hopkins (2)  |  Kind (130)  |  Special (64)  |  Teaching (106)

Be a physical chemist, an organic chemist, an analytical chemist, if you will; but above all be a Chemist.
[Admonishing his students to avoid over-specialization.]
— Ira Remsen
F. H. Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (1940), 71.
Science quotes on:  |  Analytical Chemistry (2)  |  Chemist (86)  |  Organic Chemistry (33)  |  Physical Chemistry (5)

Liebig taught the world two great lessons. The first was that in order to teach chemistry it was necessary that students should be taken into a laboratory. The second lesson was that he who is to apply scientific thought and method to industrial problems must have a thorough knowledge of the sciences. The world learned the first lesson more readily than it learned the second.
— Ira Remsen
Ira Remsen, Address to the Industrial Chemistry Society, Glasgow (1910). Quoted in Frederick Hutton Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (1980), 121-122.
Science quotes on:  |  Laboratory (129)  |  Justus von Liebig (38)

The fundamental characteristic of the scientific method is honesty. In dealing with any question, science asks no favors. ... I believe that constant use of the scientific method must in the end leave its impress upon him who uses it. ... A life spent in accordance with scientific teachings would be of a high order. It would practically conform to the teachings of the highest types of religion. The motives would be different, but so far as conduct is concerned the results would be practically identical.
— Ira Remsen
Address as its retiring president, to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, St. Louis (28 Dec 1903). 'Scientific Investigation and Progress', Nature 928 Jan 1904), 69:1787, 309.
Science quotes on:  |  Ask (148)  |  Characteristic (90)  |  Conduct (28)  |  Constant (52)  |  Dealing (10)  |  Difference (237)  |  Favor (29)  |  Fundamental (146)  |  Honesty (19)  |  Identical (19)  |  Impression (67)  |  Lifetime (26)  |  Men Of Science (129)  |  Motive (31)  |  Question (383)  |  Result (328)  |  Science (1939)  |  Science And Religion (289)  |  Scientific Method (163)  |  Use (77)

While reading in a textbook of chemistry, ... I came across the statement, 'nitric acid acts upon copper.' I was getting tired of reading such absurd stuff and I determined to see what this meant. Copper was more or less familiar to me, for copper cents were then in use. I had seen a bottle marked 'nitric acid' on a table in the doctor's office where I was then 'doing time.' I did not know its peculiarities, but I was getting on and likely to learn. The spirit of adventure was upon me. Having nitric acid and copper, I had only to learn what the words 'act upon' meant... I put one of them [cent] on the table, opened the bottle marked 'nitric acid'; poured some of the liquid on the copper; and prepared to make an observation. But what was this wonderful thing which I beheld? The cent was already changed, and it was no small change either. A greenish blue liquid foamed and fumed over the cent and over the table. The air in the neighborhood of the performance became colored dark red. A great colored cloud arose. This was disagreeable and suffocating—how should I stop this? I tried to get rid of the objectionable mess by picking it up and throwing it out of the window, which I had meanwhile opened. I learned another fact—nitric acid not only acts upon copper but it acts upon fingers. The pain led to another unpremeditated experiment. I drew my fingers across my trousers and another fact was discovered. Nitric acid acts upon trousers. Taking everything into consideration, that was the most impressive experiment, and, relatively, probably the most costly experiment I have ever performed.
— Ira Remsen
F. H. Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (1940), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurdity (21)  |  Act (106)  |  Adventure (46)  |  Air (181)  |  Biography (231)  |  Bottle (13)  |  Cent (5)  |  Change (347)  |  Chemistry (242)  |  Cloud (67)  |  Copper (19)  |  Cost (40)  |  Experiment (580)  |  Finger (43)  |  Foam (3)  |  Fume (6)  |  Impressiveness (2)  |  Liquid (25)  |  Meaning (106)  |  Mess (13)  |  Neighborhood (7)  |  Nitric Acid (2)  |  Observation (438)  |  Pain (95)  |  Peculiarity (18)  |  Reading (52)  |  Spirit (140)  |  Suffocation (2)  |  Table (32)  |  Trousers (4)  |  Window (38)

Quotes by others about Ira Remsen (1)

[Recalling Professor Ira Remsen's remarks (1895) to a group of his graduate students about to go out with their degrees into the world beyond the university:]
He talked to us for an hour on what was ahead of us; cautioned us against giving up the desire to push ahead by continued study and work. He warned us against allowing our present accomplishments to be the high spot in our lives. He urged us not to wait for a brilliant idea before beginning independent research, and emphasized the fact the Lavoisier's first contribution to chemistry was the analysis of a sample of gypsum. He told us that the fields in which the great masters had worked were still fruitful; the ground had only been scratched and the gleaner could be sure of ample reward.
Quoted in Frederick Hutton Getman, The Life of Ira Remsen (1980), 73.
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (71)  |  Ample (4)  |  Analysis (148)  |  Brilliance (10)  |  Chemist (86)  |  Chemistry (242)  |  Contribution (57)  |  Desire (132)  |  Field (155)  |  Fruitful (38)  |  Graduation (4)  |  Ground (85)  |  Gypsum (2)  |  Idea (545)  |  Independent (59)  |  Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (38)  |  Master (84)  |  Research (568)  |  Reward (45)  |  Scratch (7)  |  Study (434)  |  Work (589)

See also:

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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