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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Jonas Salk Quotes

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Jonas Salk
(28 Oct 1914 - 23 Jun 1995)

American physician and microbiologist.


Science Quotes by Jonas Salk (12 quotes)

Reply when questioned on the safety of the polio vaccine he developed: It is safe, and you can't get safer than safe.
— Jonas Salk
J. R. Wilson, Margin of Safety (1963), 98.
Science quotes on:  |  Safety (39)

As the human fetus develops, its changing form seems to retrace the whole of human evolution from the time we were cosmic dust to the time we were single-celled organisms in the primordial sea to the time we were four-legged, land-dwelling reptiles and beyond, to our current status as large­brained, bipedal mammals. Thus, humans seem to be the sum total of experience since the beginning of the cosmos.
— Jonas Salk
From interview with James Reston, Jr., in Pamela Weintraub (ed.), The Omni Interviews (1984), 99. Previously published in magazine, Omni (May 1982).
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (114)  |  Bipedal (3)  |  Brain (181)  |  Cell (125)  |  Change (291)  |  Cosmic (34)  |  Cosmos (39)  |  Develop (55)  |  Dust (42)  |  Dwelling (9)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Experience (268)  |  Fetus (2)  |  Form (210)  |  Human (445)  |  Land (83)  |  Mammal (28)  |  Organism (126)  |  Primordial (7)  |  Reptile (23)  |  Retrace (2)  |  Sea (143)  |  Single (72)  |  Total (29)

Eventually, we’ll realize that if we destroy the ecosystem, we destroy ourselves.
— Jonas Salk
From interview with James Reston, Jr., in Pamela Weintraub (ed.), The Omni Interviews (1984), 105. Previously published in magazine, Omni (May 1982).

Eventually, we’ll realize that if we destroy the ecosystem, we destroy ourselves.
— Jonas Salk
In Pamela Weintraub (ed.), The Omni Interviews (1984), 105.
Science quotes on:  |  Destroy (63)  |  Ecology (55)  |  Ecosystem (21)  |  Eventually (14)  |  Ourselves (34)  |  Realize (43)

I couldn’t possibly have become a member of this Institute [the Salk Institute], you know, if I hadn’t organized it myself.
— Jonas Salk
In R. Carier, Breakthrough: The Saga of Jonas Salk (1966), 413.
Science quotes on:  |  Institute (7)  |  Member (27)  |  Organization (79)

I see the whole of humankind becoming a single, integrated organism. … I look upon each of us as I would an individual cell in the organism, each of us playing his or her respective role.
— Jonas Salk
From interview with James Reston, Jr., in Pamela Weintraub (ed.), The Omni Interviews (1984), 109. Previously published in magazine, Omni (May 1982).
Science quotes on:  |  Cell (125)  |  Humankind (7)  |  Individual (177)  |  Integrated (2)  |  Organism (126)  |  Role (35)  |  Sociology (31)

I would picture myself as a virus, or as a cancer cell, for example, and try to sense what it would be like to be either. I would also imagine myself as the immune system, and I would try to reconstruct what I would do as an immune system engaged in combating a virus or cancer cell. When I had played through a series of such scenarios on a particular problem and had acquired new insights, I would design laboratory experiments accordingly… Based upon the results of the experiment, I would then know what question to ask next… When I observed phenomena in the laboratory that I did not understand, I would also ask questions as if interrogating myself: “Why would I do that if I were a virus or a cancer cell, or the immune system?” Before long, this internal dialogue became second nature to me; I found that my mind worked this way all the time.
— Jonas Salk
In Anatomy of Reality: Merging of Intuition and Reason (1983), 7, footnote b, as quoted and cited in Roger Frantz, Two Minds: Intuition and Analysis in the History of Economic Thought (2006), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Cancer (44)  |  Cell (125)  |  Combat (9)  |  Dialogue (7)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Imagine (40)  |  Immune System (2)  |  Insight (57)  |  Interrogate (3)  |  Intuition (39)  |  New (340)  |  Observe (48)  |  Question (315)  |  Result (250)  |  Scenario (3)  |  Understand (189)  |  Virus (22)

IT IS SAID TO AWAIT CERTAINTY IS TO AWAIT ETERNITY.
— Jonas Salk
Telegram to Basil O’Connor (8 Nov 1954). In J. S. Smith, Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine (1990), 295.
Science quotes on:  |  Certainty (97)  |  Eternity (44)  |  Wait (38)

My ambition was to bring to bear on medicine a chemical approach. I did that by chemical manipulation of viruses and chemical ways of thinking in biomedical research.
— Jonas Salk
From interview (1980) quoted in New York Times (24 Jun 1995), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Ambition (25)  |  Biography (227)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Manipulation (9)  |  Research (517)  |  Virus (22)

Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?
[On being asked who owned the patent on his polio vaccine by journalist, Edward R. Murrow in 1954.]
— Jonas Salk
Quoted in The Economist (14 Aug 1999), 11. In Howard Gardner, et al., Good Work (2002), 111.
Science quotes on:  |  Patent (23)  |  Polio (5)  |  Sun (211)  |  Vaccine (8)

When I worked on the polio vaccine, I had a theory. Experiments were done to determine what might or might not occur. I guided each one by imagining myself in the phenomenon in which I was interested. The intuitive realm is constantly active—the realm of imagination guides my thinking.
— Jonas Salk
From interview with James Reston, Jr., in Pamela Weintraub (ed.), The Omni Interviews (1984), 98. Previously published in magazine, Omni (May 1982).
Science quotes on:  |  Active (17)  |  Constantly (19)  |  Determine (45)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Guide (46)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Interest (170)  |  Intuitive (7)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Myself (22)  |  Occur (26)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Polio (5)  |  Realm (40)  |  Research (517)  |  Theory (582)  |  Thinking (222)  |  Vaccine (8)  |  Work (457)

When you inoculate children with polio vaccine, you don’t sleep well for two or three months.
— Jonas Salk
As quoted without citation in Greer Williams, Virus Hunters (1959), 289. Webmaster found on the web that, allegedly, the quote is as told to reporters (11 Oct 1954) and reported for the Associated Press from Pittsburgh by Saul Pett—but Webmaster has not found such a print story for verification. The quote appears widely duplicated and circulated, but none found have a citation to a primary print source. Some specify weeks, others say months. Please contact Webmaster if you have a definitive reference to a newspaper article.
Science quotes on:  |  Child (189)  |  Inoculation (8)  |  Month (21)  |  Polio (5)  |  Sleep (42)  |  Vaccine (8)



Quotes by others about Jonas Salk (1)

No one had ever picked my brains about influenza so expertly as he did.
[Recalling when had met young Jonas Salk, Ann Arbor (1943).]
In M. Burnet, Changing Patterns: an Atypical Autobiography (1968), 169.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (181)  |  Expert (42)  |  Influenza (3)  |  Pick (14)


See also:
  • 28 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Salk's birth.
  • Jonas Salk: Beyond the Microscope, by Victoria Sherrow. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Jonas Salk.

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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