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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Richard E. Smalley Quotes

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Richard E. Smalley
(6 Jun 1943 - 28 Oct 2005)

American chemist and physicist who is known as the father of nanotechnology. For his co-discovery of carbon60 (buckminsterfullerene, or buckyball) and the fullerenes, he shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.


Science Quotes by Richard E. Smalley (17 quotes)

Carbon has this genius of making a chemically stable two-dimensional, one-atom-thick membrane in a three-dimensional world. And that, I believe, is going to be very important in the future of chemistry and technology in general.
— Richard E. Smalley
From Nobel Lecture (7 Dec 1996), 'Discovering the Fullerenes', collected in Ingmar Grenthe (ed.), Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1996-2000 (2003).
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Carbon (48)  |  Chemical (72)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Dimension (26)  |  Future (229)  |  Genius (186)  |  Important (124)  |  Membrane (11)  |  Stable (15)  |  Technology (199)  |  Thick (3)  |  World (667)

Clean water is a great example of something that depends on energy. And if you solve the water problem, you solve the food problem.
— Richard E. Smalley
In Lecture (2003) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in Golden, Colorado, as quoted in obituary, Barnaby J. Feder, 'Richard E. Smalley, 62, Dies; Chemistry Nobel Winner:', New York Times (29 Oct 2005), Late Edition (East Coast), C16.
Science quotes on:  |  Clean (20)  |  Depend (56)  |  Energy (185)  |  Example (57)  |  Food (139)  |  Problem (362)  |  Solve (41)  |  Water (244)

Diamond, for all its great beauty, is not nearly as interesting as the hexagonal plane of graphite. It is not nearly as interesting because we live in a three-dimensional space, and in diamond each atom is surrounded in all three directions in space by a full coordination. Consequently, it is very difficult for an atom inside the diamond lattice to be confronted with anything else in this 3D world because all directions are already taken up.
— Richard E. Smalley
From Nobel Lecture (7 Dec 1996), 'Discovering the Fullerenes', collected in Ingmar Grenthe (ed.), Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1996-2000 (2003).
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Beauty (171)  |  Diamond (15)  |  Dimension (26)  |  Graphite (2)  |  Interest (170)  |  Plane (15)  |  Space (154)

From my father I learned to build things, to take them apart, and to fix mechanical and electrical equipment in general. I spent vast hours in a woodworking shop he maintained in the basement of our house, building gadgets, working both with my father and alone, often late into the night. … This play with building, fixing, and designing was my favorite activity throughout my childhood, and was a wonderful preparation for my later career as an experimentalist working on the frontiers of chemistry and physics.
— Richard E. Smalley
From 'Richard E. Smalley: Biographical', collected in Tore Frängsmyr (ed.), Les Prix Nobel: The Nobel Prizes 1996 (1997).
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (97)  |  Build (80)  |  Career (54)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Childhood (23)  |  Design (92)  |  Electrical (10)  |  Equipment (26)  |  Experimenter (18)  |  Father (44)  |  Favorite (18)  |  Fix (10)  |  Frontier (16)  |  Learn (160)  |  Mechanical (31)  |  Physics (301)  |  Play (60)  |  Preparation (33)  |  Wonderful (37)

I like the word “nanotechnology.” I like it because the prefix “nano” guarantees it will be fundamental science for decades; the “technology” says it is engineering, something you’re involved in not just because you’re interested in how nature works but because it will produce something that has a broad impact.
— Richard E. Smalley
From interview in 'Wires of Wonder', Technology Review (Mar 2001), 104, No. 2, 88.
Science quotes on:  |  Decade (19)  |  Engineering (115)  |  Fundamental (122)  |  Guarantee (16)  |  Impact (21)  |  Interested (4)  |  Involved (5)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Produce (63)  |  Science (1699)  |  Technology (199)  |  Word (221)  |  Work (457)

I now think the answer is very simple: it's true. God did create the universe about 13.7 billion years ago, and of necessity has involved Himself with His creation ever since. The purpose of this universe is something that only God knows for sure, but it is increasingly clear to modern science that the universe was exquisitely fine-tuned to enable human life.
— Richard E. Smalley
In Letter (May 2005), sent to the Hope College 2005 Alumni Banquet, read in lieu of accepting an award in person, because of declining health from cancer.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)  |  Creation (211)  |  Human Life (25)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Universe (563)

In a way, cancer is so simple and so natural. The older you get, this is just one of the things that happens as the clock ticks.
— Richard E. Smalley
As quoted in Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle (28 Oct 2005)
Science quotes on:  |  Cancer (44)  |  Clock (26)  |  Natural (128)  |  Old (104)  |  Simple (111)  |  Tick (5)

It turned out that the buckyball, the soccer ball, was something of a Rosetta stone of an infinite new class of molecules.
— Richard E. Smalley
From interview with National Public Radio (2000), quoted and cited in Nell GreenfieldBoyce, '‘Buckyball’ Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley Dies', All Things Considered (31 Oct 2005). Transcript on NPR website.
Science quotes on:  |  Ball (20)  |  Buckyball (4)  |  Class (64)  |  Infinite (88)  |  Molecule (125)  |  New (340)  |  Rosetta Stone (4)  |  Soccer (2)

My attitude was: “Just look at all the interesting atoms in that region of the periodic table; certainly the reason that carbon dominates chemistry is our own ignorance.”
— Richard E. Smalley
Recollection of being unimpressed in high school when taught that carbon, being the basic building block of life, was the most important element in the periodic table. In Chappell Brown, 'A Carbon Copy of the Real Thing', Electronic Engineering Times (28 Dec 1998), 50.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Attitude (47)  |  Carbon (48)  |  Certain (84)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Dominate (13)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Interesting (38)  |  Periodic Table (13)  |  Reason (330)  |  Region (26)

My interest in Science had many roots. Some came from my mother … while I was in my early teens. She fell in love with science,… [from] classes on the Foundations of Physical Science. … I was infected by [her] professor second hand, through hundreds of hours of conversations at my mother’s knees. It was from my mother that I first learned of Archimedes, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Darwin. We spent hours together collecting single-celled organisms from a local pond and watching them with a microscope.
— Richard E. Smalley
From 'Richard E. Smalley: Biographical', collected in Tore Frängsmyr (ed.), Les Prix Nobel: The Nobel Prizes 1996 (1997).
Science quotes on:  |  Archimedes (22)  |  Biography (227)  |  Collect (10)  |  Conversation (18)  |  Charles Darwin (284)  |  Leonardo da Vinci (34)  |  Galileo Galilei (101)  |  Interest (170)  |  Kepler_Nicolaus (2)  |  Learned (20)  |  Microscope (68)  |  Mother (59)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  Organism (126)  |  Pond (9)  |  Science (1699)

Soccer ball C60 quickly became a sort of “Rosetta Stone” leading to the discovery of a new world of geodesic structures of pure carbon built on the nanometer scale.
— Richard E. Smalley
From Nobel Lecture (7 Dec 1996), 'Discovering the Fullerenes', collected in Ingmar Grenthe (ed.), Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1996-2000 (2003).
Science quotes on:  |  Ball (20)  |  Buckyball (4)  |  Carbon (48)  |  Discovery (591)  |  New (340)  |  Pure (62)  |  Rosetta Stone (4)  |  Soccer (2)  |  Structure (191)  |  World (667)

The principal impetus for my entering a career in science … was the successful launching of Sputnik in 1957, and the then current belief that science and technology was going to be where the action was in the coming decades.
— Richard E. Smalley
From 'Richard E. Smalley: Biographical', collected in Tore Frängsmyr (ed.), Les Prix Nobel: The Nobel Prizes 1996 (1997).
Science quotes on:  |  Action (151)  |  Belief (400)  |  Biography (227)  |  Career (54)  |  Impetus (2)  |  Launch (8)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sputnik (4)  |  Technology (199)

This discovery [of fullerenes] is principally about the way that carbon condenses, it’s genius for forming clusters.
— Richard E. Smalley
From Nobel Lecture (7 Dec 1996), 'Discovering the Fullerenes', collected in Ingmar Grenthe (ed.), Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1996-2000 (2003).
Science quotes on:  |  Carbon (48)  |  Cluster (10)  |  Condense (6)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Form (210)  |  Fullerene (3)  |  Genius (186)

Times change. But life and science go on.
— Richard E. Smalley
From Nobel Lecture (7 Dec 1996), 'Discovering the Fullerenes', collected in Ingmar Grenthe (ed.), Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1996-2000 (2003).
Science quotes on:  |  Change (291)  |  Life (917)  |  Science (1699)  |  Time (439)

We are the only species that can destroy the Earth or take care of it and nurture all that live on this very special planet. I’m urging you to look on these things. For whatever reason, this planet was built specifically for us. Working on this planet is an absolute moral code. … Let’s go out and do what we were put on Earth to do.
— Richard E. Smalley
Address at Tuskegee University, 79th Annual Scholarship Convocation/Parents Recognition Program. Published in News Release (3 Oct 2004). Previously on the university website.
Science quotes on:  |  Care (73)  |  Destroy (63)  |  Earth (487)  |  Live (186)  |  Nurture (12)  |  Planet (199)  |  Special (51)  |  Species (181)

We believe that ‘buckytubes’ are best thought of as a new miracle polymer, However, in this case, the polymer conducts electricity, and that’s a new play.
— Richard E. Smalley
In Paul Dempsey. 'The Good of Small Things', Power Engineer (Feb/Mar 2005), 23. Note: ‘Buckytubes’ refers to nanotubes.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Conduct (23)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Miracle (55)  |  New (340)  |  Polymer (3)

[The nanotube] brings those properties you cannot get from other organic molecules. And it’s still carbon, so it has organic chemistry. Here is an object that has, to a superlative degree, the aspects that we hold most central to the inorganic world: hardness, toughness, terrific strength, thermal and electrical conductivity. Things you just can’t do with bone and wood. But it’s made out of carbon. It's something that plays the game at the same level of perfection as molecules and life.
— Richard E. Smalley
From interview in 'Wires of Wonder', Technology Review (Mar 2001), 104, No. 2, 88.
Science quotes on:  |  Bone (57)  |  Carbon (48)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Conductivity (3)  |  Electricity (121)  |  Hardness (3)  |  Inorganic (11)  |  Life (917)  |  Molecule (125)  |  Organic (48)  |  Perfection (71)  |  Property (96)  |  Strength (63)  |  Thermal (6)  |  Wood (33)



Quotes by others about Richard E. Smalley (2)

It [buckyballs, C60 by Richard Smalley] was an absolutely electrifying discovery. Within a year or two, you couldn’t pick up a chemistry journal without one-third of the articles being about fullerenes.
As quoted in Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle (28 Oct 2005).
Science quotes on:  |  Article (15)  |  Buckyball (4)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Fullerene (3)  |  Journal (13)

Although Rick [Richard Smalley] made enormous contributions to science, I believe his worldwide contributions in making so many of us aware of the huge energy problem is even greater and longer-lasting than the beautiful science that he discovered.
As quoted in Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle (28 Oct 2005).
Science quotes on:  |  Aware (18)  |  Contribution (49)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Energy (185)


See also:
  • 6 Jun - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Smalley's birth.

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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