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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index T > Lord Alexander R. Todd Quotes

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Lord Alexander R. Todd
(2 Oct 1907 - 10 Jan 1977)

Scottish biochemist.

Science Quotes by Lord Alexander R. Todd (3 quotes)

After having a wash I proceeded to the bar where—believe it or not—there was a white-coated barman who was not only serving drinks but also cigarettes! I hastened forward and rather timidly said ‘Can I have some cigarettes?’
‘What’s your rank?’ was the slightly unexpected reply.
‘I am afraid I haven’t got one,’ I answered.
‘Nonsense—everyone who comes here has a rank.’
‘I’m sorry but I just don’t have one.’
‘Now that puts me in a spot,’ said the barman, ‘for orders about cigarettes in this camp are clear—twenty for officers and ten for other ranks. Tell me what exactly are you?’
Now I really wanted those cigarettes so I drew myself up and said ‘I am the Professor of Chemistry at Manchester University.’
The barman contemplated me for about thirty seconds and then said ‘I’ll give you five.’
Since that day I have had few illusions about the importance of professors!
— Lord Alexander R. Todd
In A Time to Remember: The Autobiography of a Chemist (1983), 59. This event took place after a visit to the Defence Research Establishment at Porton to observe a demonstration of a new chemical anti-tank weapon (1941).
Science quotes on:  |  Bar (8)  |  Belief (504)  |  Chemistry (252)  |  Cigarette (22)  |  Contemplation (52)  |  Defence (6)  |  Demonstration (86)  |  Drink (36)  |  Illusion (43)  |  Importance (218)  |  Manchester (4)  |  New (496)  |  Officer (8)  |  Order (242)  |  Proceeding (13)  |  Professor (54)  |  Rank (32)  |  Second (59)  |  Serving (4)  |  Sorry (16)  |  Timid (5)  |  Unexpected (36)  |  University (81)  |  Want (176)  |  Wash (7)

I am an organic chemist, albeit one who adheres to the definition of organic chemistry given by the great Swedish chemist Berzelius, namely, the chemistry of substances found in living matter, and my science is one of the more abstruse insofar as it rests on concepts and employs a jargon neither of which is a part of everyday experience. Nevertheless, organic chemistry deals with matters of truly vital Importance and in some of its aspects with which I myself have been particularly concerned it may prove to hold the keys to Life itself.
— Lord Alexander R. Todd
In 'Synthesis in the Study of Nucleotides', Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1957. In Nobel Lectures: Chemistry 1942-1962 (1964), 522.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstruse (5)  |  Adhere (3)  |  Aspect (58)  |  Jöns Jacob Berzelius (13)  |  Chemist (89)  |  Chemistry (252)  |  Concept (146)  |  Concern (110)  |  Definition (192)  |  Employ (35)  |  Experience (342)  |  Find (408)  |  Great (534)  |  Hold (94)  |  Importance (218)  |  Jargon (7)  |  Key (50)  |  Life (1131)  |  Matter (343)  |  Organic (55)  |  Proof (245)  |  Science (2067)  |  Substance (87)  |  Sweden (3)  |  Vital (39)

Of the nucleosides from deoxyribonucleic acids, all that was known with any certainty [in the 1940s] was that they were 2-deoxy-­D-ribosides of the bases adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine and it was assumed that they were structurally analogous to the ribonucleosides. The chemistry of the nucleotides—the phosphates of the nucleosides—was in a correspondingly primitive state. It may well be asked why the chemistry of these groups of compounds was not further advanced, particularly since we recognize today that they occupy a central place in the history of the living cell. True, their full significance was for a long time unrecognized and emerged only slowly as biochemical research got into its stride but I think a more important reason is to be found in the physical properties of compounds of the nucleotide group. As water-soluble polar compounds with no proper melting points they were extremely difficult to handle by the classic techniques of organic chemistry, and were accordingly very discouraging substances to early workers. It is surely no accident that the major advances in the field have coincided with the appearance of new experimental techniques such as paper and ion-exchange chromatography, paper electrophoresis, and countercurrent distribution, peculiarly appropriate to the compounds of this group.
— Lord Alexander R. Todd
In 'Synthesis in the Study of Nucleotides', Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1957. In Nobel Lectures: Chemistry 1942-1962 (1964), 524.
Science quotes on:  |  Adenine (4)  |  Analogous (5)  |  Base (71)  |  Biochemistry (46)  |  Cell (137)  |  Certainty (131)  |  Chemistry (252)  |  Cytosine (4)  |  Electrophoresis (2)  |  Guanine (4)  |  Phosphate (3)  |  Polar (2)  |  Research (590)  |  Structure (225)  |  Technique (49)  |  Thymine (4)

Quotes by others about Lord Alexander R. Todd (2)

Doesn’t it strike you as odd
That a commonplace fellow like Todd Should spell if you please,
His name with two Ds.
When one is sufficient for God.
Quoted by M. G. De St. V. Atkins, The Times (22 Jan 1997), from memory of a conversation with 'an American tribiologist' who recalled it as current when he was an undergraduate at Christ's College.
Science quotes on:  |  Commonplace (13)  |  Fellow (37)  |  God (535)  |  Name (170)  |  Odd (13)  |  Spell (9)  |  Sufficient (42)

A. R. Todd
Thinks he’s God.
N. F. Mott
Says he’s not.
Quoted by William Lord in The Times (22 Jan 1997), remarking on the competitiveness between the Physics and Chemistry Departments at the University of Cambridge.
Science quotes on:  |  Cambridge (16)  |  Chemistry (252)  |  Competitiveness (2)  |  Concern (110)  |  Department (47)  |  God (535)  |  Sir Nevill F. Mott (6)  |  Physics (348)  |  Say (228)  |  Think (347)  |  University (81)

See also:
  • 2 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Todd'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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