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Doctor Quotes (54 quotes)

... man-midwifery, with other 'indecencies,' is a great system of fashionable prostitution; a primary school of infamy - as the fashionable hotel and parlor wine glass qualify candidates for the two-penny grog-shop and the gutter.
Man-midwifery Exposed and Corrected (1848)
Science quotes on:  |  Birth (47)

Je le pansai, Dieu le guérit
I dressed him, and God healed him.
Quoted in Francis Randolph Packard, 'The Voyages Made Into Divers Places: The Journey to Turin in 1536', Life and Times of Ambroise Paré 1510-1590: With a New Translation (1921),160.

A doctor who doesn't say too many foolish things is a patient half-cured. (1921)
'Le Côté de Guermantes', À la recherche du temps perdu (1913-27).
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A physician's subject of study is necessarily the patient, and his first field for observation is the hospital. But if clinical observation teaches him to know the form and course of diseases, it cannot suffice to make him understand their nature; to this end he must penetrate into the body to find which of the internal parts are injured in their functions. That is why dissection of cadavers and microscopic study of diseases were soon added to clinical observation. But to-day these various methods no longer suffice; we must push investigation further and, in analyzing the elementary phenomena of organic bodies, must compare normal with abnormal states. We showed elsewhere how incapable is anatomy alone to take account of vital phenenoma, and we saw that we must add study of all physico-chemical conditions which contribute necessary elements to normal or pathological manifestations of life. This simple suggestion already makes us feel that the laboratory of a physiologist-physician must be the most complicated of all laboratories, because he has to experiment with phenomena of life which are the most complex of all natural phenomena.
An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1865), trans. Henry Copley Green (1957), 140-1.
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A young doctor makes a humpy churchyard.
In H. Pullar-Strecker, Proverbs for Pleasure (1954), 193.
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And it has been sarcastically said, that there is a wide difference between a good physician and a bad one, but a small difference between a good physician and no physician at all; by which it is meant to insinuate, that the mischievous officiousness of art does commonly more than counterbalance any benefit derivable from it.
Elements of Medical Logic (1819), 8-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (185)

And let me adde, that he that throughly understands the nature of Ferments and Fermentations, shall probably be much better able than he that Ignores them, to give a fair account of divers phenomena of severall diseases (as well Feavers and others) which will perhaps be never throughly understood, without an insight into the doctrine of Fermentation.
'Oft'ering some Particulars relating to the Pathologicall Part of Physick', In Of the Usefulnesse of Naturall Philosophy. The Second Part (1663), 43.
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As he approached the place where a meeting of doctors was being held, he saw some elegant limousines and remarked, “The surgeons have arrived.” Then he saw some cheaper cars and said, “The physicians are here, too.” ... And when he saw a row of overshoes inside, under the hat rack, he is reported to have remarked, “Ah, I see there are laboratory men here.”
The Way of an Investigator (1945, 1965), 207.
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Beware of the young Doctor, & the old Barber.
In Poor Richard's Almanack (1733).
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Doctor, no medicine.—We are machines made to live—organized expressly for that purpose.—Such is our nature.—Do not counteract the living principle.—Leave it at liberty to defend itself, and it will do better than your drugs.
As given in Tryon Edwards (ed.), A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908), 339.
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DOCTOR. Always preceded by 'The good'. Among men, in familiar conversation, 'Oh! balls, doctor!' Is a wizard when he enjoys your confidence, a jack-ass when you're no longer on terms. All are materialists: 'you can't probe for faith with a scalpel.'
The Dictionary of Accepted Ideas (1881), trans. Jaques Barzun (1968), 30.
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Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing. (1760)
In Robert Allan Weinberg, The Biology of Cancer (2006), 726. (Note: Webmaster has not yet found this quote, in this wording, in a major quotation reference book. If you know a primary print source, or correction, please contact Webmaster.)
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Don't go to the doctor with every distemper, nor to the lawyer with every quarrel, nor to the pot for every thirst.
In Poor Richard's Almanack (1737).
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Don't live in a town where there are no doctors.
In Richard Alan Krieger, Civilization's Quotations (2002), 313.
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Don't misinform your Doctor nor your Lawyer.
In Poor Richard's Almanack (1737).
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God heals, and the Doctor takes the Fees.
In Poor Richard's Almanack (1744). Note: q.v. John Ray, "God healeth and the physician hath the thanks."
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Happy is the doctor who is called in at the decline of an illness.
In Richard Alan Krieger, Civilization's Quotations (2002), 313.
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He's a Fool that makes his Doctor his Heir.
In Poor Richard's Almanack (1733).
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Heaven defend me from a busy doctor.
Welsh Proverb. In Henry Louis Mencken, A New Dictionary of Quotations (1942), 299.
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I am just laboring in the vineyard. I am at the operating table, and I make my rounds. I believe there is a cross-fertilization between writing and surgery. If I withdraw from surgery, I would not have another word to write. Having become a writer makes me a better doctor.
[Reply to reporter's question whether he would rather be a full-time writer instead of a surgeon.]
Quoted in Thomas Lask, 'Publishing:Surgeon and Incisive Writer', New York Times (28 Sep 1979), C24.
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I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this usefull invention [smallpox inoculation] into fashion in England, and I should not fail to write to some of our Doctors very particularly about it, if I knew anyone of 'em that I thought had Virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch of Revenue for the good of Mankind, but that Distemper is too beneficial to them not to expose to all their Resentment the hardy wight that should undertake to put an end to it.
Letter to Sarah Chiswell (1 Apr 1717). In Robert Halsband (ed.), The Complete Letters of the Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1965), Vol. 1, 339.
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I despise Birth-Control first because it is ... an entirely meaningless word; and is used so as to curry favour even with those who would first recoil from its real meaning. The proceeding these quack doctors recommend does not control any birth. ... But these people know perfectly well that they dare not write the plain word Birth-Prevention, in any one of the hundred places where they write the hypocritical word Birth-Control. They know as well as I do that the very word Birth-Prevention would strike a chill into the public... Therefore they use a conventional and unmeaning word, which may make the quack medicine sound more innocuous. ... A child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce ... he is their own creative contribution to creation.
In 'Babies and Distributism', The Well and the Shadows (1935). Collected in G. K. Chesterton and Dale Ahlquist (ed.), In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G.K. Chesterton (2011), 272.
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I know of nothing more laughable than a doctor who does not die of old age.
Letter to Charles Augustin Ferriol, comte d'Argental (1767). In Raymond C. Rowe, Joseph Chamberlain, A Spoonful of Sugar (2007), 243.
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I look upon a good physician, not so properly as a servant to nature, as one, that is a counsellor and friendly assistant, who, in his patient's body, furthers those motions and other things, that he judges conducive to the welfare and recovery of it; but as to those, that he perceives likely to be hurtful, either by increasing the disease, or otherwise endangering the patient, he thinks it is his part to oppose or hinder, though nature do manifestly enough seem to endeavour the exercising or carrying on those hurtful motions.
Quoted In Barbara Kaplan (ed.) Divulging of Useful Truths in Physick: The Medical Agenda of Robert Boyle (1993), 125.
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I tell [medical students] that they are the luckiest persons on earth to be in medical school, and to forget all this worry about H.M.O.'s and keep your eye on helping the patient. It's the best time ever to be a doctor because you can heal and treat conditions that were untreatable even a couple of years ago.
From Cornelia Dean, 'A Conversation with Joseph E. Murray', New York Times (25 Sep 2001), F5.
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I think it's a very valuable thing for a doctor to learn how to do research, to learn how to approach research, something there isn't time to teach them in medical school. They don't really learn how to approach a problem, and yet diagnosis is a problem; and I think that year spent in research is extremely valuable to them.
On mentoring a medical student.
Quoted in interview by Mary Ellen Avery (1997)
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I would not for a moment have you suppose that I am one of those idiots who scorns Science, merely because it is always twisting and turning, and sometimes shedding its skin, like the serpent that is [the doctors'] symbol.
From 'Can a Doctor Be a Humanist?' (1984). Collected in The Merry Heart: Reflections of Reading, Writing and the World of Books (1997), 98.
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If the doctor cures, the sun sees it; but if he kills, the earth hides it.
In John Wade, Select Proverbs of all Nations (1824), 124.
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If the patient dies, the doctor has killed him; if he gets well, the saints have saved him.
In H. Pullar-Strecker, Proverbs for Pleasure (1954), 194.
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Neurosis has an abosolute genius for malingering. There is no illness which cannot counterfeit perfectly … If it is capable of deceiving the doctor, how should it fail to deceive the patient.
'Le Côté de Guermantes', À la recherche du temps perdu (1913-27).
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Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.
In Dr. N Sreedharan, Quotations of Wit and Wisdom (2007), 18.

Now of the difficulties bound up with the public in which we doctors work, I hesitate to speak in a mixed audience. Common sense in matters medical is rare, and is usually in inverse ratio to the degree of education.
'Teaching and Thinking' (1894). In Aequanimitas with Other Addresses to Medical Students, Nurses and Practitioners of Medicine (1904), 131.
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Physical misery is great everywhere out here [Africa]. Are we justified in shutting our eyes and ignoring it because our European newspapers tell us nothing about it? We civilised people have been spoilt. If any one of us is ill the doctor comes at once. Is an operation necessary, the door of some hospital or other opens to us immediately. But let every one reflect on the meaning of the fact that out here millions and millions live without help or hope of it. Every day thousands and thousands endure the most terrible sufferings, though medical science could avert them. Every day there prevails in many and many a far-off hut a despair which we could banish. Will each of my readers think what the last ten years of his family history would have been if they had been passed without medical or surgical help of any sort? It is time that we should wake from slumber and face our responsibilities!
In On the Edge of the Primeval Forest, trans. C. T. Campion (1948, 1998), 126-127.
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Physicians are some of them so pleasing and conformable to the humour of the patient, as they press not the true cure of the disease : and some other are so regular in proceeding according to art for the disease, as they respect not sufficiently the condition of the patient.
XXX. Of Regimen of Health,' Essays (1597). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 39.

Science affects the average man and woman in two ways already. He or she benefits by its application driving a motor-car or omnibus instead of a horse-drawn vehicle, being treated for disease by a doctor or surgeon rather than a witch, and being killed with an automatic pistol or shell in place of a dagger or a battle-axe.
'The Scientific Point of View' In R.C. Prasad (ed.), Modern Essays: Studying Language Through Literature (1987), 26.
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The first [quality] to be named must always be the power of attention, of giving one's whole mind to the patient without the interposition of anything of oneself. It sounds simple but only the very greatest doctors ever fully attain it. ... The second thing to be striven for is intuition. This sounds an impossibility, for who can control that small quiet monitor? But intuition is only interference from experience stored and not actively recalled. ... The last aptitude I shall mention that must be attained by the good physician is that of handling the sick man's mind.
In The Collected Papers of Wilfred Trotter, FRS (1941), 98.
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The introduction of men into the lying in chamber in place of female attendants, has increased the suffering and dangers of childbearing women, and brought multiplied injuries and fatalities upon mothers and children; it violates the sensitive feelings of husbands and wives and causes an untold amount of domestic misery. The unlimited intimacy between a male profession and the female population silently and effectually wears away female delicacy and professional morality, and tends probably more than any other cause in existence, to undermine the foundation of public virtue.
Man-midwifery Exposed and Corrected (1848) quoted in The Male Midwife and the Female Doctor: The Gynecology Controversy in Nineteenth Century America Charles Rosenburg and Carroll Rovenberg Smith (Editors) publ. Arno, 1974.
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The late James McNeil Whistler had a French poodle of which he was extravagantly fond. This poodle was seized with an affection of the throat, and Whistler had the audacity to send for the great throat specialist, Mackenzie. Sir Morell, when he saw that he had been called to treat a dog, didn't like it much, it was plain. But he said nothing. He prescribed, pocketed a big fee, and drove away.
The next day he sent posthaste for Whistler. And Whistler, thinking he was summoned on some matter connected with his beloved dog, dropped his work and rushed like the wind to Mackenzie's. On his arrival Sir Morell said, gravely: “How do you do, Mr. Whistler? I wanted to see you about having my front door painted.”
Attributed or merely a legend. This anecdote wording is from 'Turn About Is Fair Play', Collier's (26 Mar 1904), 32, No. 26, 24, the earliest version the Webmaster has found so far. It has been variously reworded and printed in a number of books and magazines over the decades since, and is still circulated in the present day. The wording of Mackenzie's remark changes from one version to another, but remains true to the sense of it. In Medical Record (4 Jan 1913), 83, No. 1, 46, a reprinted column from The Universal Medical Record says: “‘X’ relates that he ‘has recently been watching through the weekly papers, of a story anent the artist Whistler and Sir mrell Mackenzie, which, curiously enough, starting in Paris, has now reached the American medical Journals and seems embarked on a long and active career. ... Mr. Ben Trovato, the eminent raconteur, seems for the moment at fault. Still, the natural history of such legends as this leads us to suppose that the story of the laryngologist and the poodle will continue to circulate, till after having served its day it ‘falls on sleep,’ later to be revived by the journalists of the next generation about some heroes of to-day.” Examples of other versions are in La Vulgarisation scientifique: revue mensuelle illustrιe (1906); Don C. Seitz Whistler Stories (1913); Lewis C. Henry, Humorous Anecdotes About Famous People (1948); Graeme Garden The Best Medicine (1984); The Reader's Digest (1986), 128, Nos. 765-769, 40. So, in fact, this anecdote has, indeed, been revived for over a century, but is still narrated about Whistler and Mackenzie. Meanwhile, the column in the Medical Record mentioned above comments: “Why Whistler—whose brother, by-the-bye, was almost equally celebrated in the same department of medicine—should have desired the services of a laryngologist for his poodle, heaven only knows.” So, whether to regard this as entirely legend, or perhaps having some foundation of truth, the Webmaster cannot say, but would like to hear from anyone with more historical background to add.
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The main thing that induces me to question the safeness of the vulgar methodus medendi in many cases is the consideration of the nature of those Helps they usually employ, and some of which are honoured with the title of Generous Remedies. These helps are Bleeding, Vomiting, Purging, Sweating, and Spitting, of which I briefly observe in General, that they are sure to weaken or discompose when they are imployed, but do not certainly cure afterwards.
RSMS 199, Folio 177v. Michael Hunter identfies as passages or a suppressed work, Considerations and Doubts Touching the Vulgar Method of Physick. Quoted In Barbara Kaplan (ed.), Divulging of Useful Truths in Physick: The Medical Agenda of Robert Boyle (1993), 138.
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The men you see waiting in the lobbies of doctors’ offices are, in a vast majority of cases, suffering through poisoning caused by an excess of food.
In Love, Life and Work (), 129.
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The ordinary patient goes to his doctor because he is in pain or some other discomfort and wants to be comfortable again; he is not in pursuit of the ideal of health in any direct sense. The doctor on the other hand wants to discover the pathological condition and control it if he can. The two are thus to some degree at cross purposes from the first, and unless the affair is brought to an early and happy conclusion this diversion of aims is likely to become more and more serious as the case goes on.
Address, opening of 1932-3 session of U.C.H. Medical School (4 Oct 1932), 'Art and Science in medicine', The Collected Papers of Wilfred Trotter, FRS (1941), 98.
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The safest thing for a patient is to be in the hands of a man engaged in teaching medicine. In order to be a teacher of medicine the doctor must always be a student.
Proceedings of the Staff Meetings of the Mayo Clinic (1927).
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The superior doctor prevents sickness; The mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness; The inferior doctor treats actual sickness.
Chinese Proverb. In North Manchurian Plague Prevention Service Reports (1925-1926) (1926), 292, 305.
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The surest way to health, say what they will,
Is never to suppose we shall be ill;
Most of the ills which we poor mortals know
From doctors and imagination flow.
In 'Night: An Epistle to Robert Lloyd', Poems of Charles Churchill (1822), Vol. 1, 98.
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There are only two sorts of doctors: those who practice with their brains, and those who practice with their tongues.
In Aequanimitas, and Other Papers That Have Stood the Test of Time (1963), 74.
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There's more old Drunkards than old Doctors.
In Poor Richard's Almanack (1736).
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Two-thirds of all preachers, doctors and lawyers are hanging on to the coat tails of progress, shouting, whoa! while a good many of the rest are busy strewing banana peels along the line of march.
In Elbert Hubbard (ed. and publ.), The Philistine (May 1908), 26, No. 6, 151.
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Very few [doctors] are men of science in any very serious sense; they're men of technique.
Interview with Tom Harpur, 'You Should Face Up to Your Death, Says Author', Toronto Star (15 Nov 1975). Collected in Robertson Davies and J. Madison Davis (eds.) Conversations with Robertson Davies (1989), 157.
Science quotes on:  |  Men Of Science (90)  |  Science (875)  |  Sense (104)  |  Serious (13)  |  Technique (13)

Western doctors are like poor plumbers. They treat a splashing tube by cleaning up the water. These plumbers are extremely apt at drying up the water, constantly inventing new, expensive, and refined methods of drying up water. Somebody should teach them how to close the tap.
Science quotes on:  |  Prevention (26)

When a doctor arrives to attend some patient of the working class, he ought not to feel his pulse the moment he enters, as is nearly always done without regard to the circumstances of the man who lies sick; he should not remain standing while he considers what he ought to do, as though the fate of a human being were a mere trifle; rather let him condescend to sit down for awhile.
De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (1713) Trans. by W.C. Wright in A.L. Birmingham, Classics of Medicine Library (1983). Quoted in Edward J. Huth and T. J. Murray. Medicine in Quotations: Views of Health and Disease Through the Ages (2006), 288.
Science quotes on:  |  Occupation (28)

When a doctor arrives to attend some patient of the working class...let him condescend to sit down...if not on a gilded chair...one a three-legged stool... He should question the patient carefully... So says Hippocrates in his work 'Affections.' I may venture to add one more question: What occupation does he follow?
De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (1713) Trans. by W.C. Wright in A.L. Birmingham, Classics of Medicine Library (1983). Quoted in Edward J. Huth and T. J. Murray. Medicine in Quotations: Views of Health and Disease Through the Ages (2006), 276.

When I went to the scientific doctor
I realised what a lust there was in him to wreak his so-called science on me
and reduce me to the level of a thing.
So I said: Good-morning! and left him.
'Scientific Doctor', David Herbert Lawrence, The Works of D.H. Lawrence (1994), 513.
Science quotes on:  |  Poem (76)

Who shall decide, when Doctors disagree?
'Moral Essays', Epistle III, to Allen Lord Bathurst (1733). In John Butt (ed.), The Poems of Alexander Pope (1965), 570.
Science quotes on:  |  Decision (30)  |  Disagreement (7)

With us ther was a DOCTOUR OF PHISIK;
In al the world ne was ther noon hym lik,
To speak of phisik and of surgerye,
For he was grounded in astronomye.
He kepte his pacient a fuI greet deel
In houres by his magyk natureel.
Wel koude he fortunen the ascendent
Of his ymages for his pacient.
He knew the cause of everich maladye,
Were it of hoot, or cooled, or moyste, or drye,
And where they engendred, and of what humour.
Fragment I, General Prologue. In Larry D. Benson (ed.), The Riverside Chaucer (1988), 30.


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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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
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