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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Quotes

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Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
(16 Sep 1893 - 22 Oct 1986)

Hungarian-American biochemist who was awarded the 1937 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine “for his discoveries in connection with the biological combustion processes, with special reference to vitamin C and the catalysis of fumaric acid.”


Science Quotes by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (19 quotes)

Mi θ impossibile cingere i fianchi di una ragazza con il mio braccio destro e serrare il suo sorriso nella mia mano sinistra, per poi tentare di studiare i due oggetti separatamente. Allo stesso modo, non ci θ possibile separare la vita dalla materia vivente, allo scopo di studiare la sola materia vivente e le sue reazioni. Inevitabilmente, studiando la materia vivente e le sue reazioni, studiamo la vita stessa.
It is impossible to encircle the hips of a girl with my right arm and hold her smile in my left hand, then proceed to study the two items separately. Similarly, we can not separate life from living matter, in order to study only living matter and its reactions. Inevitably, studying living matter and its reactions, we study life itself
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In The Nature of Life (1948).
Science quotes on:  |  Arm (4)  |  Girl (6)  |  Hold (20)  |  Impossibility (31)  |  Life (439)  |  Proceeding (10)  |  Reaction (47)  |  Smile (5)  |  Study (149)

A discovery must be, by definition, at variance with existing knowledge. During my lifetime, I made two. Both were rejected offhand by the popes of the field. Had I predicted these discoveries in my applications, and had those authorities been my judges, it is evident what their decisions would have been.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In 'Dionysians and Apollonians', Science (2 Jun 1972), 176, 966. Reprinted in Mary Ritchie Key, The Relationship of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication (1980), 318.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (68)  |  Authority (23)  |  Decision (30)  |  Definition (82)  |  Discovery (354)  |  Evidence (80)  |  Existence (145)  |  Field (68)  |  Judge (14)  |  Knowledge (662)  |  Lifetime (10)  |  Pope (2)  |  Prediction (45)  |  Rejection (16)  |  Variance (2)

A substance that makes you ill if you don't eat it.
[His definition of a vitamin.]
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (169)  |  Food (73)  |  Vitamin (8)

All living organisms are but leaves on the same tree of life. The various functions of plants and animals and their specialized organs are manifestations of the same living matter. This adapts itself to different jobs and circumstances, but operates on the same basic principles. Muscle contraction is only one of these adaptations. In principle it would not matter whether we studied nerve, kidney or muscle to understand the basic principles of life. In practice, however, it matters a great deal.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
'Muscle Research', Scientific American, 1949, 180 (6), 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Adaptation (24)  |  Animal (138)  |  Basic (18)  |  Circumstance (25)  |  Contraction (5)  |  Function (41)  |  Job (13)  |  Kidney (7)  |  Life (439)  |  Life (439)  |  Manifestation (21)  |  Matter (131)  |  Muscle (23)  |  Nerve (52)  |  Operation (54)  |  Organ (39)  |  Organism (66)  |  Plant (93)  |  Principle (96)  |  Specialization (8)  |  Tree (81)  |  Understanding (222)

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Bioenergetics Part 2, 57. Quoted in I.J. Good, The Scientist Speculates (1963), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (354)  |  Thought (168)

I always tried to live up to Leo Szilard's commandment, “don't lie if you don't have to.” I had to. I filled up pages with words and plans I knew I would not follow. When I go home from my laboratory in the late afternoon, I often do not know what I am going to do the next day. I expect to think that up during the night. How could I tell them what I would do a year hence?
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In 'Dionysians and Apollonians', Science (2 Jun 1972), 176, 966. Reprinted in Mary Ritchie Key, The Relationship of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication (1980), 318.
Science quotes on:  |  Commandment (5)  |  Filling (2)  |  Following (12)  |  Home (15)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Lie (23)  |  Night (24)  |  Page (9)  |  Plan (39)  |  Leo Szilard (5)  |  Telling (16)  |  Try (32)  |  Word (96)  |  Year (61)

I called it ignose, not knowing which carbohydrate it was. This name was turned down by my editor. 'God-nose' was not more successful, so in the end 'hexuronic acid' was agreed upon. To-day the substance is called 'ascorbic acid' and I will use this name.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Studies on Biological Oxidation and Some of its Catalysts (C4 Dicarboxylic Acids, Vitamin C and P Etc.) (1937), 73.
Science quotes on:  |  Agreement (17)  |  Carbohydrate (2)  |  Editor (3)  |  Knowledge (662)  |  Name (58)  |  Nomenclature (99)  |  Rejection (16)  |  Success (110)

If any student comes to me and says he wants to be useful to mankind and go into research to alleviate human suffering, I advise him to go into charity instead. Research wants real egotists who seek their own pleasure and satisfaction, but find it in solving the puzzles of nature.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In Science Today (May 1980), 35. In Vladimir Burdyuzha, The Future of Life and the Future of Our Civilization (2006), 374.
Science quotes on:  |  Advice (22)  |  Charity (5)  |  Mankind (105)  |  Nature (524)  |  Pleasure (51)  |  Puzzle (14)  |  Research (358)  |  Satisfaction (29)  |  Solution (109)  |  Student (50)  |  Suffering (18)  |  Useful (15)

If I go out into nature, into the unknown, to the fringes of knowledge, everything seems mixed up and contradictory, illogical, and incoherent. This is what research does; it smooths out contradictions and makes things simple, logical, and coherent.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In 'Dionysians and Apollonians', Science (2 Jun 1972), 176, 966. Reprinted in Mary Ritchie Key, The Relationship of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication (1980), 318.
Science quotes on:  |  Coherence (4)  |  Contradiction (22)  |  Fringe (3)  |  Knowledge (662)  |  Logic (131)  |  Mix (5)  |  Nature (524)  |  Research (358)  |  Simplicity (92)  |  Smoothness (2)  |  Unknown (39)

If Louis Pasteur were to come out of his grave because he heard that the cure for cancer still had not been found, NIH would tell him, “Of course we'll give you assistance. Now write up exactly what you will be doing during the three years of your grant.” Pasteur would say, “Thank you very much,” and would go back to his grave. Why? Because research means going into the unknown. If you know what you are going to do in science, then you are stupid! This is like telling Michelangelo or Renoir that he must tell you in advance how many reds and how many blues he will buy, and exactly how he will put those colors together.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Interview for Saturday Evening Post (Jan/Feb 1981), 30.
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Life is water, dancing to the tune of solids.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
From Perspect. Biol. Med. (1971), 12, 239. As cited by John G Watterson, 'The Wave-Cluster Model of Water-Protein Interactions',in David G Green, Complex Systems: From Biology to Computation (1993), 36. Also quoted as "Life is water, dancing to the tune of macro molecules," by Gerald H. Pollack and Ivan L. Cameron, in Water and the Cell (2006), viii.
Science quotes on:  |  Dance (5)  |  Life (439)  |  Molecule (80)  |  Tune (3)  |  Water (116)

One death is a tragedy, 100,000 deaths are statistics.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
The Crazy Ape (1970), 29.
Science quotes on:  |  Death (175)  |  Statistics (74)  |  Tragedy (9)

Research is four things: brains with which to think, eyes with which to see, machines with which to measure, and fourth, money.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Quoted in obituary, 'Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Dead; Research Isolated Vitamin C''. Walter Sullivan, New York Times (25 Oct 1986), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (105)  |  Eye (61)  |  Machine (55)  |  Measurement (108)  |  Money (87)  |  Research (358)  |  See (41)  |  Thinking (163)

Research is to see what everybody has seen and think what nobody has thought.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Bioenergetics (1957), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Everybody (4)  |  Nobody (13)  |  Research (358)  |  Seeing (28)  |  Thinking (163)  |  Thought (168)

Through the ages, man's main concern was life after death. Today, for the first time, we find we must ask questions about whether there will be life before death.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
The Crazy Ape (1970), 18.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (56)  |  Concern (30)  |  Death (175)  |  Life (439)  |  Mankind (105)  |  Question (152)  |  Today (24)

To regulate something always requires two opposing factors. You cannot regulate by a single factor. To give an example, the traffic in the streets could not be controlled by a green light or a red light alone. It needs a green light and a red light as well. The ratio between retine and promine determines whether there is any motion, any growth, or not. Two different inclinations have to be there in readiness to make the cells proliferate.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In Ralph W. Moss, Free Radical (1988), 186.
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When I received the Nobel Prize, the only big lump sum of money I have ever seen, I had to do something with it. The easiest way to drop this hot potato was to invest it, to buy shares. I knew that World War II was coming and I was afraid that if I had shares which rise in case of war, I would wish for war. So I asked my agent to buy shares which go down in the event of war. This he did. I lost my money and saved my soul.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In The Crazy Ape (1970), 21.
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Why does man behave like perfect idiot? This is the problem I wish to deal with.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
The Crazy Ape (1970), 11.
Science quotes on:  |  Behaviour (22)  |  Dealing (4)  |  Idiot (10)  |  Man (258)  |  Problem (178)  |  Wish (18)

[A vitamin is] a substance you get sick from if you don't eat it.
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In Ralph W. Moss, Free Radical (1988), 78.
Science quotes on:  |  Eating (12)  |  Sickness (15)  |  Substance (37)  |  Vitamin (8)


See also:
  • todayinsci icon 16 Sep - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Szent-Gyorgyi's birth.
  • book icon Search and Discovery: A Tribute to Albert Szent-Gyφrgyi, by Benjamin J. Kaminer (ed.). - book suggestion.

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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