Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > Sir William Crookes Quotes

Thumbnail of Sir William Crookes (source)
Sir William Crookes
(17 Jun 1832 - 4 Apr 1919)

English physicist and chemist.


Science Quotes by Sir William Crookes (8 quotes)

England and all civilised nations stand in deadly peril of not having enough to eat. As mouths multiply, food resources dwindle. Land is a limited quantity, and the land that will grow wheat is absolutely dependent on difficult and capricious natural phenomena... I hope to point a way out of the colossal dilemma. It is the chemist who must come to the rescue of the threatened communities. It is through the laboratory that starvation may ultimately be turned into plenty... The fixation of atmospheric nitrogen is one of the great discoveries, awaiting the genius of chemists.
— Sir William Crookes
Presidential Address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science 1898. Published in Chemical News, 1898, 78, 125.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Capricious (7)  |  Chemist (156)  |  Colossal (15)  |  Deadly (21)  |  Difficult (246)  |  Dilemma (11)  |  Dwindle (6)  |  Eat (104)  |  Enough (340)  |  Fertilizer (12)  |  Fixation (5)  |  Food (199)  |  Genius (284)  |  Great (1574)  |  Grow (238)  |  Hope (299)  |  Laboratory (196)  |  Limit (280)  |  Limited (101)  |  Mouth (53)  |  Multiply (37)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nation (193)  |  Natural (796)  |  Nitrogen (26)  |  Point (580)  |  Quantity (132)  |  Rescue (13)  |  Stand (274)  |  Starvation (13)  |  Threaten (32)  |  Through (849)  |  Turn (447)  |  Ultimately (55)  |  Way (1217)  |  Will (2355)

If you had come to me a hundred years ago, do you think I should have dreamed of the telephone? Why, even now I cannot understand it! I use it every day, I transact half my correspondence by means of it, but I don’t understand it. Thnk of that little stretched disk of iron at the end of a wire repeating in your ear not only sounds, but words—not only words, but all the most delicate and elusive inflections and nuances of tone which separate one human voice from another! Is not that something of a miracle?
— Sir William Crookes
Quoted in Harold Begbie in Pall Mall magazine (Jan 1903). In Albert Shaw, The American Monthly Review of Reviews (1903), 27, 232.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Correspondence (23)  |  Delicate (43)  |  Do (1908)  |  Dream (208)  |  Ear (68)  |  End (590)  |  Human (1468)  |  Hundred (229)  |  Iron (96)  |  Little (707)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  Miracle (83)  |  Most (1731)  |  Separate (143)  |  Something (719)  |  Sound (183)  |  Stretch (39)  |  Telephone (27)  |  Think (1086)  |  Tone (22)  |  Understand (606)  |  Use (766)  |  Why (491)  |  Wire (35)  |  Word (619)  |  Year (933)

In defining an element let us not take an external boundary, Let us say, e.g., the smallest ponderable quantity of yttrium is an assemblage of ultimate atoms almost infinitely more like each other than they are to the atoms of any other approximating element. It does not necessarily follow that the atoms shall all be absolutely alike among themselves. The atomic weight which we ascribe to yttrium, therefore, merely represents a mean value around which the actual weights of the individual atoms of the “element” range within certain limits. But if my conjecture is tenable, could we separate atom from atom, we should find them varying within narrow limits on each side of the mean.
— Sir William Crookes
Address to Annual General Meeting of the Chemical Society (28 Mar 1888), printed in Journal of the Chemical Society (1888), 491.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolutely (39)  |  Actual (117)  |  Alike (60)  |  All (4108)  |  Approximation (31)  |  Ascribe (17)  |  Assemblage (17)  |  Atom (355)  |  Boundary (51)  |  Certain (550)  |  Conjecture (49)  |  Definition (221)  |  Element (310)  |  External (57)  |  Find (998)  |  Follow (378)  |  Individual (404)  |  Infinitely (13)  |  Limit (280)  |  Mean (809)  |  Merely (316)  |  More (2559)  |  Narrow (84)  |  Necessarily (135)  |  Other (2236)  |  Ponderable (4)  |  Quantity (132)  |  Range (99)  |  Represent (155)  |  Say (984)  |  Separate (143)  |  Side (233)  |  Smallest (9)  |  Tenable (4)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Ultimate (144)  |  Value (365)  |  Variation (90)  |  Weight (134)  |  Yttrium (3)

Probably if half a kilogram [of radium] were in a bottle on that table it would kill us all. It would almost certainly destroy our sight and burn our skins to such an extent that we could not survive. The smallest bit placed on one’s arm would produce a blister which it would need months to heal.
— Sir William Crookes
As quoted in 'Radium', New York Times (22 Feb 1903), 6. Note that X-rays were discovered only a few years before, in 1895, radioactivity in 1896, and the electron in 1897. Full knowledge of the harmful radiation did not exist at the time. Nevertheless, Crookes’ remark, in the words of the reporter, “would seem to indicate that it [radium] emits something more than light. Heat and actinic energy must make up a large part of its radiation. It also emits electrons with [great] velocity…”
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Arm (81)  |  Blister (2)  |  Bottle (15)  |  Burn (87)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Destroy (180)  |  Destruction (125)  |  Extent (139)  |  Healing (25)  |  Kill (100)  |  Killing (14)  |  Kilogram (3)  |  Month (88)  |  Radium (25)  |  Sight (132)  |  Skin (47)  |  Survival (94)  |  Survive (79)  |  Table (104)

Probably our atomic weights merely represent a mean value around which the actual atomic weights of the atoms vary within certain narrow limits... when we say, the atomic weight of, for instance, calcium is 40, we really express the fact that, while the majority of calcium atoms have an actual atomic weight of 40, there are not but a few which are represented by 39 or 41, a less number by 38 or 42, and so on.
— Sir William Crookes
Presidential Address, 2 September 1886, Section B, Chemical Science. Reports of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1886), 569.
Science quotes on:  |  Actual (117)  |  Atom (355)  |  Atomic Weight (6)  |  Calcium (7)  |  Certain (550)  |  Express (186)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Isotope (4)  |  Limit (280)  |  Majority (66)  |  Mean (809)  |  Merely (316)  |  Narrow (84)  |  Number (699)  |  Represent (155)  |  Say (984)  |  Value (365)  |  Weight (134)

The phenomena in these exhausted tubes reveal to physical science a new world—a world where matter may exist in a fourth state, where the corpuscular theory of light may be true, and where light does not always move in straight lines, but where we can never enter, and with which we must be content to observe and experiment from the outside.
— Sir William Crookes
'On the Illumination of Lines of Molecular Pressure and the Trajectory of Molecules', Philosophical Transactions 1879, 170, 164.
Science quotes on:  |  Enter (141)  |  Exist (443)  |  Experiment (695)  |  Light (607)  |  Matter (798)  |  Move (216)  |  Must (1526)  |  Never (1087)  |  New (1216)  |  Observe (168)  |  Outside (141)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physical Science (101)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Science (3879)  |  State (491)  |  Straight (73)  |  Straight Line (30)  |  Theory (970)  |  World (1774)

To stop short in any research that bids fair to widen the gates of knowledge, to recoil from fear of difficulty or adverse criticism, is to bring reproach on science. There is nothing for the investigator to do but go straight on, 'to explore up and down, inch by inch, with the taper his reason;' to follow the light wherever it may lead, even should it at times resemble a will-o'-the-wisp.
Referring to his interest in psychical (spiritual) research.
— Sir William Crookes
Presidential address to the British Association (1898). Quoted in Harold Begbie in Pall Mall magazine (Jan 1903). In Albert Shaw, The American Monthly Review of Reviews (1903), 27, 232.
Science quotes on:  |  Criticism (78)  |  Difficulty (196)  |  Do (1908)  |  Down (456)  |  Fear (197)  |  Follow (378)  |  Gate (32)  |  Interest (386)  |  Investigator (67)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Lead (384)  |  Light (607)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Psychic (13)  |  Reason (744)  |  Research (664)  |  Resemble (63)  |  Science (3879)  |  Short (197)  |  Spiritual (91)  |  Straight (73)  |  Time (1877)  |  Wherever (51)  |  Widen (10)  |  Will (2355)

[Radium emits electrons with a velocity so great that] one gram is enough to lift the whole of the British fleet to the top of Ben Nevis; and I am not quite certain that we could not throw in the French fleet as well.
— Sir William Crookes
As quoted in 'Radium', New York Times (22 Feb 1903), 6. The reporter clarifies that this statement is “popular not scientific.” However, it is somewhat prescient, since only two years later (1905) Einstein published his E=mc² formula relating mass and energy. The top of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, is 1344-m high. As energy, one gram mass would lift about 68 million tonnes there—over a thousand modern battleships.
Science quotes on:  |  Britain (24)  |  British (41)  |  Certain (550)  |  Electron (93)  |  Emission (17)  |  Emit (15)  |  Energy (344)  |  Enough (340)  |  Fleet (4)  |  France (27)  |  Gram (4)  |  Great (1574)  |  Lift (55)  |  Radiation (44)  |  Radium (25)  |  Top (96)  |  Velocity (48)  |  Whole (738)



Quotes by others about Sir William Crookes (1)

At Gabriel College there was a very holy object on the high altar of the Oratory, covered with a black velvet cloth... At the height of the invocation the Intercessor lifted the cloth to reveal in the dimness a glass dome inside which there was something too distant to see, until he pulled a string attached to a shutter above, letting a ray of sunlight through to strike the dome exactly. Then it became clear: a little thing like a weathervane, with four sails black on one side and white on the other, began to whirl around as the light struck it. It illustrated a moral lesson, the Intercessor explained, for the black of ignorance fled from the light, whereas the wisdom of white rushed to embrace it.
[Alluding to Crookes's radiometer.]
Northern Lights (2001), 149.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Altar (10)  |  Attach (56)  |  Attached (36)  |  Black (42)  |  College (66)  |  Dome (8)  |  Embrace (46)  |  Explain (322)  |  Glass (92)  |  High (362)  |  Holy (34)  |  Ignorance (240)  |  Lesson (57)  |  Lift (55)  |  Light (607)  |  Little (707)  |  Moral (195)  |  Object (422)  |  Other (2236)  |  Pull (43)  |  Ray (114)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Sail (36)  |  See (1081)  |  Side (233)  |  Something (719)  |  Strike (68)  |  Sunlight (23)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Through (849)  |  Whirl (8)  |  White (127)  |  Wisdom (221)


See also:

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
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 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



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.