Speaking of Science

July 2011's selection of notable quotes

By | July 1, 2011

James Watson (R) in Stockholm receiving the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.GETTYIMAGES

I think that we were extraordinarily lucky that we won and Rosalind didn’t get the answer….I was very, very lucky. But you know, in part you give prizes for people who are lucky!

James Watson, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for deciphering the structure of DNA, in a panel discussion held during the 2011 World Science Festival after a staging of Photograph 51, a play about Rosalind Franklin, whose contributions to the effort have been the subject of much debate

As far as Rosalind was concerned, there wasn’t a race! She was just getting on with her work. The race was to publish her data before she did.

Structural biologist Donald Caspar, during the same panel discussion

The developmental programme that specifies brain connectivity is less like a blueprint than a recipe (a recipe without a cook)— an incredibly complicated set of processes carried out by mindless biochemical algorithms mediated by local interactions between billions of individual components.

University of Dublin neurogeneticist Kevin Mitchell, on his blog Wiring the Brain (May 25, 2011)

Almost always the men who achieve these fundamental inventions of a new paradigm have been either very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they change.

Thomas S. Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

It is important to avoid using biomarkers in clinical practice unless we can show they are valid and not misleading—because once they are in, we are stuck spending money on them and gaining very little information.

Physician John Ioannidis, speaking to news@JAMA about a cautious approach to personalized medicine (May 31, 2011)

In response to increasing harassment, including death threats, nine staff working in the area of climate change were moved to a more secure location which requires card access.

An Australian National University spokesperson, telling Science about measures taken to protect researchers there who are being threatened as the country considers carbon-tax legislation (Jun. 10, 2011)


Send us timely and interesting quotes, along with context, to quotes@the-scientist.com.

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