Speaking of Science

March 2014's selection of notable quotes

Mar 1, 2014
The Scientist Staff

LIFE’S CRADLE: About 4 billion years ago, in the so-called period of heavy bombardment, Earth was continually subjected to gigantic impacts by chunks of debris left over from the formation of the Solar System. © MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE SOURCE

It is quite certain that there was a moment when life did not exist on our planet, and another moment when it appeared. It is the passage between these two states that forms the great problem of natural philosophy today.

—French naturalist Ètienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, on how life arose from non-life, c. 1836

 

What is important in the origin-of-life field is understanding the transitions that led from chemistry to biology. So far, I have not seen that efforts to define life have contributed at all to that understanding.

—Nobel laureate Jack Szostak, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, on the distinction between origin-of-life studies and the categorization of organisms (February 2012)

 

How worried are you, if at all, that scientific research into human or animal DNA might lead to scientists “playing god” with things that should remain outside the realm of science?

—A Huffington Post/YouGov poll question to which 72% of respondents answered that they were either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the possibility (February 2, 2014)

 

When we’re talking about origins, we’re talking about the past. . . . We weren’t there; you can’t observe that, whether it’s molecules-to-man evolution or whether it’s a creation account. . . . Creation is the only viable model of historical science confirmed by observational science in today’s modern scientific era.

—Creationist Ken Ham, in his opening remarks at the start of a debate with science communicator Bill Nye on whether or not creationism is a viable model for life’s origins (February 4, 2014)

 

What keeps the United States ahead, what makes the United States a world leader, is our technology, our new ideas, our innovations. If we continue to eschew science, eschew the process, and try to divide science into observational science and historic science, we are not going to move forward, we will not embrace natural laws, we will not make discoveries, we will not invent and innovate and stay ahead.

Bill Nye, science communicator, in his opening remarks at the start of a debate with creationist Ken Ham (February 4, 2014)