Sam Kean Quotes

Enjoy the top 152 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Sam Kean.

Sam Kean Quotes

In The Violinists Thumb, I talk about the poignancy of cells leaking across the placenta into both the mother and the child.
— Sam Kean —

If anything runs deeper than a mathematician's love of variables, it's a scientist's love of constants.

— Sam Kean

So if big enough droplets fell far enough fast enough, someone floating right near the metallic hydrogen layer inside Jupiter maybe, just maybe, could have looked up into its cream and orange sky and seen the most spectacular show ever
fireworks lighting up the Jovian night with a trillion streaks of brilliant crimson, what scientists call neon rain.

— Sam Kean

Despite the earnest belief of most of his fans, Einstein did not win his Nobel Prize for the theory of relativity, special or general. He won for explaining a strange effect in quantum mechanics, the photoelectric effect. His solution provided the first real evidence that quantum mechanics wasn't a crude stopgap for justifying anomalous experiments, but actually corresponds to reality. And the fact that Einstein came up with it is ironic for two reasons. One, as he got older and crustier, Einstein came to distrust quantum mechanics. Its statistical and deeply probabilistic nature sounded too much like gambling to him, and it prompted him to object that "God does not play dice with the universe." He was wrong, and it's too bad that most people have never heard the rejoinder by Niels Bohr: "Einstein! Stop telling God what to do.

— Sam Kean

Furthermore, because silicon packs on more protons than carbon, it's bulkier, like carbon with fifty extra pounds. Sometimes that's not a big deal. Silicon might substitute adequately for carbon in the Martian equivalent of fats or proteins. But carbon also contorts itself into ringed molecules we call sugars. Rings are states of high-tension- which means they store lots of energy-and silicon just isn't supple enough to bend into the right position to form rings. In a related problem, silicon atoms cannot squeeze their electrons into tight spaces for double bonds, which appear in virtually every complicated biochemical.

— Sam Kean

For his part, Mendeleev scanned Lecoq de Boisbaudran's data on gallium and told the experimentalist, with no justification, that he must have measured something wrong, because the density and weight of gallium differed from Mendeleev's predictions. This betrays a flabbergasting amount of gall, but as science philosopher-historian Eric Scerri put it, Mendeleev always "was willing to bend nature to fit his grand philosophical scheme." The only difference between Mendeleev and crackpottery is that Mendeleev was right: Lecoq de Boisbaudran soon retracted his data and published results that corroborated Mendeleev's predictions.

— Sam Kean

After about 1940, scientists generally stopped looking for elements in nature. Instead, they had to create them by smashing smaller atoms together.

— Sam Kean

Brains, you see, vary a lot from person to person - they vary as much as faces do.

— Sam Kean

If studying the periodic table taught me nothing else, it's that the credulity of human beings for periodic table panaceas is pretty much boundless.

— Sam Kean

We human beings are humane in part because we can look beyond our biology.

— Sam Kean

All human beings are, in fact, born with dozens of mutations their parents lacked, and a few of those mutations could well be lethal if we didn't have two copies of every gene, so one can pick up the slack if the other malfunctions.

— Sam Kean

Atoms of Element 118 fill an outer shell with electrons, creating a special type of element called a noble gas. Noble gases are natural turning points on the table, ending one row and pointing to the next.

— Sam Kean

Before the Human Genome Project, most scientists assumed, based on our complex brains and behaviors, that humans must have around 100,000 genes; some estimates went as high as 150,000.

— Sam Kean

Genes work with probabilities; they don't work with certainties. So most things that you're looking at with these genetic tests, it's not like you're condemned to automatically get the disease or the syndrome. There's a lot of factors in play there.

— Sam Kean

Most stars just fuse hydrogen into helium, but larger stars can fuse helium into other elements. Still larger stars, in turn, fuse those elements into slightly bigger ones, and so on.

— Sam Kean

Those of us raised in modern cities tend to notice horizontal and vertical lines more quickly than lines at other orientations. In contrast, people raised in nomadic tribes do a better job noticing lines skewed at intermediate angles, since Mother Nature tends to work with a wider array of lines than most architects.

— Sam Kean

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