Albert Szent-Györgyi

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A. Szent-Györgyi, 1948

Albert Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt (September 16, 1893October 22, 1986) was a Hungarian physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937. He is credited with discovering vitamin C and the components and reactions of the citric acid cycle. He was also active in the Hungarian Resistance during World War II and entered Hungarian politics after the war.


  • Mi è 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 è 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
    • The Nature of Life, Academic press, 1948.
  • [When I joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton] I did this in the hope that by rubbing elbows with those great atomic physicists and mathematicians I would learn something about living matters. But as soon as I revealed that in any living system there are more than two electrons, the physicists would not speak to me. With all their computers they could not say what the third electron might do. The remarkable thing is that it knows exactly what to do. So that little electron knows something that all the wise men of Princeton don't, and this can only he something very simple.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Attributed to Szent-Györgyi by w:Gerald Holton (1978); cited in: Robert Cohen (1985) The Development of spatial cognition. p. 363.
  • Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.
    • Attributed to Szent-Györgyi in: IEEE (1985) Bridging the present and the future: IEEE Professional Communication Society conference record, Williamsburg, Virginia, October 16-18, 1985. p. 14.
  • I am not religious, but I am a pious man... A religious man has a definite religion. He says "God is there" or "God is there," "God is there." "Your god is not my god, and that's all." But the pious man, he just looks out with awe, and says, "where is God?" And "well, I don't understand it and I would like to know what this creation really means." That is a pious man, who is really touched by the greatness of nature and of the creation.

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