Walter Gilbert Quotes

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Walter Gilbert

Walter Gilbert in 2008
Born (1932-03-21) March 21, 1932 (age 84)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Nationality U.S.


Institutions Harvard University
Alma mater

Harvard University (BS, MS)
University of Cambridge (PhD)

Thesis On generalised dispersion relations and meson-nucleon scattering (1958)
Doctoral advisor Abdus Salam
Doctoral students

George M. Church[1]
Helen Donis-Keller
Gerald Guralnik
Benno Müller-Hill

Notable awards

NAS Award in Molecular Biology (1968)
Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (1979)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1980)

Spouse Celia Stone (m. 1953)[2]
Children 2[2]

By asking a novel question that you don’t know the answer to, you discover whether you can formulate a way of finding the answer, and you stretch your own mind, and very often you learn something new.
Walter Gilbert
The human’s place in the universe will be set in the scheme of evolution, the product of our biological inheritance.
Walter Gilbert
Early on, it’s good to develop the ability to write. Learning to write is a useful exercise, even if what you’re writing about is not that relevant.
Walter Gilbert
We know specific genes are turned on in specific cells, but we don’t know to what extent this happens.
Walter Gilbert
The interaction of the variation in our genes is what’s responsible for lots of our attributes and vigor.
Walter Gilbert
Science doesn’t in the slightest depend on trust. It depends completely on the belief that you can demonstrate something for yourself.
Walter Gilbert
Scientists tend to be skeptical, but the weakness of the community of science is that it tends to move into preformed establishment modes that say this is the only way of doing science, the only valid view.
Walter Gilbert
The virtues of science are skepticism and independence of thought.
It’s easier to change what you do than people think it is. If you don’t change, your field changes around you.
Walter Gilbert
Everyone wants a hand in the outcome, a piece of the knowledge.
The best project is one that asks a novel question.
Biology will relate every human gene to the genes of other animals and bacteria, to this great chain of being.
Walter Gilbert
We haven’t been able yet to determine in terms of genes what makes a human being a human and not another mammal.
Walter Gilbert
Why do we do basic research? To learn about ourselves.
We are embedded in a biological world and related to the organisms around us.
Walter Gilbert
I have the same sense of the power and virtue of knowledge that some people get from a religious background.
Walter Gilbert
Today we try to identify a gene and then study its properties.
In 15 years we’ll have all the sequence, a list of the genes everyone has in common and those that differ among people. We know only something like a tenth of 1 percent of the sequence at the moment.
Walter Gilbert