John Charles Polanyi

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  • Born: January 23, 1929
  • Nationality: Hungarian, Canadian
  • Profession: Scientist









John Charles Polanyi, PC CC FRSC OOnt FRS is a Hungarian-Canadian chemist who won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for his research in chemical kinetics. Polanyi was educated at the University of Manchester, and did postdoctoral research at the National Research Council in Canada and Princeton University in New Jersey. Polanyi's first academic appointment was at the University of Toronto, and he remains there as of 2017. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Polanyi has received numerous other awards, including 33 honorary degrees, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry and the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. Outside his scientific pursuits, Polanyi is active in public policy discussion, especially concerning science and nuclear weapons. His father, Mihály (Michael), was a noted chemist and philosopher. His uncle Karl was an economist. According to György Marx he was one of The Martians.

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A new sense of shared international responsibility is unmistakable in the voices of the United Nations and its agencies, and in the civil society of thousands of supra-national NGOs. Society
Better to die in the pursuit of civilized values, we believed, than in a flight underground. We were offering a value system couched in the language of science. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
For scholarship - if it is to be scholarship - requires, in addition to liberty, that the truth take precedence over all sectarian interests, including self-interest. Truth
For science must breathe the oxygen of freedom. Freedom & Liberty ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Human dignity is better served by embracing knowledge. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
If we treasure our own experience and regard it as real, we must also treasure other people's experience.
In nation after nation, democracy has taken the place of autocracy.
In the late 1950s a major topic under discussion was whether Canada should acquire nuclear weapons.
Individual scientists like myself - and many more conspicuous - pointed to the dangers of radioactive fallout over Canada if we were to launch nuclear weapons to intercept incoming bombers.
Instead, in the absence of respect for human rights, science and its offspring technology have been used in this century as brutal instruments for oppression. Respect ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
It is this, at its most basic, that makes science a humane pursuit; it acknowledges the commonality of people's experience. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Others think it the responsibility of scientists to coerce the rest of society, because they have the power that derives from special knowledge. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Society ;Power
Our assessment of socio-economic worth is largely a sham. We scientists should not lend ourselves to it - though we routinely do. We should, instead, insist on applying the criterion of quality.
Science exists, moreover, only as a journey toward troth. Stifle dissent and you end that journey. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science gives us a powerful vocabulary, and it is impossible to produce a vocabulary with which one can only say nice things. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science never gives up searching for truth, since it never claims to have achieved it. Truth ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Scientia is knowledge. It is only in the popular mind that it is equated with facts. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Scientists and scholars should constitute themselves as an international NGO of exceptional authority.
Some dreamers demand that scientists only discover things that can be used for good. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The applause is a celebration not only of the actors but also of the audience. It constitutes a shared moment of delight.
The eye searches for shapes. It searches for a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The most exciting thing in the twentieth century is science. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The respect for human rights, essential if we are to use technology wisely, is not something alien that must be grafted onto science. On the contrary, it is integral to science, as also to scholarship in general. Respect ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The scientific and scholarly community is marked by the belief that the truth is to be found in all; none can claim it as their monopoly. Truth
The time has come to underscore the fact that our and others' rights are contingent on our willingness to assert and defend them. Time
Though neglectful of their responsibility to protect science, scientists are increasingly aware of their responsibility to society. Society ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Though we explore in a culturally-conditioned way, the reality we sketch is universal.
Today, Academies of Science use their influence around the world in support of human rights. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Under this scientific and moral pressure, the Canadian government conceded publicly that the use of these weapons in Vietnam was, in their view, a contravention of the Geneva Protocol. Government
What makes the Universal Declaration an epochal document is first of all its global impetus and secondly the breadth of its claims, a commitment to a new social contract, binding on all the Governments of the world.
When, as we must often do, we fear science, we really fear ourselves. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Young people ask me if this country is serious about science. They aren't thinking about the passport that they will hold, but the country that they must rely on for support and encouragement. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology

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