17 Irving Langmuir Quotes from American Chemist & Physicist

Irving Langmuir was an American physical chemist, Nobel laureate and pioneering industrial researcher.

Born in New York in 1881, Langmuir studied metallurgical engineering at Columbia University, then earned his doctorate in Germany studying gas dissociation.

After an unsatisfying teaching stint, he joined General Electric’s research lab, where he made key discoveries that improved incandescent light bulbs.

He also studied thermionic emission, invented a hydrogen welding torch and made advances in vacuum technology.

Irving Langmuir

Much of his work focused on the behavior of molecules at solid and liquid surfaces, leading to significant developments in surface chemistry.

Independently of Gilbert N. Lewis, he formulated theories of atomic structure and chemical bond formation.

Related: Rosalind Franklin Quotes from Famous English Chemist and John Dalton Quotes from English Chemist & Physicist

Later in his career, Langmuir studied meteorology, developing improved methods for generating smokescreens and exploring cloud seeding.

His scientific career was characterized by an enthusiasm for outdoor activities, practical applications of research and extensive mathematical analysis.

He passed away in 1957.

Below are some of the famous quotes by Irving Langmuir.

Best Irving Langmuir Quotes

Best Irving Langmuir Quotes

And literature frequently rises to heights that make it international. ~ Irving Langmuir.


A chemist who does not know mathematics is seriously handicapped. ~ Irving Langmuir.


The scientist is motivated primarily by curiosity and a desire for truth. ~ Irving Langmuir.


Medicine also disregards national boundaries. ~ Irving Langmuir.


This coupling together of science with international peace, is, I think, particularly significant. ~ Irving Langmuir.


To me, [it’s] extremely interesting that men, perfectly honest, enthusiastic over their work, can so completely fool themselves. ~ Irving Langmuir.

History proves abundantly that pure science, undertaken without regard to applications to human needs, is usually ultimately of direct benefit to mankind. ~ Irving Langmuir.

Many of the things that have happened in the laboratory have happened in ways it would have been impossible to foresee, but not impossible to plan for in a sense. I do not think Dr. Whitney deliberately plans his serendipity but he is built that way; he has the art-an instinctive way of preparing himself by his curiosity and by his interest in people and in all kinds of things and in nature, so that the things he learns react on one another and thereby accomplish things that would be impossible to foresee and plan. ~ Irving Langmuir.

[In the case of research director, Willis R. Whitney, whose style was to give talented investigators as much freedom as possible, you may define “serendipity” as] the art of profiting from unexpected occurrences. When you do things in that way you get unexpected results. Then you do something else and you get unexpected results in another line, and you do that on a third line and then all of a sudden you see that one of these lines has something to do with the other. Then you make a discovery that you never could have made by going on a direct road. ~ Irving Langmuir.

Famous Irving Langmuir Quotes

To my mind, the most important aspect of the Nobel Awards is that they bring home to the masses of the peoples of all nations, a realization of their common interests. They carry to those who have no direct contact with science the international spirit. ~ Irving Langmuir.


Langmuir is a regular thinking machine. Put in facts, and you get out a theory. ~ Saul Dushman.

Train yourselves. Don’t wait to be fed knowledge out of a book. Get out and seek it. Make explorations. Do your own research work. Train your hands and your mind. Become curious. Invent your own problems and solve them. You can see things going on all about you. Inquire into them. Seek out answers to your own questions. There are many phenomena going on in nature the explanation of which cannot be found in books. Find out why these phenomena take place. Information a boy gets by himself is enormously more valuable than that which is taught to him in school. ~ Irving Langmuir.

Only a small part of scientific progress has resulted from planned search for specific objectives. A much more important part has been made possible by the freedom of the individual to follow his own curiosity. ~ Irving Langmuir.

[There] are cases where there is no dishonesty involved but where people are tricked into false results by a lack of understanding about what human beings can do to themselves in the way of being led astray by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions. These are examples of pathological science. These are things that attracted a great deal of attention. Usually hundreds of papers have been published upon them. Sometimes they have lasted for fifteen or twenty years and then they gradually die away. ~ Irving Langmuir.

Happy indeed is the scientist who not only has the pleasures which I have enumerated, but who also wins the recognition of fellow scientists and of the mankind which ultimately benefits from his endeavors. ~ Irving Langmuir.

Quotes about Irving Langmuir

Langmuir is the most convincing lecturer that I have ever heard. I have heard him talk to an audience of chemists when I knew they did not understand more than one-third of what he was saying; but they thought they did. It’s very easy to be swept off one’s feet by Langmuir. You remember in [Kipling’s novel] Kim that the water jar was broken and Lurgan Sahib was trying to hypnotise Kim into seeing it whole again. Kim saved himself by saying the multiplication table [so] I have heard Langmuir lecture when I knew he was wrong, but I had to repeat to myself: “He is wrong; I know he is wrong; he is wrong”, or I should have believed like the others. ~ Wilder Dwight Bancroft.

So these were the 17 top Irving Langmuir quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Iyanla Vanzant quotes and Irwin Corey quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

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