About This Author

John Polanyi

john-charles-polanyi.jpg

Born

John Charles Polanyi
23 January 1929
Berlin, Germany

Residence

Canada

Nationality

Hungarian-Canadian

Alma mater

University of Manchester

Known for

Chemical kineticsReaction dynamics

Awards

  • FRS
  • Henry Marshall Tory Medal
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  • Royal Medal
  • Faraday Lectureship Prize
Scientific career

Institutions

University of Toronto

Website

utoronto .ca /jpolanyi

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 2019. 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 , was a noted chemist and philosopher. His uncle Karl was an economist. According to György Marx he was one of The Martians.

Polanyi's family moved from Germany to Britain in 1933, partly as a result of the persecution of Jews under Adolf Hitler . During World War II, Polanyi's father sent him to Canada for three years when he was 11, so he would be safe from German bombings. While living in Toronto, he attended the University of Toronto Schools. After returning to Britain, Polanyi finished high school and attended university at Manchester, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1949 and his PhD in 1952. Although his university education was focused in science, he was not convinced it was his calling after finishing high school, when he briefly considered a career as a poet. His father, Michael Polanyi, was a professor in the chemistry department during his first year of university, before transferring to a newly created position in the social studies department. Polanyi's supervisor during his graduate studies was Ernest Warhurst, a former student of his father's. After completing his PhD studies, Polanyi did postdoctoral research at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario from 1952 until 1954, where he worked with Edgar William Richard Steacie. From 1954 until 1956, he was a research associate at Princeton University.

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Discover John Charles Polanyi Quotes and Sayings

When, as we must often do, we fear science, we really fear ourselves. - John Charles Polanyi

When, as we must often do, we fear science, we really fear ourselves.

John Charles Polanyi

science fear
For science must breathe the oxygen of freedom. - John Charles Polanyi

For science must breathe the oxygen of freedom.

John Charles Polanyi

science freedom
Human dignity is better served by embracing knowledge. - John Charles Polanyi

Human dignity is better served by embracing knowledge.

John Charles Polanyi

knowledge
Scientia is knowledge. It is only in the popular mind that it is equated with facts. - John Charles Polanyi

Scientia is knowledge. It is only in the popular mind that it is equated with facts.

John Charles Polanyi

knowledge
Others think it the responsibility of scientists to coerce the rest of society, because they have the power that derives from special knowledge. - John Charles Polanyi

Others think it the responsibility of scientists to coerce the rest of society, because they have the power that derives from special knowledge.

John Charles Polanyi

knowledge
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. - John Charles Polanyi

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.

John Charles Polanyi

technology science respect
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. - John Charles Polanyi

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.

John Charles Polanyi

technology science respect
Some dreamers demand that scientists only discover things that can be used for good. - John Charles Polanyi

Some dreamers demand that scientists only discover things that can be used for good.

John Charles Polanyi

science
The most exciting thing in the twentieth century is science. - John Charles Polanyi

The most exciting thing in the twentieth century is science.

John Charles Polanyi

science
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. - John Charles Polanyi

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.

John Charles Polanyi

science
Science never gives up searching for truth, since it never claims to have achieved it. - John Charles Polanyi

Science never gives up searching for truth, since it never claims to have achieved it.

John Charles Polanyi

science
It is this, at its most basic, that makes science a humane pursuit it acknowledges the commonality of people's experience. - John Charles Polanyi

It is this, at its most basic, that makes science a humane pursuit it acknowledges the commonality of people's experience.

John Charles Polanyi

science
Though neglectful of their responsibility to protect science, scientists are increasingly aware of their responsibility to society. - John Charles Polanyi

Though neglectful of their responsibility to protect science, scientists are increasingly aware of their responsibility to society.

John Charles Polanyi

science
Science gives us a powerful vocabulary, and it is impossible to produce a vocabulary with which one can only say nice things. - John Charles Polanyi

Science gives us a powerful vocabulary, and it is impossible to produce a vocabulary with which one can only say nice things.

John Charles Polanyi

science
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. - John Charles Polanyi

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.

John Charles Polanyi

science
Today, Academies of Science use their influence around the world in support of human rights. - John Charles Polanyi

Today, Academies of Science use their influence around the world in support of human rights.

John Charles Polanyi

science