23 Famous Alexander Fleming Quotes

“The unprepared mind cannot see the outstretched hand of opportunity.”

— Alexander Fleming

“It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject; the details may be worked out by a team, but the prime idea is due to enterprise, thought, and perception of an individual.”

— Alexander Fleming

“The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism. I hope this evil can be averted.”

— Alexander Fleming

“(The discovery of penicillin) was a triumph of accident, a fortunate occurrence which happened while I was working on a purely academic bacteriological problem.”

— Alexander Fleming

“A good gulp of hot whisky at bedtime—it’s not very scientific, but it helps.”

— Alexander Fleming

“It was found that broth in which the mold had been grown at room temperature for one or two weeks had acquired marked inhibitory, bactericidal and bacteriolytic properties to many of the more common pathogenic bacteria.”

— Alexander Fleming

“Suggested remedy for the common cold: A good gulp of whiskey at bedtime-it’s not very scientific, but it helps.”

— Alexander Fleming

“It is possible that in ten years’ time penicillin itself will be a back number and will be replaced by something better. It is quite certain though that to displace penicillin any newcomer will have to be very, very good.”

—  Alexander Fleming

“I play with microbes. There are, of course, many rules to this play…but when you have acquired knowledge and experience it is very pleasant to break the rules and to be able to find something nobody has thought of.”

— Alexander Fleming

“You do not know what you will find, you may set out to find one thing and end up by discovering something entirely different.”

— Alexander Fleming

“It was astonishing that for some considerable distance around the mould growth the staphococcal colonies were undergoing lysis. What had formerly been a well-grown colony was now a faint shadow of its former self…I was sufficiently interested to pursue the subject.”

— Alexander Fleming

“For the birth of something new, there has to be a happening. Newton saw an apple fall; James Watt watched a kettle boil; Roentgen fogged some photographic plates. And these people knew enough to translate ordinary happenings into something new…”

— Alexander Fleming

“Penicillin sat on a shelf for ten years while I was called a quack.”

— Alexander Fleming

“Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy.”

— Alexander Fleming

“I have been trying to point out that in our lives chance may have an astonishing influence and, if I may offer advice to the young laboratory worker, it would be this – never to neglect an extraordinary appearance or happening.”

— Alexander Fleming

“In my first publication I might have claimed that I had come to the conclusion, as a result of serious study of the literature and deep thought, that valuable antibacterial substances were made by molds and that I set out to investigate the problem. That would have been untrue and I preferred to tell the truth that penicillin started as a chance observation. My only merit is that I did not neglect the observation and that I pursued the subject as a bacteriologist. My publication in 1929 was the starting-point of the work of others who developed penicillin especially in the chemical field.”

— Alexander Fleming

“It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them, and the same thing has occasionally happened in the body. The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops. Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.”

— Alexander Fleming

“[For] those suffering under the thralldom of the vice [of opium eating] … it is well to avoid undue harshness with the patient; and it should be carefully remembered, that in many instances the sufferers are more objects of pity than of blame.”

— Alexander Fleming

“While working with staphylococcus variants a number of culture-plates were set aside on the laboratory bench and examined from time to time. In the examinations these plates were necessarily exposed to the air and they became contaminated with various micro-organisms. It was noticed that around a large colony of a contaminating mould the staphylococcus colonies became transparent and were obviously undergoing lysis.”

— Alexander Fleming

“Nature makes penicillin; I just found it.”

— Alexander Fleming

“If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life.”

— Alexander Fleming

“One sometimes finds what one is not looking for. When I woke up just after dawn on Sept. 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.”

— Alexander Fleming

Brian Lee
Founder of Darbaroud.com: I like to write about self-improvement and achieving excellence, and believe that it is these qualities that ultimately make people successful in life.

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