Frank Stockbridge

Frank Parker StockbridgeIn science, Frank Parker Stockbridge (1870-1940) was an American writer noted for

In 1912, Stockbridge, in his article “Creating Life in the Laboratory”, gave a summary of the some of the recent parthenogenesis and or laboratory-created life work of those including: Louis Pasteur, Jacques Loeb, and Henry Bastian, in which he famously summarizing the crux of the issue as such:

“‘Life is a chemical reaction; death is the cessation of that reaction; living matter, from the microscopic yeast spore to humanity itself, is merely the result of accidental groupings of otherwise inert matter, and life can actually be created by repeating in the laboratory nature’s own methods and processes!’ [Loeb/Bastian?] Think for a moment what this declaration signifies. If it be true, where is the theology? If you and I are merely physico-chemical compounds, slightly more complex than a potato, a little less durable than a boulder, what is the basis of our moral code? If man can lump together sand and salt and by pouring water on them create life, what becomes of the soul?”

This ripe statement, which seems to be a mixture of Loeb, Bastian, and Stockbridge, has become a popular quote in scientific circles, e.g. making the pages of: Carl Gaither's Chemically Speaking (2001) and English chemical physicist Philip Ball's Unnatural (2012). [2]

The quote embodies much content: it seems to capture the heart of the physicochemical morality puzzles—one might say it captures much of the Goethean revolution that is yet to come to fruition: namely it was Goethe who, beginning in 1796 (see: timeline), first addressed this grand "what becomes of our moral code?", if we are but chemical compounds, query—concluding rather cryptically in the end the the solution is to be found in the "moral symbols" of physical chemistry. [2]

The following are other noted quotes:

“A little bit of this, a little more of that, a pinch of something else, boil blank minutes, and set aside in the same vessel –thus might read the biologists' formula for creating life.”
— Frank Stockbridge (1912), “Creating Life in the Laboratory” (pg. 775) (Ѻ)

1. Stockridge, Frank P. (1912). “Creating Life in the Laboratory”, Cosmopolitan, 52(6): 774-81, May.
2. (a) Gaither, Carl C. and Cavazos-Gaither, Alma E. (2001). Chemically Speaking (pgs. 75-76). CRC.
(b) Ball, Philip. (2011). Unnatural: the Heretical Idea of Making People (pg. 145). Vintage Books.

Further reading
● Staff. (1940). “Noted Author Dies: F.P. Stockbridge, Noted Writer, Dies”, The Evening Independent (pgs. 2), Dec. 09.

External links
Stockbridge, Frank Parker (1870-1940) – WorldCat Identities.

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