It is believed that people tend to become the most honest when they are about to die. Some have even said that of all the words a man utters in his entire lifetime, it is what he says on his death bed that makes the most sense.
Here is a compilation of memorable last words spoken by some famous scientist:
1. Sir Isaac Newton, mathematician, astronomer, and physicist.
“I don't know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
2. Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian Renaissance polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, literature, anatomy, and cartography.
“I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”
3. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United Stateswas, internationally known as a scientist and a recognized experimenter with electricity.
As he lay dying at the age of 84, his daughter told him to change his position in bed so he could breathe properly. Franklin's last words were, “A dying man can do nothing easy.”
4. Archimedes, Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer.
Archimedes died in circa 212 BC during the Siege of Syracuse, killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he was not to be harmed.
He said, "Stand away, fellow, from my diagram!", as the soldier came in to deliver his fatal blow, Archimedes asked: “Wait until I have finished my problem.”
5. Srinivasa Ramanujan, Indian mathematician whose contributions to the theory of numbers include pioneering discoveries of the properties of the partition function.
In a fateful last letter to G.H. Hardy, dated January 12, 1920, four days before he died, Ramanujan shared hints of his last theory:
"I am extremely sorry for not writing you…I discovered very interesting functions recently which I call “Mock” theta functions.…they enter into mathematics as beautifully as the ordinary theta functions. I am sending you with this letter some examples(...)".
6. Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist.
"I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring."
7. Leonhard Euler, mathematician, physicist, astronomer, logician and engineer.
"I am dying.", spoken while playing with his young grandson. The pipe he was smoking slipped from his hands and he fell to the floor dead.
8. Albert Abraham Michelson, dedicated his life to measuring the speed of light and was the first American to win a Nobel Prize for physics.
Even as he was dying at age 78, he was measuring light. He wrote in his log: “The following is a report on the measurement of the velocity of light made at the Irvine Ranch, near Santa Ana, California, during the period of September 1929 to—.”
10. Thomas Fantet de Lagny, French mathematician well known for his contributions to computational mathematics, and for calculating π to 120 decimal places.
On his deathbed, he was asked, “What is the square of 12?” His last words: “One hundred and forty-four.”
11. Charles Darwin, English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory.
“I am not the least afraid to die.”
12. Michael Faraday, English physicist and chemist whose many experiments contributed greatly to the understanding of electromagnetism.
While on the brink of death, his wife asked him if he had ever pondered what his occupation would probably be in the next life. Before he fell totally unconscious to the world, Faraday calmly uttered:
“I shall be with Christ, and that is enough”.
13. Evariste Galois, an extremely promising French mathematician.
On 30th May 1832 twenty-year-old Evariste Galois took part in an ill-advised duel. The night before the duel Evariste was aware he might not survive and so stayed up all night, feverishly writing out his many mathematical ideas, which he then sent to his friend, Auguste Chevalier.
His theories safely committed to paper, Evariste met his opponent but was shot in the stomach. Hours later a peasant discovered his prone body and he was taken to hospital where he managed to relay some tragic last words to his dear brother, Alfred:
"Don’t cry. I need all my courage to die at twenty."