Memorable quotes from mathematicians & physicists

  • #1
StatGuy2000
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Hi everyone! I just saw another PF thread requesting quotes from physicists about superposition. This particular thread topic made me curious about memorable quotes attributed to well-known mathematicians and physicists on any topic.

Please share any memorable quotes you can find from famous mathematicians and physicists and post them here on this thread.

I'll start:

Richard Feynman: "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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"Discovery is the privilege of the child: the child who has no fear of being once again wrong, of looking like an idiot, of not being serious, of not doing things like everyone else."

(Alexander Grothedieck)
 
  • #3
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This one is one of my absolute favorites because I think it says so much, while also being very funny:
Arthur Eddington said:
The law that entropy always increases, holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1928), source is here.
 
  • #4
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I also remember these two quotes which also are favorites of mine:
I.I. Rabi said:
Who ordered that?
I.I. Rabi, when informed of the unexpected discovery of the muon particle in 1936. Source is here.
Enrico Fermi said:
If I could remember the names of all these particles, I'd be a botanist.
Enrico Fermi, source is here.

EDIT:
There is also a very funny quote regarding the rapidly increasing number of discovered particles in the 1900s (the so called particle zoo), but I can't remember the quote exactly, and I don't remember who said it, and my google-fu can not find it at the moment... it was something like this:

"the next one who discovers a new particle should not get a prize, instead he should have to pay a penalty for it"
(or something like that)

If someone knows or remembers the quote I'm thinking of, I would appreciate it :smile:.
@mfb, @ZapperZ, @Orodruin maybe?

Edit: I think I found the quote, see post #17 below.
 
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  • #6
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  • #7
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how about this one (not sure if Van50 fits the OP request "famous mathematicians and physicists") but I think it's "memorable"

If you want to understand QM, there are better ways to go about it than a parade of misunderstandings, misstatements and misrepresentations, hoping someone will correct you.
 
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  • #12
Lord Jestocost
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One of the best-kept secrets of science is that physicists have lost their grip on reality.

- Nick Herbert
 
  • #13
God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world.
-Paul Dirac
 
  • #14
George Jones
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"The career of a young theoretical physicist consists of treating the harmonic oscillator in ever-increasing levels of abstraction."
Sidney Coleman
 
  • #15
QuantumQuest
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"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

Albert Einstein
 
  • #16
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"The career of a young theoretical physicist consists of treating the harmonic oscillator in ever-increasing levels of abstraction."
I had not heard that one and I laughed when I read it. It is hilarious, thanks for posting! :DD
 
  • #17
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There is also a very funny quote regarding the rapidly increasing number of discovered particles in the 1900s (the so called particle zoo), but I can't remember the quote exactly, and I don't remember who said it, and my google-fu can not find it at the moment... it was something like this:

"the next one who discovers a new particle should not get a prize, instead he should have to pay a penalty for it"
(or something like that)
I tried my google-fu again and I found the quote:
Willis Lamb said:
I have heard it said that "the finder of a new elementary particle used to be rewarded by a Nobel Prize, but such a discovery now ought to be punished by a $10,000 fine."
said by Willis Lamb during his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1955. However, I think this is regretfully arbitrary; it is not clear from the quote if Lamb was joking when he said "I have heard", in which case this is the actual original quote, or if he was serious, in which case the quote was said by someone else.
Source: David Griffiths, Introduction to Elementary Particles, page 32.
 

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