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Physics Quotes.

  1. Oct 20, 2003 #1
    'One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - and yet it is the most precious thing we have.'

    Albert Einstein
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2003 #2


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    nice quote
  4. Oct 22, 2003 #3
    Very nice quote! It's true!
  5. Oct 23, 2003 #4
    I had not heard that one before, but it rings true. My favorite is "God does not play dice."
  6. Oct 23, 2003 #5
    This is a very nice quote. I find that it especially rings true when one considers arguments made against science. It is true that science is consitantly proven wrong and improved upon, making it seem somewhat child-like. However, it is this approach, one based on recreatable evidence, which is its strength. As a scientist, we can say that "This is to the best of our knowledge." This is the only approach to take, in my opinion. What else may we based our knowledge on?
  7. Oct 23, 2003 #6

    I disagree. Why is it childish ? What is so primitive about a child's mind ? Society is the most precious thing we have--- it allows for science among other things.


    Sorry, but this is my least favourite quote of all time ( along with his little finger telling him stuff---God talking to him in mysterious ways, perhaps ? )
    Why mention God ? Did Einstein deduce this from experiment ? Can we replicate it ? Is it based on a logical theory ?
    I stopped reading Stephen Hawking's A brief history of time when he started going on about 'knowing the mind of God'.
    George LeMaitre, a priest, did not invoke religion when writing of his Primeval Atom theory, and kept it in a proper scientific context.
    He did not allow his devout religious views to reduce the scientific integrity of his conclusions.
    When someone mentions belief-based views, I start wondering about scientific integrity being upheld. Just because Einstein was clever, and put forward mind-blowing special and general relativity, it does not mean we should hang on his every word ( cosmological constant, anyone ? ).
    Of course, we must use word 'believe' sometimes for tentative ideas, but 'believe' as in 'religion' is simply not scientific.
  8. Oct 23, 2003 #7
    -- Tom D

    Well, first thing I've to point out is that childlike and childish have similar meanings, much very different connotations. Obviously, the second one is rather negative, but definitely not the first.

    Personally, I wouldn't really say that our science is primative or childlike, but I do agree that it is the most precious thing we have. If we do not have any scientific knowledge, defined as knowledge of our world, we humans would not have survived.

    I also don't really like the one from Einstein, but it's better than some others I've heard.
  9. Oct 24, 2003 #8

    Claude Bile

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    'If I have seen further than other men, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.'

    - Isaac Newton

    This quote is my favourite, as it encapsulates the sheer monument of what science is, the culmulative intellectual acheivement of thousands, if not, millions of the most brilliant minds of the last four centuries.
  10. Oct 24, 2003 #9
    Yes, Claude, I like that one too. Not self-depreciating, yet acknowledging efforts of others.
    Considering Newton's reputation, I think this shows a bit of humility, which is a great quality.
  11. Mar 7, 2008 #10
    i know this is years late.....but many say newton's quote is really an insult to hooke who was so short.....there was plenty of animosity between the two
  12. Mar 7, 2008 #11


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    Yes, I've heard that was exactly the point of the Newton quote: a double entendre.
  13. Mar 7, 2008 #12
    Not physics related quote, but here's my favourite.

    If you talk to God you are praying, if God talks to you, you have paranoid Schizophrenia.
  14. Mar 7, 2008 #13


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    I believe the point was that, especially for those who daily use even the most sophisticated tools of modern science in the investigation of the natural world, you find time after time those tools are remarkable primitive in their ability to describe reality. The models, while extremely useful, are just so crude when one observes closely whats out there. We have this vast universe of trillions upon trillions out there, and yet the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_body_problem#Three-body_problem" is still beyond the power of science.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  15. Mar 7, 2008 #14


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    Yes, it was definitely meant as an insult to Hook who was a hunchback. Newton took every opportunity to insult Hook and this quote is no exception. There is a short discussion about this in James Gleick's biography of Newton.
    The bottom line is that Newton was a great scientist but not a nice man.
  16. Mar 7, 2008 #15
    I like this one, also by Newton:

    Similar in some ways to the OP's quote.
  17. Mar 7, 2008 #16


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    Take out the negative emotive connotations and you'll see that 'primitive' is a descriptive term for a child's mind. Similarly, Early Man was primitive, but had huge potential; it took time and experience to make good on that potential.
  18. Mar 8, 2008 #17
    I prefer Bohr's reply.

    "Stop telling God what to do with his dice".

    And some more of his quotes:

    "We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that it is not crazy enough."

    "An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field."

    "Science is but one death after another."

    Niels Bohr
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
  19. Mar 8, 2008 #18

    George Jones

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    "When you hear a physicist invoke the uncertainty principle, keep a hand on your wallet."

    David Griffiths
  20. Mar 8, 2008 #19


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    "You are not even wrong."
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