What Do These Famous Quotes Reveal About the Minds of Great Scientists?

In summary: Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. They seem to me to be flying in the face of an overwhelming body of evidence.Niels Bohr
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GENERAL:

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
Albert Einstein

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
Albert Einstein

The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead.
Albert Einstein



SCIENCE - GENERAL:

The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
Albert Einstein

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite.
Paul Dirac

If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning, concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
David Hume

The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.
Albert Einstein

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
Albert Einstein

Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.
Albert Einstein

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
Albert Einstein

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Albert Einstein

Truth and clarity are complementary.
Niels Bohr

If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn't have been worth the Nobel Prize.
Richard P. Feynman

Scientists are clever, but the problem with them is that sometimes they are too clever to see the obvious.
Hrvoje Nikolic

Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.
Albert Einstein

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
Albert Einstein

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
Albert Einstein

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein



PHYSICS - GENERAL:

Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.
Richard Feynman

Politics is for the present, but an equation is for eternity.
Albert Einstein

I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.
Albert Einstein

Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.
Niels Bohr (to Wolfgang Pauli after his presentation of Heisenberg's and Pauli's nonlinear field theory of elementary particles, at Columbia University 1958)

It's better to do the right calculation in the wrong theory than the wrong calculation in the right theory.
Juan Maldacena

It is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment... It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one's equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress. If there is not complete agreement between the results of one's work and experiment, one should not allow oneself to be too discouraged, because the discrepancy may well be due to minor features that are not properly taken into account and that will get cleared up with further developments of the theory.
Paul A.M. Dirac

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
Albert Einstein

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.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington



QUANTUM PHYSICS:

If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet.
Niels Bohr

If you really believe in quantum mechanics, then you can't take it seriously.
R. M. Wald
 
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There is nothing so practical as a good theory.
Kurt Lewin

If you want to truly understand something, try to change it.
Kurt Lewin

On nonrelativistic BM:
No one can understand this theory until he is willing to think of psi as a real objective field rather than just a 'probability amplitude'.
John S. Bell

On relativistic BM:
No one can understand this theory until he is willing to think of x as a position in a 4-dimensional space, rather than just a collection of two conceptually different entities: 3-space position and 'time'.
Hrvoje Nikolic


It is almost impossible for me to read contemporary mathematicians who, instead of saying, ‘Petya washed his hands’, write ‘There is a t1 < 0 such that the image of t1 under the natural mapping t1 -> Petya(t1) belongs to the set of dirty hands, and a t2, t1 < t2≤0, such that the image of t2 under the above-mentioned mappings belongs to the complement of the set defined in the preceding sentence.
V. I. Arnol’d

An extreme form of instrumentalism, called positivism (or logical positivism), holds that all statements other than those describing or predicting observations are not only superfluous but meaningless. This doctrine is itself meaningless, according to its own criterion.
D. Deutsch

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Carl Sagan

Life is an organized disorder.
Hrvoje Nikolic

If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet.
Niels Bohr

If delayed choice quantum eraser shocked you more than the rest of quantum mechanics, you haven't understood the rest of quantum mechanics yet.
Hrvoje Nikolic

We use mathematics in physics so that we won’t have to think.
Bryce DeWitt

Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification.
Karl Popper

On science and philosophy:
When you systematically collect empirical data on nature and compare them with testable theoretical predictions, that's science. When you SAY that this is what science is, that's philosophy.
Hrvoje Nikolic

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.
George Bernard Shaw

Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little; it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover.
Bertrand Russell

Whenever you measure something in quantum mechanics, you really measure something else.
Hrvoje Nikolic

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.
Niels Bohr

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke

The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he's one who asks the right questions.
Claude Lévi-Strauss

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.
Carl Sagan

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Think before you speak. Read before you think.
Frances Ann Lebowitz

Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
Albert Einstein

A huge number of quotes (not only by scientists) can also be found here:
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/science
 
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Learning without thinking is useless. Thinking without learning is dangerous.
Confucius
 
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Some like to understand what they believe in. Others like to believe in what they understand.
Stanislaw Lec
 
  • #5
Shouldn't you be posting those in the "Favourite Quotes" thread (link here)?
 
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“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
― Isaac Asimov
 
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"Stuff without side-effects generally has no effect at all." (Un-named MD around a campfire)

Quotations without context are quite pointless, particularly those misattributed to notable personages with a large œuvre. An assertion of non-existence cannot be sustained without examination of the entire universe of discourse.
 
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  • #8
Wait... are you quoting YOURSELF?
 
  • #9
tzimie said:
Wait... are you quoting YOURSELF?
Why not? :biggrin:

If it happens occasionally that you say something in a concise form which you don't want to forget, it is a good place to put it.
Besides, someone else might like it too.
 
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  • #10
Nothing wrong with quoting yourself. Quotes aren't good because of who said them, despite what people may think. The message is the same regardless if Albert Einstein said it or Justin Bieber.
 
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  • #11
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
Albert Einstein
This quote may or may not be true. It's definitely a second-hand quote, at best.

Frederick Perls said Einstein said the above quote to him in a personal meeting, but over the course of his life gave three different versions of the quote. Probably all three versions are a paraphrasing of whatever Einstein actually said to Perls.

My preferred quote:
If it's an Einstein quote, he probably didn't say it.

Okay, my actual preferred scientific quote:

It's supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. And then you'd only get paid minimum wage for doing it. "
 
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  • #12
"Sometimes you have to put your nose to the wind and sniff what is coming at you"
-Anonymous Dog
 
  • #13
Don't listen to what I say; listen to what I mean.
Demystifier
 
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  • #14
dlgoff said:
Don't listen to what I say; listen to what I mean.
Demystifier

Perfectly logical. I've seen it said better, though.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'
 
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For those who look for the easy path:

“Treat a man as he is, he will remain so. Treat a man the way he can be and ought to be, and he will become as he can be and should be."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
 
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gleem said:
For those who look for the easy path:

“Treat a man as he is, he will remain so. Treat a man the way he can be and ought to be, and he will become as he can be and should be."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Yes this is true. :oldsmile:
 
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  • #17
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

--Benjamin Franklin

(courtesy of diogenesNY)
 
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  • #18
Rodgerd said:
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
― Isaac Asimov
Read his books. They are relly super-great) Recomend)
 
  • #19
Feynmann:
(On women) "Just talk to them."

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Tesla:
"The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane."

Benjamin Franklin:
"Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants."

"Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one."

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do."
 
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  • #20
One of my favorites

The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
Thomas Henry Huxley
 
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  • #21
tzimie said:
Wait... are you quoting YOURSELF?

Demystifier said:
Why not? :biggrin:

If it happens occasionally that you say something in a concise form which you don't want to forget, it is a good place to put it.
Besides, someone else might like it too.

"I think it a great affectation not to quote oneself." - Byron
 
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  • #22
When you’re thinking about something you don’t understand, you have the very terrible, uncomfortable feeling called confusion; it’s a very difficult and unhappy business. So most of the time you’re rather unhappy actually with this confusion–you can’t penetrate this thing. The confusion (comes) because we’re all some kind of apes trying to put two sticks together–trying to reach the banana. And we can’t quite make it–the idea. I get this feeling all the time. So, I always feel stupid. But every once in a while, the two sticks go together and I can reach the banana.

R.P. Feynman
 
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  • #23
'I never said half the crap they say I did' - A.Einstein
 
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Bandersnatch said:
'I never said half the crap they say I did' - A.Einstein
'I never said half the crap they say I did, including this statement.' - A.Einstein :biggrin:
 
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  • #25
What's the difference between an intelligent person and a wise person?
When confronted with a problem which cannot be solved by the standard method, the intelligent person changes the method.
The wise one changes the problem.
Hrvoje Nikolic
 
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  • #26
Demystifier said:
What's the difference between an intelligent person and a wise person?
When confronted with a problem which cannot be solved by the standard method, the intelligent person changes the method.
The wise one changes the problem.
Hrvoje Nikolic
Very to the point. At least I still stand a chance to be wise.
 
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  • #27
Demystifier said:
Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.
Albert Einstein
Demystifier said:
If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn't have been worth the Nobel Prize.
Richard P. Feynman
Aren't these a bit contradictory?
 
  • #28
PWiz said:
Aren't these a bit contradictory?
Yes, they are contradictory. But those are aphorisms, and no aphorism is expected to be absolutely true. If it was absolutely true it would be called a fact, a law, a theorem, or something like that, not an aphorism. A good aphorism always contains something paradoxical in it. A good aphorism will probably not tell you that "the more you have the richer you are". But the opposite, that "the less you have the richer you are", may, in a certain context, be a basis for a good aphorism.

Or to quote Niels Bohr: The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
 
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  • #29
I still like Feynman's ""That's the way the Universe is. You don't like it? Go someplace else!"
 
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  • #30
"Money is more powerful then logic." -- Cris Merritt
 
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“The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”
-Nikola Tesla
 
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The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it, and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful it would not be worth knowing, and life would not be worth living. I am not speaking, of course, of the beauty which strikes the senses, of the beauty of qualities and appearances. I am far from despising this, but it has nothing to do with science. What I mean is that more intimate beauty which comes from the harmonious order of its parts, and which a pure intelligence can grasp. Henri Poincaré
 
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  • #33
Johnny von Neumann... always slept very late, so I was kind and I did not wake him until well after 10 in the morning. When I called his hotel in London, he answered the phone in bed, and I said Johnny, you're quite right.' And he said to me,

'You wake me up early in the morning to tell me I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.'

(recounted by Jacob Bronowski in 'The Ascent of Man')
 
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  • #34
Yo mama
 
  • #35
"This idiot race that thinks it has free will."

-- Albert Einstein in Berlin
 
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