Physics Quotes

  1. Stephen Hawking’s explanation of the creation of matter and energy: “Where did they [i.e., 1080particles in the universe] all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus, in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.” (Hawking, Stephen. 1998. A Brief History of Time. New York: Bantam Books. p. 129.)

  2. Hylemorphism? Here is Heisenberg’s take: “In the experiments about atomic events we have to do with things and facts, with phenomena that are just as real as any phenomena in daily life. But atoms and the elementary particles themselves are not as real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts … The probability wave … mean[s] tendency for something. It’s a quantitative version of the old concept of potentia from Aristotle’s philosophy. It introduces something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.”
  3. The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny …’ Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992)
  4. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  5. You cannot teach a man anything; you can only find it within yourself. – Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
  6. 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 (1902 – 1984)
  7. Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense. – Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)
  8. The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them. – Sir William Lawrence Bragg (1890 – 1971)
  9. In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. – Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
  10. In Einstein’s theory of relativity, the observer is a man who sets out in quest of truth armed with a measuring-rod. In quantum theory, he sets out with a sieve. – Sir Arthur Eddington (1882 – 1944)
  11. Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it. – Niels H. D. Bohr (1885 – 1962)
  12. In physics, you don’t have to go around making trouble for yourself – nature does it for you. – Frank Wilczek (1951 – )
  13. Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity. – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
  14. Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another. – Plato (427 BC – 347 BC)
  15. Science is a way of thinking much more then it is a body of knowledge. – Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)
  16. Measure what can be measured, and make measurable what cannot be measured. – Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
  17. Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. – Nikola Tesla (1857 – 1943)
  18. Equations are just the boring part of mathematics. I attempt to see things in terms of geometry. – Stephen Hawking (1942 – )
  19. Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe. – Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
  20. There was a blithe certainty that came from first comprehending the full Einstein field equations, arabesques of Greek letters clinging tenuously to the page, a gossamer web. They seemed insubstantial when you first saw them, a string of squiggles. Yet to follow the delicate tensors as they contracted, as the superscripts paired with subscripts, collapsing mathematically into concrete classical entities — potential; mass; forces vectoring in a curved geometry– that was a sublime experience. The iron fist of the real, inside the velvet glove of airy mathematics. – Gregory Benford (1941- ) – from “Timescape”
  21. Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a heap of stones a house. – Jules-Henri Poincare (1854 – 1912)
  22. Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. – Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)
  23. An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature and a measurement is the recording of Nature’s answer. – Max Planck (1858 – 1947)
  24. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is. – Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut (1953-1994)
  25. I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has asked us to forgo their use. – Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
  26. Science is as corruptible a human activity as any other. – Michael Crichton (1942 – 2008)
  27. It you thought that science was certain — well, that is just an error on your part. – Richard P. Feynman (1918 – 1988)
  28. Science has been seriously retarded by the study of what is not worth knowing and of what is not knowable. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
  29. We can’t help it.  Life looks for life. – Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)
  30. Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer.  Art is everything else we do. – Donald Knuth (1938 –  )
  31. Science is the attempt to make the chaotic diversity of our sense-experience correspond to a logically uniform system of thought. -Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  32. Physics is not a religion.  If it were, we’d have a much easier time raising money. – Leon M. Lederman (1922 –   )
  33. We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. – Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)
  34. The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.  But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. – Neils H. D. Bohr (1885 – 1962)
  35. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Sir Francis Darwin (1848 – 1925)
  36. Lectures which really teach will never be popular; lectures which are popular will never really teach. – Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867)
  37. The truth may be puzzling.  It may take some work to grapple with.  It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices.  It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true.  But our preferences do not determine what’s true. – Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)
  38. True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness. – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  39. If all of mathematics disappeared, physics would be set back by exactly one week. – Richard P. Feynman (1918 – 1988)
  40. The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.  If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living. – Jules-Henri Poincare  (1854 – 1912)
  41. Life is like riding a bicycle, in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  42. In science, the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea occurs. – Sir Francis Darwin  (1848- 1925)
  43. There are a thousand ways to get a problem wrong — not all of them bad — and many ways to get a problem right — not all of them good. – David J. Griffiths  (1942 – )
  44. Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
  45. The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist knows it is. – J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904 – 1967)
  46. Any new fact or insight that I may have found has not seemed to me as a ‘discovery’ of mine, but rather something that has always been there and that I had chanced to pick up. – P. V. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910 – 1995)
  47. Nothing is too wonderful to be true. – Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867)
  48. In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. – Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)
  49. There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

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