Physics

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The supreme task of the physicist is the discovery of the most general elementary laws from which the world-picture can be deduced logically. But there is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition [...]. ~ Albert Einstein

Physics is the science of the natural world, which deals with the fundamental particles the universe is made of, the interactions between them, and the interactions of objects composed of them (nuclei, atoms, molecules, etc).

Quotes[edit]

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving... ~ Albert Einstein
The "paradox" is only a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality "ought to be." ~ Richard Feynman
  • Theoretical physicists live in a classical world, looking out into a quantum-mechanical world. The latter we describe only subjectively, in terms of procedures and results in our classical domain.
    • John Stewart Bell "Introduction to the hidden-variable question" (1971), included in Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics (1987), p. 29
  • Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience. In this respect our task must be to account for such experience in a manner independent of individual subjective judgement and therefor objective in the sense that it can be unambiguously communicated in ordinary human language.
    • Niels Bohr, "The Unity of Human Knowledge" (October 1960)
  • Physicists use the wave theory on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the particle theory on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
    • William Henry Bragg; quoted in Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan L. Mackay, Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol, 1994, p. 37 [1]
    • Variant: On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we teach the wave theory and on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays the corpuscular theory.
    • Quoted in Physically Speaking: A Dictionary of Quotations on Physics and Astronomy by C.C. Gaither, 1997, ISBN 0750304707. [2]
    • unsourced variant: God runs electromagnetics by wave theory on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the Devil runs them by quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
  • Mathematical physics represents the purest image that the view of nature may generate in the human mind; this image presents all the character of the product of art; it begets some unity, it is true and has the quality of sublimity; this image is to physical nature what music is to the thousand noises of which the air is full...
  • And so in its actual procedure physics studies not these inscrutable qualities, but pointer-readings which we can observe, The readings, it is true, reflect the fluctuations of the world-qualities; but our exact knowledge is of the readings, not of the qualities. The former have as much resemblance to the latter as a telephone number has to a subscriber.
  • The supreme task of the physicist is the discovery of the most general elementary laws from which the world-picture can be deduced logically. But there is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance, and this Einfühlung [literally, empathy or 'feeling one's way in'] is developed by experience.
  • How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving...
  • The concepts which now prove to be fundamental to our understanding of nature—a space which is finite; a space which is empty, so that one point [of our 'material' world] differs from another solely in the properties of space itself; four-dimensional, seven- and more dimensional spaces; a space which for ever expands; a sequence of events which follows the laws of probability instead of the law of causation—or alternatively, a sequence of events which can only be fully and consistently described by going outside of space and time—all these concepts seem to my mind to be structures of pure thought, incapable of realisation in any sense which would properly be described as material.
  • Today there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the physical side of science approaches almost to unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as a creator and governor of the realm of matter...
    • James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe (1930, 1937)
  • And the substance out of which this bubble is blown, the soap-film, is empty space welded onto empty time.
  • Physics and philosophy are at most a few thousand years old, but probably have lives of thousands of millions of years stretching away in front of them. They are only just beginning to get under way.
  • Science deals with but a partial aspect of reality, and... there is no faintest reason for supposing that everything science ignores is less real than what it accepts. ...Why is it that science forms a closed system? Why is is that the elements of reality it ignores never come in to disturb it? The reason is that all the terms of physics are defined in terms of one another. The abstractions with which physics begins are all it ever has to do with...
  • As soon as we venture on the paths of the physicist, we learn to weigh and measure, to deal with time and space and mass and their related concepts, and to find more and more our knowledge expressed and our needs satisfied through the concept of number, as in the dreams of Plato and Pythagoras.
  • All science is either physics or stamp collecting.
    • As quoted in Rutherford at Manchester (1962) by J. B. Birks
    • Unsourced variants:
    • That which is not measurable is not science. That which is not physics is stamp collecting.
    • Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting.
    • That which is not measurable is not science. — (which is also attributed to Lord Kelvin)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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