Showing posts with label pqotd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pqotd. Show all posts

Sunday, February 28, 2010

One year of Physics Quotes of the Day

It's been exactly one year since I left my job as IT project manager at French telecom operator SFR. In that job, I missed the physics, the photons, the electrons, the atoms... So when SFR gave the opportunity to change course, I eagerly applied for a year Master of Science training at the Institut d'Optique, which could give me an upgrade relative to almost 20 years out of the professional physics world. This back to school period is extremely satisfying. It's a pleasure to learn new things, or learn them again and under different circumstances, to meet instructors, researchers and students who share the same interest. My last exam was past Friday and the last term of the MSc year is a 4-month long internship in a lab. So I'll be teaming up with a group at the ESPCI who's growing semiconductor nanocrystals.

It has also been a year ago since I started to tweet daily quotes from physisicts. I needed a speed course in all the fields of physics. It seemed that looking for quotes from diverse physicists is a great way to achieve that goal. Monte Zerger, a mathematics professor, wrote an interesting paper: "A quote a day educates". It explains how a daily quote can "instill in students an appreciation for the human in the mathematician as well as the mathematician in the human".

From March 2 last year, I challenged myself to quote only physicists (or physics related scientists) who where born on the day I quoted them, and to provide the reference for that quote, in order that one can check the context in which it was written or said. For about a tenth of the days in the year, such quotes could already be found easily on the web, but the 90% other ones needed a lot of reading, of searching in oral histories, in archives or in online parts of books or papers with Google Books or Scholar. I now have a year long physics calendar, a bit in the same trend as the catholic saints calendar. So if anyone is interested in publishing such a calendar, I'm the man;-) I currently have about 1300 sourced physics related quotes from 800 different scientists in my collection, part of which may be found on Wikiquote, or in my past posts or tweets.

Here are the two last quotes in the Physics Quotes of the Day series on this blog. I hope, you've enjoyed it. And I'm looking for another challenge...

"Your waistline may be spreading but you can't blame it on the expansion of the universe." Richard H. Price, born 1 March 1943.

"The atoms become like a moth, seeking out the region of higher laser intensity." Steven Chu, born 28 February 1948.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (February 21 - February 27)

"The recent developments in cosmology strongly suggest that the universe may be the ultimate free lunch." Alan Guth, born 27 February 1947.

"Such is the privilege of genius; it perceives, it seizes relations where vulgar eyes see only isolated facts." François Arago, born 26 February 1786.

"There can be no doubt that our descendants will learn to exploit the energy of fusion for peaceful purposes even before its use becomes necessary for the preservation of human civilization." Lev Artsimovich, born 25 February 1909.

"Hey, I got a new idea for an experiment I must tell you about !" William Fairbank, born 24 February 1917.

"There is also hope that even in these days of increasing specialization there is a unity in the human experience." Allan McLeod Cormack, born 23 February 1924.

"The rigour of science requires that we distinguish well the undraped figure of Nature itself from the gay-coloured vesture with which we clothe her at our pleasure." Heinrich Hertz, born 22 February 1857.

"We do not aim at « mathematical rigour » of exposition, which in theoretical physics often amounts to self-deception." Evgeny Lifshitz, born 21 February 1915.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (February 14 - February 20)

"But every day I go to work I'm making a bet that the universe is simple, symmetric, and aesthetically pleasing—a universe that we humans, with our limited perspective, will someday understand." George Smoot, born 20 February 1945.

"Perhaps our thinking exemplifies a selective system. First lots of random scattered ideas compete for survival. Then comes the selection for what works best —one idea dominates, and this is followed by its amplification. Perhaps the moral [...] is that you never learn anything unless you are willing to take a risk and tolerate a little randomness in your life." Heinz Pagels, born 19 February 1939.

"Personally, people know themselves very poorly." Ernst Mach, born 18 February 1838.

"The experiment decided in favor of the quantum theory." Otto Stern, born 17 February 1888.

"The twentieth century return to Middle Age scholastics taught us a lot about formalisms. Probably it is time to look outside again. Meaning is what really matters." Yuri Manin, born 16 February 1937.

"For successful education there must always be a certain freshness in the knowledge dealt with. It must be either new in itself or invested with some novelty of application to the new world of new times. Knowledge does not keep any better than fish. You may be dealing with knowledge of the old species, with some old truth; but somehow it must come to the students, as it were, just drawn out of the sea and with the freshness of its immediate importance." Alfred Whitehead, born 15 February 1861.

"To eliminate the discrepancy between men's plans and the results achieved, a new approach is necessary. Morphological thinking suggests that this new approach cannot be realized through increased teaching of specialized knowledge. This morphological analysis suggests that the essential fact has been overlooked that every human is potentially a genius. Education and dissemination of knowledge must assume a form which allows each student to absorb whatever develops his own genius, lest he become frustrated. The same outlook applies to the genius of the peoples as a whole." Fritz Zwicky, born 14 February 1898.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (February 7 - February 13)

"I had one experience which gave me some slant on the way large organizations run. I was not allowed to take spherical trigonometry because I'd sprained my ankle. Because I'd sprained my ankle I had an incomplete in gym, phys ed. And the rule was that if you had an incomplete in anything, you were not allowed to take an overload. I argued with some clerical person in the administration office, and was stopped there. It's an experience which I've remembered since, and advised people not to be stopped at the first point." William Shockley, born 13 February 1910.

"I also have a secret fear that new generations may not necessarily have the opportunity to become familiar with dissident ideas." Julian Schwinger, born 12 February 1918.

"A man's clarity of judgment is never very good when you're involved, and as you grow older, and as you grow more involved, your clarity of judgment suffers." Leó Szilárd, born 11 February 1898.

"One has to stress once again, that the mechanical world view and psychophysical interpretation accompanying it are based not on the instructions of the philosophizing mind, but on the clear and accurate facts discovered by experiment and observation; and in the cases of noncorrespondence (very rare, fortunately) between the requirements of the mind and the facts, reason must adjust to the facts, and not vice versa." Yakov Frenkel, born 10 February 1894.

"Physicists are more like avant-garde composers, willing to bend traditional rules and brush the edge of acceptability in the search for solutions. Mathematicians are more like classical composers, typically working within a much tighter framework, reluctant to go to the next step until all previous ones have been established with due rigor. Each approach has its advantages as well as drawbacks; each provides a unique outlet for creative discovery. Like modern and classical music, it’s not that one approach is right and the other wrong – the methods one chooses to use are largely a matter of taste and training." Brian Greene, born 9 February 1963.

"I thought we should require physical determinations, and not abstract integrations. A pernicious taste begins to infiltrate, from which real science will suffer far more than it will progress, and it would be often better for the true physics if there were no mathematics in the world." Daniel Bernoulli, born 8 February 1700.

"I learned a lesson from this experience. I knew that wall clocks have such a temperature correction device since it can be seen. But I didn't associate it with wristwatches. This taught me to think matters through carefully, taking as many relevant elements into account as possible." Toshihide Maskawa, born 7 February 2010.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (January 31 - February 6)

"Is the surface of a planet really the right place for expanding technological civilization?" Gerard K. O'Neill, born 6 February 1927.

"The Nobel Prize is given as a personal award but it also honors the field of research in which I have worked and it also honors my students and colleagues. It is an indication that the world thinks the subject of the investigation of small things is an important one. Not only has this subject been long associated with the ideas of thinking men over the ages but its practical importance is attested to by the huge resources of men and material thrown into this type of work. " Robert Hofstadter, born 5 February 1915.

"Historical contingency plays an essential role in the construction and selection of a successful scientific theory from among its observationally equivalent and unrefuted competitors. I argue that historical contingency, in the sense of the order in which events take place, can be an essential factor in determining which of the two empirically adequate and fruitful, but observationally equivalent, scientific theories is accepted by the scientific community." James T. Cushing, born 4 February 1937.

"A thorough and careful training in physics is of fundamental importance for the development of the engineer." Paul Scherrer, born 3 February 1890.

"The future development of physics will lead probably to much which is not yet known. New phenomena will be discovered and solutions will be found for problems which at the moment defy our attempts to solve them." Hendrik Kramers, born 2 February 1894.

"The mathematical framework of quantum theory has passed countless successful tests and is now universally accepted as a consistent and accurate description of all atomic phenomena. The verbal interpretation, on the other hand – i.e., the metaphysics of quantum theory – is on far less solid ground. In fact, in more than forty years physicists have not been able to provide a clear metaphysical model." Fritjof Capra, born 1 February 1939.

"To me, [it's] extremely interesting that men, perfectly honest, enthusiastic over their work, can so completely fool themselves." Irving Langmuir, born 31 January 1881.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (January 24 - January 30)

"Quantum phenomena do not occur in a Hilbert space. They occur in a laboratory." Asher Peres, born 30 January 1934.

"Scientific thought is the common heritage of mankind." Abdus Salam, born 29 January 1926.

"Everything with a quantum in it, with 'h' in it, was exciting." Edwin C. Kemble, born 28 January 1889.

"In reality, a theory in natural science cannot be without experimental foundations; physics, in particular, comes from experimental work." Samuel C. C. Ting, born 27 January 1936.

"We do not know the truth. But sometimes we get a glimpse of the shadow of the truth. And where there is a shadow, somewhere there must be light." Eric Mervyn Lindsay, born 26 January 1907.

"How scientists go about their job: and it's a process, it's a question of asking questions, respecting observation, respecting experiment, having tentative explanations and then testing them.... There is a problem sometimes with how we teach science at schools. Because we sometimes teach it as if it has been chiseled in stone." Paul Nurse, born 25 January 1949.

"There are many examples of old, incorrect theories that stubbornly persisted, sustained only by the prestige of foolish but well-connected scientists. ... Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive experiment exposed their incorrectness. .. Thus the yeoman work in any science, and especially physics, is done by the experimentalist, who must keep the theoreticians honest." Michio Kaku, born 24 January 1947.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (January 17 - January 23)

"Authority in science exists to be questioned, since heresy is the spring from which new ideas flow." John C. Polanyi, born 23 January 1929.

"It is important to do everything with enthusiasm, it embellishes life enormously." Lev Landau, born 22 January 1908.

"One gets much better ideas if you talk with someone. I get ideas talking to my students even if they have suggested an idea. It’s just the process of talking with them which makes me think of things I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, which I realize is directly a result that I’m talking with them. So, they influence you in countless ways." Charles P. Slichter, born 21 January 1924.

"Listen to learned men, but do so only with one ear !" André-Marie Ampère, born 20 January 1775.

"I can think of nothing else than this machine." James Watt, born 19 January 1736.

"You will get your difficulties with the point electron." Paul Ehrenfest, born 18 January 1880.

"I am much in the Dark about Light" Benjamin Franklin, born 17 January 1706.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (January 10 - January 16)

"Great physicists fight great battles." Jean-Pierre Vigier, born 16 January 1920.

"Physics is, hopefully, simple. Physicists are not." Edward Teller, born 15 January 1908.

"Life is made up of experiences, and the more experiences you have, the more you live." Gordon Shrum, born 14 January 1896.

"But it is not time for me to die; I have not yet finished my life's work." Jan Burgers, born 13 January 1895.

"When you recognize you may have made a mistake, admit it to yourself and go onto the next one. Don’t limit yourself to one. Don’t think this one idea is the only one you’re ever going to get and it was an epiphany." James Fergason, born 12 January 1934.

"The trouble with theorists is, they never pay attention to the experiments!" Valentine Telegdi, born 11 January 1922.

"Cosmology is a science which has only a few observable facts to work with." Robert Woodrow Wilson, born 10 January 1936.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (January 3 - January 9)

"Skill can be increased with practice and the exercise of care contributes to success." Thomas T.Goldsmith, born 9 January 1910.

"If we do discover a complete theory, it should be in time understandable in broad principle by everyone. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people be able to take part in the discussion of why we and the universe exist." Stephen Hawking, born 8 January 1942.

"Whatever the progress of human knowledge, there will always be room for ignorance, hence for chance and probability." Émile Borel, born 7 January 1871.

"I think of physics as the liberal arts of technology." Richard A. Muller, born 6 January 1944.

"Research is a matter of overcoming obstacles. That's what research is about. There are problems. There are difficulties. It's hard to make sense of a collection of information or whatever. Obstacles are the nature of research. Maybe that's why some people give up. There's always an obstacle. You overcome one to find there's another one." Alexander Dalgarno, born 5 January 1928.

"To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. Tis much better to do a little with certainty, & leave the rest for others that come after you, than to explain all things by conjecture without making sure of any thing." Isaac Newton, born 4 January 1643.

"For we may remark generally of our mathematical researches, that these auxiliary quantities, these long and difficult calculations into which we are often drawn, are almost always proofs that we have not in the beginning considered the objects themselves so thoroughly and directly as their nature requires, since all is abridged and simplified, as soon as we place ourselves in a right point of view." Louis Poinsot, born 3 January 1777.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Physics Quote of the Day (December 27 - January 2)

"It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today." Isaac Asimov, born 2 January 1920.

"I often liken the process of physics research to solving a jigsaw puzzle. As we put together pieces to form patches, a certain image of the overall picture emerges, but until the game is sufficiently progressed, we are not quite sure." Benjamin W. Lee, born 1 January 1935.

"I would insist that any proposal for a radically new theory in physics, or in any other science, contain a clear explanation of why the precedent science worked, ... the crank is a scientific solipsist who lives in his own little world. He has no understanding nor appreciation of the scientific matrix in which his work is embedded … In my dealings with cranks, I have discovered that this kind of discussion is of no interest to them." Jeremy Bernstein, born 31 December 1xxx.

"Every time we get slapped down, we can say, Thank you Mother Nature, because it means we're about to learn something important." John Norris Bahcall, born 30 December 1934.

"It must be confessed that the new quantum mechanics is far from satisfying the requirements of the layman who seeks to clothe his conceptions in figurative language. Indeed, its originators probably hold that such symbolic representation is inherently impossible. It is earnestly to be hoped that this is not their last word on the subject, and that they may yet be successful in expressing the quantum postulate in picturesque form." Herbert Stanley Allen, born 29 December 1873.

"Young man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them." John von Neumann, born 28 December 1903.

"In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind." Louis Pasteur, born 27 December 1822.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (December 20 - December 26)

"If we look at the fact, we shall find that the great inventions of the age are not, with us at least, always produced in universities." Charles Babbage, born 26 December 1791.

"The light microscope opened the first gate to microcosm. The electron microscope opened the second gate to microcosm. What will we find opening the third gate?" Ernst Ruska, born 25 December 1906.

"My object has been, first to discover correct principles and then to suggest their practical development." James Prescott Joule, born 24 December 1818.

"You cannot possess the truth, you can only search for it." Albert Jacquard, born 23 December 1925.

"This fact, that all charges are integral multiples of a fundamental unit, is still one of the unexplained puzzles of fundamental physics. It does not in any way contradict electromagnetic theory, but it is not predicted by it, and until we have a more fundamental theory that explains it, we shall not feel that we really understand electromagnetic phenomena thoroughly. Presumably its explanation will not come until we understand quantum theory more thoroughly than we do at present." John Clarke Slater, born 22 December 1900.

"A surprising number of physicists are into mountain hiking, and the combination of strenuous physical activity, fresh mountain air and breathtaking views of the Alps is useful to physicists because it is such a contrast to sitting at a table doing calculations." Cecile DeWitt Morette, born 21 December 1922.

"Of course, we must avoid postulating a new element for each new phenomenon. But an equally serious mistake is to admit into the theory only those elements which can now be observed. For the purpose of a theory is not only to correlate the results of observations that we already know how to make, but also to suggest the need for new kinds of observations and to predict their results. In fact, the better a theory is able to suggest the need for new kinds of observations and to predict their results correctly, the more confidence we have that this theory is likely to be good representation of the actual properties of matter and not simply an empirical system especially chosen in such a way as to correlate a group of already known facts." David Bohm, born 20 December 1917.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (December 13 - December 19)

"It appears, from all that precedes, reasonably certain that if there be any relative motion between the earth and the luminiferous ether, it must be small; quite small enough entirely to refute Fresnel's explanation of aberration." Albert Abraham Michelson, born 19 December 1852.

"The electron: may it never be of any use to anybody!" J. J. Thomson, born 18 December 1856.

"Nothing is so fatal to the progress of the human mind as to suppose that our views of science are ultimate; that there are no mysteries in nature; that our triumphs are complete, and that there are no new worlds to conquer." Humphry Davy, born 17 December 1778.

"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong." Arthur C. Clarke, born 16 December 1917.

"There is no such thing as a unique scientific vision, any more than there is a unique poetic vision. Science is a mosaic of partial and conflicting visions. But there is one common element in these visions. The common element is rebellion against the restrictions imposed by the locally prevailing culture,..." Freeman Dyson, born 15 December 1923.

"... the end of fundamental physics is nowhere in sight." Giovanni Amelino-Camelia, born 14 December 1965.

"It is seen as the application of a systematic “scientific method” involving wearing a white coat and being dull. I feel that too many young people come into science with this view, and that too many fields degenerate into the kind of work which results: automatic crank-turning and data-collecting of the sort which Kuhn calls “normal science” and Rutherford “stamp-collecting”. In fact, the creation of new science is a creative act, literally, and people who are not creative are not very good at it." Philip Warren Anderson, born 13 December 1923.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (December 6 - December 12)

"Innovation is everything. When you're on the forefront, you can see what the next innovation needs to be. When you're behind, you have to spend your energy catching up." Robert Noyce, born 12 December 1927.

"I am now convinced that theoretical physics is actually philosophy. It has revolutionized fundamental concepts, e.g., abut space and time (relativity), about causality (quantum theory), and about substance and matter (atomistics). It has taught us new methods of thinking (complimentarity), which are applicable far beyond physics." Max Born, born 11 December 1882.

"Mathematics is the science of what is clear by itself." Gustav Jacobi, born 10 December 1804.

"While science and technology play critical roles in sustaining modern civilization, they are not part of our culture in the sense that they are not commonly studied or well comprehended. Neither the potential nor the limitations of science are understood so that what can be achieved and what is beyond reach are not comprehended. The line between science and magic becomes blurred so that public judgments on technical issues can be erratic or badly flawed. It frequently appears that some people will believe almost anything. Thus judgments can be manipulated or warped by unscrupulous groups. Distortions or outright falsehoods can come to be accepted as fact." Henry Way Kendall, born 9 December 1926.

"Perhaps our ultimate understanding of scientific topics is measured in terms of our ability to generate metaphoric pictures of what is going on. Maybe understanding is coming up with metaphoric pictures." Per Bak, born 8 December 1948.

"God made the integers, all the rest is the work of man." Leopold Kronecker, born 7 December 1823.

"Science is, on the whole, an informal activity, a life of shirt sleeves and coffee served in beakers." George Porter, born 6 December 1920.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (November 29 - December 5)

"We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." Werner Heisenberg, born 5 December 1901.

"... elegant generalization is mathematically very appealing; but physics means facing facts. You should take up case by case." K. S. Krishnan, born 4 December 1898.

"I may be a minority of one in advocating that one should NOT separate science and politics—partly because I am old enough to remember the Weimar Republic before 1934 ..." Edwin Salpeter, born 3 December 1924.

"one of my complaints is that you've got far more scientists than ever before but the pace of discovery has not increased. Why? Because they're all busy just filling in the details of what they think is the standard story. And the youngsters, the people with different ideas have just as big a fight as ever and normally it takes decades for science to correct itself. But science does correct itself and that's the reason why science is such a glorious thing for our species." Nigel Calder, born 2 December 1931.

"There is no branch of mathematics, however abstract, which may not some day be applied to phenomena of the real world." Nikolai Lobachevsky, born 1 December 1792.

"As the Knowledge of Nature tends to enlarge the human Mind, and give us more noble, more grand, and exalted Ideas of the AUTHOR of Nature, and if well pursu'd, seldom fails producing something useful to Man." Ebenezer Kinnersley, born 30 November 1711.

"There have been applied sciences throughout the ages. ... However this so-called practice was not much more than paper in nearly all of these cases, and the various applied sciences were only lacking a bagatelle, namely proper scientific practice. The applied sciences show the application of theoretic doctrines in existing events; but that is precisely what it does, it merely shows. Whereas the scientific practice autonomously puts to use these theories." Christian Doppler, born 29 November 1803.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (November 22 - November 28)

"The relationship between science and the humanities is two-way. Science changes our view of the world and our place in it. In the other direction, the humanities provide the store of ideas and images and language available to us in understanding the world. The exploding star of A.D. 1054, the Crab Nebula, was sighted and documented by the Chinese, but nowhere mentioned in the West, where the Aristotelian notion of the immortality of stars still held sway. We often do not see what we do not expect to see." Alan Lightman, born 28 November 1948.

"It's unnecessary to introduce magic into the explanation of physical and biological phenomenon when in fact there is every likelihood that the continuation of research as it is now practiced will indeed fill all the gaps..." John Maddox, born 27 November 1925.

"Physics is at present a mass of partial theories which no man has yet been able to render truly and clearly consistent. It has been well said that the modern physicist is a quantum theorist on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and a student of gravitational relativity theory on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Sunday he is praying. . . that someone will find the reconciliation between the two views." Norbert Wiener, born 26 November 1894.

"Nature has put itself the problem of how to catch in flight light streaming to the Earth and to store the most elusive of all powers in rigid form. The plants take in one form of power, light; and produce another power, chemical difference." Julius Robert von Mayer, born 25 November 1814.

"Above all, it's creative thinking that lies at the basis of discoveries. You must dare to think differently, see things from different sides, in order to come across fortuitous new ideas frequently. You should develop even the most stupid ideas and when you do this systematically, there will always come something useful out of it." Simon van der Meer, born 24 November 1925.

"Every object in the Universe with a temperature above absolute zero radiates in the infrared, so this part of the spectrum contains a great deal of information." Frank J. Low, born 23 November 1933.

"... in science, we often have predecessors much further back in time than we think a priori." Louis Néel, born 22 November 1904.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (November 15 - November 21)

"A single part of physics occupies the lives of many men, and often leaves them dying in uncertainty." Voltaire, born 21 November 1694.

"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science." Edwin Hubble, born 20 November 1889.

"The difficulty, as in all this work, is to find a notation which is both concise and intelligible to at least two people of whom one may be the author." Paul Matthews, born 19 November 1919.

"A physicist must be able to saw with a file and to file with a saw." August Kundt, born 18 November 1839.

"In science, it is not speed that is the most important. It is the dedication, the commitment, the interest and the will to know something and to understand it — these are the things that come first." Eugene Wigner, born 17 November 1902.

"Nothing is more incontestable than the existence of our sensations;" Jean le Rond d'Alembert, born 16 November 1717.

"Here is truly a Hole in Heaven." William Herschel, born 15 November 1738.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (November 8 - November 14)

"You can forget facts but you cannot forget understanding !" Eric Mazur, born 14 November 1954.

"Facts are more mundane than fantasies, but a better basis for conclusions." Amory Lovins, born 13 November 1947.

"... a young author who believes himself capable of great things would usually do well to secure the favourable recognition of the scientific world by work whose scope is limited, and whose value is easily judged, before embarking upon higher flights." John Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, born 12 November 1842.

"As an analogy one can imagine an intelligent amoeba with a good memory. As time progresses the amoeba is constantly splitting, each time the resulting amoebas having the same memories as the parent. Our amoeba hence does not have a life line, but a life tree." Hugh Everett, born 11 November 1930.

"It is a fantastic letter. Very understated. He calls it an optical maser, it’s as if a maser was made to run in the optical. No flamboyant phrase, just straightforward science." Peter Franken, born 10 November 1928.

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere." Carl Sagan, born 9 November 1934.

"... electronics is a fascinating field that I continue to find fulfilling. The field is still growing rapidly, and the opportunities that are ahead are at least as great as they were when I graduated from college. My advice is to get involved and get started." Jack Kilby, born 8 November 1923.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (November 1 - November 7)

"Humanity needs practical men, who get the most out of their work, and, without forgetting the general good, safeguard their own interests. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research." Marie Curie, born 7 November 1867.

"A patent is a legal analog of sticky fly paper: it attracts some of the lowest forms of life." David L. Webster, born 6 November 1888.

"In scientific thought we adopt the simplest theory which will explain all the facts under consideration and enable us to predict new facts of the same kind. The catch in this criterion lies in the world "simplest." It is really an aesthetic canon such as we find implicit in our criticisms of poetry or painting. The layman finds such a law as dx/dt = K(d²x/dy²) much less simple than "it oozes," of which it is the mathematical statement. The physicist reverses this judgment, and his statement is certainly the more fruitful of the two, so far as prediction is concerned. It is, however, a statement about something very unfamiliar to the plainman, namely, the rate of change of a rate of change." John Burdon Haldane, born 5 November 1892.

"If you really look at it, I was trying to sell a dream ... There was very little I could put in concrete to tell these people it was really real." Charles K. Kao, born 4 November 1933.

"It is electromagnetism (EM) in all its many forms that has been so basic, that haunts us and guides us." Nick Holonyak, born 3 November 1928.

"The beauty of physics lies in the extent to which seemingly complex and unrelated phenomena can be explained and correlated through a high level of abstraction by a set of laws which are amazing in their simplicity." Melvin Schwartz, born 2 November 1932.

"... real understanding of a thing comes from taking it apart oneself, not reading about it in a book or hearing about it in a classroom. To this day I always insist on working out a problem from the beginning without reading up on it first, a habit that sometimes gets me into trouble but just as often helps me see things my predecessors have missed." Robert B. Laughlin, born 1 November 1950.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (October 25 - October 31)

"Sometimes one can improve the theories in the sense of discovering a quicker, more efficient way of doing a given calculation." John Pople, born 31 October 1925.

"Science had better not free the minds of men too much, before it has tamed their instincts." Jean Rostand, born 30 October 1894.

"Science leads to great achievements, which, quite rightly, fill of joy those who seek the truth, but if pursued, teaches us that we must seek other sources of ultimate truth and find answers to existential questions about the meaning of life and the mystery of death." Franco Bassani, born 29 October 1929.

"... the basis of anything is education, so that people not only become qualified, but essentially become able to create new knowledge." José Leite Lopes, born 28 October 1918.

"Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians. These parallel global warmings -- observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth -- can only be a straightline consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance." Khabibullo Abdusamatov, born 27 October 1940.

"The gravitational force is the oldest force known to man and the least understood." Peter van Nieuwenhuizen, born 26 October 1938.

"... an author never does more damage to his readers than when he hides a difficulty." Évariste Galois, born 25 October 1811.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Physics Quote of the Day (October 18 - October 24)

"The real point of honor [for a scientist] is not to be always right. It is to dare to propose new ideas, and then check them." Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, born 24 October 1932.

"...while I am certainly not asking you to close your eyes to the experiences of earlier generations, I want to advise you not to conform too soon and to resist the pressure of practical necessity. Free imagination is the inestimable prerogative of youth and it must be cherished and guarded as a treasure." Felix Bloch, born 23 October 1905.

"Discoveries in physics are made when the time for making them is ripe, and not before." Clinton Davisson, born 22 October 1881.

"I would like to help dreamers as they find it difficult to get on in life." Alfred Nobel, born 21 October 1833.

"Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination." John Dewey, born 20 October 1859.

"It is, indeed an incredible fact that what the human mind, at its deepest and most profound, perceives as beautiful finds its realization in external nature.… What is intelligible is also beautiful." Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, born 19 October 1910.

"In quantum physics, however, each observation implies an intervention in the observed. Because of the quantum physical laws of nature, a change of state of the observed is inevitably coupled to the observation process. So it's not a situation independent from the experiment that is observed, but we ourselves call forth the facts (or compel them to go in a certain direction to a disambiguation), that then become an observation." Pascual Jordan, born 18 October 1902.