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Albert Einstein
(14 Mar 1879 - 18 Apr 1955)

German-American physicist who developed the special and general theories of relativity. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.


Science Quotes by Albert Einstein (110 quotes)


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Albert Einstein (1 Oct 1940)
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[When asked “Dr. Einstein, why is it that when the mind of man has stretched so far as to discover the structure of the atom we have been unable to devise the political means to keep the atom from destroying us?”] That is simple, my friend. It is because politics is more difficult than physics.
— Albert Einstein
Einstein's answer to a conferee at a meeting at Princeton, N.J. (Jan 1946), as recalled by Greenville Clark in 'Letters to the Times', in New York Times (22 Apr 1955), 24.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (163)  |  Control (41)  |  Difficulty (70)  |  Physics (152)  |  Politics (47)  |  Structure (94)

A man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. He sits on a hot stove for a minute, it's longer than any hour. That is relativity.
Explanation given to his secretary, Helen Dukas, to relay to reporters and laypersons.
— Albert Einstein
James B. Simpson, Best Quotes of '54, '55, '56 (1957), in Fred R. Shapiro and Joseph Epstein, The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), 230.
Science quotes on:  |  Quip (68)  |  Relativity (31)

A theory can be proved by experiment; but no path leads from experiment to the birth of a theory.
— Albert Einstein
The Sunday Times (18 Jul 1976)
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A theory is the more impressive the greater the simplicity of its premises is, the more different kinds of things it relates, and the more extended is its area of applicability. Therefore the deep impression which classical thermodynamics made upon me. It is the only physical theory of universal content concerning which I am convinced that within the framework of the applicability of its basic concepts, it will never be overthrown.
— Albert Einstein
Autobiographical Notes (1946), 33. Quoted in Gerald Holton and Yehuda Elkana, Albert Einstein: Historical and Cultural Perspectives (1997), 227.
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All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.
— Albert Einstein
'Moral Decay', Out of My Later Years (1937, 1995), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Freedom (39)  |  Science And Art (54)  |  Science And Religion (148)

All the fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no closer to answer the question, “What are light quanta?” Of course today every rascal thinks he knows the answer, but he is deluding himself.
— Albert Einstein
(1951). Quoted in Raymond W. Lam, Seasonal Affective Disorder and Beyond (1998), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Light (112)  |  Photon (6)  |  Thought (167)

Anyone who thinks science is trying to make human life easier or more pleasant is utterly mistaken.
— Albert Einstein
In 'Quotation Marks', New York Times (11 Oct 1931), XX2.
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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
Sidelights on Relativity (1920), 28.
Science quotes on:  |  Law (268)  |  Mathematics (353)

As for the search for truth, I know from my own painful searching, with its many blind alleys, how hard it is to take a reliable step, be it ever so small, towards the understanding of that which is truly significant.
— Albert Einstein
Letter to an interested layman (13 Feb 1934). In Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Albert Einstein: The Human Side: New Glipses From His Archives (1981), 18.
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But, on the other hand, every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.
— Albert Einstein
Letter (24 Jan 1936). Quoted in Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1981), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Universe (273)

By an application of the theory of relativity to the taste of readers, today in Germany I am called a German man of science, and in England I am represented as a Swiss Jew. If I come to be regarded as a bête noire the descriptions will be reversed, and I shall become a Swiss Jew for the Germans and a German man of science for the English!
— Albert Einstein
Times (28 Nov 1919). In Robert Andrews Famous Lines: a Columbia Dictionary of Familiar Quotations (1997), 414. Variations of this quote were made by Einstein on other occasions.
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Classical thermodynamics ... is the only physical theory of universal content which I am convinced ... will never be overthrown.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking (ed.), A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion (2007), 353.
Science quotes on:  |  Theory (345)  |  Thermodynamics (17)

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
— Albert Einstein
Attributed, no citation found, and probably not by Einstein. For example, it is found without citation in Albert Einstein, Jerry Mayer and John P. Holms, Bite-size Einstein (1996), 25. Listed under heading 'Probably Not by Einstein' by Alice Calaprice, The New Quotable Einstein (2005), 294. It is included here to link to this caution. If you know the primary source, please contact Webmaster.
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Culture in its higher forms is a delicate plant which depends on a complicated set of conditions and is wont to flourish only in a few places at any given time.
— Albert Einstein
The World as I See It (1959), 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Culture (42)

Development of Western science is based on two great achievements: the invention of the formal logical system (in Euclidean geometry) by the Greek philosophers, and the discovery of the possibility to find out causal relationships by systematic experiment (during the Renaissance). In my opinion, one has not to be astonished that the Chinese sages have not made these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all.
— Albert Einstein
Letter to J. S. Switzer, 23 Apr 1953, Einstein Archive 61-381. Quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), 180.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (116)  |  Enquiry (71)  |  Logic (129)

Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.
— Albert Einstein
In letter (7 Jan 1943) to Barbara Wilson, a junior high school student, who had difficulties in school with mathematics. In Einstein Archives, 42-606. Quoted in Alice Calaprice, Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein's Letters to and from Children (2002), 140.
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During his Zurich stay the woman doctor, Paulette Brubacher, asked the whereabouts of his [Einstein's] laboratory. With a smile he took a fountain pen out of his breast pocket and said: 'here'.
— Albert Einstein
C. Seelig, Albert Einstein: A Documentary Biography (1956), 154.

Each ray of light moves in the coordinate system 'at rest' with the definite, constant velocity V independent of whether this ray of light is emitted by a body at rest or a body in motion.
— Albert Einstein
Annalen der Physik, 1905, 17, 891-921. Trans. John Stachel et al (eds.), The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Vol. 2, (1989), Doc. 23, 143.
Science quotes on:  |  Relativity (31)  |  Speed Of Light (9)

Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is—insofar as it is thinkable at all—primitive and muddled.
— Albert Einstein
In Ralph Keyesr, The Quote Verifier, 51-52.
Science quotes on:  |  Epistemology (4)  |  Science (841)

Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Carl Seelig (ed.), Helle Zeit, Dunkle Zeit: In Memoriam Albert Einstein (1956), 71.
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Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
— Albert Einstein
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Theory (345)

Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do, but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.
Scribbled by Einstein on a letter received during a visit to England (1933) from a man who suggested that gravity meant that as the world rotated people were sometimes upside down, horizontal, or at 'left angles' and that perhaps, this disorientation explained why people do foolish things like falling in love.
— Albert Einstein
In Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffmann (editors.), Einstein: The Human Side (1981), 56.
Science quotes on:  |  Gravitation (9)  |  Love (62)  |  Stupidity (14)

For the rest of my life I will reflect on what light is.
— Albert Einstein
(1917). Quoted in Sidney Perkowitz, Empire of Light (1999), 69.
Science quotes on:  |  Light (112)  |  Thought (167)

From a certain temperature on, the molecules 'condense' without attractive forces; that is, they accumulate at zero velocity. The theory is pretty, but is there some truth in it.
— Albert Einstein
Letter to Ehrenfest (Dec 1924). Quoted in Abraham Pais, Roger Penrose, Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (2005), 432.
Science quotes on:  |  Theory (345)  |  Truth (437)

God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted, without citation, by Léopold Infeld in Quest (1942, 1980), 279. If you know the primary source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  God (225)  |  Integration (10)  |  Mathematics (353)

How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?
— Albert Einstein
From 'Geometry and Experience', an expanded form of an Address by Albert Einstein to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin (27 Jan 1921). In Albert Einstein, translated by G. B. Jeffery and W. Perrett, Sidelights on Relativity (1923).
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However, all scientific statements and laws have one characteristic in common: they are “true or false” (adequate or inadequate). Roughly speaking, our reaction to them is “yes” or “no.” The scientific way of thinking has a further characteristic. The concepts which it uses to build up its coherent systems are not expressing emotions. For the scientist, there is only “being,” but no wishing, no valuing, no good, no evil; no goal. As long as we remain within the realm of science proper, we can never meet with a sentence of the type: “Thou shalt not lie.” There is something like a Puritan's restraint in the scientist who seeks truth: he keeps away from everything voluntaristic or emotional.
— Albert Einstein
Essays in Physics (1950), 68.
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I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.
— Albert Einstein
Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931), 97.
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I have little patience with scientists who take a board of wood, look for its thinnest part and drill a great number of holes where drilling is easy.
— Albert Einstein
P. Frank in 'Einstein's Philosophy of Science', Reviews of Modern Physics (1949).
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (198)  |  Research (354)

I have second thoughts. Maybe God is malicious.
Told to Valentine Bargmann.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in J. Sayen, Einstein in America (1958), 51.
Science quotes on:  |  God (225)

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough. When visiting the U.S. from Germany for a winter academic stay.
— Albert Einstein
From interview aboard the liner Belgenland (Dec 1930).
Science quotes on:  |  Future (98)

I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was 'It won the fight!'
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in G. Wald, The Origin of Optical Activity (1957), 352-68.
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I was sitting in a chair in the patent office at Bern when all of a sudden a thought occurred to me: “If a person falls freely he will not feel his own weight.” I was startled. This simple thought made a deep impression on me. It impelled me toward a theory of gravitation.
— Albert Einstein
Lecture in Japan (1922). The quote is footnoted in Michael White, John Gribbin, Einstein: a Life in Science (1995), 128, saying the talk is known as the 'Kyoto address', reported in J. Ishiwara, Einstein Koen-Roku (1977).
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If a body releases the energy L in the form of radiation, its mass is decreased by L/V2.
(which is now expressed in the form E= MC2
E=energy, M=mass, C=velocity of light. Establishing this relationship of mass and energy marked the dawn of the atomic era.]

— Albert Einstein
Annalen der Physik, 1905, 18, 639-641. Quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), 165.

If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in The Observer (15 Jan 1950).
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (198)

If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances.
— Albert Einstein
According to Ralph Keyes, The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When (2006), 53, on other occasions Einstein said 'he might rather have been a musician, or light-house keeper'; however it is a 'popular misquotation' that refers to being a watchmaker.
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If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say I am a German and Germany will declare I am a Jew.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), 8.
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If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.
This is regarded as probably NOT a quote by Einstein.
— Albert Einstein
This is something Einstein most probably did NOT say! Since scholarly search for this quote has thus far found no reliable source for it, it must at least be classed as undetermined. Furthermore, since its first appearance is 40 years after his death, in dubious context for authenticity, it deserves to be regarded as spurious. See snopes.com article. It is added here to serve as a caution to the reader.
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If we consider that part of the theory of relativity which may nowadays in a sense be regarded as bone fide scientific knowledge, we note two aspects which have a major bearing on this theory. The whole development of the theory turns on the question of whether there are physically preferred states of motion in Nature (physical relativity problem). Also, concepts and distinctions are only admissible to the extent that observable facts can be assigned to them without ambiguity (stipulation that concepts and distinctions should have meaning). This postulate, pertaining to epistemology, proves to be of fundamental importance.
— Albert Einstein
'Fundamental ideas and problems of the theory of relativity', Lecture delivered to the Nordic Assembly of Naturalists at Gothenburg, 11 Jul 1923. In Nobel Physics 1901-1921 (1998), 482.
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If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.
On being reproached that his formula of gravitation was longer and more cumbersome than Newton's.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in J. H. Mitchell, Writing for Professional and Technical Journals (1968), Introduction.
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If you want to find out anything from the theoretical physicists about the methods they use, I advise you to stick closely to one principle: don't listen to their words, fix your attention on their deeds. To him who is a discoverer in this field the products of his imagination appear so necessary and natural that he regards them, and would like to have them regarded by others, not as creations of thought but as given realities.
— Albert Einstein
'On the Method of Theoretical Physics', quoted in Albert Einstein and Paul Arthur Schilpp (ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist (1970), 338.
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In the beginning (if there was such a thing), God created Newton’s laws of motion together with the necessary masses and forces. This is all; everything beyond this follows from the development of appropriate mathematical methods by means of deduction.
— Albert Einstein
Autobiographical Notes (1946), 19. In Albert Einstein, Alice Calaprice, Freeman Dyson , The Ultimate Quotable Einstein (2011), 397.
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In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fraulein Noether was the most significant mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.
— Albert Einstein
Letter, as an obituary, The New York Times (5 May 1935).
Science quotes on:  |  Emmy Noether (3)

In the temple of science are many mansions, and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them thither. Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, the assemblage would be seriously depleted, but there would still be some men, of both present and past times, left inside. Our Planck is one of them, and that is why we love him.
— Albert Einstein
Address (1918) for Max Planck's 60th birthday, at Physical Society, Berlin, 'Principles of Research' in Essays in Science (1934), 1.
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It follows from the theory of relativity that mass and energy are both different manifestations of the same thing—a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average man. Furthermore E=MC2, in which energy is put equal to mass multiplied with the square of the velocity of light, showed that a very small amount of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy... the mass and energy were in fact equivalent.
— Albert Einstein
As expressed in the Einstein film, produced by Nova Television (1979). Quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), 183.
Science quotes on:  |  Energy (101)

It is certainly true that principles cannot be more securely founded than on experience and consciously clear thinking.
— Albert Einstein
'The Goal' lecture at Princeton University (1939), quoted in Philipp Frank and George Rosen, Einstein (2002), 287.
Science quotes on:  |  Scientific Method (98)

It is not enough that you should understand about applied science in order that your work may increase man's blessings. Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavours... in order that the creations of our minds shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.
— Albert Einstein
Address to students of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California (16 Feb 1931). In New York Times (17 Feb 1931), p. 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Invention (165)

It is open to every man to choose the direction of his striving; and also every man may draw comfort from Lessing's fine saying, that the search for truth is more precious than its possession.
— Albert Einstein
From 'E=mc2', in Science Illustrated (Apr 1946). In Albert Einstein, The Einstein Reader (2006), 99.
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It is the theory which decides what we can observe.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations (1971), 77.
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It must be conceded that a theory has an important advantage if its basic concepts and fundamental hypotheses are 'close to experience,' and greater confidence in such a theory is certainly justified. There is less danger of going completely astray, particularly since it takes so much less time and effort to disprove such theories by experience. Yet more and more, as the depth of our knowledge increases, we must give up this advantage in our quest for logical simplicity in the foundations of physical theory...
— Albert Einstein
'On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation', Scientific American (Apr 1950), 13. In David H. Levy (Ed.), The Scientific American Book of the Cosmos (2000), 19.
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It stands to the everlasting credit of science that by acting on the human mind it has overcome man's insecurity before himself and before nature.
— Albert Einstein
Out of My Later Years (1995), 137.
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It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad taste, to select a few of them for boundless admiration, attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them. This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and achievements and the reality is simply grotesque.
— Albert Einstein
The World As I See It (2006), 40.
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It was my good fortune to be linked with Mme. Curie through twenty years of sublime and unclouded friendship. I came to admire her human grandeur to an ever growing degree. Her strength, her purity of will, her austerity toward herself, her objectivity, her incorruptible judgement— all these were of a kind seldom found joined in a single individual... The greatest scientific deed of her life—proving the existence of radioactive elements and isolating them—owes its accomplishment not merely to bold intuition but to a devotion and tenacity in execution under the most extreme hardships imaginable, such as the history of experimental science has not often witnessed.
— Albert Einstein
Out of My Later Years (1950), 227-8.
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It would be possible to describe absolutely everything scientifically, but it would make no sense. It would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.
— Albert Einstein
Attributed to Einstein by Frau Born. Paraphrased words as given in Ronald William Clark, Einstein (1984), 243.
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Man has an intense desire for assured knowledge.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in P. A. Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell (1971), Vol. 1, 285.
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Marie Curie is, of all celebrated beings, the only one whom fame has not corrupted.
— Albert Einstein
As quoted in Eve Curie, Madame Curie: a Biography by Eve Curie (1937), xi.
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Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.
Co-authored with Leopold Infeld (1898-1968), Polish physicist.
— Albert Einstein
The Evolution of Physics: The Growth of Ideas from the Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta (1938), 29.
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My internal and external life depend so much on the work of others that I must make an extreme effort to give as much as I receive.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted, without citation, in Floyd Merrell, Unthinking Thinking: Jorge Luis Borges, Mathematics, and the New Physics, 241. Webmaster has not found any other source for this quote, and cautions doubt about its authenticity. If you know a primary source, please contact Webmaster.
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My scientific work is motivated by an irresistible longing to understand the secrets of nature and by no other feeling. My love for justice and striving to contribute towards the improvement of human conditions are quite independent from my scientific interests.
— Albert Einstein
In Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Albert Einstein, the Human Side: New Glipses from his Archives (1971) 18. In Vladimir Burdyuzha, The Future of Life and the Future of Our Civilization (2006), 374.
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Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race.
— Albert Einstein
Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, The Human Side (1979), 38.
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No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
— Albert Einstein
Attributed to Einstein. Quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), 224.
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No path leads from a knowledge of that which is to that which should be.
— Albert Einstein
'The Goal' lecture at Princeton University (1939), quoted in Philipp Frank and George Rosen, Einstein (2002), 287.
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Nobody knows how the stand of our knowledge about the atom would be without him. Personally, [Niels] Bohr is one of the amiable colleagues I have met. He utters his opinions like one perpetually groping and never like one who believes himself to be in possession of the truth.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Bill Becker, 'Pioneer of the Atom', New York Times Sunday Magazine (20 Oct 1957), 52.
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One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires.
— Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein and Walter Shropshire (ed.), The Joys of Research (1981), 40.
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One scientific epoch ended and another began with James Clerk Maxwell.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Robyn Arianrhod, Einstein's Heroes: Imagining the World Through the Language of Mathematics (2005), 272.
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One should guard against preaching to the young man success in the customary sense as the aim in life. ... The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.
— Albert Einstein
'On Education', address at the State University of New York, Albany (15 Oct 1936) in celebration of the Tercentenary of Higher Education in America, translation prepared by Lina Arronet. In Albert Einstein, The Einstein Reader (2006), 30.
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One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike—and yet is the most precious thing we have.
— Albert Einstein
Banesh Hoffmann, Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1972), Frontispiece.
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Our Marie Curie. [Referring to Lise Meitner]
— Albert Einstein
Ruth Sime, Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics (1996), 74-5.
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People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
— Albert Einstein
Letter of condolence to Michele Besso's family (15 Mar 1955). InTabatha Yeatts, Albert Einstein (2007), 116.
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Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavour to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears its ticking, but he has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility or the meaning of such a comparison. But he certainly believes that, as his knowledge increases, his picture of reality will become simpler and simpler and will explain a wider and wider range of his sensuous impressions. He may also believe in the existence of the ideal limit of knowledge and that it is approached by the human mind. He may call this ideal limit the objective truth.
— Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics (1938), 33.
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Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that this is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not bring us any closer to the secrets of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He is not playing at dice.
— Albert Einstein
Letter to Max Born, 4 Dec 1926. The Born-Einstein Letters: Correspondence between Albert Einstein and Max and Hedwig Born from 1916-1955 (1971), 91.
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Raffiniert ist der Herr Gott, aber boshaft ist er nicht.
The Lord God is subtle, but malicious he is not.
Posted in the Einstein lounge at the Princeton Department of Mathematics Department. His own translation given to Derek Price was 'God is slick, but he ain't mean' (1946).
— Albert Einstein
Banesh Hoffmann, Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1972), 146.
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Scarcely anyone who comprehends this theory can escape its magic.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted, without citation, in Norman K. Glendenning, Our Place in the Universe (2007), 107. Webmaster has not found any other source for this quote, and cautions doubt about its authenticity. If you know a primary source, please contact Webmaster.
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Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it. One should earn one's living by work of which one is sure one is capable. Only when we do not have to be accountable to anybody can we find joy in scientific endeavor.
— Albert Einstein
Reply to a 24 Mar 1951 letter from a student uncertain whether to pursue astronomy, while not outstanding in mathematics. In Albert Einstein, Helen Dukas (ed.) and Banesh Hoffmann (ed.), Albert Einstein, The Human Side (1981), 57.
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Science is the attempt to make the chaotic diversity of our sense-experience correspond to a logically uniform system of thought.
— Albert Einstein
Out of my Later Years (1950, 1995), 98.
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Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.
— Albert Einstein
Comment made at 'Science, Philosophy and Religion' Symposium in New York (1941). In Out of my Later Years (1950, 1976), 26. Also in Ralph Keyesr, The Quote Verifier, 51.
Science quotes on:  |  Science And Religion (148)

Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the actions of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, ie by a wish addressed to a supernatural Being.
However, it must be admitted that our actual knowledge of these laws is only imperfect and fragmentary, so that, actually, the belief in the existence of basic all-embracing laws in Nature also rests on a sort of faith. All the same this faith has been largely justified so far by the success of scientific research.
— Albert Einstein
Letter (24 Jan 1936) replying to a a letter (19 Jan 1936) asking if scientists pray, from a child in the sixth grade in a Sunday School in New York City. In Albert Einstein, Helen Dukas (ed.) and Banesh Hoffmann (ed.), Albert Einstein, The Human Side (1981), 32-33.
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Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and impotnat source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. ...
This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable—though much less certain—that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat or exploded in a port, might well destroy the whole port altogether with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air.
— Albert Einstein
Letter to President Franklin P. Roosevelt, (2 Aug 1939, delivered 11 Oct 1939). In Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden (Eds.) Einstein on Peace (1960, reprinted 1981), 294-95.
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The aim of science is, on the one hand, as complete a comprehension as possible of the connection between perceptible experiences in their totality, and, on the other hand, the achievement of this aim by employing a minimum of primary concepts and relations.
— Albert Einstein
H. Cuny, Albert Einstein: The Man and his Theories (1963), 128.
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The best that Gauss has given us was likewise an exclusive production. If he had not created his geometry of surfaces, which served Riemann as a basis, it is scarcely conceivable that anyone else would have discovered it. I do not hesitate to confess that to a certain extent a similar pleasure may be found by absorbing ourselves in questions of pure geometry.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in G. Waldo Dunnington, Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science (2004), 350.
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The conflict that exists today is no more than an old-style struggle for power, once again presented to mankind in semireligious trappings. The difference is that, this time, the development of atomic power has imbued the struggle with a ghostly character; for both parties know and admit that, should the quarrel deteriorate into actual war, mankind is doomed.
— Albert Einstein
Address he was writing, left unfinished when he died (Apr 1955).
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The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest possible number of hypotheses or axioms.
— Albert Einstein
As quoted in Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein (1950), 110.
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The human mind has first to construct forms, independently, before we can find them in things.
— Albert Einstein
Essays in Science (1934), 27.
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The importance of C.F. Gauss for the development of modern physical theory and especially for the mathematical fundament of the theory of relativity is overwhelming indeed; also his achievement of the system of absolute measurement in the field of electromagnetism. In my opinion it is impossible to achieve a coherent objective picture of the world on the basis of concepts which are taken more or less from inner psychological experience.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in G. Waldo Dunnington, Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science (2004), 350.
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The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know why or how.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Forbes (15 Sep 1974). In Larry Chang, Wisdom for the Soul (2006), 179.
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The longing to behold this pre-established harmony [of phenomena and theoretical principles] is the source of the inexhaustible patience and perseverance with which Planck has devoted himself ... The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshiper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart.
— Albert Einstein
Address (1918) for Max Planck's 60th birthday, at Physical Society, Berlin, 'Principles of Research' in Essays in Science (1934), 4-5.
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The mere formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skills. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science
— Albert Einstein
In Larry Chang, Wisdom for the Soul (2006), 179.
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The mind can proceed only so far upon what it knows and can prove. There comes a point where the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap
— Albert Einstein
Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (1984), 755.
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The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious—the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.
— Albert Einstein
The World As I See It (2006), 7.
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The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
— Albert Einstein
'The World As I See It', Forum and Century Oct 1930), 84, 193-194. Albert Einstein and Carl Seelig. Ideas and Opinions, based on Mein Weltbild (1954), 11.
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The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
— Albert Einstein
Banesh Hoffmann, Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1972), 18.
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The most practical solution is a good theory.
— Albert Einstein
In Eberhard Zeidler, Applied Functional Analysis: main principles and their applications (1995), 1.
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The present theory of relativity is based on a division of physical reality into a metric field (gravitation) on the one hand and into an electromagnetic field and matter on the other hand. In reality space will probably be of a uniform character and the present theory will be valid only as a limiting case. For large densities of field and of matter, the field equations and even the field variables which enter into them will have no real significance. One may not therefore assume the validity of the equations for very high density of field and matter, and one may not conclude that the 'beginning of the expansion' must mean a singularity in the mathematical sense. All we have to realise is that the equations may not be continued over such regions.
— Albert Einstein
In O. Nathan and H. Norden (eds.), Einstein on Peace (1960), 640.
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The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them.
— Albert Einstein
Address (1918) for Max Planck's 60th birthday, at Physical Society, Berlin, 'Principles of Research' in Essays in Science (1934), 4.
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The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.
— Albert Einstein
Telegram (24 May 1946) sent to prominent Americans. Quoted in New York Times (25 May 1946). In Robert Andrews Famous Lines: a Columbia Dictionary of Familiar Quotations (1997), 340.
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The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
— Albert Einstein
Widely quoted, but without citation, for example in Eve Herold, George Daley, Stem Cell Wars (2007), 79. If you know a primary source, please contact Webmaster.
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There exists a passion for comprehension, just as there exists a passion for music. That passion is rather common in children but gets lost in most people later on. Without this passion, there would be neither mathematics nor natural science.
— Albert Einstein
'On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation', Scientific American (Apr 1950). In David H. Levy (Ed.), The Scientific American Book of the Cosmos (2000), 13.
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This change in the conception of reality is the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.
Refering to James Clerk Maxwell's contributions to physics.
— Albert Einstein
'Maxwell's Influence on the Development of the Conception of Physical Reality', James Clerk Maxwell: A Commemorative Volume 1831-1931 (1931), 71.
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To punish me for my contempt for authority, Fate made me an authority myself.
— Albert Einstein
Banesh Hoffmann, Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1972), 24.
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What a deep faith in the rationality of the structure of the world and what a longing to understand even a small glimpse of the reason revealed in the world there must have been in Kepler and Newton to enable them to unravel the mechanism of the heavens in long years of lonely work!
— Albert Einstein
'Religion and Science', The New York Times (9 Nov 1930), Sunday Magazine, 1.
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What I'm really interested in is whether God could have made the world in a different way; that is, whether the necessity of logical simplicity leaves any freedom at all.
Told to Ernst Straus.
— Albert Einstein
Quoted in Gerald Holton, The Scientific Imagination: Case Studies (1978), xii.
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While it is true that scientific results are entirely independent from religious and moral considerations, those individuals to whom we owe the great creative achievements of science were all of them imbued with the truly religious conviction that this universe of ours is something perfect and susceptible to the rational striving for knowledge. If this conviction had not been a strongly emotional one and if those searching for knowledge had not been inspired by Spinoza's Amor Dei Intellectualis, they would hardly have been capable of that untiring devotion which alone enables man to attain his greatest achievements.
— Albert Einstein
'Religion and Science: Irreconcilable?' In Ideas and Options (1954), 52.
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Why does this magnificent applied science which saves work and makes life easier bring us so little happiness? ... The simple answer runs: Because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it.'
— Albert Einstein
Address to students of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California (16 Feb 1931). In New York Times (17 Feb 1931), p. 6.
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You believe in the God who plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world that objectively exists.
— Albert Einstein
Letter to Max Born (7 Sep 1944). In Born-Einstein Letters, 146. Einstein Archives 8-207. In Albert Einstein, Alice Calaprice, Freeman Dyson, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein (2011), 393.
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You make experiments and I make theories. Do you know the difference? A theory is something nobody believes, except the person who made it. An experiment is something everybody believes, except the person who made it.
Remark to Hermann F. Mark.
— Albert Einstein
As related by Herman F. Mark to the author. Quoted in Gerald Holton, The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens, (1986), 13.
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[Ernest Rutherford is]...a second Newton.
— Albert Einstein
Weizmann
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[Misquotation; not by Einstein.] If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. [Apparently remorseful for his role in the development of the atom bomb.]
— Albert Einstein
Although often seen cited as “Attributed” New Statesman (16 Apr 1965), Ralph Keyes in The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When (2006), 53, states "Einstein said no such thing." See the similar quote about a plumber.
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[Misquotation; not by Einstein.] You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
— Albert Einstein
No evidence exists that this was ever said or written by Einstein, yet is often seen attribued to him, for example, in Rosemarie Jarski, Words from the Wise: Over 6,000 of the Smartest Things Ever Said (2007), 515. However, see a similar quote by Ernest Rutherford about explaining to a “barmaid.”
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[Misquotation? Probably not by Einstein.] We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.
— Albert Einstein
Webmaster doubts that this is a true Albert Einstein quote, having been unable to find it in any major collection of quotations (although it is seen widely quoted) and has been unable to find any source or citation elsewhere. The quote seems of the notable kind that, were it valid, it would have surely have been included in a major collection of Einstein quotes. Nor has it been found attributed to someone else. So, since it is impossible to prove a negative, Webmaster can only caution anyone using this quote that it seems to be an orphan. To provide this warning is the reason it is included here. Neither can it be found attributed to someone else. Otherwise, remember the words of Studs Terkel: “I like quoting Einstein. Know why? Because nobody dares contradict you.” in ‘Voice of America’, The Guardian (1 Mar 2002). If you have knowledge of a primary source, please contact the Webmaster.
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[Newton wrote to Halley … that he would not give Hooke any credit] That, alas, is vanity. You find it in so many scientists. You know, it has always hurt me to think that Galileo did not acknowledge the work of Kepler.
— Albert Einstein
In I. Bernard Cohen, 'An Interview with Einstein', in Anthony Philip French (ed.), Einstein: A Centenary Volume (1979), 41. Cited in Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way (2003), 94-95.
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Quotes by others about Albert Einstein (43)

In a notable family called Stein
There were Gertrude, and Ep, and then Ein.
Gert's writing was hazy,
Ep's statues were crazy,
And nobody understood Ein.
Out on a Limerick (1961), 76.
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In science, attempts at formulating hierarchies are always doomed to eventual failure. A Newton will always be followed by an Einstein, a Stahl by a Lavoisier; and who can say who will come after us? What the human mind has fabricated must be subject to all the changes—which are not progress—that the human mind must undergo. The 'last words' of the sciences are often replaced, more often forgotten. Science is a relentlessly dialectical process, though it suffers continuously under the necessary relativation of equally indispensable absolutes. It is, however, possible that the ever-growing intellectual and moral pollution of our scientific atmosphere will bring this process to a standstill. The immense library of ancient Alexandria was both symptom and cause of the ossification of the Greek intellect. Even now I know of some who feel that we know too much about the wrong things.
Voices in the Labyrinth: Nature, Man, and Science (1979), 46.
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[Regarding mathematics,] there are now few studies more generally recognized, for good reasons or bad, as profitable and praiseworthy. This may be true; indeed it is probable, since the sensational triumphs of Einstein, that stellar astronomy and atomic physics are the only sciences which stand higher in popular estimation.
In A Mathematician's Apology (1940, reprint with Foreward by C.P. Snow 1992), 63-64.
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I think a strong claim can be made that the process of scientific discovery may be regarded as a form of art. This is best seen in the theoretical aspects of Physical Science. The mathematical theorist builds up on certain assumptions and according to well understood logical rules, step by step, a stately edifice, while his imaginative power brings out clearly the hidden relations between its parts. A well constructed theory is in some respects undoubtedly an artistic production. A fine example is the famous Kinetic Theory of Maxwell. ... The theory of relativity by Einstein, quite apart from any question of its validity, cannot but be regarded as a magnificent work of art.
Responding to the toast, 'Science!' at the Royal Academy of the Arts in 1932.)
Quoted in Lawrence Badash, 'Ernest Rutherford and Theoretical Physics,' in Robert Kargon and Peter Achinstein (eds.) Kelvin's Baltimore Lectures and Modern Theoretical Physics: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives (1987), 352.
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What I remember most clearly was that when I put down a suggestion that seemed to me cogent and reasonable, Einstein did not in the least contest this, but he only said, 'Oh, how ugly.' As soon as an equation seemed to him to be ugly, he really rather lost interest in it and could not understand why somebody else was willing to spend much time on it. He was quite convinced that beauty was a guiding principle in the search for important results in theoretical physics.
quoted in Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics (1987)
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In the history of scientific development the personal aspects of the process are usually omitted or played down to emphasize that the thing discovered is independent of the discoverer and that the result can be checked. But, as Einstein has pointed out, scientific concepts are 'created in the minds of men,' and in some way the nonprofessional aspects of life and mind are inevitably related to the professional.
American Institute of Physics, Center for History of Physics Newsletter (Fall 2004).
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At the beginning of this debate Stephen [Hawking] said that he thinks that he is a positivist, whereas I am a Platonist. I am happy with him being a positivist, but I think that the crucial point here is, rather, that I am a realist. Also, if one compares this debate with the famous debate of Bohr and Einstein, some seventy years ago, I should think that Stephen plays the role of Bohr, whereas I play Einstein's role! For Einstein argued that there should exist something like a real world, not necessarily represented by a wave function, whereas Bohr stressed that the wave function doesn't describe a 'real' microworld but only 'knowledge' that is useful for making predictions.
Debate at the Isaac Newton Institute of the Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge University (1994), transcribed in Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time (1996), 134-135.
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Einstein ... always spoke to me of Rutherford in the highest terms, calling him a second Newton.
Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizman (1949), 118. Quoted in A Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford (2007), 65-66.
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As scientists the two men were contrasting types—Einstein all calculation, Rutherford all experiment ... There was no doubt that as an experimenter Rutherford was a genius, one of the greatest. He worked by intuition and everything he touched turned to gold. He had a sixth sense.
(Reminiscence comparing his friend, Ernest Rutherford, with Albert Einstein, whom he also knew.)
Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizman (1949), 118. Quoted in A Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford (2007), 65-66.
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They were very different men. Or boys. Someone said they were both like curious children—Einstein the merry boy, Rutherford the boisterous one. They were looking and working in different directions—Einstein looking outward, rather dreamily trying to discover where we came from, and Rutherford drilling deep to discover what we were.
A Force of Nature: The Frontier Genius of Ernest Rutherford (2007), 66.
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People complain that our generation has no philosophers. They are wrong. They now sit in another faculty. Their names are Max Planck and Albert Einstein.
Upon appointment as the first president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, Berlin, formed for the advancement of science (1911).
Quoted in Carl Seelig, Albert Einstein: A Documentary Biography (1956), 45.
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A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
Anonymous
In Lily Splane, Quantum Consciousness (2004), 307
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My view of the matter, for what it is worth, is that there is no such thing as a logical method of having new ideas, or a logical reconstruction of this process. My view may be expressed by saying that every discovery contains an 'irrational element,' or 'a creative intuition,' in Bergson's sense. In a similar way Einstein speaks of the 'search for those highly universal laws ... from which a picture of the world can be obtained by pure deduction. There is no logical path.' he says, 'leading to these ... laws. They can only be reached by intuition, based upon something like an intellectual love (Einfühlung) of the objects of experience.' (1959)
The Logic of Scientific Discovery: Logik Der Forschung (2002), 8.
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I believe in logic, the sequence of cause and effect, and in science its only begotten son our law, which was conceived by the ancient Greeks, thrived under Isaac Newton, suffered under Albert Einstein…
That fragment of a 'creed for materialism' which a friend in college had once shown him rose through Donald's confused mind.
Stand on Zanzibar (1969)
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After long reflection in solitude and meditation, I suddenly had the idea, during the year 1923, that the discovery made by Einstein in 1905 should be generalised by extending it to all material particles and notably to electrons.
Preface to his re-edited 1924 Ph.D. Thesis, Recherches sur la théorie des quanta (1963), 4. In Steve Adams, Frontiers (2000), 13.
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Einstein uses his concept of God more often than a Catholic priest. Once I asked him:
'Tomorrow is Sunday. Do you want me to come to you, so we can work?'
'Why not?'
'Because I thought perhaps you would like to rest on Sunday.'
Einstein settled the question by saying with a loud laugh: 'God does not rest on Sunday either.'
Quest: The Evolution of a Scientist (1941), 247.
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Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behavior of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that space was not an absolute but depended on the observer's movement in space, and that time was not an absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observer's movement in restaurants.
Life, the Universe and Everything (1982, 1995), 47.
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The world has changed far more in the past 100 years than in any other century in history. The reason is not political or economic but technological—technologies that flowed directly from advances in basic science. Clearly, no scientist better represents those advances than Albert Einstein: TIME's Person of the Century.
'A Brief History of Relativity'. Time (31 Dec 1999).
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Walking the streets of Tokyo with Hawking in his wheelchair ... I felt as if I were taking a walk through Galilee with Jesus Christ [as] crowds of Japanese silently streamed after us, stretching out their hands to touch Hawking's wheelchair. ... The crowds had streamed after Einstein [on Einstein's visit to Japan in 1922] as they streamed after Hawking seventy years later. ... They showed exquisite choice in their heroes. ... Somehow they understood that Einstein and Hawking were not just great scientists, but great human beings.
Foreward to Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), xiii-xiv.
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Einstein’s 1905 paper came out and suddenly changed people’s thinking about space-time. We’re again [2007] in the middle of something like that. When the dust settles, time—whatever it may be—could turn out to be even stranger and more illusory than even Einstein could imagine.
Quoted by Tim Folger in 'Newsflash: Time May Not Exist', Discover Magazine (Jun 2007).
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Governments are trying to achieve unanimity by stifling any scientist who disagrees. Einstein could not have got funding under the present system.
Quoted in Tom Harper, 'Scientists threatened for "climate denial",' The Telegraph (11 Mar 2007).
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But, contrary to the lady's prejudices about the engineering profession, the fact is that quite some time ago the tables were turned between theory and applications in the physical sciences. Since World War II the discoveries that have changed the world are not made so much in lofty halls of theoretical physics as in the less-noticed labs of engineering and experimental physics. The roles of pure and applied science have been reversed; they are no longer what they were in the golden age of physics, in the age of Einstein, Schrödinger, Fermi and Dirac.
'The Age of Computing: a Personal Memoir', Daedalus (1992), 121, 120.
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Einstein was a giant. His head was in the clouds, but his feet were on the ground. Those of us who are not so tall have to choose!
Spoken at a seminar, as quoted by Carver A. Mead, Collective Electrodynamics: Quantum Foundations of Electromagnetism (2002), xix.
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Why do the laws that govern [the universe] seem constant in time? One can imagine a Universe in which laws are not truly law-full. Talk of miracle does just this, invoking God to make things work. Physics aims to find the laws instead, and hopes that they will be uniquely constrained, as when Einstein wondered whether God had any choice when He made the Universe.
Gregory Benford, in John Brockman, What We Believe But Cannot Prove. In Clifford A. Pickover, Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them (2008), 182-183.
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The very closest stars would require many years to visit, even traveling at the speed of light, which is impossible according to Einstein's theory of relativity. Today's fastest spaceships would require 200,000 years to travel to Alpha Centauri, our closest bright star. The energy required to send a hundred colonists to another star, as Frank Drake has pointed out, would be enough to meet the energy needs of the entire United States over a human lifetime. And these estimates are regarding nearby stars. When we consider the distances across the entire galaxy, and between galaxies, interstellar travel seems absolutely untenable.
[Co-author with his son, Marshall Fisher]
Strangers in the Night: a Brief History of Life on Other Worlds (1998).
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[As a science hobbyist, hoping to become famous someday, Artie Pinsetter (Lou Costello):] They also laughed at Einstein and his theory of relativity. Now everyone has relatives.
From movie The 30-foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959). Writers, Rowland Barber and Arthur A. Ross. In Larry Langman and Paul Gold, Comedy Quotes from the Movies (2001), 289. This movie, (with its rare appearance of Costello without Bud Abott, his usual comedy partner), was released later in the year of Costello's death.
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When I hear to-day protests against the Bolshevism of modern science and regrets for the old-established order, I am inclined to think that Rutherford, not Einstein, is the real villain of the piece. When we compare the universe as it is now supposed to be with the universe as we had ordinarily preconceived it, the most arresting change is not the rearrangement of space and time by Einstein but the dissolution of all that we regard as most solid into tiny specks floating in void. That gives an abrupt jar to those who think that things are more or less what they seem. The revelation by modern physics of the void within the atom is more disturbing than the revelation by astronomy of the immense void of interstellar space.
In The Nature of the Physical World (1928, 2005), 1.
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The layman, taught to revere scientists for their absolute respect for the observed facts, and for the judiciously detached and purely provisional manner in which they hold scientific theories (always ready to abandon a theory at the sight of any contradictory evidence) might well have thought that, at [Dayton C.] Miller's announcement of this overwhelming evidence of a “positive effect” [indicating that the speed of light is not independent from the motion of the observer, as Einstein's theory of relativity demands] in his presidential address to the American Physical Society on December 29th, 1925, his audience would have instantly abandoned the theory of relativity. Or, at the very least, that scientists—wont to look down from the pinnacle of their intellectual humility upon the rest of dogmatic mankind—might suspend judgment in this matter until Miller's results could be accounted for without impairing the theory of relativity. But no: by that time they had so well closed their minds to any suggestion which threatened the new rationality achieved by Einstein's world-picture, that it was almost impossible for them to think again in different terms. Little attention was paid to the experiments, the evidence being set aside in the hope that it would one day turn out to be wrong.
Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy (1958, 1998), 13. Miller had earlier presented his evidence against the validity of the relativity theory at the annual meeting, 28 Apr 1925, of the National Academy of Sciences. Miller believed he had, by a much-refined and improved repetition of the so-called Michelson-Morley experiment, shown that there is a definite and measurable motion of the earth through the ether. In 1955, a paper by R.S. Shankland, et al., in Rev. Modern Phys. (1955), 27, 167, concluded that statistical fluctuations and temperature effects in the data had simulated what Miller had taken to be he apparent ether drift.
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It appears that the solution of the problem of time and space is reserved to philosophers who, like Leibniz, are mathematicians, or to mathematicians who, like Einstein, are philosophers.
Collected in Paul Arthur Schilpp (ed.), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist (1959), Vol. 1, 307. Also, in James Louis Jarrett and Sterling M. McMurrin (eds.), Contemporary Philosophy: A Book of Readings (1954), 71.
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Much later, when I discussed the problem with Einstein, he remarked that the introduction of the cosmological term was the biggest blunder he ever made in his life. But this “blunder,” rejected by Einstein, is still sometimes used by cosmologists even today, and the cosmological constant denoted by the Greek letter Λ rears its ugly head again and again and again.
My World Line (1970). Cited in Edward Robert Harrison, Cosmology: the Science of the Universe (2000), 379, which adds: “The Λ force is referred to by various names, such as the cosmological constant, cosmological term, cosmical constant or cosmical term.”
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Facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome.
'Evolution as Fact and Theory', in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983, 1994), Chap. 19.
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One day at Fenner's (the university cricket ground at Cambridge), just before the last war, G. H. Hardy and I were talking about Einstein. Hardy had met him several times, and I had recently returned from visiting him. Hardy was saying that in his lifetime there had only been two men in the world, in all the fields of human achievement, science, literature, politics, anything you like, who qualified for the Bradman class. For those not familiar with cricket, or with Hardy's personal idiom, I ought to mention that “the Bradman class” denoted the highest kind of excellence: it would include Shakespeare, Tolstoi, Newton, Archimedes, and maybe a dozen others. Well, said Hardy, there had only been two additions in his lifetime. One was Lenin and the other Einstein.
Variety of Men (1966), 87.
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Einstein, twenty-six years old, only three years away from crude privation, still a patent examiner, published in the Annalen der Physik in 1905 five papers on entirely different subjects. Three of them were among the greatest in the history of physics. One, very simple, gave the quantum explanation of the photoelectric effect—it was this work for which, sixteen years later, he was awarded the Nobel prize. Another dealt with the phenomenon of Brownian motion, the apparently erratic movement of tiny particles suspended in a liquid: Einstein showed that these movements satisfied a clear statistical law. This was like a conjuring trick, easy when explained: before it, decent scientists could still doubt the concrete existence of atoms and molecules: this paper was as near to a direct proof of their concreteness as a theoretician could give. The third paper was the special eory of relativity, which quietly amalgamated space, time, and matter into one fundamental unity. This last paper contains no references and quotes no authority. All of them are written in a style unlike any other theoretical physicist's. They contain very little mathematics. There is a good deal of verbal commentary. The conclusions, the bizarre conclusions, emerge as though with the greatest of ease: the reasoning is unbreakable. It looks as though he had reached the conclusions by pure thought, unaided, without listening to the opinions of others. To a surprisingly large extent, that is precisely what he had done.
Variety of Men (1966), 100-1.
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It did not last: the Devil howling 'Ho, Let Einstein be,' restored the status quo.
[Refer to earlier lines by Alexander Pope on Isaac Newton]
'In Continuation of Pope on Newton', in J. C. Squire, Poems in One Volume (1926), 218.
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I have read various articles on the fourth dimension, the relativity theory of Einstein, and other psychological speculation on the constitution of the universe; and after reading them I feel as Senator Brandegee felt after a celebrated dinner in Washington. "I feel," he said, "as if I had been wandering with Alice in Wonderland and had tea with the Mad Hatter."
Quoted in Michio Kaku, Einstein's Cosmos: How Albert Einstein's vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time (2005), 118-119. [Note:Brandegee's original remark was in the context of politics after a White House conference with President Wilson (Feb 1917), and unrelated to Einstein's theory.]
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The supposed astronomical proofs of the theory [of relativity], as cited and claimed by Einstein, do not exist. He is a confusionist. The Einstein theory is a fallacy. The theory that ether does not exist, and that gravity is not a force but a property of space can only be described as a crazy vagary, a disgrace to our age.
Quoted in Elizabeth Dilling, A "Who's Who" and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots (1934), 49.
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Yet as I cast my eye over the whole course of science I behold instances of false science, even more pretentious and popular than that of Einstein gradually fading into ineptitude under the searchlight; and I have no doubt that there will arise a new generation who will look with a wonder and amazement, deeper than now accompany Einstein, at our galaxy of thinkers, men of science, popular critics, authoritative professors and witty dramatists, who have been satisfied to waive their common sense in view of Einstein's absurdities.
In Elizabeth Dilling, A "Who's Who" and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots (1934), 49.
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There is a reward structure in science that is very interesting: Our highest honors go to those who disprove the findings of the most revered among us. So Einstein is revered not just because he made so many fundamental contributions to science, but because he found an imperfection in the fundamental contribution of Isaac Newton.
In 'Wonder and Skepticism', Skeptical Enquirer (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1.
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Science has taught us to think the unthinkable. Because when nature is the guide—rather than a priori prejudices, hopes, fears or desires—we are forced out of our comfort zone. One by one, pillars of classical logic have fallen by the wayside as science progressed in the 20th century, from Einstein's realization that measurements of space and time were not absolute but observer-dependent, to quantum mechanics, which not only put fundamental limits on what we can empirically know but also demonstrated that elementary particles and the atoms they form are doing a million seemingly impossible things at once.
In op-ed, 'A Universe Without Purpose', Los Angeles Times (1 Apr 2012).
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Einstein was wrong when he said, 'God does not play dice'. Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen.
In The Nature Of Space And Time (1996, 2010), 26.
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What has been learned in physics stays learned. People talk about scientific revolutions. The social and political connotations of revolution evoke a picture of a body of doctrine being rejected, to be replaced by another equally vulnerable to refutation. It is not like that at all. The history of physics has seen profound changes indeed in the way that physicists have thought about fundamental questions. But each change was a widening of vision, an accession of insight and understanding. The introduction, one might say the recognition, by man (led by Einstein) of relativity in the first decade of this century and the formulation of quantum mechanics in the third decade are such landmarks. The only intellectual casualty attending the discovery of quantum mechanics was the unmourned demise of the patchwork quantum theory with which certain experimental facts had been stubbornly refusing to agree. As a scientist, or as any thinking person with curiosity about the basic workings of nature, the reaction to quantum mechanics would have to be: “Ah! So that’s the way it really is!” There is no good analogy to the advent of quantum mechanics, but if a political-social analogy is to be made, it is not a revolution but the discovery of the New World.
From Physics Survey Committee, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, 'The Nature of Physics', in report Physics in Perspective (1973), 61-62. As cited in I. Bernard Cohen, Revolution in Science (1985), 554-555.
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The highest court is in the end one’s own conscience and conviction—that goes for you and for Einstein and every other physicist—and before any science there is first of all belief. For me, it is belief in a complete lawfulness in everything that happens.
Letter from Planck to Niels Bohr (19 Oct 1930). As cited in J. L. Heilbron, The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck As Spokesman for German Science (1987), 143.
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Scientists come in two varieties, hedgehogs and foxes. I borrow this terminology from Isaiah Berlin (1953), who borrowed it from the ancient Greek poet Archilochus. Archilochus told us that foxes know many tricks, hedgehogs only one. Foxes are broad, hedgehogs are deep. Foxes are interested in everything and move easily from one problem to another. Hedgehogs are only interested in a few problems that they consider fundamental, and stick with the same problems for years or decades. Most of the great discoveries are made by hedgehogs, most of the little discoveries by foxes. Science needs both hedgehogs and foxes for its healthy growth, hedgehogs to dig deep into the nature of things, foxes to explore the complicated details of our marvelous universe. Albert Einstein and Edwin Hubble were hedgehogs. Charley Townes, who invented the laser, and Enrico Fermi, who built the first nuclear reactor in Chicago, were foxes.
In 'The Future of Biotechnology', A Many-Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe (2007), 1.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 90 -
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- 80 -
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
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- 40 -
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- 20 -
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