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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > Fritjof Capra Quotes

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Fritjof Capra
(1 Feb 1939 - )

Austrian-American physicist and systems scientist , who wrote The Tao of Physics (1975), and other popular books on the implications of science.

Science Quotes by Fritjof Capra (18 quotes)

A careful analysis of the process of observation in atomic physics has shown that the subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment and the subsequent measurement.
— Fritjof Capra
The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics (1975), 68.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (123)  |  Atomic Physics (6)  |  Care (73)  |  Entity (23)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Interconnection (7)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Observation (418)  |  Particle (90)  |  Preparation (33)  |  Process (201)  |  Subatomic (6)  |  Subsequent (11)  |  Understanding (317)

A page from a journal of modern experimental physics will be as mysterious to the uninitiated as a Tibetan mandala. Both are records of enquiries into the nature of the universe.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 36.
Science quotes on:  |  Enquiry (75)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Journal (13)  |  Modern Physics (12)  |  Mystery (125)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Page (18)  |  Record (56)  |  Tibet (2)  |  Universe (563)

Both the physicist and the mystic want to communicate their knowledge, and when they do so with words their statements are paradoxical and full of logical contradictions.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 46.
Science quotes on:  |  Communication (58)  |  Contradiction (44)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Logic (187)  |  Mystic (10)  |  Paradoxical (3)  |  Physicist (130)  |  Statement (56)  |  Word (221)

By blending water and minerals from below with sunlight and CO2 from above, green plants link the earth to the sky. We tend to believe that plants grow out of the soil, but in fact most of their substance comes from the air. The bulk of the cellulose and the other organic compounds produced through photosynthesis consists of heavy carbon and oxygen atoms, which plants take directly from the air in the form of CO2. Thus the weight of a wooden log comes almost entirely from the air. When we burn a log in a fireplace, oxygen and carbon combine once more into CO2, and in the light and heat of the fire we recover part of the solar energy that went into making the wood.
— Fritjof Capra
The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems (1997), 178.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (151)  |  Burning (17)  |  Carbon Dioxide (20)  |  Cellulose (3)  |  Earth (487)  |  Energy (185)  |  Fireplace (2)  |  Heat (90)  |  Link (29)  |  Log (4)  |  Mineral (37)  |  Photosynthesis (15)  |  Plant (173)  |  Respiration (12)  |  Sky (68)  |  Soil (51)  |  Solar Energy (17)  |  Sunlight (14)  |  Water (244)  |  Wood (33)

If physics leads us today to a world view which is essentially mystical, it returns, in a way, to its beginning, 2,500 years ago. ... This time, however, it is not only based on intuition, but also on experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (114)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Formalism (5)  |  Intuition (39)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Mysticism (5)  |  Physics (301)  |  Precision (38)  |  Rigor (12)  |  Sophistication (8)  |  View (115)  |  World (667)

Mystics understand the roots of the Tao but not its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots. Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 306.
Science quotes on:  |  Branch (61)  |  Man (345)  |  Mystic (10)  |  Need (211)  |  Root (48)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Tao (2)  |  Understanding (317)

Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated “building blocks,” but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitute the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object’s interaction with the observer.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 68.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (77)  |  Atom (251)  |  Basic (52)  |  Building Block (4)  |  Complication (20)  |  Decomposition (12)  |  Essential (87)  |  Independence (32)  |  Interaction (28)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Matter (270)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Observer (33)  |  Oneness (3)  |  Part (146)  |  Penetration (13)  |  Process (201)  |  Property (96)  |  Quantum Theory (55)  |  Relation (96)  |  Revelation (29)  |  Show (55)  |  Small (97)  |  Unit (25)  |  Universe (563)  |  Web (11)  |  Whole (122)

Scientists, therefore, are responsible for their research, not only intellectually but also morally. This responsibility has become an important issue in many of today's sciences, but especially so in physics, in which the results of quantum mechanics and relativity theory have opened up two very different paths for physicists to pursue. They may lead us—to put it in extreme terms—to the Buddha or to the Bomb, and it is up to each of us to decide which path to take.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture (1983), 87.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Bomb (101)  |  Buddha_Gautama (2)  |  Decision (58)  |  Difference (208)  |  Especially (18)  |  Extreme (36)  |  Importance (183)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Issue (37)  |  Moral (100)  |  Path (59)  |  Physics (301)  |  Pursuit (55)  |  Quantum Theory (55)  |  Relativity (50)  |  Research (517)  |  Responsibility (47)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Term (87)  |  Theory (582)  |  Today (86)

Subatomic particles do not exist but rather show “tendencies to exist”, and atomic events do not occur with certainty at definite times and in definite ways, but rather show “tendencies to occur”.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 133.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (251)  |  Certainty (97)  |  Definite (27)  |  Event (97)  |  Existence (254)  |  Occurrence (30)  |  Particle (90)  |  Show (55)  |  Subatomic (6)  |  Tendency (40)  |  Time (439)  |  Way (36)

Subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment and the subsequent measurement.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 68.
Science quotes on:  |  Entity (23)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Interconnection (7)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Measurement (148)  |  Particle (90)  |  Preparation (33)  |  Subatomic (6)  |  Subsequent (11)  |  Understanding (317)

The influence of modern physics goes beyond technology. It extends to the realm of thought and culture where it has led to a deep revision in man’s conception of the universe and his relation to it
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Conception (63)  |  Culture (85)  |  Influence (110)  |  Modern Physics (12)  |  Realm (40)  |  Relationship (59)  |  Revision (4)  |  Technology (199)  |  Thought (374)  |  Universe (563)

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
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 132.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (41)  |  Atom (251)  |  Consistency (21)  |  Countless (13)  |  Description (72)  |  Framework (15)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Metaphysics (30)  |  Model (64)  |  On The Other Hand (16)  |  Pass (60)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Quantum Theory (55)  |  Success (202)  |  Test (96)  |  Universal (70)

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 physics, 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
In The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics (1975), 132.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (41)  |  Accurate (21)  |  Atomic (3)  |  Clear (52)  |  Consistency (21)  |  Countless (13)  |  Description (72)  |  Fact (609)  |  Forty (2)  |  Framework (15)  |  Ground (63)  |  Interpretation (61)  |  Less (54)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Metaphysics (30)  |  Model (64)  |  Pass (60)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Physicist (130)  |  Physics (301)  |  Providing (5)  |  Quantum Theory (55)  |  Solid (34)  |  Successful (20)  |  Test (96)  |  Universal (70)  |  Verbal (5)  |  Year (214)

The mystic and the physicist arrive at the same conclusion; one starting from the inner realm, the other from the outer world. The harmony between their views confirms the ancient Indian wisdom that Brahman, the ultimate reality without, is identical to Atman, the reality within.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 305.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancient (68)  |  Arrival (7)  |  Brahman (2)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Confirmation (15)  |  Harmony (55)  |  Identical (17)  |  Indian (17)  |  Inner (27)  |  Mystic (10)  |  Outer (7)  |  Physicist (130)  |  Reality (140)  |  Realm (40)  |  Start (68)  |  Ultimate (61)  |  View (115)  |  Wisdom (151)  |  Within (6)  |  Without (13)  |  World (667)

The phenomenon of emergence takes place at critical points of instability that arise from fluctuations in the environment, amplified by feedback loops. Emergence results in the creation of novelty, and this novelty is often qualitatively different from the phenomenon out of which it emerged.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Hidden Connections (2002), 116-117.
Science quotes on:  |  Amplification (3)  |  Creation (211)  |  Critical (34)  |  Critical Point (2)  |  Difference (208)  |  Emergence (21)  |  Environment (138)  |  Feedback (8)  |  Fluctuation (7)  |  Instability (3)  |  Loop (4)  |  Novelty (19)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Point (72)  |  Qualitative (12)

This spontaneous emergence of order at critical points of instability, which is often referred to simply as “emergence,” is one of the hallmarks of life. It has been recognized as the dynamic origin of development, learning, and evolution. In other words, creativity—the generation of new forms—is a key property of all living systems.
— Fritjof Capra
From 'Complexity and Life', in Fritjof Capra, Alicia Juarrero, Pedro Sotolongo (eds.) Reframing Complexity: Perspectives From the North and South (2007), 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Creativity (66)  |  Critical (34)  |  Critical Point (2)  |  Development (228)  |  Dynamic (11)  |  Emergence (21)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Form (210)  |  Generation (111)  |  Hallmark (4)  |  Instability (3)  |  Key (38)  |  Learning (174)  |  Life (917)  |  Origin (77)  |  Point (72)  |  Property (96)  |  Recognition (62)  |  Spontaneity (4)  |  System (141)

When carbon (C), Oxygen (o) and hydrogen (H) atoms bond in a certain way to form sugar, the resulting compound has a sweet taste. The sweetness resides neither in the C, nor in the O, nor in the H; it resides in the pattern that emerges from their interaction. It is an emergent property. Moreover, strictly speaking, is not a property of the chemical bonds. It is a sensory experience that arises when the sugar molecules interact with the chemistry of our taste buds, which in turns causes a set of neurons to fire in a certain way. The experience of sweetness emerges from that neural activity.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Hidden Connections (2002), 116-117.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (97)  |  Carbon (48)  |  Chemical Bond (5)  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Compound (53)  |  Emergence (21)  |  Experience (268)  |  Hydrogen (37)  |  Interaction (28)  |  Molecule (125)  |  Neuron (9)  |  Oxygen (49)  |  Pattern (56)  |  Reside (8)  |  Result (250)  |  Sense (240)  |  Sugar (13)  |  Sweetness (8)  |  Taste (35)

Whenever the essential nature of things is analysed by the intellect, it must seem absurd or paradoxical. This has always been recognized by the mystics, but has become a problem in science only very recently.
— Fritjof Capra
In The Tao of Physics (1975), 50.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurdity (16)  |  Analysis (123)  |  Essential (87)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Paradox (35)  |  Problem (362)  |  Recent (23)  |  Recognition (62)  |  Science (1699)


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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- 40 -
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