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Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index E > Albert Einstein Quotes > Law

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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.



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. In this methodological uncertainty, one might suppose that there were any number of possible systems of theoretical physics all equally well justified; and this opinion is no doubt correct, theoretically. But the development of physics has shown that at any given moment, out of all conceivable constructions, a single one has always proved itself decidedly superior to all the rest.
— Albert Einstein
Address (1918) for Max Planck's 60th birthday, at Physical Society, Berlin, 'Principles of Research' in Essays in Science (1934), 4.
Science quotes on:  |  Cosmos (31)  |  Deduction (47)  |  Elementary (23)  |  Experience (208)  |  Intuition (33)  |  Law (366)  |  Logic (169)  |  Path (44)  |  Physicist (108)  |  Supreme (15)  |  Task (52)  |  Understanding (309)

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 (366)  |  Mathematics (525)

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 (433)

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.
Science quotes on:  |  Adequate (12)  |  Characteristic (57)  |  Concept (66)  |  Emotion (42)  |  Evil (51)  |  False (56)  |  Goal (59)  |  Good (150)  |  Inadequate (7)  |  Law (366)  |  Lie (37)  |  Puritan (3)  |  Restraint (7)  |  Statement (39)  |  Thinking (220)  |  True (62)  |  Truth (645)  |  Value (119)  |  Wish (40)

In my opinion there is no other salvation for civilization and even for the human race than the creation of a world government with security on the basis of law. As long as there are sovereign states with their separate armaments and armament secrets, new world wars cannot be avoided.
— Albert Einstein
Interview comment reported in 'For a World Government: Einstein Says This is Only Way to Save Mankind', New York Times (15 Sep 1945), 11.
Science quotes on:  |  Armament (3)  |  Avoidance (9)  |  Basis (42)  |  Civilization (136)  |  Creation (191)  |  Government (71)  |  Human Race (38)  |  Law (366)  |  New (241)  |  Opinion (124)  |  Salvation (2)  |  Secret (80)  |  Security (20)  |  Sovereign (2)  |  State (60)  |  War (114)  |  World (479)  |  World War II (7)

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.
Science quotes on:  |  Appropriate (10)  |  Beginning (108)  |  Beyond (35)  |  Deduction (47)  |  Development (191)  |  Everything (64)  |  Following (16)  |  Force (134)  |  God (315)  |  Laws Of Motion (3)  |  Mass (49)  |  Mathematics (525)  |  Means (54)  |  Method (122)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (235)

It has often been said, and certainly not without justification, that the man of science is a poor philosopher. Why then should it not be the right thing for the physicist to let the philosopher do the philosophising? Such might indeed be the right thing to do a time when the physicist believes he has at his disposal a rigid system of fundamental laws which are so well that waves of doubt can't reach them; but it cannot be right at a time when the very foundations of physics itself have become problematic as they are now … when experience forces us to seek a newer and more solid foundation.
— Albert Einstein
‘Physics and Reality’, Franklin Institute Journal (Mar 1936). Collected in Out of My Later Years (1950), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  Justification (30)  |  Man Of Science (25)  |  Philosopher (109)  |  Poor (29)

Our experience up to date justifies us in feeling sure that in Nature is actualized the ideal of mathematical simplicity. It is my conviction that pure mathematical construction enables us to discover the concepts and the laws connecting them, which gives us the key to understanding nature… In a certain sense, therefore, I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed.
— Albert Einstein
In Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford (10 Jun 1933), 'On the Methods of Theoretical Physics'. Printed in Discovery (Jul 1933), 14, 227. Also quoted in Stefano Zambelli and ‎Donald A. R. George, Nonlinearity, Complexity and Randomness in Economics (2012).
Science quotes on:  |  Ancient (56)  |  Concept (66)  |  Connection (71)  |  Construction (60)  |  Conviction (42)  |  Discovery (530)  |  Dream (64)  |  Enabling (7)  |  Experience (208)  |  Feeling (74)  |  Grasp (27)  |  Ideal (36)  |  Justification (30)  |  Key (31)  |  Law (366)  |  Mathematics (525)  |  Nature (832)  |  Pure (38)  |  Reality (98)  |  Simplicity (118)  |  Thought (280)  |  Truth (645)  |  Understanding (309)

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. One seeks the most general ideas of operation which will bring together in simple, logical and unified form the largest possible circle of formal relationships. In this effort toward logical beauty spiritual formulas are discovered necessary for the deeper penetration into the laws of nature.
— Albert Einstein
In letter (1 May 1935), Letters to the Editor, 'The Late Emmy Noether: Professor Einstein Writes in Appreciation of a Fellow-Mathematician', New York Times (4 May 1935), 12.
Science quotes on:  |  Beauty (141)  |  Deep (39)  |  Discovery (530)  |  Formula (43)  |  Idea (373)  |  Law Of Nature (48)  |  Logic (169)  |  Necessity (112)  |  Penetration (12)  |  Poetry (86)  |  Pure Mathematics (26)  |  Seeking (30)  |  Spirit (87)

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, i.e. 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.
Science quotes on:  |  Research (441)  |  Science And Religion (241)

There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.
— Albert Einstein
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (69)  |  Discovery (530)  |  Feeling (74)  |  Help (44)  |  Intuition (33)  |  Logic (169)  |  Natural Law (22)  |  Order (110)

You believe in the God who plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world that objectively exists, and which I, in a wildly speculative way, am trying to capture. … Even the great initial success of the quantum theory does not make me believe in the fundamental dice-game, although I am well aware that our younger colleagues interpret this as a consequence of senility. No doubt the day will come when we will see whose instinctive attitude was the correct one.
— 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.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (279)  |  Completion (14)  |  Dice (10)  |  Existence (207)  |  God (315)  |  Law (366)  |  Objective (32)  |  Order (110)  |  World (479)


See also:
  • 14 Mar - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Einstein's birth.
  • Albert Einstein - My Theory - The Times (1919).
  • Geometry and Experience - Address by Albert Einstein to the Prussian Academy of Sciences (27 Jan 1921).
  • Even Einstein's Little Universe Is Big Enough - New York Times article (2 Feb 1921).
  • Large color picture of Albert Einstein (850 x 1000 px).
  • Albert Einstein - Context of “God … integrates empirically” quote - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - Context of “Laws of mathematics refer to reality” quote
  • Albert Einstein - Context of “Laws of mathematics refer to reality” quote - with Large image (800 x 600 px).
  • Albert Einstein - Context of “God … integrates empirically” quote - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Mathematics…a product of human thought - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Mathematics…a product of human thought - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Politics is more difficult than physics” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Politics is more difficult than physics” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote The Lord God is subtle - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote The Lord God is subtle - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Imagination is more important than knowledge - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Imagination is more important than knowledge - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote A theory can be proved by experiment - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote A theory can be proved by experiment - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote That is relativity - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote That is relativity - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “One thing I have learned in a long life” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote One thing I have learned in a long life - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Why is the electron negative?” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Why is the electron negative?” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “The formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “The formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Our exalted technological progress” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “Our exalted technological progress” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “There exists a passion for comprehension” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “There exists a passion for comprehension” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “An equation is for eternity” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Albert Einstein - context of quote “An equation is for eternity” - Large image (800 x 600 px)
  • Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein, by Abraham Pais. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Albert Einstein.

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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