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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index E > Albert Einstein Quotes > Nature

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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.



How insidious Nature is when one is trying to get at it experimentally.
— Albert Einstein
Letter to Michele Besso (15 Feb 1915). As quoted in Albrecht Fösling, Albert Einstein (1998), 362.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (460)  |  Nature (688)  |  Trying (18)

I believe with Schopenhauer that 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. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from personal life into the world of objective perception and thought; this desire may be compared with the townsman’s irresistible longing to escape from his noisy, cramped surroundings into the silence of high mountains, where the eye ranges freely through the still, pure air and fondly traces out the restful contours apparently built for eternity.
— Albert Einstein
Address at The Physical Society, Berlin (1918) for Max Planck’s 60th birthday, 'Principles of Research', collected in Essays in Science (1934) 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (108)  |  Apparently (6)  |  Belief (215)  |  Built (6)  |  Compared (7)  |  Contour (2)  |  Crudity (3)  |  Desire (63)  |  Dreariness (3)  |  Escape (21)  |  Eternity (28)  |  Everyday (9)  |  Eye (105)  |  Finely (2)  |  Freely (4)  |  High (21)  |  Hopelessness (4)  |  Irresistible (5)  |  Life (606)  |  Longing (7)  |  Motive (18)  |  Mountain (85)  |  Nature (688)  |  Objective (27)  |  Pain (65)  |  Perception (32)  |  Personal (20)  |  Pure (28)  |  Range (19)  |  Arthur Schopenhauer (13)  |  Science And Art (130)  |  Shifting (2)  |  Silence (18)  |  Strongest (4)  |  Surrounding (9)  |  Tempered (2)  |  Thought (237)  |  Trace (14)  |  World (365)

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.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (414)  |  Knowledge (879)  |  Motion (95)  |  Relativity (38)

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.
Science quotes on:  |  Insecurity (2)  |  Mind (346)  |  Nature (688)  |  Science (1133)

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.
Science quotes on:  |  Contribution (36)  |  Feeling (62)  |  Human Condition (3)  |  Improvement (49)  |  Independence (23)  |  Interest (110)  |  Irresistible (5)  |  Justice (12)  |  Longing (7)  |  Love (87)  |  Motivation (18)  |  Nature (688)  |  Scientific (95)  |  Secret (61)  |  Understanding (297)  |  Work (283)

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 (41)  |  Concept (50)  |  Connection (58)  |  Construction (54)  |  Conviction (33)  |  Discovery (480)  |  Dream (50)  |  Enabling (7)  |  Experience (171)  |  Feeling (62)  |  Grasp (19)  |  Ideal (34)  |  Justification (25)  |  Key (24)  |  Law (334)  |  Mathematics (471)  |  Nature (688)  |  Pure (28)  |  Reality (84)  |  Simplicity (113)  |  Thought (237)  |  Truth (573)  |  Understanding (297)

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. … [By seeking] 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 (125)  |  Deep (29)  |  Discovery (480)  |  Formula (40)  |  Idea (313)  |  Law Of Nature (41)  |  Logic (154)  |  Necessity (104)  |  Penetration (11)  |  Poetry (77)  |  Pure Mathematics (13)  |  Seeking (30)  |  Spirit (72)

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 (400)  |  Science And Religion (196)

What nature demands of us is not a quantum theory or a wave theory, instead nature demands of us a synthesis both conceptions, which, to be sure, until now still exceeds the powers of thought of the physicists.
— Albert Einstein
Concluding remark in Lecture (23 Feb 1927) to Mathematisch-physikalische Arbeitsgemeinschaft, University of Berlin, reported in 'Theoretisches und Experimentelles zur Frage der Lichtentstehung', Zeitschr. f. ang. Chem., 40, 546. As translated and cited in Arthur I. Miller, Sixty-Two Years of Uncertainty: Historical, Philosophical, and Physical Inquiries into the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (2012), 89 & 108.
Science quotes on:  |  Conception (42)  |  Demand (25)  |  Instead (2)  |  Nature (688)  |  Physicist (88)  |  Power (155)  |  Quantum Theory (38)  |  Synthesis (33)  |  Thought (237)  |  Wave (39)

When men are engaged in war and conquest, the tools of science become as dangerous as a razor in the hands of a child of three. We must not condemn man because his inventiveness and patient conquest of the forces of nature are being exploited for false and destructive purposes. Rather, we should remember that the fate of mankind hinges entirely upon man’s moral development.
— Albert Einstein
In 'I Am an American' (22 Jun 1940), Einstein Archives 29-092. Excerpted in David E. Rowe and Robert J. Schulmann, Einstein on Politics: His Private Thoughts and Public Stands on Nationalism, Zionism, War, Peace, and the Bomb (2007), 470. The British Library Sound Archive holds a recording of this statement by Einstein. It was during a radio broadcast for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, interviewed by a State Department Official. Einstein spoke following an examination on his application for American citizenship in Trenton, New Jersey. The attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s declaration of war on Japan was still over a year in the future.
Science quotes on:  |  Child (114)  |  Condemnation (12)  |  Conquest (10)  |  Dangerous (18)  |  Destruction (64)  |  Development (172)  |  Exploitation (5)  |  False (45)  |  Fate (26)  |  Force Of Nature (3)  |  Hand (59)  |  Hinge (2)  |  Inventiveness (4)  |  Mankind (136)  |  Moral (56)  |  Patience (26)  |  Purpose (96)  |  Razor (2)  |  Science (1133)  |  Tool (40)  |  War (99)


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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