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Famous quantum mechanics quotes, anyone?

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Administrator
Registered: Sep 2007
Posts: 175
Hi there,

Does anyone know any famous quantum mechanics or related quotes? I really like this one -- I learnt about it from Mark Gordon:

"Every attempt to employ mathematical methods in the study of chemical questions must be considered profoundly irrational and contrary to the spirit of chemistry. If mathematical analysis should ever hold a prominent place in chemistry - an aberration which is happily almost impossible - it would occasion a rapid and widespread degeneration of that science." -- A. Comte (1830)


Regards,
Anna.
Administrator
Registered: Aug 2007
Posts: 200
Hehe I like that one; sometimes I start my talks with it :)
Here is another one:
"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." (A. Einstein).
I typed this in google and came across a database of quotes from famous people: http://www.quotedb.com/
Check it out when you get bored ;)
Member
Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Tehran
Hi Dear kadir

I really like the quote you mentioned from Einstein, but I think I may be kind of misleading, too!! Because I believe this sentence, in behind of it, has manifestation of what Einstein believes against quantum mechanics!! let argue this issue if you like it. this can be very instructive for me. Please let me know your opinion.
Administrator
Registered: Sep 2007
Posts: 175
Hi Mahdi,

This is a tricky question how to interpret the Einstein quote. What do we mean by "certain"? If outcome A of a measurement has 90% probability to occur, we understand we cannot predict the outcome of the particular measurement, however, we can say something very certain about getting outcome A in 100 measurements!

If we have this probabilistic issue sorted out, then I would disagree with Einstein -- the laws of physics are as certain in reality as anything could ever be.

Anna.
Administrator
Registered: Sep 2007
Posts: 175
Here is another quote which I really like, and I think it has much more essence in it than the Einstein quote:

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is"

It has been attributed to several people, i.e., Yogi Bera, Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut, Chuck Reid, and Einstein! I do not know who actually said it, but I think it has a lot of truth to it.
« Last edit by krylov on Fri Dec 07, 2007 5:49 am. »
Member
Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Tehran
Hi Dear Prof. Krylov

I am delighted for you nice attitude. professor participles in forums and other activitis vividly. there is lot of point in it for me. :) :)

Thanks for letting me know your opinion. Exactly for the reason you mentioned I was argue that this sentence is kind of misleading. But, as we know Einstein definition for certain was not a probabilistically certain! Although it is a subtle interpretation by you, if we believe in sort of probabilistic nature for certainty, it seems we may reach to a kind of contradiction. By the way, with this kind of interpretation we can not basically solve the paradox that Einstein posed in EPR paper about quantum mechnics. Einstein believes quantum mechanics is incomplete because of its shortcoming in description of the physical reality which he illustrates with EPR thought experiment. I am really interested in philosophical aspect of measurement, that is, what occurs right before and after measurement and how probability of an observation A can change from a certain valve to unity!! (in other words we reach from a probability to a cartainty during measurement) It seems kind of collapse or reductionism happens in space of probability at the moment of measurement!! Is there any physics for describing this?! If there is any it should be non-causal or non-local!

OK, here I have some quotes which are about this discussion. But I am sure these are not new for you as what I mentioned above.

Einstein said "God does not play dice" about quantum mechanics that means he can not accept statistical entity of quantum mechanics in any way.

Also, the sentence you mentioned from Einstein has mutual implication, too: "the laws of physics are as certain in reality as anything could ever be". I remind another sentence by him "In some cases, this is an observer that determines (based on theory) what should be observed in an experiment" these two sentences were a great lead for Heisenberg to discover the uncertainty principle.

About the sentence you mentioned in the last post I wanna say that: theory is in the realm of subjectivism, and a good theorist is someone who present a new theory to be capable of predicting experiments (which is based on realm of objectivism), but a good experimentalist is someone who try to present an experiment to be in contrary with theortical predicitons.

Nowadays I am thinking about how conceptions in objective and subjective worlds in principle collides each other. I believe reality is not either of these two worlds solely as it was thought classically. Reality can be created when conceptions from these two worlds collides each other! It is weird, is not it?. If it was not, surely did not intrigue me. ;)
Administrator
Registered: Aug 2007
Posts: 200
Uh, I didn't even think that there is some deep meaning behind Einstein's quote :) I just thought he was kidding, because I got the impression that he often liked to do that, and I thought it was a pretty good joke. Thanks for pointing out that he might be serious about this. Indeed it might reflect his "worries" about quantum mechanics. I guess one should dig out where and with what kind of a tone he said this particular thing.
Member
Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Tehran
Here are some quotes from Einstein

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
"The only real valuable thing is intuition."
"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."
"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking."
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."


these are some sentences I like, you can find more at below and note those you like them in your notebook as well; :)
http://rescomp.stanford.edu/~cheshire/EinsteinQuotes.html
Administrator
Registered: Sep 2007
Posts: 175
Hi Mahdi,

These are interesting quotes, and I found them polarizing. I should say, a quote out of context might be interpreted quite differently from what was intended, but nevertheless... I like some, but really disagree with others:

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

I think it is true when you knowledge matches the one of Einstein, but otherwise I would they the latter is more important.

"The only real valuable thing is intuition."

The intuition is based on your knowledge and experience, it is not something isolated and mysterious. I heard a saying from a senior colleague, which I quite liked -- "your intuition is only as good as your numbers".

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

AGREE 200%!

"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."

See #1.

Anyway, this was thought-provoking, thanks for sharing.

Regards,
Anna.
Member
Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Tehran
Hi

Here is another sentence by Einstein. I often end my talks with it.

"Intellect has a keen eye for method and technique but is blind to aim and value."

The most important thing I learn from these sentences is significance of creative mind. In the above sentence, it seems Einstien has presented a direction for way of thought, although the sentence looks completely pessimistic. but we should notice there is very deep philosophy in the above quote, beyond of pessimism or ....

dear Prof. Krylov

I am agree with you in all respects. Also, I am thinking one should consider the context of the quotes too. But there is still a question. If we are able to answer this question undoubtedly, we will reach to your conclusion about educational system, numbers, etc. Whether can educational systems always serve correct values for the student?
Member
Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Tehran
It was an act of desperation. For six years I had struggled with the blackbody theory. I knew the problem was fundamental and I knew the answer. I had to find a theoretical explanation at any cost, except for the inviolability of the two laws of thermodynamics
-- Max Planck, 1931
Member
Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Tehran
"It was a good description to say that it was a game,
a very interesting game one could play. Whenever one solved
one of the little problems, one could write a paper about it.
It was very easy in those days for any second-rate physicist
to do first-rate work. There has not been such a glorious time
since then. It is very difficult now for a first-rate physicist
to do second-rate work."

P.A.M. DIRAC, ON THE EARLY DAYS OF QUANTUM MECHANICS
DIRECTIONS IN PHYSICS, 1978, P. 7

http://www.forgottenworks.org/quote_Dirac.html
Administrator
Registered: Sep 2007
Posts: 175
Mahdi-T wrote
"It was a good description to say that it was a game,
a very interesting game one could play. Whenever one solved
one of the little problems, one could write a paper about it.
It was very easy in those days for any second-rate physicist
to do first-rate work. There has not been such a glorious time
since then. It is very difficult now for a first-rate physicist
to do second-rate work."

P.A.M. DIRAC, ON THE EARLY DAYS OF QUANTUM MECHANICS
DIRECTIONS IN PHYSICS, 1978, P. 7

http://www.forgottenworks.org/quote_Dirac.html


I like this quote! It reflects different phases any field is going through, in circles, I'd say.
Member
Registered: Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Tehran
Dear Prof. Krylov
Very good description. I supposed all of us know the following very famous quote by Dirac:

"The fundamental laws necessary for the mathematical treatment of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known, and the difficulty lies only in the fact that application of these laws leads to equations that are too complex to be solved"

Professor as I may understand you believe in circular nature of scientific development. Do agree with T. Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions book? Or are you considering something different to elaborate this circular pathern?
Administrator
Registered: Aug 2007
Posts: 200
Here is some quote that is not about QM, but I like it and it can be applied to QM as well :)

"And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week"

(From Elton John's song "Rocket Man")
Administrator
Registered: Sep 2007
Posts: 175
I found extremely nice collection of quotes on Roi Baer website:

http://www.fh.huji.ac.il/~roib/quotatia.htm

Enjoy!
Administrator
Registered: Aug 2007
Posts: 200
This is not a famous quote, but I liked the expression below. I think it summarizes what physics has been all about in the last decades (i.e., smashing things into each other).
"Physicists around the world now have much greater power to smash the components of atoms together in attempts to learn about their structure." (from the article "Massive particle collider passes first key tests" at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080910/ap_on_sc/big_bang
Member
Registered: Aug 2008
Posts: 43
I always liked this one from Einstein (it doesn't pertain directly to quantum mechanics, please forgive me).

"If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research."
Administrator
Registered: Aug 2007
Posts: 200
Haha, wazoo, I like that one too! Sometimes I show it at the end of my talks, especially when I don't know what I am doing :)
Member
Registered: Jan 2009
Posts: 1
These are all great quotes. Thanks for sharing them :)
Member
Registered: Feb 2009
Posts: 1
Mahdi-T wrote
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."


I was thrilled to see these quotes posted here. They are some of my favorie Einsteinisms. Thanks for posting them along with the link to more.


Awesome!
« Last edit by jessej on Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:37 am. »
Alberon
Guest
Hi,

I especially like this one as it helps explain so many peoples arguments:

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen" - Albert Einstein.

Then I want to add one, a little off topic, but very illustrative:

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down. But Pigs treat us as Equals." - Winston Churchill.
Member
Registered: Sep 2009
Posts: 2
I like this one by Niels Bohr:

"Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood a single word."
Member
Registered: Sep 2007
Posts: 12
Location: University of Queensland
“It takes so long to train a physicist to the place where he understands the nature of physical problems that he is already too old to solve them.” --Eugene Wigner

"It takes so long to train a quantum chemist to the place where she understands the nature of chemical problems that she has already invested so much in a specific software package that it is easiest just to ignore them and proceed." --Me
Member
Registered: Dec 2009
Posts: 3
“If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet.”

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