400+ Sourced quotes
In the history of physics, every time we've looked beyond the scales and energies we were familiar with, we've found things that we wouldn't have thought were there. You look inside the atom and eventually you discover quarks. Who would have thought that? It's hubris to think that the way we see things is everything there is.
The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth, space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.
I am now convinced that theoretical physics is actually philosophy. It has revolutionized fundamental concepts, e. g., abut space and time (relativity), about causality (quantum theory), and about substance and matter (atomistics). It has taught us new methods of thinking (complimentarity), which are applicable far beyond physics.
In its conception the literature prize belongs to days when a writer could still be thought of as, by virtue of his or her occupation, a sage, someone with no institutional affiliations who could offer an authoritative word on our times as well as on our moral life. (It has always struck me as strange, by the way, that Alfred Nobel did not institute a philosophy prize, or for that matter that he instituted a physics prize but not a mathematics prize, to say nothing of a music prize - music is, after all, more universal than literature, which is bound to a particular language.) The idea of writer as sage is pretty much dead today. I would certainly feel very uncomfortable in the role.
There are metaphysical problems, which cannot be disposed of by declaring them meaningless. For, as I have repeatedly said, they are "beyond physics" indeed and demand an act of faith. We have to accept this fact to be honest. There are two objectionable types of believers: those who believe the incredible and those who believe that "belief" must be discarded and replaced by "the scientific method."
The work on satisfactory formulation of technical patents was a true blessing for me. It compelled me to be many-sided in thought, and also offered important stimulation for thought about physics. Following a practical profession is a blessing for people of my type. Because the academic career puts a young person in a sort of compulsory situation to produce scientific papers in impressive quantity, a temptation to superficiality arises that only strong characters are able to resist.
First you must have faith in an eternal world independent of you; then you must have faith in your ability to perceive it, and finally you must try to explain it by means of concepts or mathematical constructions. But don't always accept traditional concepts without reexamining them. Even overthrow my relativity theory, if you find a better one.... You must believe that the world was created as a unified whole which is comprehensible to man. Of course, it's going to take an infinitely long time to investigate this unified creation. But to me that is the highest and most sacred duty—unifying physics. Simplicity is the criterion of the universe.
Macbeth: Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd, Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, Raze out the written troubles of the brain, And with some sweet oblivious antidote Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart? Doctor: Therein the patient Must minister to himself. Macbeth: Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it.