The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.
~Sir William Bragg. Sir William Henry Bragg (1862–1942) was a British physicist, chemist, mathematician and active sportsman who uniquely shared a Nobel Prize with his son William Lawrence Bragg − the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics.
We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity.
~Marie Curie. Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867–1934) was a Polish physicist and chemist, working mainly in France, who is famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences. She was also the first female professor at the University of Paris (La Sorbonne), and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in Paris’ Panthéon.
In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.
~John Archibald Wheeler
The questions worth asking, in other words, come not from other people but from nature, and are for the most part delicate things easily drowned out by the noise of everyday life.
~Robert B. Laughlin
Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it − in a decade, a century, or a millennium − we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise? How could we have been so stupid?
~John Archibald Wheeler. John Archibald Wheeler (1911 – 2008) was an eminent American theoretical physicist. One of the later collaborators of Albert Einstein, he tried to achieve Einstein’s vision of a unified field theory. He is also known for having coined the terms “black hole” and “wormhole” and the phrase “it from bit.”
I don’t think of myself predicting things. I’m expressing possibilities. Things that could happen. To a large extent it’s a question of how badly people want them to.
~Freeman Dyson. Freeman John Dyson FRS (b. 1923) is a British-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson is a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. For over fifty years he has lived in Princeton, New Jersey.
It has become part of the accepted wisdom to say that the twentieth century was the century of physics and the twenty-first century will be the century of biology.
Even for the physicist the description in plain language will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached.
~Werner Karl Heisenberg. Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901 – 1976) was a German theoretical physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics.”
I never think of the future−it comes soon enough.
Mediocre theoretical physicists make no progress. They spend all their time understanding other people’s progress.
~Jeff Bezos. Jeffrey Preston “Jeff” Bezos (born January 12, 1964) is an American entrepreneur who played a key role in the growth of e-commerce as the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Inc., an online merchant of books and later of a wide variety of products. Under his guidance, Amazon.com became the largest retailer on the World Wide Web and the model for Internet sales.
But, contrary to the lady’s prejudices about the engineering profession, the fact is that quite some time ago the tables were turned between theory and applications in the physical sciences. Since World War II the discoveries that have changed the world are not made so much in lofty halls of theoretical physics as in the less-noticed labs of engineering and experimental physics. The roles of pure and applied science have been reversed; they are no longer what they were in the golden age of physics, in the age of Einstein, Schrödinger, Fermi and Dirac.
~Nicholas Metropolis, “The Age of Computing: a Personal Memoir,” Daedalus (1992), 120-21
~J. Robert Oppenheimer. His exclamation after the Trinity atomic bomb test (16 July 1945), according to his brother in the documentary The Day After Trinity
In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.
~J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904 – 1967), an American physicist and the scientific director of the Manhattan Project.