# Best 46 of Murray Gell-mann quotes - MyQuotes

Murray Gell-mann

In our work, we are always between Scylla and Charybdis; we may fail to abstract enough, and miss important physics, or we may abstract too much and end up with fictitious objects in our models turning into real monsters that devour us.

Murray Gell-mann

Our planet doesn't seem to be the result of anything very special

Murray Gell-mann

What is especially striking and remarkable is that in fundamental physics a beautiful or elegant theory is more likely to be right than a theory that is inelegant.

Murray Gell-mann

The chaos can act as a magnifier of quantum fluctuations so that they can produce sizable effects in the world around us. But we know that that can happen often

Murray Gell-mann

If someone says that he can think or talk about quantum physics without becoming dizzy, that shows only that he has not understood anything whatever about it.

Murray Gell-mann

We are driven by the usual insatiable curiosity of the scientist, and our work is a delightful game.

Murray Gell-mann

Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavior of the whole.

Murray Gell-mann

Bush is a nice fellow who gives very good parties. I just wish someone would find him a better job than running the country.

Murray Gell-mann

Sometimes the probabilities are very close to certainties, but they're never really certainties

Murray Gell-mann

The persistence of erroneous beliefs exacerbates the widespread anachronistic failure to recognize the urgent problems that face humanity on this planet.

Murray Gell-mann

Hugh Everett's work has been described by many people in terms of many worlds, the idea being that every one of the various alternative histories, branching histories, is assigned some sort of reality.

Murray Gell-mann

I thought of killing myself but soon decided that I could always try MIT and then kill myself later if it was that bad but that I couldn't commit suicide and then try MIT afterwards. The two operations, suicide and going to MIT, don't commute.

Murray Gell-mann

While many questions about quantum mechanics are still not fully resolved, there is no point in introducing needless mystification where in fact no problem exists. Yet a great deal of recent writing about quantum mechanics has done just that.

Murray Gell-mann

Three principles - the conformability of nature to herself, the applicability of the criterion of simplicity, and the utility of certain parts of mathematics in describing physical reality - are thus consequences of the underlying law of the elementary particles and their interactions. Those three principles need not be assumed as separate metaphysical postulates. Instead, they are emergent properties of the fundamental laws of physics.

Murray Gell-mann

Think how hard physics would be if particles could think

Murray Gell-mann

Niels Bohr brainwashed a whole generation of theorists into thinking that the job (interpreting quantum theory) was done 50 years ago.

Murray Gell-mann

When you think you're listening to several conversations at once, they tell me, you may really simply be time sharing - that is, listening a little bit to this one, a little bit to that one

Murray Gell-mann

Both biological and cultural diversity are now severely threatened and working for their preservation is a critical task.

Murray Gell-mann

Enthusiasm is followed by disappointment and even depression, and then by renewed enthusiasm.

Murray Gell-mann

If we look at the way the universe behaves, quantum mechanics gives us fundamental, unavoidable indeterminacy, so that alternative histories of the universe can be assigned probability.

Murray Gell-mann

But I don't actually adopt the point of view that our subjective impression of free will, which is a kind of indeterminacy behavior, comes from quantum mechanical indeterminacy.

Murray Gell-mann

My colleagues in elementary particle theory in many lands [and I] are driven by the usual insatiable curiosity of the scientist, and our work is a delightful game. I am frequently astonished that it so often results in correct predictions of experimental results. How can it be that writing down a few simple and elegant formulae, like short poems governed by strict rules such as those of the sonnet or the waka, can predict universal regularities of Nature?

Murray Gell-mann

All of modern physics is governed by that magnificent and thoroughly confusing discipline called quantum mechanics ... It has survived all tests and there is no reason to believe that there is any flaw in it. We all know how to use it and how to apply it to problems; and so we have learned to live with the fact that nobody can understand it.

Murray Gell-mann

I have been interested in phenomena involving complexity, diversity and evolution since I was a young boy.

Murray Gell-mann

In fact any experiment that measures a quantum effect is one in which the quantum effect is aligned with the behavior of some heavy, macroscopic object; that's how we measure it

Murray Gell-mann

Perhaps we see equations as simple because they are easily expressed in terms of mathematical notation already invented at an earlier stage of development of the science, and thus what appears to us as elegance of description really reflects the interconnectedness of Nature's laws at different levels.

Murray Gell-mann

Modern education is like being taken to the world's greatest restaurant & being forced to eat the menu.

Murray Gell-mann

I do not keep up with the details of particle physics.

Murray Gell-mann

Planets are too dim to be detected with existing equipment, far away, except in these very special circumstances where they're seen by their gravitational effect

Murray Gell-mann

What is especially striking and remarkable is that in fundamental physics, a beautiful or elegant theory is more likely to be right than a theory that is inelegant. A theory appears to be beautiful or elegant (or simple, if you prefer) when it can be expressed concisely in terms of mathematics we already have. Symmetry exhibits the simplicity. The Foundamental Law is such that the different skins of the onion resemble one another and therefore the math for one skin allows you to express beautifully and simply the phenomenon of the next skin.

Murray Gell-mann

What I try to do in the book is to trace the chain of relationships running from elementary particles, fundamental building blocks of matter everywhere in the universe, such as quarks, all the way to complex entities, and in particular complex adaptive system like jaguars.

Murray Gell-mann

If you know the wavefunction of the universe, why aren't you rich?

Murray Gell-mann

One thing that makes the adventure of working in our field particularly rewarding, especially in attempting to improve the theory, is that... a chief criterion for the selection of a correct hypothesis... seems to be the criterion of beauty, simplicity, or elegance.

Murray Gell-mann

So the old Copenhagen interpretation needs to be generalized, needs to be replaced by something that can be used for the whole universe, and can be used also in cases where there is plenty of individuality and history

Murray Gell-mann

Of course the word chaos is used in rather a vague sense by a lot of writers, but in physics it means a particular phenomenon, namely that in a nonlinear system the outcome is often indefinitely, arbitrarily sensitive to tiny changes in the initial condition

Murray Gell-mann

For me, the study of these laws is inseparable from a love of Nature in all its manifestations. The beauty of the basic laws of natural science, as revealed in the study of particles and of the cosmos, is allied to the litheness of a merganser diving in a pure Swedish lake, or the grace of a dolphin leaving shining trails at night in the Gulf of California.

Murray Gell-mann

The world of the quark has everything to do with a jaguar circling in the night.

Murray Gell-mann

But when researchers at Bell Labs discovered that static tends to come from particular places in the sky, the whole field of radio astronomy opened up.

Murray Gell-mann

Modern language must be older than the cave paintings and cave engravings and cave sculptures and dance steps in the soft clay in the caves in Western Europe, in the Aurignacian Period some 35,000 years ago, or earlier. I can't believe they did all those things and didn't also have a modern language.

Murray Gell-mann

I would recommend that skeptics devote even more effort than they do now to understanding the reasons why so many people want or need to believe.

Murray Gell-mann

The mathematics clearly called for a set of underlying elementary objects-at that time we needed three types of them-elementary objects that could be combined three at a time in different ways to make all the heavy particles we knew. ... I needed a name for them and called them quarks, after the taunting cry of the gulls, "Three quarks for Muster mark," from Finnegan's Wake by the Irish writer James Joyce.

Murray Gell-mann

You know, there was a time, just before I started to study physical science, when astronomers thought that systems such as we have here in the solar system required a rare triple collision of stars

Murray Gell-mann

As a theoretical physicist, I feel at once proud and humble at the thought of the illustrious figures that have preceded me here to receive the greatest of all honors in science, the Nobel prize.

Murray Gell-mann

I am frequently astonished that it so often results in correct predictions of experimental results.

Murray Gell-mann

I think also of my colleagues in elementary particle theory in many lands, and feel that in some measure I am here as a representative of our small, informal, international fraternity.

Murray Gell-mann

Superstitions typically involve seeing order where in fact there is none, and denial amounts to rejecting evidence of regularities, sometimes even ones that are staring us in the face.

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