Best 538 quotes in «physics quotes» category

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    Astrophysics. 'It's a super-long shot' is practically the motto of our profession.

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    As to your Newton, I confess I do not understand his void and his gravity; I admit he has demonstrated the movement of the heavenly bodies with more exactitude than his forerunners; but you will admit it is an absurdity to maintain the existence of Nothing. [Letter to Voltaire, 25 Nov. 1777]

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    As was the case for Nobel's own invention of dynamite, the uses that are made of increased knowledge can serve both beneficial and potentially harmful ends. Increased knowledge clearly implies increased responsibility.

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    At his "World of Physics" Web site, Eric W. Weisstein notes that the fine structure constant continues to fascinate numerologists, who have claimed that connections exist between alpha, the Cheops pyramid, and Stonehenge!

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    At the atomic level, matter does not even exist with certainty; it only exists as a tendency to exist.

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    [At the beginning of modern science], a light dawned on all those who study nature. They comprehended that reason has insight only into what it itself produces according to its own design; that it must take the lead with principles for its judgments according to constant laws and compel nature to answer its questions, rather than letting nature guide its movements by keeping reason, as it were, in leading-strings; for otherwise accidental observations, made according to no previously designed plan, can never connect up into a necessary law, which is yet what reason seeks and requires. Reason, in order to be taught by nature, must approach nature with its principles in one hand, according to which alone the agreement among appearances can count as laws, and, in the other hand, the experiments thought in accordance with these principles - yet in order to be instructed by nature not like a pupil, who has recited to him whatever the teacher wants to say, but like an appointed judge who compels witnesses to answer the questions he puts to them. Thus even physics owes the advantageous revolution in its way of thinking to the inspiration that what reason would not be able to know of itself and has to learn from nature, it has to seek in the latter (though not merely ascribe to it) in accordance with what reason itself puts into nature. This is how natural science was first brought to the secure course of a science after groping about for so many centuries.

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    At one point in the story, following a brazen daytime bank robbery, Electro is shown escaping from the authorities by climbing up the side of a building, as easily as Spider-Man . . . we see one observer exclaim, "Look!! That strangely-garbed man is racing up the side of the building!" A second man on the street picks up the narrative: "He's holding on to the iron beams in the building by means of electric rays—using them like a magnet!! Incredible!" There are three feelings inspired by this scene. The first is wonder as to why people rarely use the phrase "strangely-garbed" anymore. The second is nostalgia for the bygone era when pedestrians would routinely narrate events occurring in front of them, providing exposition for any casual bystander. And the third is pleasure at the realization that Electro's climbing this building is actually a physically plausible use of his powers.

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    Away from the safety of your home, the universe was not made for your convenience.

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    Being an investment banker is pretty much the perfect job for an all around triple-threat genius, and because I’m doing so well with it, I know I’m actually smarter than certifiable geniuses like Stephen Hawking and Einstein.

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    But some numbers, called dimensionless numbers, have the same numerical value no matter what units of measurement are chosen. Probably the most famous of these is the "fine-structure constant," .... Physicists love this number not just because it is dimensionless, but also because it is a combination of three fundamental constants of nature.

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    By now, he was also a 'Protestant Atheist', which he remained all his life.

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    Calculate the fine structure constant from first principles.

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    Can there be a completely different set of laws of physics in a different universe, or do the laws of physics as we understand them hold true in all possible universes? If the answer is that a different set of laws can operate in a different universe system, this would suggest (from a Buddhist perspective) that even the laws of physics are entangled with the karma of the sentient beings that will arise in that universe.

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    Cecile was teaching in Berkeley and I was [at Livermore]. He probably had, could have had, some influence on Teller, [for] Teller was quite generous in allowing me one whole semester off to be at Berkeley to work on something and also a semester off at the Institute for Advanced Study. Then I won the Gravity Research Foundation first prize.

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    Chemistry, for me, had stopped being such a source. It led to the heart of Matter, and Matter was our ally precisely because the Spirit, dear to Fascism, was our enemy; but, having reached the fourth year of Pure Chemistry, I could no longer ignore the fact that chemistry itself, or at least that which we were being administered, did not answer my questions. To prepare phenyl bromide according to Gatterman was amusing, even exhilarating, but not very different from following Artusi's recipes. Why in that particular way and not in another? After having been force fed in liceo the truths revealed by Fascist Doctrine, all revealed, unproven truths either bored me stiff or aroused my suspicion. Did chemistry theorems exist? No; therefore you had to go further, not be satisfied with the quia go back to the origins, to mathematics and physics. The origins of chemistry were ignoble, or at least equivocal: the dens of the alchemists, their abominable hodgepodge of ideas and language, their confessed interest in gold, their Levantine swindles typical of charlatans or magicians; instead, at the origin of physics lay the strenuous clarity of the West – Archimedes and Euclid.

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    But what I knew in my head stayed up there, swirling about the other ten zillion things I had retained. That knowledge informed my actions, what I did and how I did it. What Emma knew filtered from her head down into her heart and informed who she was—what I have since come to call the Infinite Migration. If my wonderings about life were scientific, bent toward examination and physical discovery, Emma’s all leaned toward matters of the heart. While I could understand and explain the physics behind a rainbow, Emma saw the colors. When it came to life, I saw each piece and how they all fit together, and Emma saw the image on the face of the puzzle. And every now and then, she’d walk me through the door into her world and show it to me.

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    Dirac's equation not only accounted for the spin of the electron and its observed magnetic moment, but also correctly explained the fine structure of the hydrogen atom. If the derivation of the Sommerfeld-like formula for the spectrum of the hydrogen atom was one of the striking successes of the Dirac equation, some of its other features were very troublesome.

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    Einstein...even failed physics once, but he'd never thought of giving up school to make a living.

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    Einstein, twenty-six years old, only three years away from crude privation, still a patent examiner, published in the Annalen der Physik in 1905 five papers on entirely different subjects. Three of them were among the greatest in the history of physics. One, very simple, gave the quantum explanation of the photoelectric effect—it was this work for which, sixteen years later, he was awarded the Nobel prize. Another dealt with the phenomenon of Brownian motion, the apparently erratic movement of tiny particles suspended in a liquid: Einstein showed that these movements satisfied a clear statistical law. This was like a conjuring trick, easy when explained: before it, decent scientists could still doubt the concrete existence of atoms and molecules: this paper was as near to a direct proof of their concreteness as a theoretician could give. The third paper was the special theory of relativity, which quietly amalgamated space, time, and matter into one fundamental unity. This last paper contains no references and quotes to authority. All of them are written in a style unlike any other theoretical physicist's. They contain very little mathematics. There is a good deal of verbal commentary. The conclusions, the bizarre conclusions, emerge as though with the greatest of ease: the reasoning is unbreakable. It looks as though he had reached the conclusions by pure thought, unaided, without listening to the opinions of others. To a surprisingly large extent, that is precisely what he had done.

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    Empires come and go. Chanterelles are timeless

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    A university student attending lectures on general relativity i the morning and others on quantum mechanics in the afternoon might be forgiven for thinking that his professors are fools, or have neglected to communicate with each other for at least a century.

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    CIRCLES OF LIFE Everything Turns, Rotates, Spins, Circles, Loops, Pulsates, Resonates, And Repeats. Circles Of life, Born from Pulses Of light, Vibrate To Breathe, While Spiraling Outwards For Infinity Through The lens Of time, And into A sea Of stars And Lucid Dreams. Poetry by Suzy Kassem

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    [Concerning] phosphorescent bodies, and in particular to uranium salts whose phosphorescence has a very brief duration. With the double sulfate of uranium and potassium ... I was able to perform the following experiment: One wraps a Lumière photographic plate with a bromide emulsion in two sheets of very thick black paper, such that the plate does not become clouded upon being exposed to the sun for a day. One places on the sheet of paper, on the outside, a slab of the phosphorescent substance, and one exposes the whole to the sun for several hours. When one then develops the photographic plate, one recognizes that the silhouette of the phosphorescent substance appears in black on the negative. If one places between the phosphorescent substance and the paper a piece of money or a metal screen pierced with a cut-out design, one sees the image of these objects appear on the negative. One can repeat the same experiments placing a thin pane of glass between the phosphorescent substance and the paper, which excludes the possibility of chemical action due to vapors which might emanate from the substance when heated by the sun's rays. One must conclude from these experiments that the phosphorescent substance in question emits rays which pass through the opaque paper and reduces silver salts. [Although the sun is irrelevant, and he misinterprets the role of phosphorescence, he has discovered the effect of radioactivity.]

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    Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proved that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks: What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter or energy into the universe? And science cannot answer these questions, because, according to the astronomers, in the first moments of its existence the Universe was compressed to an extraordinary degree, and consumed by the heat of a fire beyond human imagination. The shock of that instant must have destroyed every particle of evidence that could have yielded a clue to the cause of the great explosion.

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    Death is like a Black Hole. Physics is silent in a grave.

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    Death is like a Black Hole. Biology is silent in a grave.

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    Despite my resistance to hyperbole, the LHC belongs to a world that can only be described with superlatives. It is not merely large: the LHC is the biggest machine ever built. It is not merely cold: the 1.9 kelvin (1.9 degrees Celsius above absolute zero) temperature necessary for the LHC’s supercomputing magnets to operate is the coldest extended region that we know of in the universe—even colder than outer space. The magnetic field is not merely big: the superconducting dipole magnets generating a magnetic field more than 100,000 times stronger than the Earth’s are the strongest magnets in industrial production ever made. And the extremes don’t end there. The vacuum inside the proton-containing tubes, a 10 trillionth of an atmosphere, is the most complete vacuum over the largest region ever produced. The energy of the collisions are the highest ever generated on Earth, allowing us to study the interactions that occurred in the early universe the furthest back in time.

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    Do not get mad, get science.

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    Don't confound static electricity with ecstatic eccentricity. One will leave your hair up, the other will live up in the air!

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    During the time that Landsteiner gave me an education in the field of immunology, I discovered that he and I were thinking about the serologic problem in very different ways. He would ask, What do these experiments force us to believe about the nature of the world? I would ask, What is the most. simple and general picture of the world that we can formulate that is not ruled by these experiments? I realized that medical and biological investigators were not attacking their problems the same way that theoretical physicists do, the way I had been in the habit of doing.

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    Each religion makes scores of purportedly factual assertions about everything from the creation of the universe to the afterlife. But on what grounds can believers presume to know that these assertions are true? The reasons they give are various, but the ultimate justification for most religious people’s beliefs is a simple one: we believe what we believe because our holy scriptures say so. But how, then, do we know that our holy scriptures are factually accurate? Because the scriptures themselves say so. Theologians specialize in weaving elaborate webs of verbiage to avoid saying anything quite so bluntly, but this gem of circular reasoning really is the epistemological bottom line on which all 'faith' is grounded. In the words of Pope John Paul II: 'By the authority of his absolute transcendence, God who makes himself known is also the source of the credibility of what he reveals.' It goes without saying that this begs the question of whether the texts at issue really were authored or inspired by God, and on what grounds one knows this. 'Faith' is not in fact a rejection of reason, but simply a lazy acceptance of bad reasons. 'Faith' is the pseudo-justification that some people trot out when they want to make claims without the necessary evidence. But of course we never apply these lax standards of evidence to the claims made in the other fellow’s holy scriptures: when it comes to religions other than one’s own, religious people are as rational as everyone else. Only our own religion, whatever it may be, seems to merit some special dispensation from the general standards of evidence. And here, it seems to me, is the crux of the conflict between religion and science. Not the religious rejection of specific scientific theories (be it heliocentrism in the 17th century or evolutionary biology today); over time most religions do find some way to make peace with well-established science. Rather, the scientific worldview and the religious worldview come into conflict over a far more fundamental question: namely, what constitutes evidence. Science relies on publicly reproducible sense experience (that is, experiments and observations) combined with rational reflection on those empirical observations. Religious people acknowledge the validity of that method, but then claim to be in the possession of additional methods for obtaining reliable knowledge of factual matters — methods that go beyond the mere assessment of empirical evidence — such as intuition, revelation, or the reliance on sacred texts. But the trouble is this: What good reason do we have to believe that such methods work, in the sense of steering us systematically (even if not invariably) towards true beliefs rather than towards false ones? At least in the domains where we have been able to test these methods — astronomy, geology and history, for instance — they have not proven terribly reliable. Why should we expect them to work any better when we apply them to problems that are even more difficult, such as the fundamental nature of the universe? Last but not least, these non-empirical methods suffer from an insuperable logical problem: What should we do when different people’s intuitions or revelations conflict? How can we know which of the many purportedly sacred texts — whose assertions frequently contradict one another — are in fact sacred?

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    entanglement: (n.) quantum physics term for when the sheets wrap around two bodies in space.

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    Evelyn continued to hold the wheel, recognizing the sensation of being in control of the rudder, while Martin explained how the direction of the wind was key, and how all the elements worked together to affect speed. "It's physics," she said, becoming fascinated by the complexity of the air and water flow working together, and comprehending how the shape of the hull and sails and the size of the keel all played an important part in the boat's movement.

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    Even then, understanding my life was nothing but an illusion. Individual parts put together could never account for all the factors of a lifetime or account for the mind and its different forms of consciousness.

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    Eventually, it had to be accepted that God had created invisible stars and this was the very first hint that perhaps the Universe had not been created with human welfare as its primary object (a point I have never seen stressed in histories of science)

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    Everyone knows that physicists are concerned with the laws of the universe and have the audacity sometimes to think they have discovered the choices God made when He created the universe in thus and such a pattern. Mathematicians are even more audacious. What they feel they discover are the laws that God Himself could not avoid having to follow.

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    Fewer than eight hundred Americans earn a Ph.D. in physics each year. Worldwide, the number is probably in the thousands. And yet from this small pool comes the discovery and innovation that shapes the way we live and think. From X-rays, lasers, radio waves, transistors, atomic energy—and atomic weapons—to our view of space and time, and the nature of the universe, all this has arisen from this dedicated pool of individuals. To be a physicist is to have an enormous potential to change the world.

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    Es gibt keinen Gott und Dirac ist sein Prophet. (There is no God and Dirac is his Prophet.) {A remark made during the Fifth Solvay International Conference (October 1927), after a discussion of the religious views of various physicists, at which all the participants laughed, including Dirac, as quoted in Teil und das Ganze (1969), by Werner Heisenberg, p. 119; it is an ironic play on the Muslim statement of faith, the Shahada, often translated: 'There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.'}

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    ...every physicist knows that the laws of physics can be used to build a gun or a bicycle; physics does not dictate a specific use for its laws. To that extent, it should be obvious that the laws of physics are incomplete in predicting everything that occurs in nature —from Moral Materialism

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    Everything in the future is a wave, everything in the past is a particle.

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    Everything turns in circles and spirals with the cosmic heart until infinity. Everything has a vibration that spirals inward or outward — and everything turns together in the same direction at the same time. This vibration keeps going: it becomes born and expands or closes and destructs — only to repeat the cycle again in opposite current. Like a lotus, it opens or closes, dies and is born again. Such is also the story of the sun and moon, of me and you. Nothing truly dies. All energy simply transforms.

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    Filling out the entire electromagnetic spectrum, in order of low-energy and low-frequency to high-energy and high-frequency, we have: radio waves, micro waves, ROYGBIV, ultra violet, x rays, and gamma rays.

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    Far from disproving the existence of God, astronomers may be finding more circumstantial evidence that God exists.

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    Fine Structure Constant: Fundamental numerical constant of atomic physics and quantum electrodynamics, defined as the square of the charge of the electron divided by the product of Planck's constant and the speed of light.

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    Every child's first lesson in reflection, refraction, surface tension, colloidal solutions, fluid dynamics, and what not, begins with a pool of water on the road. //All in a child's play

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    For decades, new-energy researchers talked about the possibility of treating a magnet so that its magnetic field would continuously shake or vibrate. On rare occasions, Sweet saw this effect, called self-oscillation, occur in electric transformers. He felt it could be coaxed into doing something useful, such as producing energy. Sweet thought that if he could find the precise way to shake or disturb a magnet's force field, the field would continue to shake by itself. It would be similar to striking a bell and having the bell keep on ringing. Sweet - who said his ideas came to him in dreams - turned for inspiration to his expertise in magnets. He knew magnets could be used to produce electricity, and wanted to see if he could get power out of a magnet by something other than the standard induction process. What Sweet wanted to do was to keep the magnet still and just shake its magnetic field. This shaking, in turn, would create an electric current. One new-energy researcher compares self-oscillation to a leaf on a tree waving in a gentle breeze. While the breeze itself isn't moving back and forth, it sets the leaf into that kind of motion. Sweet thought that if cosmic energy could be captured to serve as the breeze, then the magnetic field would serve as the leaf. Sweet would just have to supply a small amount of energy to set the magnetic field in motion, and space energy would keep it moving.

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    … for it is very probable, that the motion of gravity worketh weakly, both far from the earth, and also within the earth: the former because the appetite of union of dense bodies with the earth, in respect of the distance, is more dull: the latter, because the body hath in part attained its nature when it is some depth in the earth. {Foreshadowing Isaac Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation (1687)}

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    Following the path of earlier unificationists, one of Eddington's aims was to reduce the contingencies in the description of nature, for example, by explaining the fundamental constants of physics rather than accepting them as merely experimental data. One of these constants was the fine-structure constant ..., which entered prominently in Dirac's theory and was known to be about 1/137.

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    For me, the most beautiful aspects of physics are not the complicated math equations or even the ability of predicting how things will happen. What attracts me to physics is what it teaches us about the bigger picture. The general philosophical lessons that are embedded in physical laws are what excite me. For example, the fact that all particles and forces get unified within string theory teaches us about the unity underlying our universe. The amazingly vast collection of solutions to equations of string theory suggests that there may be many universes besides ours. What happened before the big bang, or was there a time before big bang? The “duality symmetry” in string theory, which exchanges small spaces with large spaces, suggests that perhaps as we go back in time the universe was effectively getting bigger instead of smaller. This suggests we came from other universes. Physics teaches us deep facts about our universe and our place in it. I hope I can add a little to this beautiful story. That is my goal.

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    For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.