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date: 28 February 2020


see also Science
  1. There is no democracy in physics. We can't say that some second-rate guy has as much right to opinion as Fermi.
    Luis Walter Alvarez 1911–88 American physicist: D. S. Greenberg The Politics of Pure Science (1969)
  2. Anybody who is not shocked by this subject has failed to understand it.
    of quantum mechanics
    Niels Bohr 1885–1962 Danish physicist: attributed; in Nature 23 August 1990
  3. There was a young lady named Bright,
    Whose speed was far faster than light;
    She set out one day
    In a relative way
    And returned on the previous night.
    Arthur Buller 1874–1944 British botanist and mycologist: ‘Relativity’ in Punch 19 December 1923
  4. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations—then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
    Arthur Eddington 1882–1944 British astrophysicist: The Nature of the Physical World (1928) ch. 14
  5. I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun— a fraction of a second too early or too late, the plank would be miles away. I must do this whilst hanging from a round planet, head outward into space, and with a wind of aether blowing at no one knows how many miles a second through every interstice of my body.
    Arthur Eddington 1882–1944 British astrophysicist: The Nature of the Physical World (1928) ch. 15
  6. E = mc2.
    the usual form of Einstein's original statement: ‘If a body releases the energy L in the form of radiation, its mass is decreased by L/V2
    Albert Einstein 1879–1955 German-born theoretical physicist: in Annalen der Physik 18 (1905)
  7. If I could remember the names of all these particles I'd be a botanist.
    Enrico Fermi 1901–54 Italian-born American atomic physicist: R. L. Weber More Random Walks in Science (1973)
  8. Heat won't pass from a cooler to a hotter,
    You can try it if you like but you'd far better notter.
    Michael Flanders 1922–75 and Donald Swann 1923–94: ‘The First and Second Law’ (1956 song)
  9. If we assume that the last breath of, say, Julius Caesar has by now become thoroughly scattered through the atmosphere, then the chances are that each of us inhales one molecule of it with every breath we take.
    James Jeans 1877–1946 English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician: An Introduction to the Kinetic Theory of Gases (1940)
  10. Nothing puzzles me more than time and space; and yet nothing troubles me less, as I never think about them.
    Charles Lamb 1775–1834 English writer: letter to Thomas Manning, 2 January 1810, in E. W. Marrs (ed.) Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb (1978) vol. 3
  11. Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.
    Isaac Newton 1642–1727 English mathematician and physicist: Principia Mathematica (1687) Laws of Motion 1 (tr. Andrew Motte, 1729)
  12. The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impressed; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impressed.
    Isaac Newton 1642–1727 English mathematician and physicist: Principia Mathematica (1687) Laws of Motion 2 (tr. Andrew Motte, 1729)
  13. To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or, the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.
    Isaac Newton 1642–1727 English mathematician and physicist: Principia Mathematica (1687) Laws of Motion 3 (tr. Andrew Motte, 1729)
  14. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita…‘I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.’
    on the explosion of the first atomic bomb near Alamogordo, New Mexico, 16 July 1945
    J. Robert Oppenheimer 1904–67 American physicist: Len Giovannitti and Fred Freed The Decision to Drop the Bomb (1965); see Bhagavadgita
  15. In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humour, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.
    J. Robert Oppenheimer 1904–67 American physicist: lecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 25 November 1947
  16. It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.
    on the back-scattering effect of metal foil on alpha-particles
    Ernest Rutherford 1871–1937 New Zealand physicist: E. N. da C. Andrade Rutherford and the Nature of the Atom (1964)
  17. Neutrinos, they are very small
    They have no charge and have no mass
    And do not interact at all.
    John Updike 1932–2009 American novelist and short-story writer: ‘Cosmic Gall ’ (1964)
  18. It would be a poor thing to be an atom in a world without physicists. And physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms.
    George Wald 1904–97 American biochemist: foreword to L. J. Henderson The Fitness of the Environment (1958)