German-born American Physicist, Humanitarian, Philosopher
"Children don’t heed the life experiences of their parents, and nations ignore history. Bad lessons always have to be learned anew. "
"Classical thermodynamics ... is the only physical theory of universal content which I am convinced ... will never be overthrown."
"Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. In general, only individuals of exceptional endowments, and exceptionally high-minded communities, rise to any considerable extent above this level. But there is a third stage of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form: I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it. "
"Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it. "
"Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid. Human beings are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant. Together they are powerful beyond imagination. "
"Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens. "
"Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter. "
"Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting points and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up. "
"Culture in its higher forms is a delicate plant which depends on a complicated set of conditions and is wont to flourish only in a few places at any given time."
"Curiosity is a delicate little plant which, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom."
"Development of Western science is based on two great achievements: the invention of the formal logical system (in Euclidean geometry) by the Greek philosophers, and the discovery of the possibility to find out causal relationships by systematic experiment (during the Renaissance). In my opinion, one has not to be astonished that the Chinese sages have not made these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all."
"Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born. "
"E=mc2 (Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light.) Original statement: If a body gives off the energy L in the form of radiation, its mass diminishes by L/c2."
"Each of us visits this Earth involuntarily, and without an invitation. For me, it is enough to wonder at the secrets."
"Each ray of light moves in the coordinate system 'at rest' with the definite, constant velocity V independent of whether this ray of light is emitted by a body at rest or a body in motion."
"Einstein was once asked how many feet are in a mile. Einstein's reply was I don't know, why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book? "
"Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is — insofar as it is thinkable at all — primitive and muddled."
"Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity."
"Ethical axioms are found and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth is what stands the test of experience. "
"Ethnic groups do not want to intermingled, each want to go on its way in accordance with the law of conservation of energy. "
"Even if only 2 percent of those assigned to perform military service should announce their refusal to fight, governments would be powerless, they would not dare send such a large number of people to jail. "
"Even on the most solemn occasions I got away without wearing socks and hid that lack of civilization in high boots. "
"Even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies."
"Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving."
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. "
"Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naïve. "
"Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain. One has to keep this constantly in mind if one wishes to understand spiritual movements and their development. Feeling and longing are the motive force behind all human endeavor and human creation, in however exalted a guise the latter may present themselves to us."
"Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do, but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it."
"For anyone who is pervaded with the sense of causal law in all that happens, who accepts in real earnest the assumption of causality, the idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible. Neither the religion of fear nor the social-moral religion can have any hold on him. "