Quotations by Richard Feynman


We have a habit in writing articles published in scientific journals to make the work as finished as possible, to cover up all the tracks, to not worry about the blind alleys or describe how you had the wrong idea first, and so on. So there isn't any place to publish, in a dignified manner, what you actually did in order to get to do the work.
Nobel Lecture, 1966.

I think that I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.
The character of physical law (Cambridge, USA, 1967)

What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school... It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does.
QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, (London, 1990) 9.

Where did we get that [Schrödinger's equation] from? It's not possible to derive it from anything you know. It came out of the mind of Schrödinger.
The Feynman Lectures on Physics

Now one may ask, "What is mathematics doing in a physics lecture?" We have several possible excuses: first, of course, mathematics is an important tool, but that would only excuse us for giving the formula in two minutes. On the other hand, in theoretical physics we discover that all our laws can be written in mathematical form; and that this has a certain simplicity and beauty about it. So, ultimately, in order to understand nature it may be necessary to have a deeper understanding of mathematical relationships. But the real reason is that the subject is enjoyable, and although we humans cut nature up in different ways, and we have different courses in different departments, such compartmentalization is really artificial, and we should take our intellectual pleasures where we find them.
The Feynman Lectures on Physics

To those who do not know mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature ... If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in.
The Character of Physical Law

For those who want some proof that physicists are human, the proof is in the idiocy of all the different units which they use for measuring energy.
The Character of Physical Law

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JOC/EFR February 2006

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