Albert Einstein (1879-1955), best known for his theory of relativity, is revered by the physics community for several other tremendous achievements too. After he moved to the United States, he became quite an institution. Below are quotations and quips of Einstein. A few of them are toned down somewhat. (Mod) for 'Modified' suggests that.
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space.
A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.
A man should also look for what is, and not just for what he thinks should be. (Mod)
A quiet life can stimulate the creative mind. (Mod)
A really valuable thing is intuition. (Mod)
[Very much] that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual. (Mod)
As long as Nazi violence was unleashed only, or mainly, against the Jews, the rest of the world looked on passively and even treaties and agreements were made with the patently criminal government of the Third Reich . . .
Bias against the Negro is the worst disease from which the society of our nation suffers.
By academic freedom I understand the right to search for truth and to publish and teach what one holds to be true.
Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavours . . . Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing . . . [Try] merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
Do not worry about your problems in mathematics. I assure you, my problems with mathematics are much greater than yours.
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.
For the most part I do what my own nature drives me to do. It is embarrassing to earn such respect and love for it.
Generations to come will find it difficult to believe that a man such as Gandhi ever walked the face of this earth.
Human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.
I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker. The example of great and pure individuals is the only thing that can lead us to noble thoughts and deeds.
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited.
I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
I made one great mistake in my life - when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made.
I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.
I think and think for months and years.
If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.
If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. [Of his making the atomic bomb possible]
If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.
It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.
It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.
It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid.
Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand some things better. (Mod)
Mediocre minds . . . cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thoughts in clear form.
Morality is of the highest importance - but for us, not for God.
Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.
Most people go on living their everyday life: half frightened, half indifferent, they behold the ghostly tragicomedy that is being performed on the international stage before the eyes and ears of the world.
Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.
My life is a simple thing that would interest no one. It is a known fact that I was born and that is all that is necessary.
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.
Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.
Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later works belong.
Not knowledge but imagination shows intelligence. (Mod)
One had to cram all this stuff into one's mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.
People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
Privileges based on position and property have always seemed to me unjust and pernicious.
Princeton is a wonderful little spot. A quant and ceremonious village of puny demigods on stilts.
Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us closer to the secret of the 'old one.'
Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
Regard study . . . as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.
Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.
Since I do not foresee that atomic energy is to be a great boon for a long time, I have to say that for the present it is a menace.
Something deeply hidden had to be behind things.
Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit...not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in what we believe is evil.
Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.
The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while.
The crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
The difference between what the most and the least learned people know is inexpressibly trivial in relation to that which is unknown.
The environment is everything that isn't me.
The faster you go, the shorter you are.
The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.
The meek shall inherit the earth, but not its mineral rights.
The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them.
The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.
The only way to escape the personal corruption of praise is to go on working.
The physicist . . . must try to make clear in his own mind just how far the concepts which he uses are justified . . .
The pioneers of a warless world are the [youth] who refuse military service.
The point is to develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition and to guide the child over to important fields for society. Such a school demands from the teacher that he be a kind of artist in his province.
The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
The state exists for man, not man for the state. The same may be said of science. These are old phrases, coined by people who saw in human individuality the highest human value. I would hesitate to repeat them, were it not for the ever recurring danger that they may be forgotten, especially in these days of organization and stereotypes.
The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition.
The urge to understand, the intellectual work, creative or receptive, elevate man and enrich his nature. [Shuffled]
The wireless telegraph is not difficult to understand. The ordinary telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull the tail in New York, and it meows in Los Angeles.
There has already been published by the bucketfuls such brazen lies and utter fictions about me that I would long since have gone to my grave if I had let myself pay attention to that.
There is no logical way to the discovery of . . . elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.
Those people have seen something. (on flying saucers)
Time flows so that everything doesn't happen at once. (Mod)
To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.
Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.
[Very much] of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking. (Mod)
We are all ruled in what we do by impulses; and these impulses are so organized that our actions in general serve for our self preservation and that of the race.
Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
When all think alike, no one thinks very much.
When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.
When I study philosophical works I feel I am swallowing something which I don't have in my mouth.
When the solution is simple, perhaps God is answering. (Mod)
Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.
These quotations and quips are culled from many Internet sources and some quotations books, including The Oxford Dictionary of Thematic Quotations, The New Penguin Dictionary of Quotations, The Penguin Thesaurus of Quotations, and A Dictionary of Philosophical Quotations. (Click on "Literature" to get the details of those references and many more in English and German, if you would like). Or you may try:
Calaprice, Alice, coll. The Ultimate Quotable Einstein. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.
Einsten, Albert. Ideas and Opinions. New Delhi: Rupa Publications, 1979. (A Spanish translation: Mis Ideas y Opiniones. Barcelona: Antonio Bosch, 2011)
Einsten, Albert. 2006. The World as I See It. New ed. New York: Citadel.
Pais, Abraham. 2005. 'Subtle is the Lord...' The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein. Reissue ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Forman, Lillian E. 2009. Albert Einstein: Physicist and Genius. MI: ABDO Publishing Company.
Fox, Karen C., and Aries Keck. 2004. Einstein A to Z Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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