I found the following at :
- Richard Feynman, the late Nobel Laureate in physics, was once asked by a Caltech faculty member to explain why spin one-half particles obey Fermi Dirac statistics. Rising to the challenge, he said, "I'll prepare a freshman lecture on it." But a few days later he told the faculty member, "You know, I couldn't do it. I couldn't reduce it to the freshman level. That means we really don't understand it."
Anybody here know a source for this quote/story? Thanks, Sam nead 19:10, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
- Ok, Gleick (p. 399) points to Goodstein's 1989 article in Physics Today. I'll read that and check back here. Sam nead 20:02, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
- Goodstein also includes it in his "Special Preface" to the Feynman Lecture Series, dated 1989 as well. SarahLawrence Scott 03:21, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
- The "faculty member" was David L. Goodstein, who included it in the book, "Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun", co-authored with his wife Judith R. Goodstein. In Chapter 2 (p45), the book says, "When I (D.L.G) started..." and the story continues through that chapter from that same first person perspective. On p52 the book says:
Fenman was a truly great teacher. He prided himself on being able to devise ways to explain even the most profound ideas to beginning students. Once, I said to him, "Dick, explain to me, so that I can understand it, why spin one-half particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics." Sizing up his audience perfectly, Feynman said, "I'll prepare a freshman lecture on it." But he came back a few days later to say, "I couldn't do it. I couldn't reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don't really understand it."
- Banaticus 03:51, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
I accidentally hit save while I was about to edit a copy of a comment I had pasted into the comment box while reverting the last change:
The comment had been: (You know what's annoying? Arbitrary bolding of text someone found particularly moving! Why not just bold the entire page? Someone, somewhere, is going to agree that the entire page is moving.)
I had intended to edit it in my reversion to:
You know what's annoying? A blanding of all text to the same level, and the inability to recognize some statements ARE more significant than others. Why not just quote everyone and everything? Because, to paraphrase a recent "Incredible" cartoon: to say everything is special is to say NOTHING is. Some things ARE more notable and more generally noted than others, and I am no disciple of the practice of always blanding everything down to the same level. ~ Achilles
To elaborate a bit. I believe pages are much more attractive and appealing when there is evidence of some actual thought, consideration and selection involved in them, rather than the wholesale gathering of any comments and statements that any half-wit could do. QUOTATION IS THE ART OF SELECTING WHAT SOMEONE SOMEWHERE DOES FIND SIGNIFICANT, and presenting quotes on pages here does involve an intelligent gauging of how significant most people might tend to find them. The option of bolding for emphasis of quotes or sections of quotes that someone finds significant has existed here since early on, and I for one, feel it should continue to be used. Why do we quote Feynman, and not his mother, or his next door neighbor? Because Feynman is known to have stated things that people find important, interesting, and often amusing. ~ Achilles 08:13, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I've added "i think i can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics" to the 'attributed' section. I've read this qoute in more than one publication and several websites attribute the quote to Feynman.
I have no more information on the context of the quote or its primary source, but I felt it should be added. ~ My_Name_Is_Joe 23 Jan 2006
- No evidence in this Cornell film clip for the above UFO quote but he might have said it elswhere.
- Verbatim quote derived from PBS NOVA "The best mind since Einstein (1993) containing unedited film of lecture given at Cornell 1964. Quote should be upgraded to "Sourced" instead of "Attributed".
I removed the above from the article. Comments or discussions should be here on the talk page. 22.214.171.124 09:38, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
First of all, whoever did the pictures- wow. Amazing.
The only problem is that the picture going along with the quote about the electron going in any which way it liked is a picture of a Feynman diagram, which diagrams a particle interaction. His quote is about path integral formulation, which (among a significant amount of other things) helped resolve the problem about single electron interference patterns, in which beams that shot single electrons into a classical Young's double-slit setup produced an interference, which shouldn't happen with single electrons. (All of this can be found in Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time'.) Instead,  here is the relevant picture from Wikipedia. Changing to match.
...Or I would, if I knew how. Can someone help me on this? Thanks.
-SZero,  on W-Pedia.
- The diagram suggested has now been used, as more illustrative of the notion; though I had thought even a basic Feynman diagram was sufficient to evoke the concept, the illustration of 3 of the potential paths is far more evocative. ~ Kalki 08:49, 23 June 2006 (UTC)
A poet once said
Does anyone know what poet Feynman is quoting? A web search only reveals Feynman as a source. Is he being coy here and quoting himself? SarahLawrence Scott 03:28, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Source for last words
"Last words" does not strike me as a source. In particular, there is a variant of Feynman's last words that is often found: "This dying is boring." Given the two variations, a good source should be stated or the quote should be move to the "attributed" section. SarahLawrence Scott 03:37, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Know how to solve every problem that has been solved.
This quote is referenced from Stephen Hawking's book The Universe In Nutshell, page 83. In the picture this quote is written on a blackboard and text below says that its shot of Richard's blackboard in Caltech at the time of his death. For verification, scribd has a copy: http://www.scribd.com/doc/10040006/The-Universe-in-a-Nutshell
Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Richard Feynman.
- Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there.
- Science is what we have learned about how not to fool ourselves about the way the world is.
- All fundamental processes are reversible.
- Einstein was a giant. His head was in the clouds, but his feet were on the ground. Those of us who are not so tall have to choose!
- Don't worry about anything... Go out and have a good time.
- If you can't explain something to a first year student, then you haven't really understood it.
- Dr. Hoenikker used to say that any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan.
- It is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn't get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history of man.
- It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.
- As he said on the PBS TV show NOVA, the title of the show was "The Best Mind Since Einstein" the show aired in 1993 but don't know when he uttered it, as he was clearly not living in 1993. In the video clip, he was explaining to his class how to find new laws of physics.
- Here's more context for the quote :
- First you guess. Don't laugh, this is the most important step. Then you compute the consequences. Compare the consequences to experience. If it disagrees with experience, the guess is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn't matter how beautiful your guess is or how smart you are or what your name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it's wrong. That's all there is to it.
- I'm told that he frequently told his class this sort of parable and there are different versions of this quote, all on the same theme.
- Mathematics is not real, but it feels real. Where is this place?
- Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.
- People say to me, "Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?" No, I'm not... If it turns out there is a simple ultimate law which explains everything, so be it — that would be very nice to discover. If it turns out it's like an onion with millions of layers... then that's the way it is. But either way there's Nature and she's going to come out the way She is. So therefore when we go to investigate we shouldn't predecide what it is we're looking for only to find out more about it. Now you ask: "Why do you try to find out more about it?" If you began your investigation to get an answer to some deep philosophical question, you may be wrong. It may be that you can't get an answer to that particular question just by finding out more about the character of Nature. But that's not my interest in science; my interest in science is to simply find out about the world and the more I find out the better it is, I like to find out...
[from BBC Horizon interview]
- Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds
- Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.
- Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.
- The theoretical broadening which comes from having many humanities subjects on the campus is offset by the general dopiness of the people who study these things.
- The same equations have the same solutions. (Thus when you have solved a mathematical problem, you can re-use the solution in another physical situation. Feynman was skilled in transforming a problem into one that he could solve.)
- The wonderful thing about science is that it's alive.
- There are 1011 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.
- What does it mean, to understand? ... I don't know.
- When you are solving a problem, don't worry. Now, after you have solved the problem, then that's the time to worry.
- Know how to solve every problem that has been solved.
- The potential energy of true love,
can be calculated in many ways.
The simplest is based on two details
her height and what she weighs.
- Remarks after bongo drum session at Caltech (13 Jul 1953)
The First Quote
The first quote that is offered seems to suggest a certain cynicism toward belief in God, while in the original context (THE RELATION OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION by RICHARD P. FEYNMAN, http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/49/2/Religion.htm), Feynman is inquiring and probing the relationship between science and belief in God, not from hostility but accommodation. In the same article he praises religion, particularly the moral ethic found within Christianity and faith in God. Maybe this quote should be inserted following the first, "Western civilization, it seems to me, stands by two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure... The other great heritage is Christian ethics..." 126.96.36.199 21:21, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
- I'm not sure which of the first remarks you were referring to, but I added two quotes from the beginning and end of the lecture you provided a link to, and am grateful for that link — Feynman was a person of great genius who I have long respected as very insightful in ways that very few people are. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 23:26, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
Letter to Marcus Chown's mother
There seems to be some confusion about what was in Feynman's letter to Cosmology writer Marcus Chown's mother. I've just heard a radio documentary featuring Chown quoting the letter as "Dear Mrs Chown, Ignore your son's attempts to teach you Physics. Physics is not the most important thing, love is. ". Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/ts5mm/ listen from 25:23 (annoyingly, it'll disappear from the BBC site on Saturday evening (on 25/09/10))
- I did listen to this program a few months ago, and this is more information to work with in terms of how the statement has come to be paraphrased or misquoted by various individuals, including the recipient, but I believe that I have also actually seen a photograph of the post-card in question which contains the phrase as currently quoted in the article. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 03:11, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
"If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics."
The quote, exact words, "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics." is very very widely attributed to Feynman-- at the moment, a full-phrase exact match search on that in Google hits "about 16,500" pages. Skimming them, almost all attribute it to him by name (the remaining few just say "as a famous physicist once said", etc.; none seem to attribute it to anyone else)...
And the wording is very much in his style, and the content sure is...
And me and about 16,500 of my closest friends think it's an excellent quote!...
But I can't find anywhere that actually gives a source! What to do?
It sounds like something he went around saying. Maybe he could be caught saying it in Six (Not So) Easy Pieces? Or someone could find an actual colleague having written "As Dr. Feynmann often said... [or once said to me, etc.]"?
Any help appreciated. -- Sburke 15:19, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
- This is probably a paraphrase of the quote attributed to Niels Bohr: "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it." ~ Ningauble 15:52, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
I am familiar with this quote, but I'm not sure this is the form I originally heard it in: "There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe there ever was such a time. There might have been a time when only one man did, because he was the only guy who caught on, before he wrote his paper. But after people read the paper a lot of people understood the theory of relativity in some way or other, certainly more than twelve. On the other hand, I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/02/15/is-relativity-hard/
"Physics is like sex..."
A disputed quote on this page is "Physics is like sex. Sure you can get some interesting results, but that's not why we do it." Somewhere in Leonard Susskind's "The Theoretical Minimum" online lecture series he says something to the effect of "as my friend Dick Feynman used to say, 'physics is to sex as mathematics is to masturbation' - but I think he meant it in the sense that with physics, you're doing it with a partner". I can't remember which lecture this is in though, so it's hard to really source. 188.8.131.52 19:34, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
- You have it backwards – it should obviously be "physics is to mathematics as sex is to masturbation", as your way around doesn't even make sense. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:40, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
On his blackboard at the time of his death
I found this http://archives.caltech.edu/search_catalog.cfm?results_file=Detail_View&recsPerPage=1&firstRecToShow=9&search_field=Richard%20Feynman%20blackboard&entry_type=Photo&photo_id=&cat_series= in contrast with the quote "What I cannot create, I do not understand." given here. It seems a reliable source, but I'm not sure of the sentence on this image, if anyone could read that...: —This unsigned comment is by 184.108.40.206 (talk • contribs) .
- It seems to read:
- In what sense is what happens at one place in a string independent of what happens to another point also in the string but distant?
- The caltech archives are certainly a fairly reliable source, but this seems only a portion of the blackboard, and it seems much more was written on it beyond this image. ~ ♞☤☮♌Kalki·†·⚓⊙☳☶⚡ 13:21, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
- It seems to read: