A deep sense of humor and an unusual ability for telling stories and jokes endeared Johnny even to casual acquaintances. He could be blunt when necessary, but was never pompous. A mind of von Neumann's inexorable logic had to understand and accept much that most of us do not want to accept and do not even wish to understand. This fact colored many of von Neumann's moral judgments. "It is just as foolish to complain that people are selfish and treacherous as it is to complain that the magnetic field does not increase unless the electric field has a curl. Both are laws of nature." Only scientific intellectual dishonesty and misappropriation of scientific results could rouse his indignation and ire — but these did — and did almost equally whether he himself, or someone else, was wronged.
Biographical memoir: "John von Neumann (1903 - 1957)" in Year book of the American Philosophical Society (1958); later in Symmetries and Reflections : Scientific Essays of Eugene P. Wigner (1967), p. 261
A possible explanation of the physicist's use of mathematics to formulate his laws of nature is that he is a somewhat irresponsible person. As a result, when he finds a connection between two quantities which resembles a connection well-known from mathematics, he will jump at the conclusion that the connection is that discussed in mathematics simply because he does not know of any other similar connection.
"The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics, February 1960.
The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.
"The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics, February 1960, final sentence.
In science, it is not speed that is the most important. It is the dedication, the commitment, the interest and the will to know something and to understand it — these are the things that come first.
in an interview by István Kardos (1978). Scientists face to face. Corvina Kiadó. p. 370. ISBN 963130373X.