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- My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: So? Did you learn anything today? But not my mother. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference — asking good questions — made me become a scientist.
- As quoted in "Great Minds Start With Questions" in Parents Magazine (September 1993).
- I think physicists are the Peter Pans of the human race. They never grow up, and they keep their curiosity.
- What more do you want, mermaids?
- In defense of Robert Oppenheimer at McCarthy-era security hearings, after noting he had organized scientists to develop the atomic bomb for the US, as quoted in "Atomised" in The New Statesman' (10 January 2008).