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  1. #1
    Senior Member InsatiableCuriosity's Avatar
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    Default Long - the quotes of lovable larrikin, Nobel physicist Richard Feynman

    Firstly, for those unfamiliar with Aussie vernacular (not certain whether this term is used elsewhere), the larrikin is usually the irreverent, mischievous prankster. These days it is used negatively when referring to young punks, or affectionately as the lovable larrikin referring fondly to someone with a bit of cheek and audacity.

    I think Richard Feynman's approach to life and science, clearly paints him as having I/ENTP preferences. I fell in love with his lectures and observations when the book titled The Pleasure of Finding Things Out caught my eye. I bought it, read it, and while I have known of Feynman since school, never truly appreciated his work as much before reading this collection of interviews and lectures.

    Below are but some of the quotes for which he was famous:

    "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)

    "Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it."

    "I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."

    "The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion."

    "I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong."

    "We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on."

    "Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all."

    "There are 10^11 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."
    "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."

    "A poet once said, 'The whole universe is in a glass of wine.' We will probably never know in what sense he meant it, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflection in the glass; and our imagination adds atoms. The glass is a distillation of the earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the evolution of stars. What strange array of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization; all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts -- physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on -- remember that nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure; drink it and forget it all!"

    "We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress."

    "You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts."

    "You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing."

    "If you thought that science was certain - well, that is just an error on your part."

    "I, a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe."

    "I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here. I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell."

    "Physics isn't the most important thing. Love is."

    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

    "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar."

    "Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it."

    "No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race."
    "You say you are a nameless man. You are not to your wife and to your child. You will not long remain so to your immediate colleagues if you can answer their simple questions when they come into your office. You are not nameless to me. Do not remain nameless to yourself — it is too sad a way to be. Know your place in the world and evaluate yourself fairly, not in terms of the naïve ideals of your own youth, nor in terms of what you erroneously imagine your teacher's ideals are."

    "I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is ... I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts."

    "What I cannot create, I do not understand."

    "I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."

    "Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds."

    "I don't know what's the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding, they learn by some other way — by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!"

    "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool."

    "Mathematics is a language plus reasoning; it is like a language plus logic. Mathematics is a tool for reasoning."
    (The Character of Physical Law)

    "You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing."

    "Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars - mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination - stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one - million - year - old light. A vast pattern - of which I am a part... What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?"

    "Physicists like to think that all you have to do is say, these are the conditions, now what happens next?"

    "Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry."
    "Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."

    "I couldn't claim that I was smarter than sixty-five other guys--but the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly!" (Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Adventures of a Curious Character)

    "Tell your son to stop trying to fill your head with science — for to fill your heart with love is enough."

    "What is surrounded by uncertainty cannot be the truth."

    "It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil - which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama."

    "Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars - mere globs of gas atoms. I, too, can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more?"

    "People often think I'm a faker, but I'm usually honest, in a certain way--in such a way that often nobody believes me!"

    "Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it."

    "For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?"

    "In fact the total amount that a physicist knows is very little. He has only to remember the rules to get him from one place to another and he is all right..."
    (The Character of Physical Law)
    "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool"

    "I want to build a billion tiny factories, models of each other, which are manufacturing simultaneously… The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom. It is not an attempt to violate any laws; it is something, in principle, that can be done; but in practice, it has not been done because we are too big."

    "Philosophers say a great deal about what is absolutely necessary for science, and it is always, so far as one can see, rather naive, and probably wrong."

    "Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that's not the reason we are doing it."

    "Physics is to math what sex is to masturbation."
    "Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible."
    — Richard P. Feynman

    "Never tell a person a thing is impossible. G*d/the Universe may have been waiting all this time for someone ignorant enough of the impossibility to do just that thing."
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  2. #2
    THIS bitch stringstheory's Avatar
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    ahhhh, i love Richard Feynman.

    "Is no one inspired by our present picture of the universe? This value of science remains unsung by singers, you are reduced to hearing not a song or poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age."

    "I think nature's imagination is so much greater than man's that she's never gonna let us relax"
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  3. #3
    Senior Member InsatiableCuriosity's Avatar
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    Thanks for the extras Strings What an amazing mind he had!!

    Love your new avatar btw
    "Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible."
    — Richard P. Feynman

    "Never tell a person a thing is impossible. G*d/the Universe may have been waiting all this time for someone ignorant enough of the impossibility to do just that thing."
    author unknown

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    THIS bitch stringstheory's Avatar
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    [YOUTUBE="AU8PId_6xec"]The Inconceivable Nature of Nature[/YOUTUBE]

    great interview......too long to actually quote though

    he most certainly did....he and Carl Sagan. I think if i could meet anyone from recent history it'd be these two brilliant minds.

    and thank you
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  5. #5
    Senior Member InsatiableCuriosity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stringstheory View Post
    [youtube="AU8PId_6xec"]The Inconceivable Nature of Nature[/youtube]

    great interview......too long to actually quote though

    he most certainly did....he and Carl Sagan. I think if i could meet anyone from recent history it'd be these two brilliant minds.

    and thank you
    Thanks for this Strings!!! I had not seen it but wave length theory has fascinated me since forever. My grandfather was a radio engineer in the days of valve radio and set up the radar network in Oz during the 2nd world war. We were constant companions and he made me cat's whisker crystal radios.

    I suspect he was INTP which makes me wonder about heredity. Unfortunately he died when I was 6yo but I often wish he were here to see where technology has gone since his day. He would have loved it! In fact a lot of the packet transmission stuff he was studying (and I later when studying amateur radio) was the basis for modern telecommunication technologies.

    I became more focused on wave length theory when building antennae for Amateur Radio (tho I ran pirate because I could not do the morse code at a fast enough pace). I have since become entralled by wave length theory and its relationship to everything from sub-atomic to the long waves, and the discoveries of Sir John Eccles in the 60's which identified that 3 of the 5 laminae in the cerebral cortex had inexplicable subatomic electrical interaction with something external to the human body.

    So your video was spot on for me
    "Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible."
    — Richard P. Feynman

    "Never tell a person a thing is impossible. G*d/the Universe may have been waiting all this time for someone ignorant enough of the impossibility to do just that thing."
    author unknown

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    Reason vs Being ragashree's Avatar
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    Feynman's an interesting character, that's for sure. I would have said that from all I know of him he comes across as more extraverted than introverted, and very intuition dominant, which suggests ENTP as a good "best fit" type for him. He seems to have prided himself on and valued creativity over strict logical analysis and problem solving abilities; and creative thinking was certainly his hallmark as a physicist, as was his uncanny ability to find novel and effective ways to communicate both his insights and standard theory to others.

    He's one of those people who also provides compelling evidence against the IQ test being a meaningful measure of comparative intelligence, particularly at the higher levels. He was officially measured as having an IQ of 125 - well above average, but also well short of the requirement to get into Mensa, and not even in the top couple of percent of the population. We're talking here about one of the greatest theoretical physicists of all time. :rolli:
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    THIS bitch stringstheory's Avatar
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    Yeah, i'm more into the "Feynman was an ENTP" boat as well; with all the ENTPs i know, their Ti + Fe kind of morphs their crazy dominant Ne into well thought out and organized thoughts, as well as a bouncy and enthusiastic, yet clear way of explaining things to others. I'd say this describes Feynman to a T.
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  8. #8
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    I keep misreading thread titles. I was intrigued to find out what Philip Larkin and Richard Feynman had in common...


    I agree with ENTP for the latter (he is also typed as such in multiple threads here and elsewhere).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgan Le Fay View Post
    I keep misreading thread titles. I was intrigued to find out what Philip Larkin and Richard Feynman had in common...


    I agree with ENTP for the latter (he is also typed as such in multiple threads here and elsewhere).
    Yep. Just the way he talks about stuff says Ne dom to me. And though he was a great teacher and liked to look at human perception of things, he never seemed very F.

    Good job on the quotes too. I'm a big fan!
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