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niels bohr Quotes

Niels Bohr Quotes

Birth Date: 1922-06-19 (Monday, June 19th, 1922)
Date of Death: 1962-11-18 (Sunday, November 18th, 1962)



    • We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.
    • The great extension of our experience in recent years has brought light to the insufficiency of our simple mechanical conceptions and, as a consequence, has shaken the foundation on which the customary interpretation of observation was based.
    • Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.
    • What is it that we humans depend on? We depend on our words... Our task is to communicate experience and ideas to others. We must strive continually to extend the scope of our description, but in such a way that our messages do not thereby lose their objective or unambiguous character ... We are suspended in language in such a way that we cannot say what is up and what is down. The word 'reality' is also a word, a word which we must learn to use correctly.
    • For a parallel to the lesson of atomic theory regarding the limited applicability of such customary idealisations, we must in fact turn to quite other branches of science, such as psychology, or even to that kind of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like Buddha and Lao Tzu have been confronted, when trying to harmonize our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence.
    • We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.
    • Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience. In this respect our task must be to account for such experience in a manner independent of individual subjective judgement and therefor objective in the sense that it can be unambiguously communicated in ordinary human language.
    • There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature...
    • Every valuable human being must be a radical and a rebel, for what he must aim at is to make things better than they are.
    • How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.
    • Two sorts of truth: trivialities, where opposites are obviously absurd, and profound truths, recognised by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth.
    • An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.
    • Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question.
    • Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.
    • Some subjects are so serious that one can only joke about them.
    • Truth and clarity are complementary.
    • It is not enough to be wrong, one must also be polite.
    • Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.
    • It is better to don't understand something true, than to understand something false.
    • Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
    • Stop telling God what to do with his dice.
    • Of course not ... but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it.
    • I am a very Bohring man.
    • I go into the Upanishads to ask questions.
    • It is a great pity that human beings cannot find all of their satisfaction in scientific contemplativeness.
    • Not often in life has a human being caused me such joy by his mere presence as you did.
    • I remember discussions with Bohr which went through many hours till very late at night an ended almost in despair; and when at the end of the discussion I went alone for a walk in the neighbouring park I repeated to myself again and again the question: Can nature possibly be so absurd as it seemed to us in these atomic experiments?
    • One of the favorite maxims of my father was the distinction between the two sorts of truths, profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.
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