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Quotes of the day: J. Robert Oppenheimer
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Published Tuesday, February 18, 2014 @ 12:00 AM EST
Feb 18 2014


(J. Robert Oppenheimer by Philippe Halsman, 1958)

Julius Robert Oppenheimer (April 22, 1904 - February 18, 1967) was an American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is among the persons who are often called the "father of the atomic bomb" for their role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II project that developed the first nuclear weapons. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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Any man (Albert Einstein) whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man.

Both the man of science and the man of action live always at the edge of mystery, surrounded by it.

I can't think that it would be terrible of me to say- and it is occasionally true- that I need physics more than friends.

If you are a scientist you believe that it is good to find out how the world works; that it is good to find out what the realities are; that it is good to turn over to mankind at large the greatest possible power to control the world and to deal with it according to its lights and its values.

In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.

It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them.

No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows.

The history of science is rich in the example of the fruitfulness of bringing two sets of techniques, two sets of ideas, developed in separate contexts for the pursuit of new truth, into touch with one another

The people of this world must unite or they will perish.

The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.

There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.

There are no secrets about the world of nature. There are secrets about the thoughts and intentions of men.

There is no place for dogma in science.

There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry.

To try to be happy is to try to build a machine with no other specification than that it shall run noiselessly.

We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism.

We knew the world would not be the same. Few people laughed, few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.

We know that the wages of secrecy are corruption. We know that in secrecy error, undetected, will flourish and subvert.

We may be likened to two scorpions in a bottle, each capable of killing the other, but only at the risk of his own life.

When we deny the evil within ourselves, we dehumanize ourselves, and we deprive ourselves not only of our own destiny but of any possibility of dealing with the evil of others.

When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you've had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.


Categories: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Quotes of the day


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