Physics Quotes: Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity - Physics constitutes a logical system of thought which is in a state of evolution, whose basis (principles) cannot be distilled, as it were, from experience by an inductive method, but can only be arrived at by free invention.(Albert Einstein, 1936) Physics constitutes a logical system of thought which is in a state of evolution, whose basis (principles) cannot be distilled, as it were, from experience by an inductive method, but can only be arrived at by free invention. The justification (truth content) of the system rests in the verification of the derived propositions (a priori / logical truths) by sense experiences (a posteriori / empirical truths). ... Evolution is proceeding in the direction of increasing simplicity of the logical basis (principles). .. We must always be ready to change these notions - that is to say, the axiomatic basis of physics - in order to do justice to perceived facts in the most perfect way logically. (Albert Einstein, Physics and Reality, 1936)

It is the grand object of all theory to make these irreducible elements (axioms / principles) as simple and as few in number as possible, without having to renounce the adequate representation of any empirical content whatever. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

The development during the present century is characterized by two theoretical systems essentially independent of each other: the theory of relativity and the quantum theory. The two systems do not directly contradict each other; but they seem little adapted to fusion into one unified theory. For the time being we have to admit that we do not possess any general theoretical basis for physics which can be regarded as its logical foundation. (Albert Einstein, 1940)

If, then, it is true that the axiomatic basis of theoretical physics cannot be extracted from experience but must be freely invented, can we ever hope to find the right way? I answer without hesitation that there is, in my opinion, a right way, and that we are capable of finding it. I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

On Epistemology and the Philosophy of Physics

I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well as history and philosophy of science. So many people today - and even professional scientists - seem to me like somebody who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is - in my opinion - the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth. (Albert Einstein to Robert A. Thornton, 7 December 1944, EA 61-574)

How does it happen that a properly endowed natural scientist comes to concern himself with epistemology? Is there no more valuable work in his specialty? I hear many of my colleagues saying, and I sense it from many more, that they feel this way. I cannot share this sentiment. ... Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such an authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens. Thus they come to be stamped as 'necessities of thought,' 'a priori givens,' etc. The path of scientific advance is often made impassable for a long time through such errors. For that reason, it is by no means an idle game if we become practiced in analyzing the long common place concepts and exhibiting those circumstances upon which their justification and usefulness depend, how they have grown up, individually, out of the givens of experience. By this means, their all-too-great authority will be broken. (Albert Einstein. 'Ernst Mach.' Physikalische Zeitschrift 17 (1916): 101, 102 - A memorial notice for the philosopher, Ernst Mach.)


References: Metaphysics Philosophy Physics (See Albert Einstein Theory of Relativity, Quantum Theory, Cosmology, Bibliography)

Overview

Physics in the broadest sense is the study of matter, energy and their interactions, from the sub-atomic to the cosmological scale. Modern physics is those observations, concepts and theories (central, proposed or fringe) which have occurred within; or are largely bound up with the physics dated post 1900.

The three main theories of modern physics are;

Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity - Physics constitutes a logical system of thought which is in a state of evolution, whose basis (principles) cannot be distilled, as it were, from experience by an inductive method, but can only be arrived at by free invention. (Albert Einstein, 1936) Albert Einstein's Theory of Special and General Relativity (1905,1915)

The special theory, on which the general theory rests, applies to all physical phenomena with the exception of gravitation; the general theory provides the law of gravitation and its relation to the other forces of nature. (Albert Einstein, 1919)
The theory of relativity may indeed be said to have put a sort of finishing touch to the mighty intellectual edifice of Maxwell and Lorentz, inasmuch as it seeks to extend field physics to all phenomena, gravitation included. (Albert Einstein, 1934)

Max Planck, Physics. A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. Quantum Theory (1900 - 1930)

But even if the radiation formula should prove to be absolutely accurate it would after all be only an interpolation formula found by happy guesswork, and would thus leave one rather unsatisfied. I was, therefore, from the day of its origination, occupied with the task of giving it a real physical meaning. (Max Planck - From his 1919 Nobel Prize address, 'The Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory')

In the year nineteen hundred, in the course of purely theoretical (mathematical) investigation, Max Planck made a very remarkable discovery: the law of radiation of bodies as a function of temperature could not be derived solely from the Laws of Maxwellian electrodynamics. To arrive at results consistent with the relevant experiments, radiation of a given frequency f had to be treated as though it consisted of energy atoms (photons) of the individual energy hf, where h is Planck's universal constant. During the years following, it was shown that light was everywhere produced and absorbed in such energy quanta. In particular, Niels Bohr was able to largely understand the structure of the atom, on the assumption that the atoms can only have discrete energy values, and that the discontinuous transitions between them are connected with the emission or absorption of energy quantum. This threw some light on the fact that in their gaseous state elements and their compounds radiate and absorb only light of certain sharply defined frequencies. (Albert Einstein, 1940)

All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, 'What are light quanta?' Nowadays every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows it, but he is mistaken. (Albert Einstein, 1954)


Albert Einstein: The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction.  (Albert Einstein) Cosmology (founded on Einstein's General Relativity)

The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them. (Albert Einstein, 1918)

I must not fail to mention that a theoretical argument can be adduced in favour of the hypothesis of a finite universe. The general theory of relativity teaches that the inertial mass of a given body is greater as there are more ponderable masses in proximity to it; thus it seems very natural to reduce the total inertia of a body to interactions between it and the other bodies in the universe, as indeed, ever since Newton’s time, gravity has been completely reduced to interaction between bodies. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

It can no longer be maintained that the properties of any one thing in the universe are independent of the existence or non-existence of everything else. It is, at last, no longer sensible to speak of a universe with only one thing in it. (Smolin, 1997)