1879-1955. German-born American physicist and Nobel laureate.
human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part
limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and
feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical
delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few
persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison
by widening our circles of
compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in
The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere
of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a
new angle, requires creative
imagination and marks real advance in science."
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
"Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I assure you
that mine are greater."
"The search for truth is more precious than its possession."
The American Mathematical Monthly v. 100 no. 3.
About Pythagoras Theorem Proof
'At the age of 12 I experienced a second
wonder of a totally different nature: in a little book dealing with
Euclidean plane geometry, which came
into my hands at the beginning of a school year. Here were assertions,
as for example the intersection of the three
altitudes of a triangle in one point, which - though by no means evident
- could nevertheless be proved with such certainty that
any doubt appeared to be out of the question. This lucidity and
certainty made an indescribable impression upon me. For example I
remember that an uncle told me the Pythagorean
theorem before the holy geometry booklet had come into my
hands. After much effort I succeeded in ``proving'' this theorem on the
basis of the similarity of triangles
... for anyone who experiences [these feelings] for the first time, it
is marvellous enough that man is capable at all to reach such a degree
of certainty and purity in pure thinking as the Greeks showed us for the
first time to be possible in geometry.'
Philosopher-Scientist, by Paul Arthur Schilpp, 1951.
"We come now to the question: what is a priori certain or necessary,
respectively in geometry (doctrine of space) or its foundations?
Formerly we thought everything; nowadays we think nothing. Already the
distance-concept is logically arbitrary; there need be no things that
correspond to it, even approximately."
"Space-Time." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed.