Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Isidor Rabi - Best Quote EVER in Physics



"I know that when I was in my late teens and early twenties the world was just a Roman candle - rockets all the time ... You lose that sort of thing as time goes on ... physics is an otherworld thing. It requires a taste for things unseen, even unheard of - a high degree of abstraction ... These faculties die off somehow when you grow up ... profound curiosity happens when children are young. I think physicists are the Peter Pans of the human race ... Once you are sophisticated, you know too much - far too much. Pauli once said to me 'I know a great deal. I know too much. I am a quantum ancient.'" - Isidor Rabi

5 comments:

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

This short text is so beautifully written. After what we have been recenly thru with Lumo and stuff, here's a refreshing get back to the pure thing.

Nice choice, Steven.

Steven Colyer said...

Thanks, however I feel I am immune to this thinking. Why? Because, I told Physics to take a hike in 1978 at the age of 22 for reasons explained elsewhere, coming back only recently in late 2008 at age 51, very close to 52.

So in truth, I have the passion of a 23-yr-old in the field. Uh-oh, don't look now, the "peak" age of 27 is only 4 years away! Time to get cracking! lol

Look out Gauge Theory, here we come! QFT first. :-)

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

I am convinced that mental aging is due more to learning processes themselves (as seen in the form of dynamical system) than to the biological age of neurons. And you are old when you have reached the fix point.

Steven Colyer said...

Honestly? I think the most important thing is to keep one's self mentally engaged. Keep working the "brain muscles," the neurons. Keep them active. They hate inactivity. Once a person resigns themselves to a mindless job, and nights spent watching the television, their life is essentially finished. Sad, but common.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

That's exactly what I meant! The biological age of neurons (i.e. how old are your molecules) has nothing to do with your mental age (what you think about and stuff), so you can create young thoughts with old neurons. That was what I meant Steven :)