The Scientific Monthly
Albert Einstein was a philosopher and physicist who revolutionized physics in the early 1900s once with quantum theory and twice more with relativity.
Quotes by Albert Einstein in Time One
Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens. … The path of scientific progress is often made impassable for a long time by such errors.
[I]t will be seen that I have not succeeded in formulating boundary conditions for spatial infinity. Nevertheless, there is still a possible way out …. For if it were possible to regard the universe as a continuum which is finite (closed) with respect to its spatial dimensions, we should have no need at all of any such boundary conditions.
I admit that the general theory of relativity is closer to the ether hypothesis than the special theory. This new ether theory, however, would not violate the principle of relativity, because the state of this … ether would not be that of a rigid body in an independent state of motion. . . .
How does it come about that alongside of the idea of ponderable matter, which is derived by abstraction from everyday life, the physicists set the idea of the existence of another kind of matter, the ether?… according to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. Thus we may also say, I think, that the ether of the general theory of relativity is the outcome of the Lorentzian ether. . . . But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable media, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it.
Quantum mechanics is very impressive. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One. I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.
If one asks what, irrespective of quantum mechanics, is characteristic of the world of ideas of physics, one is first of all struck by the following: the concepts of physics relate to the outside world….
Even the great initial success of the quantum theory does not make me believe in the fundamental dice game, although I am well aware that our younger colleagues interpret this as a consequence of senility.
According to the theory of relativity, action at a distance with the velocity of light always takes the place of instantaneous action at a distance or of action at a distance with an infinite velocity of transmission.
… [the continuum] should be banned from the theory as a supplementary construction not justified by the essence of the problem, which corresponds to nothing “real”. But we still lack the mathematical structure unfortunately. How much I have already plagued myself in this way!
I must confess that I was not able to find a way to explain the atomistic character of nature. My opinion is that … one has to find a possibility to avoid the continuum (together with space and time) altogether. But I have not the slightest idea what kind of elementary concepts could be used in such a theory.
[T]he theoretical physicist’s picture of the world … demands the highest possible standard of rigorous precision in the description of relations, such as only the use of mathematical language can give.
[W]e cannot attach any absolute signification to the concept of simultaneity, but that two events which, viewed from a system of coordinates, are simultaneous, can no longer be looked upon as simultaneous events when envisaged from a system which is in motion relatively to that system.
A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.
The whole fifty years of continuous brooding have not brought me 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.
even if they cannot both be ascertained by measurement in the same individual case. According to this point of view, the [wave] function represents an incomplete description of the real state of affairs.
I see the most essential thing in the overcoming of the inertial system, a thing that acts upon all processes, but undergoes no reaction. This concept is in principle no better than that of the center of the universe in Aristotelian physics.
I consider it entirely possible that physics cannot be based upon … continuous structures. Then nothing will remain of my whole castle in the air including the theory of gravitation, but also nothing of the rest of contemporary physics.
If my theory of relativity is proven correct, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.