J. Robert Oppenheimer Quotes


Best 41 Other Quotes by J. Robert Oppenheimer – Page 1 of 2

“Access to the Vedas is the greatest privilege this century may claim over all previous centuries.”

“Any man 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 am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

“I had had a continuing smoldering fury about the treatment of Jews in Germany.”

“I need physics more than friends.”

“I never accepted Communist dogma or theory.”

“I saw what the Depression was doing to my students. Often they could get no jobs, or jobs which were wholly inadequate.

And through them, I began to understand how deeply political and economic events could affect men's lives. I began to feel the need to participate more fully in the life of the community.”

“I would urge the principle of self-limitation in regard to wealth, and made this plea to the wealthy:

The first step to take, it they would set themselves right, is to live in the midst of superfluous wealth as if they were not the possessors of it; that is, to take for their own use only what they require for the essentials of a civilized life, and to regard the rest as a deposit for the general good, of which they themselves are not to be the beneficiaries.”

“If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and of Hiroshima.”

“If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendour of the Mighty One...
I am become Death,
The shatterer of worlds.
(Quoted from the Bhagavad Gita after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)”

“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.”

“In the material sciences these are and have been, and are most surely likely to continue to be heroic days.”

“In the spring of 1929, I returned to the United States. I was homesick for this country. I had learned in my student days a great deal about the new physics. I wanted to pursue this myself, to explain it, and to foster its cultivation.”

“In the spring of 1936, I was introduced by friends to Jean Tatlock. In the autumn, I began to court her. We were at least twice close enough to marriage to think of ourselves as engaged.”

“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.”

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“I would study UFOs, but before agreeing to do it, we must insist upon full access to discs recovered. For instance in the L.A. case, the Army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination.”

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“It is perfectly obvious that the whole world is going to hell. The only possible chance that it might not is that we do not attempt to prevent it from doing so.”

“Knowledge cannot be pursued without morality.”

“Mr. President, I have blood on my hands.”

“My childhood did not prepare me for the fact that the world is full of cruel and bitter things.”

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

“Science is not everything, but science is very beautiful.”

“Scientists are not delinquents. Our work has changed the conditions in which men live, but the use made of these changes is the problem of governments, not of scientists.”

“The atomic bomb made the prospect of future war unendurable. It has led us up those last few steps to the mountain pass; and beyond there is a different country.”

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.”

“The great synthesis of atomic physics in the 1920s was a heroic time. It was not the doing of any one man; it involved the collaboration of scores of scientists from many different lands.

But from the first to last the deeply creative, subtle and critical spirit of Niels Bohr guided, restrained, deepened and finally transmuted the enterprise.”

“The history of science is rich in 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 optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true.”

“The peoples of this world must unite or they will perish.”

“The problem of doing justice to the implicit, the imponderable, and the unknown is of course not unique in politics. It is always with us in science, it is with us in the most trivial of personal affairs, and it is one of the great problems of writing and of all forms of art. The means by which it is solved is sometimes called style.

It is style which complements affirmation with limitation and with humility; it is style which makes it possible to act effectively, but not absolutely; it is style which, in the domain of foreign policy, enables us to find a harmony between the pursuit of ends essential to us, and the regard for the views, the sensibilities, the aspirations of those to whom the problem may appear in another light; it is style which is the deference that action pays to uncertainty; it is above all style through which power defers to reason.”

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“It takes sixty-five thousand errors before you are qualified to make a rocket.”

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