John Archibald Wheeler Quotes

Who is John Archibald Wheeler?

John Archibald Wheeler was an American theoretical physicist. Wheeler worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission.

Born July 09, 1911
Died April 13, 2008

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Best 30 Quotes by John Archibald Wheeler

“Anyone who expects to create, be it as a scientist or artist, scholar or writer, needs self-confidence, even bravado. How else can one dare to imagine understanding what no one else has understood, discovering what no one else has discovered? Where does this confidence come from? Fortunately, every young person is blessed with some of it. It is part of human character.”

“Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it – in a decade, a century, or a millennium – we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise? How could we have been so stupid?”

“I like to say, when asked why I pursue science, that it is to satisfy my curiosity, that I am by nature a searcher trying to understand.”

“I like to think that someone will trace how the deepest thinking of India made its way to Greece and from there to the philosophy of our times.”

“If you haven’t found something strange during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

“In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.”

“In order to more fully understand this reality, we must take into account other dimensions of a broader reality.”

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“Knowledge only progresses by making mistakes as fast as possible.”

“Make an estimate before every calculation, try a simple physical argument (symmetry! invariance! conservation!) before every derivation, guess the answer to every paradox and puzzle. Courage: No one else needs to know what the guess is. Therefore make it quickly, by instinct. A right guess reinforces this instinct. A wrong guess brings the refreshment of surprise. In either case life as a spacetime expert, however long, is more fun!”

“Never make a calculation until you know the answer.”

“No phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.”

“Nobody can be anybody without somebodies around.”

“Of all heroes, Spinoza was Einstein's greatest. No one expressed more strongly than he a belief in the harmony, the beauty, and most of all the ultimate comprehensibility of nature.”

“One can only learn by teaching.”

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“Spacetime tells matter how to move; matter tells spacetime how to curve.”

“Surely where there's smoke there's fire? No, where there's so much smoke there's smoke.”

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“Human beings are rule-following animals by nature; they are born to conform to the social norms they see around them, and they entrench those rules with often transcendent meaning and value. When the surrounding environment changes and new challenges arise, there is often a disjunction between existing institutions and present needs. Those institutions are supported by legions of entrenched stakeholders who oppose any fundamental change.”

The Origins of Political Order


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“The job of a theoretical physicist is to make mistakes as fast as possible.”

“The laws of physics that we regard as 'sacred', as immutable, are anything but.”

“The observer cannot be left out of the description of the observation.”

“The universe gives birth to consciousness, and consciousness gives meaning to the universe.”

“There are many modes of thinking about the world around us and our place in it. I like to consider all the angles from which we might gain perspective on our amazing universe and the nature of existence.”

“This is our Universe, our museum of wonder and beauty, our cathedral.”

“Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once.”

“To hate is to study, to study is to understand, to understand is to appreciate, to appreciate is to love. So maybe I'll end up loving your theory.”

“We all know that the real reason universities have students is in order to educate the professors.”

“We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense this is aparticipatory universe.”

“We live on an island of knowledge surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As the island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.”

“We will first understand how simple the universe is when we recognize how strange it is.”

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“What we call the past is built on bits.”

“Yes, there is happiness to be found in the mere contemplation of the deepest mysteries.”

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“Manners, really good ones, make it possible to live with almost anyone, gracefully and pleasantly.”


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