physics

Isaac Newton was not a pleasant man.

Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time

Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.

Albert Einstein

Gamow had quite a sense of humor – he persuaded the nuclear scientist Hans Beth to add his name to the paper to make the list of authors Alpher, Bethe, Gamow, like the first three letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha, beta, gamma, and particularly appropriate for a paper on the beginning of the universe!

Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time

It’s the gravity that shapes the large scale structure of the universe, even though it is the weakest of four categories of forces.

Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time

I imagined the Augustus Waters analysis of that comment: If I am playing basketball in heaven, does that imply a physical location of a heaven containing physical basketballs? Who makes the basketballs in question? Are there less fortunate souls in heaven who work in a celestial basketball factory so that I can play? Or did an omnipotent God create the basketballs out of the vacuum of space? Is this heaven in some kind of unobservable universe where the laws of physics don’t apply, and if so, why in the hell would I be playing basketball when I could be flying or reading or looking at beautiful people or something else I actually enjoy? It’s almost as if the way you imagine my dead self says more about you than either the person I was or whatever I am now.

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

A lot of prizes have been awarded for showing that the universe is not as simple as we might have thought!

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

The story that Newton was inspired by an apple hitting his head is almost certainly apocryphal. All Newton himself ever said was that the idea of gravity came to him as he sat “in a contemplative mood” and “was occasioned by the fall of an apple”.

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

In the eighteenth century, philosophers considered the whole of human knowledge, including science, to be their field and discussed questions such as: Did the universe have a beginning? However, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for the philosophers, or anyone else except a few specialists. Philosophers reduced the scope of their inquiries so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of this century, said, “The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language.” What a comedown from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant!

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

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