Quantum mechanical quotes

From the revamped This Quantum World site, an all but sobering quotes collection:

  • Quantum mechanics is magic. Daniel Greenberger.
  • Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. Niels Bohr.
  • Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it. Niels Bohr.
  • If you are not completely confused by quantum mechanics, you do not understand it. John Wheeler.
  • It is safe to say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. Richard Feynman.
  • If [quantum theory] is correct, it signifies the end of physics as a science. Albert Einstein.
  • I do not like [quantum mechanics], and I am sorry I ever had anything to do with it. Erwin Schrödinger.
  • Quantum mechanics makes absolutely no sense. Roger Penrose.

29 Responses to “Quantum mechanical quotes”

  1. Dave Bacon Says:

    Bunch of propoganda, I say! Certainly Richard Feynman understood quantum mechanics!

  2. jao Says:

    Dave, i’m willing to admit that he probably did… unfortunately, as far as i know, he forgot to explain his understanding ;) Do you think (honest question!) that QM in its current form is understandable by the rest of us? And if so, what’s your favourite interpretation?

  3. kristo Says:

    Perhaps it should be said that by ‘understanding’ in these quotes is meant (I think) the reasons why qm is how it is: namely unpredictable, probalistic, stuff like entanglement, the likes. Of course Feynman understood the technical workings of qm, what he ‘does not understand’ are the metaphysics, why qm is so different from classical physics.

  4. kristo Says:

    Btw jao, it appears your blog is attracting many new visitors, according to the (smaller clustrs) visits-map.

    Way to go.

  5. jao Says:

    Thanks, Kristo. Yes, the traffic is getting better. Albeit it’s just insignificant by web standards (some sixty RSS subscribers and around seventy hits per day), i find it encouraging nonetheless. I specially appreciate reader comments (like yours ;)): they make the effort worth it.

  6. koantum Says:

    Maybe before we understand quantum mechanics we need to understand what we mean by “understanding quantum mechanics”…

  7. Quantum hype « programming musings Says:

    […] really like to see some day is a working quantum computer. Quantum mechanics is deep magic that nobody really understands, but we have learnt a lot about how to use it during the last century–including its […]

  8. george jost Says:

    Actually, you should listen to his lectures!!!

    I got the audiobook and he did indeed say, that nobody really understands Quantum mechanics, plus or minus, I don’t have his exact wording.

    His meaning was, we know how its works but we don’t really understand the underlying mechanism.

  9. Andrew Daw Says:

    There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe there ever was such a time. There might have been a time when only one man did, because he was the only guy who caught on, before he wrote his paper. But after people read the paper a lot of people understood the theory of relativity in some way or other, certainly more than twelve. On the other hand, I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics…

    I am going to tell you what nature behaves like. If you will simply admit that maybe she does behave like this, you will find her a delightful, entrancing thing. Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘but how can it be like that?’ because you will get ‘down the drain,’ into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.

    Richard Feynman – The Character of Physical Law (Lecture 6),

    So you can think Somehow objects that are detected as point-like particles can produce patterns on a screen that are consistent with these particles being waves.

    And Somehow these objects can be entangled so that their behaviour can be measured as being correlated at long distances between them.

    Find a way of sufficiently justfying and describing enough details of what causes quantum waves and entanglement and then you have come to understand quantum mechanics.

    Such understanding is not possible just by considering any evidence found on the smallest scale of matter and the energy it radiates.

    But then you could wonder whether and, if so, how a cause of these quantum effects could also act in the observable natural world on the large scale…

  10. Anima Ex Machina » Blog Archive » On the foundations of Quantum Mechanics at Tilburg Says:

    […] quantum mechanics, you have not understand quantum mechanics –more quotes of this type on QM here). However, those chosen restrictions to reconstruct the theory should come only from the experience […]

  11. Anima Ex Machina » Blog Archive » On the Fondations of Quantum Mechanics, The Netherlands Says:

    […] quantum mechanics, you have not understand quantum mechanics –more quotes of this type on QM here). However, those chosen restrictions to reconstruct the theory should come only from the experience […]

  12. wblake Says:

    Quantum mechanics is about the whole universe, including all life on Earth -only when you come to a clear understanding about all of this will you have also understood quantum mechanics.

    Merlin Wood

  13. Adam Norman » Blog Archive » Why Dawkins is wrong Says:

    […] and I’m reasonably bright and interested. And, of course, nobody can understand them all. Quantum physicists don’t understand quantum physics, let alone also understanding relativistic physics. It is, I think, pretty reasonable for any […]

  14. DanR Says:

    Every one of the listed quotes refers to the Copenhagen interpretation. There is nothing magical, unreal, confusing, or nonsensical about Quantum Mechanics (QM). QM does not signify the end of physics as a science, as long as one can bring oneself to acknowledge that there are plenty of people who do understand QM, thanks to Hugh Everett.

  15. Peter Fred Says:

    It should be possible don’t you think to have a Quantum Mechanics that not only predicts but also is understandable of comprehensible?

  16. Is Science Just a Matter of Faith? | JetLib News Says:

    […] of belief, not through reason. When Richard Fenyman wrote “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics,” he was including himself which is disconcerting given how many books he wrote on that very […]

  17. mikeysavory Says:

    People whine about how complicated quantum mechanics is, which is laughable.

    Of course, it’s gonna be complicated, they are trying to explain every phenomena under the sun (and beyond it) with the theory. Get a clue.

    The idea that everything is a little point particle is a little too simplistic for the universe (or multi-verse for that matter).

    On another note, check out this physics site, http://bluesolver.com/

  18. Chwie Says:

    I don’t know if Feynman understood Quantum Mechanics, but if he did he could shared that knowledge with us. Currently there are a lot of open question in quantum mechanics, specially the quantum-classical transitions and the measurement problem.

  19. motivation sayings Says:

    wise sayings…

    Quantum mechanical quotes « physics musings…

  20. Good Quotes Says:

    Nice Quotations…

    […]Quantum mechanical quotes « physics musings[…]…

  21. Quantum Locking & Supplies « Andrew B. Watt's Blog Says:

    […] When it comes to design, these are not inconsequential questions.  All these materials cost money and they take up space.  Making use of materials and tools is critical.  As Giambattista Vico, my favorite Renaissance Italian diplomat, said, “We only know what we make.”  Kids who make Newtonian Third Law vehicles are going to know the Third Law of Motion.  Kids who build Quantum Levitation devices are going to understand quantum effects (even if they don’t understand quantum mechanics, exactly… but then, nobody does). […]

  22. Eric Says:

    Understand how it works, yes. No one yet understands why it works.

  23. Computer and Internet Tools and Resources of J409 Blog by Petar Novakovic Understanding Quantum Cryptography Says:

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  24. melvin goldstein Says:

    Numbers are the Supreme Court of science. However Godel proved that we may not prove everything. There are Physics Foibles!!

  25. quotes Says:


    […]Quantum mechanical quotes « physics musings[…]…

  26. Komal Says:

    Ghosts of energy waiting to become physical reality…responding to our beliefs and expectations.
    Matter organizes its self according to how you think..!!

  27. The Faith Factor In Science | Orthodoxia Says:

    […] process of belief, not through reason. When Richard Fenyman wrote “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics,” he was including himself which is disconcerting given how many books he wrote on that very […]

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