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Department of Physics

Professor Calvin W. Johnson

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The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.  -- Eugene Wigner


Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. - Werner von Braun.


Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.-- Thomas Edison.

Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work. -- Thomas Edison


A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. -- Albert Einstein


Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater. -- Einstein


Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.-- Einstein


Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler. -- Einstein


If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? -- Einstein


It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young. -- Konrad Lorenz


The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.   -- Richard Hamming


The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. -- Richard Feynman

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite. -- Paul Dirac


One cannot really argue with a mathematical theorem. -- Stephen Hawking


An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them. -- Werner Heisenberg


I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them. -- Carl Friedrich Gauss


Errors are not in the art but in the artificers.- Isaac Newton


In all science, error precedes the truth, and it is better it should go first than last. -- Hugh Walpole


The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...' -- Isaac Asimov


Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.--Niels Bohr


A long quote from James Hartle, on the occasion of Stephen Hawking's 75th birthday:


It's a common misconception that scientists working at the frontier are participants in an organized effort seeking to answer some well defined fixed famous great questions. “What is the unified theory of all the fundamental interactions?” “What was the origin of the universe?” But this is not how it seems to those of us in the trenches.

The frontier of theoretical physics is a noisy, chaotic place. At any one time, we have cherished old ideas, well confirmed in territory already mapped, that we are very reluctant to give up. We also have a whole variety of competing, different, unconfirmed new ideas vying for the best route forward into new territory that require us to give up some of the old ideas. It’s certainly not organized! .....

Rather the questions are: “What is the right question?” “What do we keep and what do we give up?”