Paul Dirac Quotes and Sayings  Page 1
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“God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world.”
 Paul Dirac 
“What makes the theory of relativity so acceptable to physicists in spite of its going against the principle of simplicity is its great mathematical beauty. This is a quality which cannot be defined, any more than beauty in art can be defined, but which people who study mathematics usually have no difficulty in appreciating.”
 Paul Dirac 
“Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star.”
 Paul Dirac 
“When [Erwin Schrödinger] went to the Solvay conferences in Brussels, he would walk from the station to the hotel where the delegates stayed, carrying all his luggage in a rucksack and looking so like a tramp that it needed a great deal of argument at the reception desk before he could claim a room.”
 Paul Dirac 
“The measure of greatness in a scientific idea is the extent to which it stimulates thought and opens up new lines of research.”
 Paul Dirac 
“The research worker, in his efforts to express the fundamental laws of Nature in mathematical form, should strive mainly for mathematical beauty. He should take simplicity into consideration in a subordinate way to beauty ... It often happens that the requirements of simplicity and beauty are the same, but where they clash, the latter must take precedence.”
 Paul Dirac 
“If we are honest  and scientists have to be  we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.”
 Paul Dirac 
“A theory with mathematical beauty is more likely to be correct than an ugly one that fits some experimental data.”
 Paul Dirac 
“A great deal of my work is just playing with equations and seeing what they give.”
 Paul Dirac 
“As time goes on, it becomes increasingly evident that the rules which the mathematician finds interesting are the same as those which Nature has chosen.”
 Paul Dirac 
“Just by studying mathematics we can hope to make a guess at the kind of mathematics that will come into the physics of the future ... If someone can hit on the right lines along which to make this development, it m may lead to a future advance in which people will first discover the equations and then, after examining them, gradually learn how to apply the ... My own belief is that this is a more likely line of progress than trying to guess at physical pictures.”
 Paul Dirac 
“Theoretical physicists accept the need for mathematical beauty as an act of faith... For example, the main reason why the theory of relativity is so universally accepted is its mathematical beauty.”
 Paul Dirac 
“It is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment... It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one's equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress. If there is not complete agreement between the results of one's work and experiment, one should not allow oneself to be too discouraged, because the discrepancy may well be due to minor features that are not properly taken into account and that will get cleared up with further developments of the theory.”
 Paul Dirac 
“I learnt to distrust all physical concepts as the basis for a theory. Instead one should put one's trust in a mathematical scheme, even if the scheme does not appear at first sight to be connected with physics. One should concentrate on getting interesting mathematics.”
 Paul Dirac 
“A good deal of my research in physics has consisted in not setting out to solve some particular problem, but simply examining mathematical equations of a kind that physicists use and trying to fit them together in an interesting way, regardless of any application that the work may have. It is simply a search for pretty mathematics. It may turn out later to have an application. Then one has good luck. At age 78.”
 Paul Dirac 
“I think it is a peculiarity of myself that I like to play about with equations, just looking for beautiful mathematical relations which maybe don't have any physical meaning at all. Sometimes they do. At age 60.”
 Paul Dirac 
“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 is the exact opposite.”
 Paul Dirac 
“I think it is the general rule that the originator of a new idea is not the most suitable person to develop it, because his fears of something going wrong are really too strong... At age 69.”
 Paul Dirac 
“There are always more people who prefer to speak than to listen.”
 Paul Dirac 
“The physicist, in his study of natural phenomena, has two methods of making progress: (1) the method of experiment and observation, and (2) the method of mathematical reasoning. The former is just the collection of selected data; the latter enables one to infer results about experiments that have not been performed. There is no logical reason why the second method should be possible at all, but one has found in practice that it does work and meets with reasonable success.”
 Paul Dirac 
“It was not until some weeks later that I realized there is no need to restrict oneself to 2 by 2 matrices. One could go on to 4 by 4 matrices, and the problem is then easily soluable. In retrospect, it seems strange that one can be so much held up over such an elementary point. The resulting wave equation for the electron turned out to be very successful. It led to correct values for the spin and the magnetic moment. This was quite unexpected. The work all followed from a study of pretty mathematics, without any thought being given to these physical properties of the electron.”
 Paul Dirac 
“If you are receptive and humble, mathematics will lead you by the hand. Again and again, when I have been at a loss how to proceed, I have just had to wait until I have felt the mathematics led me by the hand. It has led me along an unexpected path, a path where new vistas open up, a path leading to new territory, where one can set up a base of operations, from which one can survey the surroundings and plan future progress.”
 Paul Dirac 
“I consider that I understand an equation when I can predict the properties of its solutions, without actually solving it.”
 Paul Dirac 
“Well, in the first place, it leads to great anxiety as to whether it's going to be correct or not ... I expect that's the dominating feeling. It gets to be rather a fever... At age 60, when asked about his feelings on discovering the Dirac equation.”
 Paul Dirac 
“It is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment.”
 Paul Dirac 
“The underlying physical laws necessary for the mathematical theory of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known, and the difficulty is only that the exact application of these laws leads to equations much too complicated to be soluble. It therefore becomes desirable that approximate practical methods of applying quantum mechanics should be developed, which can lead to an explanation of the main features of complex atomic systems without too much computation.”
 Paul Dirac 
“It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one's equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress”
 Paul Dirac 
“If there is a God, he's a great mathematician.”
 Paul Dirac 
“The shortage of buyers, which the world is suffering from, is readily understood, not as due to people not wishing to obtain possession of goods, but as people being unwilling to part with something which might earn a regular income in exchange for those goods.”
 Paul Dirac 
“There is in my opinion a great similarity between the problems provided by the mysterious behavior of the atom and those provided by the present economic paradoxes confronting the world.”
 Paul Dirac