Werner Heisenberg quotes

  • In the strict formulation of the law of causality—if we know the present, we can calculate the future—it is not the conclusion that is wrong but the premise. On an implication of the uncertainty principle.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Future #Law #Causality

  • When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity ? And why turbulence ? I really believe he will have an answer for the first.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Believe #Two #Answers

  • What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Science #Perception #Method

  • The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Atheist #Glasses #Waiting

  • 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

    #Mistake #Failure #Experts

  • [T]he atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Real #World #Facts

  • After the conversations about Indian philosophy, some of the ideas of Quantum Physics that had seemed so crazy suddenly made much more sense.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Philosophy #Crazy #Ideas

  • Science no longer is in the position of observer of nature, but rather recognizes itself as part of the interplay between man and nature. The scientific method ... changes and transforms its object: the procedure can no longer keep its distance from the object.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Distance #Science #Men

  • The incomplete knowledge of a system must be an essential part of every formulation in quantum theory. Quantum theoretical laws must be of a statistical kind. To give an example: we know that the radium atom emits alpha-radiation. Quantum theory can give us an indication of the probability that the alpha-particle will leave the nucleus in unit time, but it cannot predict at what precise point in time the emission will occur, for this is uncertain in principle.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Law #Giving #Example

  • There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Religion #Atheism #Serious

  • The reality we can put into words is never reality itself.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Reality

  • Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Science #Reality #Thinking

  • Every word or concept, clear as it may seem to be, has only a limited range of applicability.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #May #Range #Clear

  • Whenever we proceed from the known to the unkown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word 'understanding'
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Spiritual #Understanding #May

  • You may object that by speaking of simplicity and beauty I am introducing aesthetic criteria of truth, and I frankly admit that I am strongly attracted by the simplicity and beauty of mathematical schemes which nature presents us. You must have felt this too: the almost frightening simplicity and wholeness of the relationship, which nature suddenly spreads out before us.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Truth #Simplicity #May

  • Quantum theory provides us with a striking illustration of the fact that we can fully understand a connection though we can only speak of it in images and parables.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Illustration #Facts #Connections

  • Natural science, does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Doe #Natural #Natural Science

  • There is a fundamental error in separating the parts from the whole, the mistake of atomizing what should not be atomized. Unity and complementarity constitute reality.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Mistake #Reality #Errors

  • The physicist may be satisfied when he has the mathematical scheme and knows how to use for the interpretation of the experiments. But he has to speak about his results also to non-physicists who will not be satisfied unless some explanation is given in plain language. Even for the physicist the description in plain language will be the criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached. Physics and Philosophy
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Philosophy #Understanding #Degrees

  • We will have to abandon the philosophy of Democritus and the concept of elementary particles. We should accept instead the concept of elementary symmetries.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Philosophy #Accepting #Should

  • Thus, the more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known, and conversely.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Momentum #Determined #Position

  • The basic idea is to shove all fundamental difficulties onto the neutron and to do quantum mechanics in the nucleus.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Ideas #Fundamentals #Neutrons

  • Can quantum mechanics represent the fact that an electron finds itself approximately in a given place and that it moves approximately with a given velocity, and can we make these approximations so close that they do not cause experimental difficulties?
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Moving #Velocity #Causes

  • It was about three o'clock at night when the final result of the calculation [which gave birth to quantum mechanics] lay before me ... At first I was deeply shaken ... I was so excited that I could not think of sleep. So I left the house ... and awaited the sunrise on top of a rock.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Sleep #Night #Thinking

  • The solution of the difficulty is that the two mental pictures which experiment lead us to form - the one of the particles, the other of the waves - are both incomplete and have only the validity of analogies which are accurate only in limiting cases.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Two #Analogies #Wave

  • The more precise the measurement of position, the more imprecise the measurement of momentum, and vice versa.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Measurement #Vices #Momentum

  • Even for the physicist the description in plain language will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Understanding #Degrees #Language

  • The ontology of materialism rested upon the illusion that the kind of existence, the direct "actuality" of the world around us, can be extrapolated into the atomic range. This extrapolation is impossible, however.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #World #Ontology #Impossible

  • Every tool carries with it the spirit by which it has been created.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Tools #Spirit

  • Where no guiding ideals are left to point the way, the scale of values disappears and with it the meaning of our deeds and sufferings, and at the end can lie only negation and despair. Religion is therefore the foundation of ethics, and ethics the presupposition of life.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Lying #Suffering #Despair

  • In general, scientific progress calls for no more than the absorption and elaboration of new ideas- and this is a call most scientists are happy to heed.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Ideas #Progress #Scientist

  • I think that modern physics has definitely decided in favor of Plato. In fact the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Plato #Thinking #Ideas

  • If nature leads us to mathematical forms of great simplicity and beauty—by forms, I am referring to coherent systems of hypotheses, axioms, etc.—to forms that no one has previously encountered, we cannot help thinking that they are “true,” that they reveal a genuine feature of nature…. You must have felt this too: the almost frightening simplicity and wholeness of the relationships which nature suddenly spreads out before us and for which none of us was in the least prepared.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Thinking #Simplicity #Etc

  • ...separation of the observer from the phenomenon to be observed is no longer possible.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Separation #Observation #Phenomenon

  • It seems sensible to discard all hope of observing hitherto unobservable quantities, such as the position and period of the electron... Instead it seems more reasonable to try to establish a theoretical quantum mechanics, analogous to classical mechanics, but in which only relations between observable quantities occur.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Trying #Mechanic #Quantum

  • Whether we electrons, light quanta, benzol molecules, or stones, we shall always come up against these two characteristics, the corpuscular and the undular.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Light #Two #Stones

  • What we observe is not nature itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning. Our scientific work in physics consists in asking questions about nature in the language that we possess and trying to get an answer from experiment by the means that are at our disposal.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Mean #Asking Questions #Trying

  • It will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at some absolute truth.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Truth #Reason #Absolute Truth

  • Nature allows only experimental situations to occur which can be described within the framework of the formalism of quantum mechanics
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Science #Mechanic #Framework

  • The problems of language here are really serious. We wish to speak in some way about the structure of the atoms. But we cannot speak about atoms in ordinary language.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Wish #Ordinary #Atoms

  • I believe that the existence of the classical "path" can be pregnantly formulated as follows: The "path" comes into existence only when we observe it.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Believe #Path #I Believe

  • The world thus appears as a complicated tissue of events, in which connections of different kinds alternate or overlap or combine and thereby determine the texture of the whole.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Different #Texture #Tissues

  • The discontinuous 'reduction of the wave packets' which cannot be derived from Schroedinger's equation is ... a consequence of the transition from the possible to the actual.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Science #Transition #Wave

  • Both matter and radiation possess a remarkable duality of character, as they sometimes exhibit the properties of waves, at other times those of particles. Now it is obvious that a thing cannot be a form of wave motion and composed of particles at the same time - the two concepts are too different
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Character #Two #Different

  • In my paper the fact the XY was not equal to YX was very disagreeable to me. I felt this was the only point of difficulty in the whole scheme...and I was not able to solve it.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Paper #Ontology #Able

  • The Same organizing forces that have shaped nature in all her forms are also responsible for the structure of our minds.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Mind #Responsible #Force

  • It is probably true quite generally that in the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet. These lines may have their roots in quite different parts of human nature, in different times or different cultural environments or different religious traditions: hence if they actually meet, that is, if they are at least so much related to each other that a real interaction can take place, then one may hope that new and interesting developments may follow.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Religious #Real #Thinking

  • By getting to smaller and smaller units, we do not come to fundamental or indivisible units. But we do come to a point where further division has no meaning.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Science #Division #Fundamentals

  • The positivists have a simple solution: the world must be divided into that which we can say clearly and the rest, which we had better pass over in silence. But can anyone conceive of a more pointless philosophy, seeing that what we can say clearly amounts to next to nothing? If we omitted all that is unclear, we would probably be left completely uninteresting and trivial tautologies.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Philosophy #Simple #Silence

  • The violent reaction on the recent development of modern physics can only be understood when one realises that here the foundations of physics have started moving; and that this motion has caused the feeling that the ground would be cut from science
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Moving #Cutting #Feelings

  • "Uncertainty" is NOT "I don't know." It is "I can't know." "I am uncertain" does not mean "I could be certain."
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Mean #Arrogance #Doe

  • My mind was formed by studying philosophy, Plato and that sort of thing.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Plato #Philosophy #Mind

  • The exact sciences also start from the assumption that in the end it will always be possible to understand nature, even in every new field of experience, but that we may make no a priori assumptions about the meaning of the word understand.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #May #Fields #Assumption

  • The one who insists on never uttering an error must remain silent.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Learning #Errors #Silent

  • The 'path' comes into existence only when we observe it.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Path #Existence

  • Science clears the fields on which technology can build.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Technology #Fields

  • Modern physics has changed nothing in the great classical disciplines of, for instance, mechanics, optics, and heat. Only the conception of hitherto unexplored regions, formed prematurely from a knowledge of only certain parts of the world, has undergone a decisive transformation. This conception, however, is always decisive for the future course of research.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Knowledge #Discipline #Research

  • The conception of objective reality ... has thus evaporated ... into the transparent clarity of mathematics that represents no longer the behavior of particles but rather our knowledge of this behavior.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Knowledge #Reality #Clarity

  • I think that the discovery of antimatter was perhaps the biggest jump of all the big jumps in physics in our century.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Thinking #Discovery #Physics

  • Nature is made in such a way as to be able to be understood. Or perhaps I should put it-more correctly-the other way around, and say that we are made in such a way as to be able to understand Nature.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Nature #Able #Way

  • Looking at something changes it.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Things Change

  • Every experiment destroys some of the knowledge of the system which was obtained by previous experiments.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Experiments

  • Unless you stake your life, life will not be won.
    -- Werner Heisenberg

    #Stakes