[Ads-l] Niels Bohr Quote

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 28 15:06:27 EDT 2017


Great work Bill, Chris and Ben. Here is the version of the episode
recounted in Otto R. Frisch's memoir:

[ref] 1979, What Little I Remember by Otto R. Frisch, Chapter Denmark
1934-1939, Quote Page 95, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
England. (Verified on paper)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
I remember an occasion when after a lengthy discussion on the
fundamental problems of quantum theory a visitor said 'It makes me
quite giddy to think about these problems.' Bohr immediately rounded
on him and said 'But, but, but. . .if anybody says he can think about
quantum theory without getting giddy it merely shows that he hasn't
understood the first thing about it!' He never trusted a purely formal
or mathematical argument. 'No, no' he would say 'You are not thinking;
you are just being logical.'
[End excerpt]

Garson


On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 2:43 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> Further investigation on Google Books snippet view suggests that the quote
> in Rozental's 1967 book appears as part of a longer remembrance by Bohr's
> colleague Otto Robert Frisch. An earlier version of Frisch's remembrance of
> Bohr also appears in the work below (p. 30 or so), though perhaps not with
> the "giddy" quote.
>
> Commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Niels Bohr's first papers on
> atomic constitution held in Copenhagen on 8-15 July, 1963: sessions on
> atoms and nuclei on Monday, 8 and Tuesday, 9 July 1963
> https://books.google.com/books?id=dik2AQAAIAAJ
>
>
> On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 2:32 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Stefan Rozental, _Niels Bohr: His Life and Work as Seen by His Friends and
>> Colleagues_, 1967, p. 139
>> https://books.google.com/books?id=VP1QAAAAMAAJ
>> The idea of complementarity was the subject of many discussions. I
>> remember one occasion when someone said at the end that it made him quite
>> giddy to think about those questions; Bohr immediately replied: "But if
>> anybody says he can think about quantum problems without getting giddy,
>> that only shows he has not understood the first thing about them."
>>
>> The "giddy" version also appears in:
>> Ruth Moore, _Niels Bohr_, MIT Press, 1985, p. 127
>> cited by: _Gaither's Dictionary of Scientific Quotations_
>> https://books.google.com/books?id=IOFmZoesMNoC&pg=PA1208
>>
>>
>> On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 2:24 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>> The "shocked" version is given by Karen Barad in _Meeting the Universe
>>> Halfway_, citing _The Philosophical Writings of Niels Bohr_.
>>>
>>> https://books.google.com/books?id=H41WUfTU2CMC&pg=PT270
>>>
>>> I don't see any searchable version of _Philosophical Writings_ on Google
>>> Books to confirm.
>>>
>>> On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 1:57 PM, Chris Waigl <chris at lascribe.net> wrote:
>>>
>>>> This is usually quoted in Danish as "Hvis man kan sætte sig ind i
>>>> kvantemekanik uden at blive svimmel, har man ikke forstået noget af det",
>>>> which with the help of Google Translate seems to mean something like "If
>>>> you can get into quantum mechanics without getting dizzy, you have not
>>>> understood anything about it" -- which, incidentally, is a lot closer to
>>>> how I remember (dimly) this Bohr quote from German. I didn't have time to
>>>> chase up the Danish version further, but if you're looking into the
>>>> English, I wouldn't insist on the word "shocked" being part of it.
>>>>
>>>> Chris
>>>>
>>>> On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 8:15 AM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY
>>>> RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> > Kit Pedler _Mind over Matter:  A Scientist's View of the Paranormal_
>>>> > Thames Methuen, 1981
>>>> > [Google books Snippet View; https://books.google.com/
>>>> > books?id=3hN_AAAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=shocked ]
>>>> > "Niels Bohr wrote: 'Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not
>>>> > understood it."
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > John Gribbin, _In Search of Schrodinger's Cat_ Bantam 1984.
>>>> > Epigram on p 5 "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not
>>>> > understood it.  Niels Bohr 1885 - 1962"
>>>> >
>>>> > https://books.google.com/books?id=IxOBm322_lIC&q=
>>>> > shocked#v=snippet&q=shocked&f=false
>>>> >
>>>> > > -----Original Message-----
>>>> > > From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
>>>> > Behalf Of Shapiro, Fred
>>>> > > Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2017 4:13 PM
>>>> > > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>>>> > > Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Niels Bohr Quote
>>>> > >
>>>> > > The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has the following quote under
>>>> Niels
>>>> > Bohr:
>>>> > >
>>>> > >
>>>> > > [Of quantum mechanics:] Anybody who is not shocked by this subject
>>>> has
>>>> > failed to understand it.
>>>> > >
>>>> > > Niels Bohr, attributed in Nature, 23 August 1990
>>>> > >
>>>> > >
>>>> > > Can anyone supply any occurrences of this quote, or variants of it,
>>>> > prior to the 1990 Nature attribution?
>>>> > >
>>>> > >
>>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list