Not only are there meaningless questions, but many of the problems with which the human intellect has tortured itself turn out to be only 'pseudo problems,' because they can be formulated only in terms of questions which are meaningless. Many of the traditional problems of philosophy, of religion, or of ethics, are of this character. Consider, for example, the problem of the freedom of the will. You maintain that you are free to take either the right- or the left-hand fork in the road. I defy you to set up a single objective criterion by which you can prove after you have made the turn that you might have made the other. The problem has no meaning in the sphere of objective activity; it only relates to my personal subjective feelings while making the decision.
Dreaming is the poetry of Life, and we must be forgiven if we indulge in it a little.
We live in a world where unfortunately the distinction between true and false appears to become increasingly blurred by manipulation of facts, by exploitation of uncritical minds, and by the pollution of the language.
It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you. [Recalling in 1936 the discovery of the nucleus in 1909, when some alpha particles were observed instead of travelling through a very thin gold foil were seen to rebound backward, as if striking something much more massive than the particles themselves. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this discovery.]
Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.
For the admirable gift of himself, and for the magnificent service he renders humanity, what reward does our society offer the scientist? Have these servants of an idea the necessary means of work? Have they an assured existence, sheltered from care? The example of Pierre Curiee, and of others, shows that they have none of these things; and that more often, before they can secure possible working conditions, they have to exhaust their youth and their powers in daily anxieties. Our society, in which reigns an eager desire for riches and luxury, does not understand the value of science. It does not realize that science is a most precious part of its moral patrimony. Nor does it take sufficient cognizance of the fact that science is at the base of all the progress that lightens the burden of life and lessens its suffering. Neither public powers nor private generosity actually accord to science and to scientists the support and the subsidies indispensable to fully effective work.
[When asked by a student if he believes in any gods] Oh, no. Absolutely not... The biggest advantage to believing in God is you don't have to understand anything, no physics, no biology. I wanted to understand.
I am one of those who think, like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries.
I have not yet lost a feeling of wonder, and of delight, that this delicate motion should reside in all the things around us, revealing itself only to him who looks for it. I remember, in the winter of our first experiments, just seven years ago, looking on snow with new eyes. There the snow lay around my doorstep — great heaps of protons quietly precessing in the earth's magnetic field. To see the world for a moment as something rich and strange is the private reward of many a discovery.
The attitude which the man in the street unconsciously adopts towards science is capricious and varied. At one moment he scorns the scientist for a highbrow, at another anathematizes him for blasphemously undermining his religion; but at the mention of a name like Edison he falls into a coma of veneration. When he stops to think, he does recognize, however, that the whole atmosphere of the world in which he lives is tinged by science, as is shown most immediately and strikingly by our modern conveniences and material resources. A little deeper thinking shows him that the influence of science goes much farther and colors the entire mental outlook of modern civilised man on the world about him.
Through the discovery of Buchner, Biology was relieved of another fragment of mysticism. The splitting up of sugar into CO2 and alcohol is no more the effect of a 'vital principle' than the splitting up of cane sugar by invertase. The history of this problem is instructive, as it warns us against considering problems as beyond our reach because they have not yet found their solution.
Alfvén dismissed in his address religion as a 'myth'...
Life is not a miracle. It is a natural phenomenon, and can be expected to appear whenever there is a planet whose conditions duplicate those of the earth. [Stating how planets supporting life cannot be rare.]
Raised in a completely nonreligious family, Joliot never attended any church and was a thoroughgoing atheist all his life.