Incipit vita nova.
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
+J. Robert Oppenheimer, an advice for his younger brother Frank
[…] try to understand really, to your own satisfaction, thoroughly and honestly, the few things in which you are most interested: because it is only when you have learnt to do that, when you realize how hard and how very satisfying it is, that you will appreciate fully the more spectacular things like relativity and mechanistic biology.
+E.B. White, replying to a letter sent to him by a man who lost his faith in humanity
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
1. Lecture notes written by an attendee to Feynman’s lectures for the Hughes Aircraft Company.
2. Lecture notes by a student during Feynman’s Cornell days.
Check out his “Mathematical Methods of Physics” lectures!
Also, the revised Exercises for the Feynman Lectures on Physics is now available on Amazon.
+John Donne, The Good Morrow
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ‘twas but a dream of thee.
When I consider the small span of my life absorbed in the eternity of all time, or the small part of space of which I can touch or see engulfed by the infinite immensity of spaces that I know not and that know me not, I am frightened and astonished to see myself here instead of there…now instead of then.