+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.
+Destruction by Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil
At my side the Demon writhes forever,
Swimming around me like impalpable air;
As I breathe, he burns my lungs like fever
And fills me with an eternal guilty desire.
Knowing my love of Art, he snares my senses,
Apearing in woman’s most seductive forms,
And, under the sneak’s plausible pretenses,
Lips grow accustomed to his lewd love-charms.
He leads me thus, far from the sight of God,
Panting and broken with fatigue into
The wilderness of Ennui, deserted and broad,
And into my bewildered eyes he throws
Visions of festering wounds and filthy clothes,
And all Destruction’s bloody retinue.
+Feynman, in a letter to his friend Welton
What do I mean by understanding? Nothing deep or accurate-just to be able to see some of the qualitative consequences of the equations by some method other than solving them in detail.
You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
+Stanislaw Ulam, on his work at Los Alamos.
It is still an unending source of surprise for me to see how a few scribbles on a blackboard or on a sheet of paper could change the course of human affairs.
Human ideas had, accordingly, a symptomatic, expressive, and symbolic value: they were the inner notes sounded by man’s passions and by his arts: and they became rational partly by their vital and inward harmony-for reason is a harmony of the passion-and partly by their adjustment to external facts and possibilities-for reason is a harmony of the inner life with truth and with fate.