Top 10 Richard Feynman Quotes

"Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true." —The Meaning Of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist, 1998


"The real question of government versus private enterprise is argued on too philosophical and abstract a basis. Theoretically, planning may be good. But nobody has ever figured out the cause of government stupidity—and until they do (and find the cure), all ideal plans will fall into quicksand." —Letter to wife, Gweneth, 1963


"A poet once said 'The whole universe is in a glass of wine.' We will probably never know in what sense he meant that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imaginations adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the Earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secret of the universe's age, and the evolution of the stars. What strange array of chemicals are there in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalizations: all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts—physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on—remember that Nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all!" —Quoted in The New Quantum Universe (by Tony Hey and Patrick Walters), 2003


"I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything, and in many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here, and what the question might mean. I might think about a little, but if I can't figure it out, then I go to something else. But I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn't frighten me." —The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman (edited by Jeffrey Robbins), 1999


"God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you're taking away from God; you don't need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven't figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don't believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time—life and death—stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don't think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out." —Quoted in Superstrings: A Theory of Everything?, (edited by Paul C. W. Davies and Julian R. Brown), 1988


"NASA owes it to the citizens from whom it asks support to be frank, honest, and informative, so that these citizens can make the wisest decisions for the use of their limited resources. For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." —Appendix to the Rogers Commission Report on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, June 9, 1986


"We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on." —What Do You Care About What Other People Think?, 1988


"We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified–how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You can think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don't know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know."  —The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman (edited by Jeffrey Robbins), 1999



"No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creation, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race." —The Meaning Of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist, 1998



"It is a great adventure to contemplate the universe, beyond man, to contemplate what it would be like without man, as it was in a great part of its long history and as it is in a great majority of places. When this objective view is finally attained, and the mystery and majesty of matter are fully appreciated, to then turn the objective eye back on man viewed as matter, to view life as part of this universal mystery of greatest depth, is to sense an experience which is very rare, and very exciting. It usually ends in laughter and delight in the futility of trying to understand what this atom in the universe is, this thing—atoms with curiosity—that looks at itself and wonders why it wonders. Well, these scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty, but they appear to be so deep and so impressive that the theory that it is all arranged for God to watch man's struggle for good and evil seems inadequate." —The Meaning Of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist, 1998

User Comments - Add a Comment
Daniel Herkes - 2009-02-07 11:26:12

A very smart, very human man. That "o"ring speech was one of the bravest displays I ever saw.

Anonymous - 2009-02-09 10:40:59

Regarding #9: There is no cure, so all power to the people!

carl swanson - 2009-02-11 14:21:18

Brilliant, 1 and 7 are my favorites.

anonymous - 2009-02-12 10:18:53

m'a favourite is 9

Ralph - 2009-05-01 19:17:51

Unfortunate lack of humility in a man who has been given great intellect by his Creator.

mark - 2009-05-03 12:26:19

ralph, nature was his creator, and he holds it in very high regard.

Jack - 2009-05-25 19:14:29

I could be wrong, but one of the greatest minds the world has ever seen can probably be forgiven for lending more credence to a creation theory based on quantum mechanics than a story about a garden with a talking snake.

Hoff - 2009-06-10 10:46:50

f u ralph

define that - 2009-07-23 02:24:07

if there was something that existed before the big bang and possessed the identity of being able to cause the big bang, what word would you use to descibe this something?

ccx - 2009-08-11 12:01:39

@define Common karma of beings that manifests in a physical world for example? God is concept people use so they don't have to think about infinity.

define that - 2009-09-01 03:54:12

I didn’t quite understand how your message was an answer to my question? Could you perhaps reiterate what your answer to help me understand

The Baldchemist - 2009-10-14 11:48:02

Of course, such wise words risk becoming the next dogma for those that have no philosophy of their own. Let's not make our belief in science, or non belief of a god (sorry I can't capitalise the word) a cult or a new religion, otherwise we are heading in the same direction as the differing theists. Let's teach our kids how to think not what to think. But Feynman, Dawkins, Hitchens make for a good start to the thouht process. Take good care and get as much joy as you can every day.

Mateo Dawkins - 2009-11-20 01:17:23

Ridiculous intelligent man... absolutely brilliant. Ralph, go eat a dick... - 2010-05-03 20:21:33

The problem with today's science is that much is built upon preconceived notions and scientists of the same mindset trying to proove their premises. Peer pressure has caused science to to enter into a new dark age where certain questions cannot be asked without ridicule. For instance is the speed of light a constant or has it been changing?

Abinayah R M - 2010-05-22 08:57:14

The man empowered the spirit of science. His possessed the right attitude towards learning. He was an idiosyncratic personality and still continues to live in the minds of budding scientists. I suggest you all to read the transcript of his speech at the annual meeting of Physics society on "There's plenty of room at the bottom." It’s simply brilliant. The genius lives my heart!!

THUNDER ENLIGHTNING - 2010-06-07 05:40:23

1. Evolution has no meaning. 2. Evolution has no purpose. 3. Evolution has no direction. 4. Matter is the grounds for all existence. Richard was best friends with one of my friend's Step-Father, Al Hibbs. I was too young to absord much of what he was speaking about at the time, but high school and college physics were a piece of cake for me...mostly due to his influence.

Hossein Rahmati - 2010-09-25 12:25:24

We owe this man a lot for he opened our eyes, like any other great mind ever lived, to new horizons. I'm in pain due to my laziness and ignorance. I'm in pain due to my lack of courage. I invent a God who repays for a sitting ass on his balls. I worship him. I invent stories to rationalize how this world works according to my God's rules. I accuse Feynman of blasphemy. I'm in pain. Fuck my lazy ass. Let's get to the work. Let's read and read and read. Let's if not to be another Feynman sing him an ode. We owe him for not being submitted to our set of beliefs based on our self-righteousness, our laziness, and our ignorance. Bring your swords and arrows! We declare war against ourselves.

fellow Physicist - 2011-05-31 23:18:40

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

haha - 2011-07-04 01:31:32

ha he quoted the bible. did you all seriously have this argument on some forum on the internet? dude's a bummer anyway

PAOLO ROGERIO - 2011-08-03 15:02:25
@fellow Physicist My young son asked me if i thought the bible was true and did i believe in it , i told him i didn't know but i said i do know god answers every prayer. Next day he said he prayed and asked god could he have his younger sister back, and said i must have been wrong about god answering every prayer because god didn't answer his. I sat him down and told him god does answer every prayer...but sometimes the answer is no.
aisha - 2013-07-23 01:53:47

he is a smart man

SWED - 2013-09-13 15:30:20

He was so human that he probebly wold give away some of his interlect to Ralph.

prasad kamble - 2014-03-25 16:24:38

very amazing thoughts from Richard Feynman.

Dr. Jerry Galloway - 2014-10-11 07:20:00

In the past 1000 years, there have been 3 brains while the rest of us are just trying: Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Richard Feynman.

Jey - 2015-11-02 07:28:12

Such an inspiration. Whenever I watch old videos of him, I still get mesmerized!.

"There are of course in the world, a number of phenomena that you cannot beat, that are just the result of general stupidity"

..from the "Meaning of it all"

Nikki - 2015-11-03 06:58:50

If I was asked for just one name synonymous to greatness(the first name that comes to mind) will be "RICHARD FEYNMAN".

@A - 2015-11-03 09:28:45

The "Force" had Yoda, Science had Richard Feynman.

Gil - 2016-01-29 01:10:12

Richard P. Feynman is still my greatest intellectual hero, but that said people, he would respect and understand the confused opinions of a disbeliever .......... of scientific principles. Think of all the wonderous excitement Ralph will experience when it finally hits him!

Anonymous - 2016-03-16 19:16:08

I think Richard Feynman had the kind of mind one could only aspire to. An amazing physicist and teacher whom the world is a sadder place for his absence.