Sunday, August 24, 2008


From Gino Segrè's Faust in Copenhagen (2007) at 83:
In 1927, [notably taciturn physicist Paul] Dirac spent some time in Göttingen [University] during which he became a friend of J. Robert Oppenheimer's, the two of them living in the same bordinghouse. One day, observing Oppenheimer reading Dante--in the original Italian of course--the ever logical and rational Dirac reportedly said to him, "How can you do both physics and poetry? In physics we try to explain in simple terms something nobody knew before. In poetry it is the exact opposite."

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