Murray Gell-Mann quotes

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Murray Gell-Mann

Birthdate: 15. September 1929
Date of death: 24. May 2019

Murray Gell-Mann was an American physicist who received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. He was the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, a distinguished fellow and one of the co-founders of the Santa Fe Institute, a professor of physics at the University of New Mexico, and the Presidential Professor of Physics and Medicine at the University of Southern California.Gell-Mann spent several periods at CERN, a nuclear research facility in Switzerland, among others as a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellow in 1972. Wikipedia

Quotes Murray Gell-Mann

„If I have seen further than others, it is because I am surrounded by dwarfs.“

—  Murray Gell-Mann

As quoted in "Wilson vs Watson: The blessing of great enemies" by Amanda Gefter in New Scientist (10 September 2009) http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17771-wilson-vs-watson-the-blessing-of-great-enemies.html; this is a play upon the famous statement by Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants."

„I could always try MIT and then kill myself later if it was that bad but that I couldn't commit suicide and then try MIT afterwards.“

—  Murray Gell-Mann

"The Making of a Physicist : A Talk with Murray Gell-Mann" at Edge.org (2003) http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/gell-mann03/gell-mann_print.html.
Context: I thought of killing myself but soon decided that I could always try MIT and then kill myself later if it was that bad but that I couldn't commit suicide and then try MIT afterwards. The two operations, suicide and going to MIT, don't commute...

„Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree.“

—  Murray Gell-Mann

Murray Gell-Mann in ISSS The Primer Project http://www.newciv.org/ISSS_Primer/seminar.html International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) seminar (12 October - 10 November 1997).
Context: Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behaviour of the whole.

„The false report that measuring one of the photons immediately affects the other leads to all sorts of unfortunate conclusions.“

—  Murray Gell-Mann

Source: The Quark and the Jaguar (1994), Ch. 12 : Quantum Mechanics and Flapdoodle, pp. 172-173 see EPR paradox.
Context: The false report that measuring one of the photons immediately affects the other leads to all sorts of unfortunate conclusions.... the alleged effect... would violate the requirement of relativity theory that no signal... can travel faster than the speed of light. If it were to do so, it would appear to observers in some states of motion that the signal were traveling backward in time.

„You don't need something more to get something more. That's what emergence means.“

—  Murray Gell-Mann

TED talk on beauty and truth in physics — video TC 14m48s (March 2007) http://ted.com/index.php/talks/murray_gell_mann_on_beauty_and_truth_in_physics.html.
Context: You don't need something more to get something more. That's what emergence means. Life can emerge from physics and chemistry plus a lot of accidents. The human mind can arise from neurobiology and a lot of accidents, the way the chemical bond arises from physics and certain accidents. Doesn't diminish the importance of these subjects to know they follow from more fundamental things plus accidents.

„While many questions about quantum mechanics are still not fully resolved, there is no point in introducing needless mystification where in fact no problem exists.“

—  Murray Gell-Mann

Source: The Quark and the Jaguar (1994), Ch. 12 : Quantum Mechanics and Flapdoodle, p. 167.
Context: While many questions about quantum mechanics are still not fully resolved, there is no point in introducing needless mystification where in fact no problem exists. Yet a great deal of recent writing about quantum mechanics has done just that.

„The principal distortion disseminated … is the implication, or even the explicit claim, that measuring the polarization, circular or plane, of one of the“

—  Murray Gell-Mann

Source: The Quark and the Jaguar (1994), Ch. 12 : Quantum Mechanics and Flapdoodle, p. 172.
Context: The principal distortion disseminated... is the implication, or even the explicit claim, that measuring the polarization, circular or plane, of one of the [EPRB] photons somehow affects the other photon. In fact, the measurement does not cause any physical effect to propagate from one photon to the other.... If on one branch of history, the plane polarization of one photon is measured and thereby specified with certainty, then on the same branch of history the circular polarization of the other photon is also specified with certainty. On a different branch of history the circular polarization of one of the photons may be measured, in which case the circular polarization of both photons is specified with certainty. On each branch, the situation is like that of Bertlmann's socks, described by John Bell... Bertlmann... always wears one pink and one green sock. If you see just one... you know immediately the other... Yet no signal is propogated... Likewise no signal passes from one photon to the other in the experiment that confirms quantum mechanics. No action at a distance takes place.

„Just because things get a little dingy at the subatomic level doesn't mean all bets are off.“

—  Murray Gell-Mann

Attributed to Murray Gell-Mann by Penn Jillette, Penn Radio (14 February 2007) http://penn.freefm.com/episode_download.php?contentType=36&contentId=364451.

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