Albert Einstein Quotes 1–30 of 494 Quotes

Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a theoretical physicist who published the special and general theories of relativity and contributed in other areas of physics. He won the Nobel Prize in physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

Below are 30 of 494 sourced Albert Einstein quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“Un homme heureux est trop content du présent pour trop se soucier de l'avenir.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future.
• From "Mes Projets d'Avenir", a French essay written at age 17 for a school exam (18 September 1896). The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein Vol. 1 (1987) Doc. 22.

“Autoritätsdusel ist der größte Feind der Wahrheit.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: Blind obedience to authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
• Letter to Jost Winteler (July 8th, 1901), quoted in The Private Lives of Albert Einstein by Roger Highfield and Paul Carter (1993), p. 79. Einstein had been annoyed that Paul Drude, editor of Annalen der Physik, had dismissed some criticisms Einstein made of Drude's electron theory of metals.

“Lieber Habicht! / Es herrscht ein weihevolles Stillschweigen zwischen uns, so daß es mir fast wie eine sündige Entweihung vorkommt, wenn ich es jetzt durch ein wenig bedeutsames Gepappel unterbreche... / Was machen Sie denn, Sie eingefrorener Walfisch, Sie getrocknetes, eingebüchstes Stück Seele...?”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: Dear Habicht, / Such a solemn air of silence has descended between us that I almost feel as if I am committing a sacrilege when I break it now with some inconsequential babble... / What are you up to, you frozen whale, you smoked, dried, canned piece of soul...?
• Opening of a letter to his friend Conrad Habicht in which he describes his four revolutionary Annus Mirabilis papers (18 or 25 May 1905) Doc. 27

“E = mc²”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: The equivalence of mass and energy was originally expressed by the equation m = L/c², which easily translates into the far more well-known E = mc² in Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content? published in the Annalen der Physik (27 September 1905) : "If a body gives off the energy L in the form of radiation, its mass diminishes by L/c²."
• In a later statement explaining the ideas expressed by this equation, Einstein summarized: "It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind. Furthermore, the equation E = mc², in which energy is put equal to mass, multiplied by the square of the velocity of light, showed that very small amounts of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy and vice versa. The mass and energy were in fact equivalent, according to the formula mentioned before. This was demonstrated by Cockcroft and Walton in 1932, experimentally."
 • Atomic Physics (1948) by the J. Arthur Rank Organisation, Ltd. (Voice of A. Einstein.)

“The mass of a body is a measure of its energy content.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig? ("Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy content?")
Annalen der Physik 18, 639-641 (1905). Quoted in Concepts of Mass in Classical and Modern Physics by Max Jammer (1961), p. 177

“We shall, therefore, assume the complete physical equivalence of a gravitational field and a corresponding acceleration of the reference system.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source: Statement of the equivalence principle in Yearbook of Radioactivity and Electronics (1907)

“Die Natur zeigt uns vom Löwen zwar nur den Schwanz. Aber es ist mir unzweifelhaft, dass der Löwe dazugehört, wenn er sich auch wegen seiner ungeheuren Dimensionen dem Blicke nicht unmittelbar offenbaren kann. Wir sehen ihn nur wie eine Laus, die auf ihm sitzt.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But there is no doubt in my mind that the lion belongs with it even if he cannot reveal himself to the eye all at once because of his huge dimension. We see him only the way a louse sitting upon him would.
• Letter to Heinrich Zangger (10 March 1914), quoted in The Curious History of Relativity by Jean Eisenstaedt (2006), p. 126.

“Man begreift schwer beim Erleben dieser "großen Zeit", daß man dieser verrückten, verkommenen Spezies angehört, die sich Willensfreiheit zuschreibt. Wenn es doch irgendwo eine Insel der Wohlwollenden und Besonnenen gäbe! Da wollte ich auch glühender Patriot sein.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: In living through this "great epoch," it is difficult to reconcile oneself to the fact that one belongs to that mad, degenerate species that boasts of its free will. How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of good will! In such a place even I should be an ardent patriot!
• Letter to Paul Ehrenfest, early December 1914. Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Vol. 8, Doc. 39. Quoted in The New Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice (2005), p. 3

“Es ist bequem mit dem Einstein. Jedes Jahr widerruft er, was er das vorige Jahr geschrieben hat.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: It's convenient with that fellow Einstein, every year he retracts what he wrote the year before.
• Letter to Paul Ehrenfest, 26 December 1915. Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Vol. 8, Doc. 173.

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“Unser ganzer gepriesener Fortschritt der Technik, überhaupt die Civilisation, ist der Axt in der Hand des pathologischen Verbrechers vergleichbar.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: Our entire much-praised technological progress, and civilization generally, could be compared to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.
• Letter to Heinrich Zangger (1917), as quoted in A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit by Alan Lightman (2005), p. 110, and in Albert Einstein: A Biography by Albrecht Fölsing (1997), p. 399
• Sometimes paraphrased as "Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."

“The most beautiful fate of a physical theory is to point the way to the establishment of a more inclusive theory, in which it lives on as a limiting case.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source: (1917) as quoted by Gerald Holton, The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens: the Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays (1986)

“Ich habe auch manchen wissenschaftlichen Plan überlegt, während ich Dich im Kinderwagen spazieren schob!”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: I have also considered many scientific plans during my pushing you around in your pram!
• Letter to his son Hans Albert Einstein (June 1918)

“Geh Recht viel spazieren, dass Du Recht gesund wirst und lies nicht gar zu viel sondern spar Dir noch was auf bis Du gross bist.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: Make a lot of walks to get healthy and don’t read that much but save yourself some until you’re grown up.
• Letter to his son Eduard Einstein (June 1918)

“"The physical world is real." That is supposed to be the fundamental hypothesis. What does "hypothesis" mean here? For me, a hypothesis is a statement, whose truth must be assumed for the moment, but whose meaning must be raised above all ambiguity. The above statement appears to me, however, to be, in itself, meaningless, as if one said: "The physical world is cock-a-doodle-do." It appears to me that the "real" is an intrinsically empty, meaningless category (pigeon hole), whose monstrous importance lies only in the fact that I can do certain things in it and not certain others.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source: Letter to Eduard Study, 25 Sept. 1918, in the Einstein Archive, Hebrew U., Jerusalem; translation in D. Howard, Perspectives on Science 1, 225 (1993).

“I lie on the beach like a crocodile and let myself be roasted by the sun. I never see a newspaper and don't give a damn for what is called the world.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source: Letter to Max Born, 1918, from The Born-Einstein Letters: Friendship, Politics and Physics in Uncertain Times, Macmillan (2005 edition), pg 7.

“Liebe Mutter! Heute eine freudige Nachricht. H. A. Lorentz hat mir telegraphiert, dass die englischen Expeditionen die Lichtablenkung an der Sonne wirklich bewiesen haben.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: Dear mother! Today a joyful notice. H. A. Lorentz has telegraphed me that the English expeditions have really proven the deflection of light at the sun.
• Postcard to his mother Pauline Einstein (1919)

“Noch eine Art Anwendung des Relativitätsprinzips zum Ergötzen des Lesers: Heute werde ich in Deutschland als "deutscher Gelehrter", in England als "Schweizer Jude" bezeichnet; sollte ich aber einst in die Lage kommen, als "bète noire" präsentiert zu werden, dann wäre ich umgekehrt für die Deutschen ein „Schweizer Jude“, für die Engländer ein "deutscher Gelehrter".”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: By an application of the theory of relativity to the taste of readers, today in Germany I am called a German man of science, and in England I am represented as a Swiss Jew. If I come to be represented as a bête noire, the descriptions will be reversed, and I shall become a Swiss Jew for the Germans and a German man of science for the English!
• (1919-11-28), "Einstein On His Theory", The Times place: London, quoted in Herman Bernstein: Celebrities of Our Time. New York 1924. p. 267 (archive.org). Einstein's original German text in The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Volume 7. Doc. 25 p. 210, and at germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org after Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild. Amsterdam: Querido Verlag, 1934, pp. 220-28. Manuscript at alberteinstein.info.

“In the temple of science are many mansions, and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them thither. Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, the assemblage would be seriously depleted, but there would still be some men, of both present and past times, left inside. Our Planck is one of them, and that is why we love him. I am quite aware that we have just now lightheartedly expelled in imagination many excellent men who are largely, perhaps chiefly, responsible for the buildings of the temple of science; and in many cases, our angel would find it a pretty ticklish job to decide. But of one thing I feel sure: if the types we have just expelled were the only types there were, the temple would never have come to be, any more than a forest can grow which consists of nothing but creepers. For these people any sphere of human activity will do if it comes to a point; whether they become engineers, officers, tradesmen, or scientists depends on circumstances. Now let us have another look at those who have found favor with the angel. Most of them are somewhat odd, uncommunicative, solitary fellows, really less like each other, in spite of these common characteristics, than the hosts of the rejected. What has brought them to the temple? That is a difficult question and no single answer will cover it.”

— Albert Einstein

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Albert Einstein" (Quotes, 1910s, Principles of Research (1918):
Address at the Physical Society, Berlin, for Max Planck's 60th birthday)

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“Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world; he then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the speculative philosopher, and the natural scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source:  • As quoted in The Professor, the Institute, and DNA (1976) by Rene Dubos; also in The Great Influenza (2004) by John M. Barry

“The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them. In this methodological uncertainty, one might suppose that there were any number of possible systems of theoretical physics all equally well justified; and this opinion is no doubt correct, theoretically. But the development of physics has shown that at any given moment, out of all conceivable constructions, a single one has always proved itself decidedly superior to all the rest.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source: 1910s, Principles of Research (1918):
Address at the Physical Society, Berlin, for Max Planck's 60th birthday Variant, from Preface to Max Planck's Where is Science Going? (1933): The supreme task of the physicist is the discovery of the most general elementary laws from which the world-picture can be deduced logically. But there is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance, and this Einfühlung [literally, empathy or 'feeling one's way in']' is developed by experience.

“Wie lieb ich diesen edlen Mann Mehr als ich mit Worten sagen kann. Doch fürcht' ich, dass er bleibt allein Mit seinem strahlenden Heiligenschein.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: How much do I love that noble man
More than I could tell with words
I fear though he'll remain alone
With a holy halo of his own.
• Poem by Einstein on Spinoza (1920), as quoted in Einstein and Religion by Max Jammer, Princeton UP 1999, p. 43; original German manuscript: "Zu Spinozas Ethik".

“We may assume the existence of an aether; only we must give up ascribing a definite state of motion to it, i.e. we must by abstraction take from it the last mechanical characteristic which Lorentz had still left it. … But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable inedia, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source: On the irrelevance of the luminiferous aether hypothesis to physical measurements, in an address at the University of Leiden (5 May 1920)

“I am neither a German citizen nor do I believe in anything that can be described as a "Jewish faith." But I am a Jew and glad to belong to the Jewish people, though I do not regard it in any way as chosen.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source: Letter to Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith, 3 [5] April 1920, as quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein (2010), p. 195; citing Israelitisches Wochenblatt, 42 September 1920, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Vol. 7, Doc. 37, and Vol. 9, Doc 368.

“Es ist das schönste Los einer physikalischen Theorie, wenn sie selbst zur Aufstellung einer umfassenden Theorie den Weg weist, in welcher sie als Grenzfall weiterlebt.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: No fairer destiny could be allotted to any physical theory, than that it should of itself point out the way to the introduction of a more comprehensive theory, in which it lives on as a limiting case.
Über die spezielle und die allgemeine Relativitätstheorie (1920) Tr. Robert W. Lawson, Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1920) pp. 90-91.

“Raffiniert ist der Herrgott, aber boshaft ist er nicht.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not.
 • When asked what he meant by this he replied. "Nature hides her secret because of her essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse." (Die Natur verbirgt ihr Geheimnis durch die Erhabenheit ihres Wesens, aber nicht durch List.) As quoted in Subtle is the Lord — The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (1982) by Abraham Pais einsteinandreligion.com
 • Originally said to Princeton University mathematics professor Oscar Veblen, May 1921, while Einstein was in Princeton for a series of lectures, upon hearing that an experimental result by Dayton C. Miller of Cleveland, if true, would contradict his theory of gravitation. But the claimed discrepancy was quite small and required special circumstances (hence Einsteins's remark). The result turned out to be false. Some say by this remark Einstein meant that Nature hides her secrets by being subtle, while others say he meant that nature is mischievous but not bent on trickery. [The Yale Book of Quotations, ed. Fred R. Shapiro, 2006]
  • As quoted in Cherished Illusions (2005) by Sarah Stern, p. 109
I have second thoughts. Maybe God is malicious.
• Said to Valentine Bargmann, as quoted in Einstein in America (1985) by Jamie Sayen, p. 51, indicating that God leads people to believe they understand things that they actually are far from understanding; also in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), ed. Fred R. Shapiro

“When a man after long years of searching chances on a thought which discloses something of the beauty of this mysterious universe, he should not therefore be personally celebrated. He is already sufficiently paid by his experience of seeking and finding. In science, moreover, the work of the individual is so bound up with that of his scientific predecessors and contemporaries that it appears almost as an impersonal product of his generation.”

— Albert Einstein

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Quote source: From the story "The Progress of Science" in The Scientific Monthly edited by J. McKeen Cattell (June 1921), Vol. XII, No. 6. The story says that the comments were made at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences at the National Museum in Washington on April 25, 26, and 27. Einstein's comments appear on p. 579, though the story may be paraphrasing rather than directly quoting since it says "In reply Professor Einstein in substance said" the quote above.

“[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books. ...The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”

— Albert Einstein

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More on this quote: In response to not knowing the speed of sound as included in the Edison Test: New York Times (18 May 1921); Einstein: His Life and Times (1947) Philipp Frank, p. 185; Einstein, A Life (1996) by Denis Brian, p. 129; "Einstein Due Today" (February 2005) edited by József Illy, Manuscript 25-32 of the Einstein Paper Project; all previous sources as per Einstein His Life and Universe (2007) by Walter Isaacson, p. 299
• Unsourced variants: "I never commit to memory anything that can easily be looked up in a book" and "Never memorize what you can look up in books." (The second version is found in "Recording the Experience" (10 June 2004) at The Library of Congress, but no citation to Einstein's writings is given).

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