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“The total amount of information which has been acquired about the physical world since the beginning of scientific progress is enormous, and it seems almost impossible that any one person could know a reasonable fraction of it. But it is actually quite possible for a physicist to retain a broad knowledge of the physical world rather than to become a specialist in some narrow area. The reasons for this are threefold: First, there are great principles which apply to all the different kinds of phenomena—such as the principles of the conservation of energy and of angular momentum. A thorough understanding of such principles gives an understanding of a great deal all at once. Second, there is the fact that many complicated phenomena, such as the behavior of solids under compression, really basically depend on electrical and quantum-mechanical forces, so that if one understands the fundamental laws of electricity and quantum mechanics, there is at least some possibility of understanding many of the phenomena that occur in complex situations. Finally, there is a most remarkable coincidence: The equations for many different physical situations have exactly the same appearance. Of course, the symbols may be different—one letter is substituted for another—but the mathematical form of the equations is the same. This means that having studied one subject, we immediately have a great deal of direct and precise knowledge about the solutions of the equations of another.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. II

Published inScience

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