Einstein, A. (1918). Principles of Research

(for Planck’s 60th birthday)

Q. Two initial categories E gives of people who might be expelled from the “temple of science”?
A. People who take joy in their superior intellect (ambition, vividness); people who pursue utilitarian purposes.

Q. Why does E claim that the temple of science is less centrally the home for ambitious or utilitarian-minded people?
A. “For these people any sphere of human activity will do”—they could be engineers or public officials.

Q. E describes the motivations of Planck-types by analogy to a townsman’s longing for what?
A. “to escape from his noisy, cramped surroundings into the silence of high mountains, where the eye ranges freely through the still, pure air and fondly traces out the restful contours apparently built for eternity

Q. What does E describe as being in common between painters, poets, philosophers, and scientists?
A. All make the pivot of their emotional life the creation of an intelligible picture of the world (a “cosmos”) which can be used to overcome “the narrow whirlpool of personal experience”.

Q. “The supreme task of the physicist is…”?
A. “… to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction.”

Q. Why does E argue that colleagues are wrong to attribute Planck’s perseverance to willpower or discipline?
A. It’s more like religious worship.

Q. Planck’s source of patience and perserverance, according to E?
A. “The longing to behold the pre-established harmony” between phenomena and theory of reality.

Related: Obsession as high-order bit

via Michael Nielsen

Last updated 2024-01-15.