Leo Szilard Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Leo Szilard. Here they are! All 38 of them:

I'm all in favor of the democratic principle that one idiot is as good as one genius, but I draw the line when someone takes the next step and concludes that two idiots are better than one genius.
Leo Szilard
It's said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That's false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods. Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken." I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died here, to stand here as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.
Jacob Bronowski
If you want to succeed in the world, you don't have to be much cleverer than other people. You just have to be one day earlier.
Leo Szilard
Three stages of truth for scientists: (1) It's not true. (2) If it is true, it's not very important. (3) We knew it all along.
Leo Szilard
Another explanation for the failure of logic and observation alone to advance medicine is that unlike, say, physics, which uses a form of logic - mathematics - as its natural language, biology does not lend itself to logic. Leo Szilard, a prominent physicist, made this point when he complained that after switching from physics to biology he never had a peaceful bath again. As a physicist he would soak in the warmth of a bathtub and contemplate a problem, turn it in his mind, reason his way through it. But once he became a biologist, he constantly had to climb out of the bathtub to look up a fact.
John M. Barry (The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History)
A scientist's aim in a discussion with his colleagues is not to persuade, but to clarify.
Leo Szilard
What we call disorder or chaos might actually be order, if order is seen as a random distribution and not as a static, idealized condition.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
I believe that many children are born with an inquisitive mind, the mind of a scientist, and I assume that I became a scientist because in some ways I remained a child.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Rutherford’s and Soddy’s discussions of radioactive change therefore inspired the science fiction novel that eventually started Leo Szilard thinking about chain reactions and atomic bombs.
Richard Rhodes (Making of the Atomic Bomb)
Out of the prospering but vulnerable Hungarian Jewish middle class came no fewer than seven of the twentieth century’s most exceptional scientists: in order of birth, Theodor von Kármán, George de Hevesy, Michael Polanyi, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, John von Neumann and Edward Teller.
Richard Rhodes (Making of the Atomic Bomb)
Your knowledge and wisdom determine who you are. In our society, there is a market for skills and knowledge. But I have some doubts if there is much of a market for wisdom.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
an expert is a man who knows what cannot be done.” Szilard found that last paragraph “rather irritating because how can anyone know what someone else might invent?
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilárd, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. ... This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable—though much less certain—that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat or exploded in a port, might well destroy the whole port altogether with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air.
Albert Einstein
The physicist Leo Szilard once announced to his friend Hans Bethe that he was thinking of keeping a diary: ‘I don’t intend to publish. I am merely going to record the facts for the information of God.’ ‘Don’t you think God knows the facts?’ Bethe asked. ‘Yes,’ said Szilard. ‘He knows the facts, but He does not know this version of the facts.’ Hans Christian von Baeyer, Taming the Atom
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
The scientists there included Leo Szilard, the man who first conceived of the nuclear chain reaction. Szilard was a Hungarian Jew who had studied at the University of Berlin—until the fatal year of 1933. The research team in Chicago was led by Enrico Fermi, the Italian physicist. Fermi, whose wife was Jewish, had left Italy when Mussolini published his Manifesto of Race. Greg wondered whether the Fascists realized that their racism had brought such a windfall of brilliant scientists to their enemies.
Ken Follett (Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2))
The ten commandments according to Leó Szilárd 1. Recognize the connections of things and laws of conduct of men, so that you may know what you are doing. 2. Let your acts be directed toward a worthy goal, but do not ask if they will reach it; they are to be models and examples, not means to an end. 3. Speak to all men as you do to yourself, with no concern for the effect you make, so that you do not shut them out from your world; lest in isolation the meaning of life slips out of sight and you lose the belief in the perfection of creation. 4. Do not destroy what you cannot create. 5. Touch no dish, except that you are hungry. 6. Do not covet what you cannot have. 7. Do not lie without need. 8. Honor children. Listen reverently to their words and speak to them with infinite love. 9.Do your work for six years; but in the seventh, go into solitude or among strangers, so that the memory of your friends does not hinder you from being what you have become. 10. Lead your life with a gentle hand and be ready to leave whenever you are called. Leo Szilard 'Die Stimme der Delphine.' Utopische Erzählungen. Rowohit Taschenbuch Verlag. 1963. Translated by Dr. Jacob Bronowski.
Leo Szilard
During World War II, there had been a project to sabotage the Nazi nuclear weapons program. Years earlier, Leo Szilard, the first person to realize the possibility of a fission chain reaction, had convinced Fermi not to publish the discovery that purified graphite was a cheap and effective neutron moderator. Fermi had wanted to publish, for the sake of the great international project of science, which was above nationalism. But Szilard had persuaded Rabi, and Fermi had abided by the majority vote of their tiny three-person conspiracy. And so, years later, the only neutron moderator the Nazis had known about was deuterium. The only deuterium source under Nazi control had been a captured facility in occupied Norway, which had been knocked out by bombs and sabotage, causing a total of twenty-four civilian deaths. The Nazis had tried to ship the deuterium already refined to Germany, aboard a civilian Norwegian ferry, the SS Hydro. Knut Haukelid and his assistants had been discovered by the night watchman of the civilian ferry while they were sneaking on board to sabotage it. Haukelid had told the watchman that they were escaping the Gestapo, and the watchman had let them go. Haukelid had considered warning the night watchman, but that would have endangered the mission, so Haukelid had only shaken his hand. And the civilian ship had sunk in the deepest part of the lake, with eight dead Germans, seven dead crew, and three dead civilian bystanders. Some of the Norwegian rescuers of the ship had thought the German soldiers present should be left to drown, but this view had not prevailed, and the German survivors had been rescued. And that had been the end of the Nazi nuclear weapons program. Which was to say that Knut Haukelid had killed innocent people. One of whom, the night watchman of the ship, had been a good person. Someone who'd gone out of his way to help Haukelid, at risk to himself; from the kindness of his heart, for the highest moral reasons; and been sent to drown in turn. Afterward, in the cold light of history, it had looked like the Nazis had never been close to getting nuclear weapons after all. And Harry had never read anything suggesting that Haukelid had acted wrongly.
Eliezer Yudkowsky (Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality)
. . . the most important thing to remember about science is the fact that it is supposed to be fun. . . . Doing nothing—in a pleasant sort of way—was always considered in Europe a perfectly respectable way of spending one’s time,” he said, voicing his own predilection. “Here in America you are expected to keep busy all the time—it does not matter so much what you are doing as long as you are doing it fast.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
I have known a great many intelligent people in my life. I knew Max Planck, Max von Laue, and Wemer Heisenberg. Paul Dirac was my brother-in-Iaw; Leo Szilard and Edward Teller have been among my closest friends; and Albert Einstein was a good friend, too. And I have known many of the brightest younger scientists. But none of them had a mind as quick and acute as Jancsi von Neumann. I have often remarked this in the presence of those men, and no one ever disputed me. [...] But Einstein's understanding was deeper than even Jancsi von Neumann's. His mind was both more penetrating and more original than von Neumann's. And that is a very remarkable statement. Einstein took an extraordinary pleasure in invention. Two of his greatest inventions are the Special and General Theories of Relativity; and for all of Jancsi's brilliance, he never produced anything so original.
Eugene Paul Wigner (The Recollections Of Eugene P. Wigner: As Told To Andrew Szanton)
he mentioned that The Tragedy of Man by Madách had “influenced my whole life.” The moral he recalled from it was that no matter how gloomy the human condition, we must maintain a “narrow margin of hope” and take action.60
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
imagination is the tool which has to be used if the impossible is to be accomplished.”74
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Allison gave the reporters something more stirring to write about. “Scientist Drops A-Bomb: Blasts Army Shackles,” the Chicago Tribune reported about his remarks. “We are determined to return to free research, as before the war,” he said, warning that if military regulations hampered the free exchange of scientific information, researchers in America “would leave the field of atomic energy and devote themselves to studying the color of butterfly wings.”1
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Leo’s real problem,” Trude once told Puck, “is that he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Recognize the connections of things and the laws of conduct of men so that you may know what you are doing.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Honor children. Listen reverently to their words and speak to them with infinite love.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Leo said that his function was to head up the Happiness Committee,” Lerner recalled. “He said a university ran on the happiness of the faculty, and he wanted to be the one to think up ways of keeping them happy.” See that they are well paid, Szilard said, that their offices are comfortable, their graduate assistants are bright and eager, and that the faculty club food is appetizing. Then you will have a first-rate university!
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Adamson scoffed. It generally takes two wars to develop a new weapon, he said; besides, it was “morale,” not research, that led to victory. Shifting in his chair, the formal and ever-polite Wigner could not contain his impatience. “Perhaps,” he told Adamson in a high-pitched but steady voice, enunciating every syllable, “it would be better if we did away with the War Department and spread the military funds among the civilian population. That would raise a lot of morale.”49
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Robert Oppenheimer thus acquired for Los Alamos what Leo Szilard had not been able to organize in Chicago: scientific freedom of speech. The price the new community paid, a social but more profoundly a political price, was a guarded barbed-wire fence around the town and a second guarded barbed-wire fence around the laboratory itself, emphasizing that the scientists and their families were walled off where knowledge of their work was concerned not only from the world but even from each other.
Richard Rhodes (Making of the Atomic Bomb)
From his intense and exuberant child-hood in Budapest’s elegant Garden District he gained the means to be a
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
His shelter, as it turned out, burned down in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis the next year, leading Leo Szilard to comment that this proved not only that there was a God but that He had a sense of humor.
Daniel Ellsberg (The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner)
El físico Leo Szilard anuncié una Vez a su amigo, Hans fleche, que estaba pensando en escribir un diario: «No me propongo publicado. Me limitaré a registrar los hechos para que Dios se informe», «¿Tú crees que Dios no conoce los hechos?», preguntó Bethe. «Sí — dijo Szilard—. El conoce los hechos, pero no conoce esta versión de los hechos.»
Anonymous
Leo Szilard, in 1929, showed that the very act of acquiring information about a system increases its entropy in proportion to the amount of information gathered. As the entropy increases, less of the system's total heat energy is available for doing work. To gather enough information to work the shutter effectively we would have to use up, or render inaccessible, an amount of energy at least equal to the work output of any machine that we could drive from the system. So we will never be clever enough to create perpetual motion. Through the work of Szilard and others, Maxwell's demon helped to spark the creation of information theory, now an essential part of the theoretical basis of communications and computing.
Basil Mahon (The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell)
In view of the cataclysmic changes that followed, it is significant that the initiative in bringing about the release of nuclear energy, the central event in the recrudescence of the megamachine in modern form, was taken, not by the central government, but by a small group of physicists. Not less significant is the fact that these advocates of nuclear power were themselves unusually humane and morally sensitive people, notably, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Leo Szilard, Harold Urey. These were the last scientists one would accuse of seeking to establish a new priesthood capable of assuming autocratic authority and wielding satanic power. Those unpleasant characteristics, which have become all too evident in later collaborators and successors, were derived from the new instruments commanded by the megamachine and the dehumanized concepts that were rapidly incorporated in its whole working program. As for the initiators of the atom bomb, it was their innocence that concealed from them, at least in the initial stages, the dreadful ultimate consequences of their effort.
Lewis Mumford (The Pentagon of Power (The Myth of the Machine, Vol 2))
Although Leonardo, for example, invented the submarine, he deliberately suppressed this invention "on account of the evil nature of men, who would practice assassination at the bottom of the sea." That reservation marks a moral sensitiveness equal to his inventive abilities: only a relative handful of scientists, like the late Norbert Wiener or Leo Szilard in our day, have shown any parallel concern and self-control.
Lewis Mumford (Technics and Human Development (The Myth of the Machine, Vol 1))
Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow T. S. ELIOT, “The Hollow Men
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Let your acts be directed toward a worthy goal but do not ask if they will reach it; they are to be models and examples, not means to an end.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
Those insights in science that have led to a breakthrough were not logically derived from preexisting knowledge: The creative processes on which the progress of science is based operate on the level of the subconscious.
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)
It is hard to be right and be a pessimist,” Szilard concluded.24
William Lanouette (Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb)