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Abraham Pais

Data de nascimento: 19. Maio 1918
Data de falecimento: 28. Julho 2000

Abraham Pais foi um físico neerlandês e teórico da física quântica.

Como profundo conhecedor da física do século XX e do seu desenvolvimento, ele ganhou reconhecimento internacional; como colega, mais tarde parceiro e amigo de Albert Einstein pertence a ele a mais representativa biografia de Einstein de nosso tempo.

Abraham Pais estudava Física na Universidade de Utrecht, quando os nazistas, em maio de 1940, ocuparam os Países Baixos. Em junho de 1941, poucos dias antes de todos os judeus serem proibidos de freqüentar as Universidades, ele consegue ainda apresentar sua monografia. Seu trabalho chama a atenção de Niels Bohr que quer levá-lo para o seu país, Dinamarca. Mas Pais precisa fugir da perseguição da Gestapo e vive por mais de um ano escondido nos Países Baixos. Pouco antes do final da Segunda Guerra Mundial Pais é capturado pela Gestapo, mas ele sobrevive.

Depois da guerra ele trabalhou finalmente no Instituto para Física Teórica em Copenhague. Em 1946 transferiu-se, como físico teórico, para o Instituto de Estudos Avançados de Princeton, onde recebeu o apelido de "Senhor Teoria Quântica" e conhece Albert Einstein.

Suas mais importantes contribuições dizem respeito à teoria moderna das partículas elementares. Em 1941 marca prótons e nêutrons com o conceito de "Núcleo atômico", em 1952 explica como uma determinada partícula subatômica pode rapidamente surgir, mas demorar muito tempo para se desintegrar, em 1955 publicou um trabalho teórico muito aguardado sobre as leis da mecânica quântica. Dos conhecimentos ali descritos os físicos Val Logsdon Fitch e James Watson Cronin retiraram anos mais tarde a base para as experiências que lhes deram o Prêmio Nobel de Física em 1980.

Em 1956 foi naturalizado cidadão dos Estados Unidos. Sua auto-biografia A Tale of Two Continents conta a sua história de vida como físico em um mundo turbulento.

Pais talvez tenha ficado mais conhecido pela sua biografia de Albert Einstein, "Sutil é o Senhor..." , e sua seqüência, "Einstein Viveu Aqui" .

Ele escreveu também a história dos físicos no século XX, Inward Bound , uma biografia de Niels Bohr, Niels Bohr's Times, In Physics, Philosophy and Polity , e "Os Gênios da Ciência"

Citações Abraham Pais

„I don't sit here conquering great resistance to talk. It is not my way.“

—  Abraham Pais
To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (2000), Context: For several months I was incapable of feeling anything, completely inaccessible to my feelings — I did not laugh, I did not cry. The second thing was this amazing trauma, where I forgot the names of everyone I knew. That was very strange. I knew who everyone was: this was a friend from high school, this was my cousin, but I had to relearn every name. It was quite striking, that very strong reaction that I had. They have a name for it, I think: posttraumatic stress syndrome. I don't sit here conquering great resistance to talk. It is not my way. I don't suffer the reliving of these memories with tremendous pain. It's very odd, but it's finished for me. That, of course, is never quite true. It isn't finished. I am like all of my generation; we are marked people. But I don't suffer; I can talk to you about it. Most of my family was killed. All of my father's and mother's sisters and brothers and their children, my sister and my old grandfather, they're all gone. Four out of five Jews in Holland never came back after the war — 80 percent. On events after the end of World War II, Part I, Holland, p. 53

„One of the things I learned, one of the strangest things, is how to think. There was nothing else to do.“

—  Abraham Pais
To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (2000), Context: One of the things I learned, one of the strangest things, is how to think. There was nothing else to do. I couldn't see people, or go for a walk in the forest. All I had was my head and my books, and I thought a lot. I learned, because there was no interruption. I had access to myself, to my thinking. I wouldn't say that I particularly matured. The thinking was physics thinking. I was just short of twenty-two then. I was in hiding for two years and two months, something like that. In all that time I went out very, very little, just once in a great while, after dark. Once I even took the train to Utrecht, forty miles from Amsterdam, with my yellow star, this star which I still have. Why did I go? I just wanted to visit some friends. I was a little bit crazy, a little bit insane. On life in hiding from Nazi authorities, p. 48

„For several months I was incapable of feeling anything, completely inaccessible to my feelings — I did not laugh, I did not cry.“

—  Abraham Pais
To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (2000), Context: For several months I was incapable of feeling anything, completely inaccessible to my feelings — I did not laugh, I did not cry. The second thing was this amazing trauma, where I forgot the names of everyone I knew. That was very strange. I knew who everyone was: this was a friend from high school, this was my cousin, but I had to relearn every name. It was quite striking, that very strong reaction that I had. They have a name for it, I think: posttraumatic stress syndrome. I don't sit here conquering great resistance to talk. It is not my way. I don't suffer the reliving of these memories with tremendous pain. It's very odd, but it's finished for me. That, of course, is never quite true. It isn't finished. I am like all of my generation; we are marked people. But I don't suffer; I can talk to you about it. Most of my family was killed. All of my father's and mother's sisters and brothers and their children, my sister and my old grandfather, they're all gone. Four out of five Jews in Holland never came back after the war — 80 percent. On events after the end of World War II, Part I, Holland, p. 53

„Most of my family was killed. All of my father's and mother's sisters and brothers and their children, my sister and my old grandfather, they're all gone. Four out of five Jews in Holland never came back after the war — 80 percent.“

—  Abraham Pais
To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (2000), Context: For several months I was incapable of feeling anything, completely inaccessible to my feelings — I did not laugh, I did not cry. The second thing was this amazing trauma, where I forgot the names of everyone I knew. That was very strange. I knew who everyone was: this was a friend from high school, this was my cousin, but I had to relearn every name. It was quite striking, that very strong reaction that I had. They have a name for it, I think: posttraumatic stress syndrome. I don't sit here conquering great resistance to talk. It is not my way. I don't suffer the reliving of these memories with tremendous pain. It's very odd, but it's finished for me. That, of course, is never quite true. It isn't finished. I am like all of my generation; we are marked people. But I don't suffer; I can talk to you about it. Most of my family was killed. All of my father's and mother's sisters and brothers and their children, my sister and my old grandfather, they're all gone. Four out of five Jews in Holland never came back after the war — 80 percent. On events after the end of World War II, Part I, Holland, p. 53

„If those papers had been in my pocket I would have never lived to be seventy. I have led a strange life, a set of complete coincidences.“

—  Abraham Pais
To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (2000), Context: On the day we were caught, Lion and I had been talking about writing a memorandum on the fate of the Jewish war children living in hiding or among Dutch families … we were the representatives of the Zionist youth organization. … Lion who had been taking notes of the discussion, put these papers in his jacket pocket when he took a break from lunch. When the Germans caught us they discovered his notes. If those papers had been in my pocket I would have never lived to be seventy. I have led a strange life, a set of complete coincidences. On the fate of his friend Lion Nordheim, who was executed ten days before the end of the war, and his own release at around the same time, p. 52

„It is perhaps better to say that Bohr's strength lay in his formidable intuition and insight rather than erudition.“

—  Abraham Pais
Context: The first thing Bohr said to me was that it would only then be profitable to work with him if I understood that he was a dilettante. The only way I knew to react to this unexpected statement was with a polite smile of disbelief. But evidently Bohr was serious. He explained how he had to approach every new question from a starting point of total ignorance. It is perhaps better to say that Bohr's strength lay in his formidable intuition and insight rather than erudition. Testimony in Niels Bohr : His Life and Work as Seen by His Friends and Colleagues (1967) edited by Stefan Rozental, p. 218; later in his own work, Niels Bohr's Times : In Physics, Philosophy, and Polity (1991)

„The first thing Bohr said to me was that it would only then be profitable to work with him if I understood that he was a dilettante.“

—  Abraham Pais
Context: The first thing Bohr said to me was that it would only then be profitable to work with him if I understood that he was a dilettante. The only way I knew to react to this unexpected statement was with a polite smile of disbelief. But evidently Bohr was serious. He explained how he had to approach every new question from a starting point of total ignorance. It is perhaps better to say that Bohr's strength lay in his formidable intuition and insight rather than erudition. Testimony in Niels Bohr : His Life and Work as Seen by His Friends and Colleagues (1967) edited by Stefan Rozental, p. 218; later in his own work, Niels Bohr's Times : In Physics, Philosophy, and Polity (1991)

„Progress leads to confusion leads to progress and on and on without respite.“

—  Abraham Pais
Context: Progress leads to confusion leads to progress and on and on without respite. Every one of the many major advances … created sooner or later, more often sooner, new problems. These confusions, never twice the same, are not to be deplored. Rather, those who participate experience them as a privilege. Inward Bound : Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World (1988) http://books.google.com/books?id=mREnwpAqz-YC, p. 4

„To make a discovery is not necessarily the same as to understand a discovery.“

—  Abraham Pais
Not only Planck but also other physicists were initially at a loss as to what the proper context of the new postulate really was. Referring to the difficulties physicists experienced understanding the discovery that energy exchange is quantized, in Inward Bound : Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World (1988), p. 134

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„I was lucky because the same week that I went to prison the Americans crossed the Rhine and cut off the northern part of Holland, so there was no longer any possibility of being shipped out to a concentration camp.“

—  Abraham Pais
To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (2000), Context: I was lucky because the same week that I went to prison the Americans crossed the Rhine and cut off the northern part of Holland, so there was no longer any possibility of being shipped out to a concentration camp. The rail lines were cut. So I was in prison in Amsterdam during the very last days of the war. We were sent to the men's prison and the girls were sent to a women's prison in a different place. p. 51

„All I had was my head and my books, and I thought a lot. I learned, because there was no interruption. I had access to myself, to my thinking.“

—  Abraham Pais
To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (2000), Context: One of the things I learned, one of the strangest things, is how to think. There was nothing else to do. I couldn't see people, or go for a walk in the forest. All I had was my head and my books, and I thought a lot. I learned, because there was no interruption. I had access to myself, to my thinking. I wouldn't say that I particularly matured. The thinking was physics thinking. I was just short of twenty-two then. I was in hiding for two years and two months, something like that. In all that time I went out very, very little, just once in a great while, after dark. Once I even took the train to Utrecht, forty miles from Amsterdam, with my yellow star, this star which I still have. Why did I go? I just wanted to visit some friends. I was a little bit crazy, a little bit insane. On life in hiding from Nazi authorities, p. 48

„I need not put myself center stage but can rather place myself at the side, like a Greek chorus. As the curtain rises, I can walk to the center and can speak as follows: I wish to tell you of happenings in the twentieth century, as I witnessed them and reflected upon them. You will see me return to center stage, but only occasionally.“

—  Abraham Pais
A Tale of Two Continents (1997), Context: I made a discovery, perhaps known to others but new to me: I need not put myself center stage but can rather place myself at the side, like a Greek chorus. As the curtain rises, I can walk to the center and can speak as follows: I wish to tell you of happenings in the twentieth century, as I witnessed them and reflected upon them. You will see me return to center stage, but only occasionally. Once that imagery had gotten hold of me, I went back to Ida and said yes, I shall try. On considering his wife's suggestion that he write his autobiography, Prologue, p. xiii

„The rule of the game was never assume that anybody, however honorable, would be able to stand up under torture.“

—  Abraham Pais
To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue (2000), Context: I lived altogether in nine different places while in hiding, because whenever something happened, either someone betrayed the place or something happened to someone who knew where I was, I had to move. The rule of the game was never assume that anybody, however honorable, would be able to stand up under torture. If Mr. X, who knew where I was, was caught for some reason, I should move. On life in hiding from Nazi authorities during World War II, p. 48

„Today we live in the midst of upheaval and crisis. We do not know where we are going, nor even where we ought to be going.“

—  Abraham Pais
Context: Today we live in the midst of upheaval and crisis. We do not know where we are going, nor even where we ought to be going. Awareness is spreading that our future cannot be a straight extension of the past or the present … The century now approaching its end has been one of indiscriminate violence, it has been perhaps the most murderous one in Western history of which we have record. Yet I would think that what will strike people most when, hundreds of years from now, they will look back on our days is that this was the age when the exploration of space began, the microchip was invented, revolutions in transport and communication virtually annihilated time and distance, transforming the world into a "global village," and relativity theory, quantum mechanics, and the structure of the atom were discovered, in brief that this has been the century of science and technology. Address given in Copenhagen "Physics in Denmark: The First Four Hundred Years" (6 March 1996) http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/articles/pais/index.html?print=1

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