J. Robert Oppenheimer Quotes

In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.

We knew the world would never be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the “Bhagavad Gita”… “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all thought that, one way or another. (recalling the explosion of the […]

The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true.

There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. (Recalling the explosion of the first atomic bomb near Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945.)

This world of ours is a new world, in which the unit of knowledge, the nature of human communities, the order of society, the order of ideas, the very notions of society and culture have changed, and will not return to what they have been in the past. What is new is new, not because […]

You can certainly destroy enough of humanity so that only the greatest act of faith can persuade you that what’s left will be human.

We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish […]

We may be likened to two scorpions in a bottle, each capable of killing the other, but only at the risk of his own life.

There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.