Bohr & Dogmatism ⚛️

Niels Henrik David Bohr was born in Copenhagen on 7 October 1885, exactly one hundred and thirty-five years ago.

This Danish physicist (one of the most important of the 20th century), who was also a philosopher and a promoter of scientific research, made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922.

He worked also with Albert Einstein, who wrote to him in 1920: “Not often in life has a human being caused me such joy by his mere presence as you did.” (1)

Pixabay: Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr

He often told his students to be wary of dogmatism ➡️  “Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question”. (2)

Two more quotes:

🟣 “An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field” (3)

🟣 “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth” (4)


(1) Einstein: “Raramente nella vita una persona mi ha dato tanta gioia con la sua semplice presenza come hai fatto tu.”

(2) “Ogni frase che pronuncio non deve essere intesa come un’affermazione, ma come una domanda”.

(3) “Un esperto è una persona che ha scoperto per dolorosa esperienza personale quanti errori si possono commettere in un campo molto ristretto.”

(4) “L’opposto di un’affermazione corretta è un’affermazione falsa. Ma l’opposto di una verità profonda potrebbe ben essere un’altra verità profonda. “

34 thoughts on “Bohr & Dogmatism ⚛️

  1. That was a period of extraordinary genius and creativity. Boh, de Broglie, Einstein, Marie Curie. I’ve seen a photo where they are all gathered at the max Plancl Institute I think. a dozen Bobel prizes or more. They met every year or so.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bohr made extraordinary contributions, his model of the atom was really important, and we still use it as an approximation for many systems. His contributions to the development of the orthodox (Copenhagen) interpretation of QM were hugely important – the probabilistic model which is generally accepted now based on experimental evidence, and which Einstein always disagreed with.
    There is no doubt Einstein was a genius, but he was not infallible, and he was one of many contributors to (particularly) QM and to relativity – his work did not come out of nothing, it built on the work of others. Yet he has cast such a huge shadow over physics that even on a post about Bohr, there are more comments about Einstein than Bohr! As a woman physicist I’m quite uncomfortable with the hero worship of Einstein. First, he did not treat women well at all. Second, promoting the idea that to succeed in physics one must be innately talented rather than hard working – which is what we do every time we pin up an Einstein poster – puts girls off doing physics (as research shows). Women are around 20% of physics U/Grad students, and it drops off after that!
    If I could choose to meet Bohr or Einstein, without a doubt it would be Bohr.
    Sorry about the rant Luisa. And great post about Bohr.

    Liked by 1 person

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