Steven Weinberg: Four Golden Lessons
“I think we don’t take our theories seriously enough, because it’s so hard to believe that the squiggles that you make on a piece of paper are actually the way nature works.”
- In my first year of graduate school, I had the good luck to fall into the hands of senior physicists who insisted that I must start doing research, and pick up what I needed to know as I went along. To my surprise, I found that this works. I managed to get a quick PhD — though when I got it I knew almost nothing about physics. But I did learn one big thing: that no one knows everything, and you don’t have to.
- While you are swimming and not sinking you should aim for rough water. My advice is to go for the messes — that’s where the action is.
- Forgive yourself for wasting time. In the real world, it’s very hard to know which problems are important, and most of the time that you spend in the laboratory or at your desk will be wasted. If you want to be creative, then you will have to get used to spending most of your time not being creative, to being becalmed on the ocean of scientific knowledge.
- Learn something about the history of science, or at a minimum the history of your own branch of science. As a scientist, you’re probably not going to get rich. Your friends and relatives probably won’t understand what you’re doing. But you can get great satisfaction by recognizing that your work in science is a part of history.