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  1. I was going to engineering school but fell in love with physics.
  2. I’m a great believer in our ability to come up with the ideas necessary to solve the big questions. I have less confidence that we’ll be able to find a consensus about which ones are right without experiment.
  3. I have always enjoyed explaining physics. In fact it’s more than just enjoyment: I need to explain physics.
  4. I’m doing physics because I’m curious about how it works — full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, don’t worry about whether somebody is going to be able to do an experiment next week, just figure it out.
  5. At 5 years old, I saw ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,’ and I was so scared when Costello sat himself down in the lap of the monster, not realizing where he was. My friends teased me. They were older, 8 years old. And my goal was to become a mad scientist and get back at them. And here I am, mad as hell!
  6. Unforeseen surprises are the rule in science, not the exception. Remember: Stuff happens.
  7. Extra dimensional theories are sometimes considered science fiction with equations. I think that’s a wrong attitude. I think extra dimensions are with us, they are with us to stay, and they entered physics a long time ago. They are not going to go away.
  8. Eventually, when the universe expands enough, all that will be left is the dark energy.
  9. I did not come from an academic background. My father was a smart man, but he had a fifth-grade education. He and all his friends were plumbers. They were all born around 1905 in great poverty in New York City and had to go to work when they were 12 or 13 years old.
  10. The most important single thing about string theory is that it’s a highly mathematical theory, and the mathematics holds together in a very tight and consistent way. It contains in its basic structure both quantum mechanics and the theory of gravity. That’s big news.
  11. Science to me is sufficiently weird and interesting, and stranger than fiction.
  12. Every time a bit of information is erased, we know it doesn’t disappear. It goes out into the environment. It may be horribly scrambled and confused, but it never really gets lost. It’s just converted into a different form.
  13. It seems hopelessly improbable that any particular rules accidentally led to the miracle of intelligent life. Nevertheless, this is exactly what most physicists have believed: intelligent life is a purely serendipitous consequence of physical principles that have nothing to do with our own existence.
  14. A lot of my research time is spent daydreaming — telling an imaginary admiring audience of laymen how to understand some difficult scientific idea.
  15. I’m not going to argue with people about the existence of God. I have not the vaguest idea of whether the universe was created by an intelligence.
  16. You are a victim of your own neural architecture which doesn’t permit you to imagine anything outside of three dimensions. Even two dimensions. People know they can’t visualise four or five dimensions, but they think they can close their eyes and see two dimensions. But they can’t.
  17. I have a funny mental framework when I do physics. I create an imaginary audience in my head to explain things to — it is part of the way I think. For me, teaching and explaining, even to my imaginary audience, is part of the process.
  18. Physics is perceived as a lonesome, nerdy kind of enterprise that has very little to do with human feelings and the things that excite people day-to-day about each other. Yet physicists in their own working environment are very social creatures.
  19. Life is fragile: it thrives only in a narrow range of temperatures between freezing and boiling. How lucky that our planet is just the right distance from the sun: a little farther, and the death of the perpetual Antarctic winter — or worse — would prevail; a little closer, and the surface would truly fry anything that touched it.
  20. Over the years, I began to understand that there were a lot of people out there reading physics in popular literature that they could not understand — not because it was too advanced, but because it wasn’t advanced enough.

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