Originally Posted by Damavand
Nope, actually I was referring to the book by Ronald Clark, Einstein His Life and Times:
"While having a final discussion with de Broglie on the platform of the Gare du Nord in Paris, when they had traveled from Brussels to attend the Fresnel centenary celebrations, Einstein said: that all physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart ought to lend themselves to so simple a description 'that even a child could understand them.' "
Now, let's stay on topic
I'm familiar with that last quote. First, I think you may be misunderstanding it -- it seems what Einstein was actually expressing in his conversation with deBroglie was not a test for the quality of our understanding (like what Feynman was doing), but rather a test for the quality of the physical theory itself. I.e., what Einstein is saying here isn't "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough", but rather, "If you can't explain it simply, the physics might be bad." Second, and more importantly, we weren't talking about that quote, we were talking about this one (below) which is, again, contrary to your assertion, an attributed quote, not a known one. I.e., the status of the Einstein quote you originally presented is no different from that of the one I presented. In both cases, they've (a) been attributed to him; (b) yet are of uncertain provenance; and (c) are similar in content to ones that are known Einstein quotes.* The difference is that I knew my quote was merely attributed, and thus presented it accurately. You then for some reason decided you needed to challenge me by obnoxiously, and incorrectly, responding as follows:
Originally Posted by Damavand
Well here is an actual, not attributed Einstein quote:
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough
Then, when I pointed out that your quote was merely attributed as well, instead of just accepting that you made an error, you tried to obscure your mistake with a new post containing a different quote (see top of this post). Given this, your insistence on keeping the thread on-track is disingenuous, since if that was truly your concern you wouldn't have made the initial challenge, nor written the subsequent one.
It pisses me off when people challenge me for no good reason, are factually wrong about the challenge, and then, when called on it, aren't willing to man up and admit they were incorrect.
Frankly, it was completely unnecessary to go after me in the first place. Your original post asked for the one best tip each of us received this year (without specifying what its nature should be), and I took the time to put into words what I (and at least two other thread participants) thought was a great one. Why gratuitously go after someone that took the time to give you a serious response to your request?
*Just in case you need me to make this explicit:
Your "attributed" quote: "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
An actual Einstein quote to which it (weakly, as I explained above) corresponds: "All physical theories, their mathematical expressions notwithstanding, ought to lend themselves to so simple a description that even a child could understand them."
My "attributed" Einstein quote: "You want to make your model as simple as possible, but not too simple."
An actual Einstein quote to which it corresponds: "It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."
So, broadly speaking, the status of my "attributed" quote is at least as good as yours.
Edited by chemist - 11/2/15 at 10:07pm