Quote of the day


With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.

(Attributed to von Neumann by Enrico Fermi, as quoted by Freeman Dyson in “A meeting with Enrico Fermi” in
Nature 427 (22 January 2004) p. 297)

Enrico Fermi’s birthday


Enrico Fermi in Italy (1949) (Marco Frasca memorabilia)

Today is Enrico Fermi‘s birthday. Fermi has been a real Prometheus moving mankind to the age of nuclear energy for civil aims. His contributions to our current understanding of physics are enormous and we know him as one of the greatest Italian scientists making an extraordinary pair with Galileo Galilei. The prominence of Italians on physics is mostly due to him and one of his  collaborators, Edoardo Amaldi, that during the dark age of the second world war decided to remain in Italy to rebuild the school Fermi founded. His papers have always been one of my preferred readings. I hope he will be always an example for future generations.

Enrico Fermi’s autograph (Marco Frasca memorabilia)

Remembering Fermi and Feynman


There are some physicists that, besides having produced exceptional results, can also give a track to follow for future generations. It goes without saying that Enrico Fermi and Richard Feynman are two of these. I am remembering them here because of a couple of quotes to be worthwhile to cite, being complementary each other in some way.

Enrico Fermi

“If we are not alone, where are the others?”

Richard Feynman

“If we are alone why all this room?”

No answer is known yet to these deep questions. Meanwhile, I think it is wise to read classic papers these two authors produced. When you are tired to see how these guys changed our understanding of the World, you can always turn to “Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman” to get a moment of humor.


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