“With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.”
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.
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.
“If we are not alone, where are the others?”
“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.