The Greeks made Space the subject-matter of a science of supreme simplicity and certainty. Out of it grew, in the mind of classical antiquity, the idea of pure science. Geometry became one of the most powerful expressions of that sovereignty of the intellect that inspired the thought of those times. At a later epoch, when the intellectual despotism of the Church, which had been maintained through the Middle Ages, had crumbled, and a wave of scepticism threatened to sweep away all that had seemed most fixed, those who believed in Truth clung to Geometry as to a rock, and it was the highest ideal of every scientist to carry on his science 'more geometrico.
I received comments on how extraordinary it was that I could keep up speaking for exactly 45 minutes. Indeed, in an age of soundbites lasting some seconds and of quick quotes in the news, all those minutes do seem like an eternity, easy to get lost in. Yet, wait a moment. Television is not the only place where speeches are given. Some hundred thousand teachers teach every day. They all speak 45 minutes, more times a day. They have been doing this for years. Every teacher knows exactly when the time will be over and that by then his speech will need to come to a natural end. It is this tension that determines the success of a lesson. It is a sign of the times that we forget these daily achievements in education. A million students daily attend several ‘live’ lectures and this in secondary education alone. These are high ratings!
String theory is an attempt at a deeper description of nature by thinking of an elementary particle not as a little point but as a little loop of vibrating string.
Cecile was teaching in Berkeley and I was [at Livermore]. He probably had, could have had, some influence on Teller, [for] Teller was quite generous in allowing me one whole semester off to be at Berkeley to work on something and also a semester off at the Institute for Advanced Study. Then I won the Gravity Research Foundation first prize.
I entered Princeton University as a graduate student in 1959, when the Department of Mathematics was housed in the old Fine Hall. This legendary facility was marvellous in stimulating interaction among the graduate students and between the graduate students and the faculty. The faculty offered few formal courses, and essentially none of them were at the beginning graduate level. Instead the students were expected to learn the necessary background material by reading books and papers and by organising seminars among themselves. It was a stimulating environment but not an easy one for a student like me, who had come with only a spotty background. Fortunately I had an excellent group of classmates, and in retrospect I think the Princeton method of that period was quite effective.