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I recognize that many physicists are smarter than I am-most of them theoretical physicists. A lot of smart people have gone into theoretical physics, therefore the field is extremely competitive. I console myself with the thought that although they may be smarter and may be deeper thinkers than I am, I have broader interests than they have.
It is told of Faraday that he refused to be called a physicist; he very much disliked the new name as being too special and particular and insisted on the old one, philosopher, in all its spacious generality: we may suppose that this was his way of saying that he had not over-ridden the limiting conditions of class only to submit to the limitation of a profession.
Reality is what kicks back when you kick it. This is just what physicists do with their particle accelerators. We kick reality and feel it kick back. From the intensity and duration of thousands of those kicks over many years, we have formed a coherent theory of matter and forces, called the standard model, that currently agrees with all observations.
I still can’t figure out what inspired me to do physics. But since I was nine or ten years old, I wanted to be like [Albert] Einstein. He was my hero. I knew no physicists. I knew no scientists. I had nobody around me. And I went to a convent that didn’t even have higher mathematics and physics. I taught myself these subjects in order to get into university.