A good deal of my research in physics has consisted in not setting out to solve some particular problem, but simply examining mathematical equations of a kind that physicists use and trying to fit them together in an interesting way, regardless of any application that the work may have. It is simply a search for pretty mathematics. It may turn out later to have an application. Then one has good luck. At age 78.

A termination of one's life is necessary in the scheme of things to provide a logical reason for unselfishness. . . . The fact that there is an end to one's life compels one to take an interest in things that will continue to live after one is dead.

I found the best ideas usually came, not when one was actively striving for them, but when one was in a more relaxed state… I used to take long solitary walks on Sundays, during which I tended to review the current situation in a leisurely way. Such occasions often proved fruitful, even though (or perhaps, because) the primary purpose of the walk was relaxation and not research.

I learnt to distrust all physical concepts as the basis for a theory. Instead one should put one's trust in a mathematical scheme, even if the scheme does not appear at first sight to be connected with physics. One should concentrate on getting interesting mathematics.

I should like to suggest to you that the cause of all the economic troubles is that we have an economic system which tries to maintain an equality of value between two things, which it would be better to recognise from the beginning as of unequal value.

If you are receptive and humble, mathematics will lead you by the hand. Again and again, when I have been at a loss how to proceed, I have just had to wait until I have felt the mathematics led me by the hand. It has led me along an unexpected path, a path where new vistas open up, a path leading to new territory, where one can set up a base of operations, from which one can survey the surroundings and plan future progress.

It is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment... It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one's equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress. If there is not complete agreement between the results of one's work and experiment, one should not allow oneself to be too discouraged, because the discrepancy may well be due to minor features that are not properly taken into account and that will get cleared up with further developments of the theory.

It is quite clear that beauty does depend on one's culture and upbringing for certain kinds of beauty, pictures, literature, poetry and so on...But mathematical beauty is of a rather different kind. I should say perhaps it is of a completely different kind and transcends these personal factors. It is the same in all countries and at all periods of time.

It was not until some weeks later that I realized there is no need to restrict oneself to 2 by 2 matrices. One could go on to 4 by 4 matrices, and the problem is then easily soluable. In retrospect, it seems strange that one can be so much held up over such an elementary point. The resulting wave equation for the electron turned out to be very successful. It led to correct values for the spin and the magnetic moment. This was quite unexpected. The work all followed from a study of pretty mathematics, without any thought being given to these physical properties of the electron.