Posts Tagged ‘Albert Einstein’

GOATs are Human Too!

December 5, 2009

Albert Einstein

When it comes to physicists, Albert Einstein is widely perceived to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). Indeed, the iconic Father of Relativity was a global rock star in his lifetime. When he visited Japan in 1922, adoring crowds streamed after him wherever he went.

Einstein was always ill at ease with such adulation. He was so revered that people tended to see him as superhuman. His self-deprecating manner and comments did nothing to puncture his image as the most brilliant man who ever lived.

In today’s celebrity-crazy culture, we routinely deify anyone and everyone who has even the slightest combination of talent and fame. Such idol worship is not only a disservice to them but to us as well, because by elevating these essentially normal human beings above ourselves, we devalue our own lives.

By all accounts, Einstein was a kind, gracious and down-to-earth man. He loved the peace and isolation he found at Princeton University, probably the only place on earth where he could walk around and not be praised and gushed over by passersby every other step.

The following Einstein quotes from the book The New Quotable Einstein offer a revealing glimpse into the humble nature of this legendary figure.

Thanks to my having hit upon the fortunate idea of introducing the relativity principle into physics, you (and others) enormously overestimate my scientific abilities, to the point where this makes me somewhat uncomfortable.
Letter to Arnold Sommerfeld, January 14, 1908 (age 29)

WIth fame I become more and more stupid, (more…)

How Scientists Define God

December 4, 2009

Like geneticist Dr. Francis S. Collins, whom I interviewed for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, many scientists arrive at the intersection of science and religion and invariably find themselves in the presence of God. Collins’ book, the New York Times bestseller, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, explores this phenomenon in detail.

Here are two more takes on the subject, from the Father of Relativity and a widely published Purdue University physicist.


My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.
Albert Einstein
Quoted in Einstein’s April 19, 1955 obituary in the New York Times

If I get the impression that Nature itself makes the decisive choice what possibility to realize, where quantum theory says that more than one outcome is possible, than I am ascribing personality to Nature, (more…)

It’s About Time

October 21, 2008

salvador-dali-melting-clock
One notion I keep on bumping into in the course of my reading is that time is an illusion, a man-made construct. This hypothesis, increasingly embraced by theoretical physicists, holds that there is no past or future. There is only now, the present moment, which serves as the portal to infinity. Everything that has happened, everything that ever will happen, is happening now.



Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.
Albert Einstein






This concept has been around for quite some time (meaning, I suppose, that it has always been, and will always be, around). For instance, Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his 1959 masterpiece, The Sirens of Titan, ” . . . everything that (more…)