Every so often, there comes a man who is able to see the universe in a totally new way; whose vision upsets the very foundations of the world as we know it. Steve Jobs is also a good example
With his ideas still informant, Albert Einstein was 22 years old when he sat out alone on foot across the Alps. In his youthful passage through the mountains he longed to grasp the hidden design, the underline principles of nature. Throughout his life Einstein would look for the harmony, not only in his science but in the world of men.
The world wanted to know Albert Einstein and yet he remained a mystery to those who only saw public face and perhaps to himself as well.
” What does the fish know about the water in which it swims all its life?”
Those who were close enough had a glimpse inside the man.
Albert Einstein’s World
Albert Einstein loved Jewish jokes, says Abraham Pais (Einstein colleague). Abraham told Einstein many Jewish jokes and he only regrets that he couldn’t record Einstein’s laughter when he hear good Jewish joke. He claims that Einstein’s laughter sounded like the bark of a contended seal.
Hanna Loewy (family friend) says that he was like someone who looked for many dimensions that may be proven or not and could see the whole, and that’s why probably he loved puzzles so much. The combination of that vast somewhere inner detachment and enormous ethical commitment was very wonderful thing totally integrated into one flesh and bones.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Although he knew who he was and his awareness that he was a celebrity, he ALWAYS took it with humor and laughed at it, and at himself.
When Einstein arrived in America in October 17 1933, he was already a mythic figure, but behind his public image was a man in exile. A loner poled into a public eye and scientist who believed in god.
He simplified his life to focus on his work, socks were unnecessary, a leather jacket would never knew replacement and egg be boiled in soup water to save time cleaning up hot. Einstein once declared that his second greatest idea after the theory of relativity was to add an egg while cooking soup in order to produce a soft-boiled egg without having an extra pot to wash. He sure did have a taste of humor.
Aside from his work, his pleasures were few, sailing and his violin. He worked more like an artist than a scientist arriving at a theory not so much about experimental deduction but confidently by intuition.
Linus Pauling (Einstein Colleague) claims that the significance of Einstein’s work was that he was really fundamental to understanding of the nature of the universe and the nature in the world. And that it was characterized by an astonishing amount of originality. New ideas are impartment about Einstein’s theories.
He had a fresh look at any question that was coming in his way. In that regard Einstein was among the greatest man of science of all time and he could of find where the question is, while most people look for answers to the wrong questions.
When he was 15 years old he had asked himself what the world would look like if he was speeding along on a motorcycle at the speed of light, what would he see? He answered that question in his 195 paper on special relativity and presumably from the time he was 15 until 25-26 he kept thinking about that question.
That same year working at the Patent office in Switzerland he published 3 papers that changed human’s conception of the universe. He questioned our basic notion of time and space that had lasted 300 years and gave the world revolutionary new way of understanding it.
His still unproven theory of relativity shocked the world with new images, a time traveler’s startling a light beam, a falling elevator in outer space, a yard stick that would expand and contract depending on its velocity. It would be 15 years before science would be able to verify his audacious vision. He waited confidently calling the effort to provide proof with detailed work.
Abraham Pais says that he had the faith that relativity was right because it was simple, it was beautiful and those were the criteria that were more important to him.
Linus Pauling says that he didn’t think that Einstein was the first scientist to have had the feeling, the belief, that if you can set up a theory that is really beautiful in its simplicity, in generality, then there is a good chance that this theory will turn out to be correct. This was the guiding principle for Einstein, that there is a sense and beauty in the physical world.
One of his most important characteristics is that he was an unafraid of time, claims Abraham Pais. We all work on something and after you’ve been busy with it for a year and you haven’t gotten anywhere, we would probably say well, maybe it was not such a hard idea, but not Einstein. If he had an idea that was the way he would be, that was the way he would fall and he didn’t care how long it will take.
Albert Einstein was born March 14th 1879 in Ulm, small town in southern Germany to simulated Jewish parents. Later he and his sister Maja were raised in Munich.
From a young age Einstein was rebellious and independent thinker and instinctively hated the regimentation of the German school systems calling the schools barracks and the teachers lieutenants.
At home he was stimulated more by a free exchange of ideas. His independent readings were not only insolence including his holy geometry book, but philosophy as well. Before he was of conscription age finding the military posturing of the Germans ridiculous, he obtained a paper for three marks that resented his German’s citizenship. At 17 years of age he was stateless, a young man with no country.
He completed his secondary education in Switzerland where he met his first wife fellow physics student. They had two sons. Although their marriage would not survive, it was not due to the difference in their religions. From most of Einstein’s life he was a cultural, rather than a practicing Jew.
What Einstein had was a feeling for the ethical codes by which man should live, striving for peaceful coexistence. He developed indifference from material things calling each possession a stone tied around his neck. He wrote the commonplace goals of human endeavor. Possessions outwards success and luxury have always seemed to made despicable.
In science he found an escape from what he considered the juryless of daily existence and a connection with a lot larger universe.
Einstein’s universe truly began in 1919 when science finally caught up with his theories. That had taken during the solar eclipse measuring the displacement of a star, confirmed his predictions of the bending of starlight the gravitational field of the sun.
Einstein’s new universe made front page news around the world and he became an overnight celebrity.
Two years later while traveling to Japan, Einstein learned that he had been rewarded a Nobel Prize in physics. Not for his now famous theory of relativity but for other work in physics, especially his equation for the photoelectric effect. His theory of relativity was so controversial in the scientific community.
Einstein’s face was recognized now all over the world. Everything he did or said became front page news. Fame gave Einstein a new and powerful political platform, but his personal life had been in crisis. He had divorced in the middle of it and after five years of separation he got married with his second wife Elsa. She nursed Einstein back to health while he was ill in Berlin. Now she cared for Einstein as they traveled around the world.
He used the occasions intended to honor his distrust of militarism, his desire for an international dialogue among scientists and the need for an international organization of nations.
During the First World War Einstein was shocked to discover that many of his fellow scientists were supporting the war and equating German culture and German militarism.
Einstein was great admirer of Gandhi’s ideas of passive resistance. He was in favor of people who are not joining armies of whatever nationality.
Mahatma Gandhi site of manifesto against the obligatory military service was suggesting that if only 2% of the population of each country refused induction there could be no armies. But in Germany everything pointed to armies and war.
With his strong belief in the supreme dignity and life of the individual he was terrified of the mass psychology of fascism. In his threats of his life, which he didn’t take too seriously, but he did take Nazism seriously.
A group of anti-Semitic physicist (meaning they hate Jews) dismissed the theory of relativity as an erroneous Jewish theory. Two thousand books were burned outside the Opera House in Berlin among the author of Albert Einstein. He was no longer the illustrious German genius but a communist and anti-German, a Jew.
Nazi Germany couldn’t possibly sustain him because he was a Jew no matter how great was his eminence, states Abba Eban (Former Foreign Minister and Ambassador). He was the victim of the Jewish fate and of the Jewish reflection and in the sense his wondering of the later years of his life seem to symbolize the condition of the Jewish people as a people which have much influence but no power to open a single door.
Abraham Pais says he never forgave the Germans for what they have done, never!
In 1929 in Caputh, outside of Berlin, Einstein and Elsa build a summer residence which he called his Hut. There he could retreat to nature, work undisturbed and take his sail boat out on the lake. It was ideal place where he felt comfortable.
Only 3 summers passed before the Nazis came to power and while Einstein and Elsa were out of the country, the Nazis raided their home and confiscated their property. Year later the local newspaper had advertised his boat for sale. Einstein was never to return to Germany again.
America held out the hope for freedom to Einstein and other escaping Hitler’s prosecutions. On the first impression, Einstein felt that Americans were optimistic and forward-looking free from the rigidity of European society.
While giving lectures across the country in considering a position of Caltech, Einstein discovered his first real taste of America. He wrote “I’ve been staying for two months in this country of contradictions and surprises where one alternates between admiration and a handshake.” The Indians gave Einstein the name The Great Relative. He was befriended by Charlie Chaplin and naturally accepted by the publicity. Chaplin took Einstein to a premier of his film “City Lights” when the crowd surrounded their limousine, Einstein asked what it means. Chaplin replied: nothing …
Einstein first trip to the United States, two years earlier, was prompted at the request of the Zionist leader Chaim Azriel Weizmann for the purpose of raising funds for the plant Hebrew university in Jerusalem. He was sympathetic to preserving a Jewish culture and community and had made a special visit to Palestine in 1923. He was drown to the spirit of the young Zionists, but never chose to live there. His path was to live in America.
The question why he chose America as his final destination may even have a rather prosaic answer where could he go to.
At the institute working with two assistants, Einstein continued his grand search for a single theory that would encompass all of nature, the grand scheme that would unify both the large forces of the planets and the small forces of the atom.
Einstein worked very intensely with one, two or three people the most and had very little contact on a day to day base with the younger members of the institute.
With quantum’s main proponent Niels Bohr, Einstein had a 20 year argument. He stubbornly held to his own beliefs.
“He had a certain type of arrogance; he had a certain belief that not that is said in those words, but that is the way I read him personally. He always uses to say that God doesn’t play dice towards Niels, but how would you know what God was doing? He had images of his notions of simplicity was the ones that can prevail” claims Abraham Pais. “If Einstein had stopped doing physics in 1925 and gone fishing he would be as just as beloved and just as great and would not make a difference”
None of these criticisms faced Einstein he still played his violin, he still sailed and stubbornly pursued his lofty vision.
Elsa remarked that though her husband seemed invulnerable he was actually more vulnerable than any other man she knew.
When the Nazis came into power Einstein was faced with dilemma. Should he continue with his pacifism or should he do what he could to resist the Nazis and their effort to get the control of the world.
He also said that he would be willing to subscribe to the idea to resist force with force. He said that it was like trying to cure sick tribe of people. Try to cure them in a way that is too slow, and by the time you cure them, they will be all dead. That’s not very efficient.
Einstein wrote to a close friend due to the regent traditions of the Germans who are such a badly messed up. It will be very difficult to remedy the situation and to keep hoping that at the end of the war with Gods benevolent help they will kill each other all.
In 1939 news came to Einstein that German physicists had succeeded in producing the nuclear fission. The uranium atom could now be split. Germany might be able to develop a bomb.
“We were very worried that the Germans will develop atomic weapons. We wanted to interest the United Stated to develop nuclear weapons so Hitler would not be the only one to possess that. And it was a friend of mine Dr. Leo Szilard who had idea that Einstein should write a letter to Roosevelt and we might have some effect. He did not know about fission possess which of course was basis of the fission, but he understood it in 15 minutes and he dictated a letter. It was taken to Roosevelt and Roosevelt appointed to the bureau of standards to look into the question of nuclear weapons. Are they possible and what kind of effect they would have” Claims Enrico Fermi.
On the letter from Einstein it was written:
“Sir, some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, leads me to expect that the element Uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. It is conceivable that extremely powerful bomb of a new type may be constructed. In view of this situation you might think it’s desirable to put forward of this recommendation for government action.”
The government gathered the top American and European exiles scientists to work on the Manhattan Project headed by J. Robert Oppenheimer. Science and government were in the beginning of a new and ambitious partnership. Einstein was not called to participate. He remained in Princeton. The work at Los Alamos, New Mexico was considered too confidential to be entrusted to Albert Einstein. He was even considered a security risk.
“We did not want to be exploded over Japanese city but over open territory to show it to the Japanese scientists that research seemed successful and Japan should come to peace With the United states. We tried to persuade with the government but we did not succeed” Claims Enrico Femi.
On March 25th 1945 Einstein sent a second letter to President Roosevelt and warning of the catastrophic consequences that would result if the atom bomb was actually ever used. F.T.R. died a few days later. The letter was found open on his desk.
August 6th 1945 the bomb was draft to Hiroshima. Three days later another bomb was draft in Nagasaki.
Einstein told a close friend that he heard the news. I could burn my fingers that I wrote the first letter to Roosevelt.
The ancient Chinese were right. It is impossible to know the results of your actions.
Since Elsa’s death in 1936, Einstein had been living with his stepdaughter Margot, his secretary of 20 years Helen Dukas and his sister Maja. After the war Maja fell ill, Einstein read to her every night from their favorite writers.
The media sensationalized Einstein’s role in the building of the atom bomb. They called him the father of the bomb, but he was not. Although Einstein’s theoretical formulation E=Mc2 was the basis for nuclear fission. It was only a description of nature, not prescription for a bomb.
Einstein did not feel guilty about his science, but he did feel guilty.
When Thomas Lee Bucky (Family Friend) sat with Einstein, he said to him that he made only one mistake in his life and that was signing the letter to President Roosevelt. He also said that he could be forgiven because they all felt that there was high probability that the Germans were working on this problem and they might succeed and make the nuclear bomb and win the race.
Einstein’s link to the atom bomb brought an onslaught of letters and telegrams. Helen Dukas tried to protect him but he withdrew to Marcy Street. The sweetness was not the same. Einstein’s worst fears have been realized that the products of science could now destroy the world. He had a burden of the misuse of what he loved most and believed that now new dramatic way of thinking was needed. He felt a profound moral obligation to act.
Einstein and other scientists wanted to moderate the partnership between the science and government feeling that the dangerously placed technology and its power in a wrong hands.
The cheapest way to kill people is to use nuclear bomb. They are remarkably cheap.
Einstein felt obligated to make every possible effort on his power to bring the end of war. He felt that the atomic bomb would be the end of civilization, the end of life on Planet Earth.
The horrifying deterioration in the ethical conduct of people today stands from mechanization and dehumanization of our life by disastrous byproduct of the development of the scientific and technical mentality.
Over a 5 years of period beginning in 1949 F.B.I. under J. Edgar Hoover began to assemble a massive Einstein file, but the government did not go so far as to call him to testify.
During the MaCarthy hearings, Einstein heritage passive resistance and he advised against pleading the 5th amendment which protects against self-incrimination, but rather the first which protects the freedom of speech. His friend Oppenheimer accused of American communists sympathies did not take Einstein’s advice.
He was somewhat out of tune with the spirit of times. Let us not forget that the late 1940-ties, especially the 1950-ties, this was an age which America didn’t distinguish itself in terms of liberal democracy. It was the age of McCarthyism of suspicion and the age of the Rosenberg case and the prosecution of Oppenheimer.
Einstein withdrew into his work and from the public eye. He refused all public appearances and requests for his time, making an exception only for a few causes, the refugees from Europe and for Israel.
He wrote “If we don’t find a way of honest cooperation and dealings with the Arabs we have not learned anything during our 2 thousand years of suffering and deserve any faith that will hit us.”
Einstein continued his work on a unified field although his health kept failing him for several years. His first wife Mileva and his lifelong friend Michele Besso had recently died.
It was the death of his sister Maja that left him feeling strangely deserted. She was most like him in temperament and he was always close to her.
“The scientist comes at the end of his inquiry against a stone wall, against a mystery that transcends understanding. He stands in reference before the spectacle of nature with its order, with its system, with its coherence and conclusion that there is some directing and controlling power which prevents this planet from being smashed into fragments. If people want to call that God then let them call that god”, claims Abba Eban.
Einstein’s lack of time, his lack of concern of how long will it take before he reaches his goal? He simply had no fear if death.
They said that they could operate him as a last resort, but he replied that he want to go when he is ready and he will do it in an elegant way.
“Every one of us appears here involuntarily and uninvited for a short stay without knowing why”
The death of Albert Einstein came on April 18, 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey. After a long illness, he died peacefully in his sleep. The listed cause of death is a ruptured artery in his heart. Upon his request in his will, there was no funeral, no grave, and no marker. His brain was donated to science and his body was cremated and his ashes were spread over a near-by river.
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”