Albert Einstein

9 Dec

It almost pains me to write about Albert Einstein because I know no matter what I attempt to try and convey on his behalf, it will still be a meagerly understated vignette of his lasting imprint on the world. All that I can say with the utmost certainty is that he has posthumously inspired me more than any intellectual has, and I imagine ever will, in my entire life.

My intrigue began early in my high school career when I was gifted a copy of Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe. I devoured it with utmost vehemence, thus beginning a spiraling obsession with the German physicist. There’s a level of respect that I have for him not only due to his sheer intellectual capacity, but for how he acted within the confines of early-20th century Germany. He was living in a time when progressive thought was quelled, and when the walls of antiquity, especially in the German classroom, held the gavel that determined what was correct and what was not. Einstein was a virtuoso and a rebel of his time. He is often portrayed as a bad student in school, but this is pure slander as he was an exceedingly profound student, if not disinterested in subjects that did not concern his intellectual intrigue. At twelve years old, for example, he had already taught himself Euclidean geometry. The story that many cling to also bolsters his status as the lone ranger of science during his time: during his time at the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule, Einstein was known to dispose of the lab directions given to him by his physics professor. The lab assistant noted that while Einstein did the experiments in sometimes completely different fashions, he achieved the same end-result. This is the innovator, the avant garde postulator that we all know today.

I think that it is difficult to discuss Albert Einstein without sharing his philosophical views of the universe. Einstein has often been misconstrued as being a theist. Instead, Einstein the man was more in tune with atheism, or at least a form of pantheism, or the belief that there is no omnipotent God, only Nature. Einstein’s views on religion have helped (along with countless other inspirations) me establish my own philosophical views of the world, particularly in the vein of atheism. To this day I consider myself an atheist (a devout one for hypocrisy’s sake) because of Einstein’s empirical analysis of Quantum mechanics, of relativity and of  his theories of photon energy.

I feel culturally related to Einstein as well, considering my grandparents grew up in Esslingen, very close in Baden-Württemberg to Ulm where Einstein was born. My Oma and Opa have often told me about what they remember from their time in Germany during World War II, and how well-silenced Einstein was because of his Jewish background. Because of how endowed we are in Germany culture in my family, I figure one of the reasons I have had such an affinity for Einstein is partially due to the culturally significant relation I feel towards him.

Einstein’s impact on civilization as a whole will be everlasting and permanent. This can decidedly be either a positive or negative thing to attribute to him, as he is famously quoted “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” What will become of our technological interpretation of atom-splicing? Will we continue to combat what we deem as “evil” with nuclear weapons? Will nuclear proliferation lead to some sort of End-war? Even Einstein himself is noted as having mailed FDR soon after the atom bomb was established, begging him to reconsider its usage. Needless to say there are few people in the world, alive or not, who incite as much respect in my eyes as does Albert Einstein, the Wandering Professor.


Einstein walking home from Princeton.


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