Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
Albert Einstein’s 136th birthday was Saturday, March 14th.
He received a nice present from researchers with NASA’s Gravity Probe B Project. The scientists announced that fluctuations detected in Earth’s orbit prove that 100 years after he first proposed the idea, Albert has once again been proven to be right. Yes, space-time is bent and then twisted around our planet as it rotates. Space isn’t just an empty vacuum. It’s also like an invisible soup.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
The scientific world still turns on the then-revolutionary basic tenets and concepts first introduced by Albert Einstein at the age of 26. In 1905 he published five scientific essays. Two of these essays demolished the accepted theoretical physics paradigm of the times, replacing it with the Einstein model still in place today.
1905: Einstein’s Miraculous Year:
- March 17, 1905:
Einstein submits paper suggesting light possesses particle properties.
- April 30, 1905:
Einstein’s doctoral thesis. Two topics: A theory on moving liquids and gases. A theory on solutions in liquids. These theories answer the questions: Do atoms really exist? (Yes.) And how can they be counted and their size determined?
- May 11, 1905:
Einstein submits article explaining Brownian Molecular Movement.
- June 30, 1905:
Einstein’s article submits article now known as the Special Theory of Relativity.
- December 19, 1905:
A further expansion of his ideas on Brownian Movement.
- In 1915:
Einstein completed his general theory of relativity. In 1921 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
It would take a primer of several dozen pages at a minimum to adequately explain why Einstein’s “General” and “Special” theories of relativity so thoroughly upended the accepted scientific thought of the time.
Newtonian physics was fairly simple in its conceptions of why things in the universe move they way they do. And then Einstein postulates that a whole different process is going on and his wildest ideas are still being definitively confirmed on his 136th birthday. Einstein physics has opened up the ideas of black holes, time travel and even string theory (with its alternate dimensions), which are just today beginning to be taken very seriously by scientists.
“When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”
What most people are unaware of is all the practical applications of Einstein’s ideas that impact their modern lives every day. Einstein’s the guy who first imagined television, remote controllers, lasers, automatic door openers and DVD players. Digital cameras operate through a sensor which converts light into electricity, something Einstein first postulated as possible back in 1905.
Bonus Birthday Fun Anecdote:
Were Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe secret lovers?
In her 1980 autobiography, actress Shelley Winters, who was Marilyn’s studio-assigned roommate back in the 1950s, claimed to have seen evidence of an Einstein-Monroe affair in the form of a personally inscribed note by Albert on a photograph of himself carefully hidden amongst Marilyn’s possessions. British playwright Terry Johnson then staged “Insignificance,” about an affair between “The Actress” and “The Professor.” Nicolas Roeg then directed the film version with his wife, Theresa Russell, playing Marilyn. The book, play and movie have pretty much cemented this into movie trivia buffs’ brains as a true story. But it’s not. The love note was forged by Marilyn’s friend, actor Eli Wallach, who knew of Marilyn’s adoration of Einstein, as his way of teasing her for having thoughts of romancing the aged Princeton physics professor.
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
- (For non-physicists): Are you able to generally make sense of Einstein’s science when broken down in “for dummies” formats, or have you given up trying, finding it too depressing and humiliating to your self-identification as an intelligent person?
- Were you aware of Einstein’s constant apprehensions over military misuse of his genius, like the splitting of atoms enabling atomic weaponry? In retrospect, do you think scientists like Einstein and Oppenheimer who thought nuclear arms would only be used as deterrent threats exhibited a remarkable naivete for individuals being so otherwise brilliant?
- Shouldn’t all scientists wear funky sweaters and never comb their hair and generally look like absent-minded loving grandfathers?