| By Debra Kirby |
While a history major in college, one of my classes was a one-on-one tutorial on the history of science. During one session my patient professor was able to explain Einstein’s special relativity theory so that I was truly able to understand it—for one bright shining moment. I could almost feel my brain working! It was beautiful! Sorry to say, I was never again able to recapture that moment in quite the same way, despite later taking a “Physics for Poets” class and going through quite the hero worship phase, which included reading every book on Einstein I was able to purchase or borrow. I even hung a poster of him in my bedroom. Because my history focus was on World War II, I found Einstein biographies especially fascinating, since much of his life was intertwined with and influenced by that war. In honor of Einstein’s birthday today, March 14, I recently visited Gale’s Science In Context to reacquaint myself with the great physicist. Here are just a few of the interesting facts I found:
- Einstein became a pacifist as a result of World War I, lecturing against war as early as the 1920s. In response to the rise of Nazism and Hitler, he renounced his German citizenship in 1933, and accepted an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, where he spent the rest of his life. View the biography
- In 1944 Einstein contributed to the war effort by hand writing his 1905 paper on special relativity and putting it up for auction. The manuscript, which raised $6 million, is currently the property of the U.S. Library of Congress. View the biography
- Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952, but he did not consider himself well suited for the job and thus declined the offer. View the biography
- Einstein did not wear socks, even “on the most solemn” occasions. View the news article
Next up—I think I’ll read more about a scientist currently receiving lots of popular press, Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was recently featured on the home page of Science In Context. Who’s your favorite scientist and what new discovery about him or her will you make by visiting Science In Context?