“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” -- Albert Einstein
Today is Albert Einstein’s birthday! Born in Germany on March 14, 1879, he became a world-renowned icon of intelligence and scientific breakthroughs. While few of us consider ourselves to be “Einsteins,” we can all find inspiration in Albert’s devotion to fresh approaches and his dedication to making the world a better place.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Still considered the preeminent scientist of our age, Einstein’s discoveries changed the way we perceive the universe, revolutionizing our understanding of space, time, gravity and energy. He is most famous for his 1905 theory of relativity.
At age 15, Einstein dropped out of school and left Germany to avoid the mandatory military service. Contrary to the urban myth that he failed math, he’d actually been a star scholar prior to dropping out. He later attended the Zurich Polytechnic Institute, a graduate school for math and science teachers, but displeased professors there with his rebellious nature. He considered the school’s curriculum to be outdated and preferred to study at home. A course called "Physics for Beginners" proved particularly problematical for him, and he skipped class so often that he received the lowest possible grade.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Einstein’s theory of general relativity stated that gravitational fields cause distortions in the fabric of space and time. This theory was such a departure from the accepted laws of physics at the time, that it remained controversial until May 1919. That year a total solar eclipse provided the proper conditions to test his claim. English astronomer Arthur Eddington photographed the eclipse and then analyzed the pictures, confirming that the sun’s gravity had deflected the light by roughly 1.7 arc-seconds – exactly as predicted by Einstein’s theory.
A Wise Humanitarian
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
In an article in Utne, an Einstein biographer wrote: “Along with his renowned scientific accomplishments, Albert Einstein should be acknowledged for his humanitarian struggles to achieve peace and international cooperation.”
Einstein was a philosopher who studied the meaning of life and our place in the cosmos. A deeply religious man in his own way, he believed in the laws of nature, which he found to be the epitome of balance and harmony. He spoke out strongly against segregation and discrimination and was a prominent proponent of human rights.
While, like everyone, he made numerous mistakes in life, he was always open to changing his mind as new information became available, whether the new facts pertained to science or life in general. Although he was primarily known as a pacifist, during World War ll he fought to end the Nazi regime and contributed to the Allies’ development of nuclear power. Later horrified by that development, he spent the last ten years of his life advocating for nuclear disarmament, urging scientists and policy makers to use new technology responsibly, peacefully, and for the benefit of all humankind.
Today, on Einstein’s birthday, we can all be reminded to search for truth, make a positive impact, and not be afraid to change the status quo.
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