CHARLOTTE, N.C., February 7, 2018: Remember the old rule from English that we learned in high school “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c'”? The question then becomes, if Albert Einstein was a genius, how did he get this rule wrong twice in his last name alone?
Born in Ulm, Germany, young Albert lived in Bern, Switzerland from 1902 until 1905. Today, the Swiss capital is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Einstein House where one of the world’s greatest thinkers lived is a fascinating place to visit.
Because of its historic covered walkways, it is said you can walk through Bern in a rainstorm and never get wet. As such, other than the cars parked on the streets of the city today, when someone looks out the window of Einstein’s apartment at Number 49 Kramgasse street in Bern, it looks just as it did between 1902 and 1905 when the great physicist lived there.
Einstein himself called the year 1905 his “Annus Mirabilis,” or miracle year. That’s because it was during that year that he published five of his most important papers, including one describing his breakthrough Theory of Relativity. Today, that’s familiarly known as E = mc2.
Einstein was 26 at the time.
Thanks to his profound intellect, Einstein was one of the most oft-quoted people of his time. He was famous for comments such as, “I never think of the future – it comes soon enough”; or “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits;” or “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
With all this as background, we now present some interesting trivia involving one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.
Einstein was born with an unusually large, somewhat misshapen head. His head was so big that some doctors thought he might turn out to be mentally challenged. That concern plagued Einstein throughout much of his childhood, especially because he spoke slowly until the age of nine.
One urban legend about Einstein is that he failed math. That myth was not true. Einstein did, however, fail his college entrance exam in 1895. In fact, Einstein was only an average student in most subjects other than math and physics. Thanks to those abilities, the great scientist was accepted at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich the following year.
Looking at the wild bushy gray hair and mustache in photos from his later life, it is difficult to imagine this soon-to-be world famous scientist as being a “chick magnet” during his youth. But in 1901, Einstein’s mistress at the time, Mileva Maric, became pregnant with his child. Daughter, Lieserl, was born in 1902, two years before the couple formally tied the knot.
In 1903, between Lieserl’s birth and her parents’ marriage, she was either given up for adoption or died. That mystery remains unresolved even today.
Since Einstein was born a German Jew, when Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, died in 1953, that country’s prime minister offered him the job. The noted physicist ultimately turned down the position, expressing regret at his “lack (of) both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official function.”
Oddly enough, Einstein did not earn his Nobel Prize for the Special Theory of Relativity. Instead, he received the honor in 1921 in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect,” which was a pivotal step in the evolution of quantum theory.
Among the stranger aspects of Einstein’s life or, more accurately his death, is that the autopsy revealed his brain to be larger than most, but also lighter than the average person’s.
More bizarre, however, is that Dr. Thomas Harvey, who performed the autopsy in 1955, actually stole Einstein’s brain to conduct several studies. In the process, the pathologist carved the brain into some 240 pieces to conduct his research.
When the doctor refused to return the brain, he was immediately fired from Princeton University. He did come back in the 1990s and donated the remaining portions of the brain to the University Medical Center of Princeton (formerly Princeton Hospital) at Plainsboro, New Jersey.
In fact, taking Einstein’s brain wasn’t enough to satisfy Dr. Harvey. In a rather “Frankensteinian” move, Harvey also stole Einstein’s eyeballs, sealed them in a jar of formaldehyde and gave them to the physicist’s friend, ophthalmologist, Henry Abrams. Today the whereabouts of Einstein’s eyes are still unknown, but are presumed to remain in Abram’s New Jersey bank vault.
Like many geniuses, Einstein was eccentric. One of his pet peeves was the near universally accepted Western custom of wearing socks. Apparently, Einstein had constant problems with holes in his socks and therefore refused to wear them.
Einstein was an avid sailor, though he could not swim. But he still refused to wear socks regardless of the endeavor, be it on a boat or at a formal gathering.
FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, who was a little quirky in his own right, began spying on Einstein in 1932 shortly after he fled Germany to escape the Nazi Party. For whatever reason, Hoover believed Einstein could be a communist. In the process, Hoover created a 1,400 page dossier on the scientist’s activities, continuing his undercover investigation of Einstein for two decades.
That brings us full circle to another famous quote by the world renowned genius: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.