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Some of the world’s greatest scientific minds tell us what they love—and hate—about Einstein
Discover ^ | Aug 2004 | various

Posted on 08/20/2004 9:43:04 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist

LOVE: I particularly admired Einstein’s deep devotion to, and ability to focus on, science itself and his recognition that the personalities of scientists are irrelevant to understanding science. Most important, in light of recent trends in physics, he understood the place of mathematics in science as a tool, not an end in itself. He was always motivated by physical questions and searching for experimental tests, even as he explored new mathematics. In particular, he didn’t confuse mathematical elegance with physical significance.

HATE: I find myself frustrated at Einstein’s constant and inappropriate use of the term “God,” when he really meant something else. As a result, he opened the door for generations of individuals to misrepresent his ideas.

LAWRENCE KRAUSS, chairman, department of physics,

Case Western Reserve University

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Einstein—his mind and his manner—became the symbol of science to millions of people throughout the world. In an era of wrenching human struggle under the heels of military might and the horrors of World War I, the experimental proof of the correctness of Einstein’s notion of gravity and curved space showed the world that there were fundamental truths to be learned about nature and that the human mind and spirit could rise above all. Einstein’s manner, his grandfatherly warmth, gave science, and physics in particular, a human side, which we have lost over the century.

What still drives me crazy about Einstein is that he did not participate in the scientific revolution he helped launch. His successful theory of the photoelectric effect was a key step in establishing the correctness of quantum mechanics. He seemed to consider working out the details of the atom and its nucleus more as busywork than as fundamental science.

NEAL LANE, former director, the National Science Foundation;

professor of physics and astronomy, Rice University

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(Excerpt) Read more at discover.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: alberteinstein; einstein; physics; science
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1 posted on 08/20/2004 9:43:06 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist
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To: PatrickHenry; Ernest_at_the_Beach

Something for your ping lists


2 posted on 08/20/2004 9:45:12 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist (<A HREF=http://www.michaelmoore.com>stupid blob</A>)
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To: RightWingAtheist

I think Einstein had a sick sense of humor.


3 posted on 08/20/2004 9:46:41 AM PDT by coconutt2000
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To: RightWingAtheist

"He seemed to consider working out the details of the atom and its nucleus more as busywork than as fundamental science."

Google: INTP


4 posted on 08/20/2004 9:46:54 AM PDT by ConsistentLibertarian
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To: RightWingAtheist

He was great in that movie with Meg Ryan!


5 posted on 08/20/2004 9:48:15 AM PDT by Lunatic Fringe (This tagline was censored by freerepublic.com!)
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To: coconutt2000
"If you can't explain it so an 8 year old can understand it, you don't understand it".

Is that a quote from him?

6 posted on 08/20/2004 9:51:18 AM PDT by norraad ("What light!">Blues Brothers)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: RightWingAtheist

I had heard that near the end of his life, near his 70's, he lamented that everything he had done was wrong.

The implication being he had stumbled on something that outmoded his theory, or simply showed it to be a specialized subset of something bigger.

And no matter, Einstein has been flat out proved wrong on at least one occasion, by J. S. Bell et al.


8 posted on 08/20/2004 9:53:22 AM PDT by djf
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To: norraad

Doesn't sound reasonable, so it's probably not him.


9 posted on 08/20/2004 9:58:51 AM PDT by js1138 (In a minute there is time, for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. J Forbes Kerry)
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To: norraad

Einstein wrote an article for the Encyclopedia Brittanica explaining in very very basic simple terms the relationship between space and time. I can get through about four paragraphs of the thirty page article before having to give up.


10 posted on 08/20/2004 9:59:01 AM PDT by bayourod ("All boats came to the aid of PCF-3, except one: John Kerry’s boat. Kerry fled. " Van Odell)
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To: djf

I prefer to think that Einstein's understanding of relativity was based on an incorrect assumption of certain absolutes... I think that if he was alive today, he'd be leading the way on quantum mechanics.

He had an incredible intuition about the structure of matter and the universe, and he made huge leaps based on small amounts of inormation.

I think that is rather incredible, and he would certainly be a great scientist today if he was alive.


11 posted on 08/20/2004 9:59:21 AM PDT by coconutt2000
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To: RightWingAtheist
I love that Einstein viewed physics in terms of geometry, and let the algebra follow from that, rather than vice-versa.

I hate that Einstein seemed to buy into the misconception that his scientific brilliance conferred upon him some special political insight, and that therefore his opinions on such matters should carry extra weight.

12 posted on 08/20/2004 10:01:10 AM PDT by Physicist
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To: djf

I wouldn't trust anything by that Art Bell guy, he was kind of a kook, always interviewing UFO people and all . . .


13 posted on 08/20/2004 10:01:24 AM PDT by job ("God is not dead nor doth He sleep")
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To: coconutt2000
I prefer to think that Einstein's understanding of relativity was based on an incorrect assumption of certain absolutes

What assumption is that?

14 posted on 08/20/2004 10:03:59 AM PDT by Physicist
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To: coconutt2000

Interesting that because of the work of Bell and others, some ideas that were dumped because of general/special relativity are coming back in a certain vogue, even though no scientist would ever publicly admit it.

The quantum flux, the ZPE could be considered to be "ether".

There does indeed seem to be some kind of absolute space/time, ie a true, positive, though possibly not preferred, inertial system.

Whatever the next revelation in physics, it's almost to the point where it will be called a "philosophy", not a "hard science".


15 posted on 08/20/2004 10:07:43 AM PDT by djf
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To: job

Not Art.

John Stuart Bell.

I think he might hold the same chair that Newton held.


16 posted on 08/20/2004 10:09:36 AM PDT by djf
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To: coconutt2000
prefer to think that Einstein's understanding of relativity was based on an incorrect assumption of certain absolutes

Damn the Absolute

17 posted on 08/20/2004 10:13:19 AM PDT by mjp
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To: RightWingAtheist

He will always be remembered as the guy who invented "bad hair."


18 posted on 08/20/2004 10:14:00 AM PDT by Old Professer (If they win, it will be because we've become too soft.)
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To: js1138
Actually, although I don't know if it was from him or not, it does indeed sound like something he would say, as he believed very much that you could explain the universe in very simple, elegant terms which anyone, even a child, could understand. He intensely disliked quantum mechanics partly because of the mathematical "noise" which made it so difficult to express in simple terms (Schrodinger, whose wave mechanics turned out be merely a simpler form of matrix mechanics, felt much the same way).

It's often forgotten today that Einstein spent as much of his time trying to explain relativity and basic physics to the general public as he did on physics itself. The Evolution of Physics, which he co-wrote with Leopold Infeld, remains a classic text.

19 posted on 08/20/2004 10:14:03 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist (<A HREF=http://www.michaelmoore.com>stupid blob</A>)
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To: RightWingAtheist
Relativity is near its centennial. Physics geeks around the world are preparing to celebrate. New pocket protectors with E=mc2 printed on them or Einstein on a bicycle or something.
20 posted on 08/20/2004 10:14:34 AM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and establish property rights)
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To: djf
John Stuart Bell.

Who is certainly no run-of-the-John Stuart-Mill thinker, I think.

21 posted on 08/20/2004 10:15:57 AM PDT by Migraine
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To: Physicist

I think he just meant to say "quantum mechanics" instead of "relativity".


22 posted on 08/20/2004 10:16:09 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist (<A HREF=http://www.michaelmoore.com>stupid blob</A>)
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To: RightWingAtheist

That's a great book, I have my copy near my bedside, 5th printing, Simon and Schuster, 1938.

I should re-read his "Out of my Later Years", Philosophical Library, New York, 1950.


23 posted on 08/20/2004 10:20:06 AM PDT by djf
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To: RightWhale
Thanks for reminding me about the upcoming World Year of Physics. Anyone interested in learning more can just click on the link.
24 posted on 08/20/2004 10:20:58 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist (<A HREF=http://www.michaelmoore.com>stupid blob</A>)
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To: Physicist
I read an interesting piece on him that detailed his early school years, his relationship with his wife and his journey to Switzerland to work in the patent office, thematic in this chronicle of his behavior was an underlying current of social disjunction as though he never quite met anyone who was truly suitable as a companion.

Were he growing up in today's world, he might well be labeled autistic; as for his grand ideas about the great scheme of things, I can never quite get my arms around the universe, some ignorance is healthy, I believe.

25 posted on 08/20/2004 10:21:23 AM PDT by Old Professer (If they win, it will be because we've become too soft.)
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To: djf
I think he might hold the same chair that Newton held.

The Siege Perilous?

26 posted on 08/20/2004 10:22:15 AM PDT by Physicist
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To: djf

Bell?


27 posted on 08/20/2004 10:24:19 AM PDT by coconutt2000
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To: Migraine

Ouch...


28 posted on 08/20/2004 10:26:21 AM PDT by Gefreiter ("Flee...into the peace and safety of a new dark age." HP Lovecraft)
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To: Physicist

The Lucasian(sp?) chair at Cambridge?

I'm wrong, I think that's Horton.


29 posted on 08/20/2004 10:26:31 AM PDT by djf
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To: mjp; RightWingAtheist; Lunatic Fringe; freeper beeber; Tax-chick; Mo1; RightWhale; ...
Henry James:

WHAZ UP BRO?

(Henry James walks across thread to high-five his big brother, Willie James.)

Keep making the movements of life,

-Henry James.

P.S. By the way, what the heck is a "Swedenborgian?"

30 posted on 08/20/2004 10:27:18 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid ("And then they invented 'New Coke.' Or as I like to call it, "syrupy piss-water.")
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To: The Scourge of Yazid
"Swedenborgian?"

A species of Christian. Johnny Appleseed was one. So was Helen Keller.

31 posted on 08/20/2004 10:29:57 AM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and establish property rights)
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To: Old Professer
I can never quite get my arms around the universe, some ignorance is healthy, I believe.

I can never quite get my arms around Miss Universe either.
Oh, THE universe......nevermind.

32 posted on 08/20/2004 10:34:31 AM PDT by Just another Joe (Warning: FReeping can be addictive and helpful to your mental health)
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To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Physicist; LogicWings; Doctor Stochastic; ..
Science list Ping! This is an elite subset of the Evolution list.
See the list's description in my freeper homepage. Then FReepmail me to be added or dropped.
33 posted on 08/20/2004 10:35:47 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (If I never respond to you, maybe it's because I think you're an idiot.)
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To: coconutt2000

John Bell, Cambridge University, author of "Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics", Cambridge University Press, 1987.

He is the discoverer/inventor/interpreter of the famous Bell inequality, which makes us change our ideas about the true nature of space/time/causality.

It's very simple, and has to do with what color socks you wear!


34 posted on 08/20/2004 10:37:41 AM PDT by djf
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To: RightWingAtheist

I like his bicycle poster.


35 posted on 08/20/2004 10:37:45 AM PDT by battlecry
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To: RightWhale; ScaniaBoy; Dane
I know, I was just having a little fun at the expense of that fun-loving, scientifically-inclined, mystical, Swede-loving sect.

Believe it or not, I actually have a friend who knows someone that was brought up in that church.

According to him, the guy is in the process of acquiring his second Master's of Arts in a subject that hardly anyone on this planet has ever heard of.

36 posted on 08/20/2004 10:38:20 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid ("And then they invented 'New Coke.' Or, as I like to call it, "syrupy piss-water.")
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To: djf

LOL...


oh, and my socks are white.


37 posted on 08/20/2004 10:38:41 AM PDT by coconutt2000
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To: PatrickHenry

Thanks for the ping!


38 posted on 08/20/2004 10:42:29 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Physicist
I hate that Einstein seemed to buy into the misconception that his scientific brilliance conferred upon him some special political insight, and that therefore his opinions on such matters should carry extra weight.

Right. To the end, he remained a socialist. Probably the result of his early coffee house days in pre-WWI Europe. Somewhat excusable then, because so many Europeans were (and are) ignorant about such things. Alas, he never seems to have bothered to learn about the economic system of his adoped country, and as a result, zillions of idiots imagine that socialism is the "intellectual" position to take when in fact, it's the moronic position.

So he was wrong when he said that his cosmological constant was his biggest blunder. Rather, it was his endorsement of socialism.

39 posted on 08/20/2004 10:45:15 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (If I never respond to you, maybe it's because I think you're an idiot.)
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To: PatrickHenry; RussianConservative
At least he wasn't quite as bad as some fellow-travelers of the time.

Granted, his political views were misguided at best, but he was still a patriotic citizen, unlike some of the other members of the scientific community, who decided to either sell or mortgage their souls to the Evil Empire.

40 posted on 08/20/2004 10:50:46 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid ("And then they invented 'New Coke.' Or, as I like to call it, "syrupy piss-water.")
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To: coconutt2000

These physicists, Einstein included, have an overblown sense of their intellectual powers. They think they can understand how our Universe works. They will only ever be able to understand a small fragment of it.


41 posted on 08/20/2004 10:51:08 AM PDT by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
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To: PatrickHenry

If Einstein has had a negative influence on anything, it's that the physics community since his time has teneded to lean left on most issues, largely because they have looked up to him on everything else. That and the Oppenheimer case has led a lot of otherwise bright minds to advocate some of the most dunderheaded policy positions imaginable.


42 posted on 08/20/2004 10:51:28 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist (<A HREF=http://www.michaelmoore.com>stupid blob</A>)
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To: djf

Denis Weaire wrote an article about the physics of missing socks years ago. What is it about Irish physicists and foot garments?-)


43 posted on 08/20/2004 10:53:47 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist (<A HREF=http://www.michaelmoore.com>stupid blob</A>)
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp
They think they can understand how our Universe works.

They have known for 50 years that relativity and quantum mechanics are incompatible. They hope that superstring theory can be of some help, but probably no one thinks they will ever understand ultimately what the structure of the Universe might be, or if that is even the right question.

44 posted on 08/20/2004 10:56:42 AM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and establish property rights)
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To: All
Old thread, from 1999: Why Socialism? (Albert Einstein).
45 posted on 08/20/2004 11:01:35 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (If I never respond to you, maybe it's because I think you're an idiot.)
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp; RightWingAtheist; PatrickHenry; Physicist; hopespringseternal
Case in point, Helen Caldicott.

Blecchh!

UNION OF CONCERNED LIBERAL SCIENTIFIC SISSY BOYS

-good times, G.J.P. (Jr.)

46 posted on 08/20/2004 11:10:50 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid ("And then they invented 'New Coke.' Or, as I like to call it, "syrupy piss-water.")
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To: PatrickHenry
A picture circa 1912:


47 posted on 08/20/2004 11:14:55 AM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: RightWingAtheist; Doctor Stochastic; Happygal
Archetypal Irish physicist:

Aye, we be a strange lot, laddie boy. I tink it's de Guinness.

48 posted on 08/20/2004 11:18:23 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid ("And then they invented 'New Coke.' Or, as I like to call it, "syrupy piss-water.")
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To: ConsistentLibertarian
"He seemed to consider working out the details of the atom and its nucleus more as busywork than as fundamental science."

Google: INTP

As a hardcore ENTP, I know where he's coming from. Paperwork...can't the clerks do that?

49 posted on 08/20/2004 11:25:16 AM PDT by Oberon (What does it take to make government shrink?)
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp
These physicists, Einstein included, have an overblown sense of their intellectual powers. They think they can understand how our Universe works. They will only ever be able to understand a small fragment of it.

On the contrary, we physicists understand much better than laymen how little--or how much--is understood, because we know where the boundaries lie.

It turns out that fundamental questions of how space and time behave are comparatively simple and knowable, and if our answers aren't truly complete, they are very nearly so. Questions such as "how does water flow" or "how do protein molecules get their shapes" or "how do bumblebees keep aloft" or "how does a carburetor do what it does", now, those are hard questions.

50 posted on 08/20/2004 11:27:34 AM PDT by Physicist
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