Skip to comments.Some of the world’s greatest scientific minds tell us what they love—and hate—about Einstein
Posted on 08/20/2004 9:43:04 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist
LOVE: I particularly admired Einsteins 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 didnt confuse mathematical elegance with physical significance.
HATE: I find myself frustrated at Einsteins 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
Einsteinhis mind and his mannerbecame 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 Einsteins 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. Einsteins 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
(Excerpt) Read more at discover.com ...
Something for your ping lists
I think Einstein had a sick sense of humor.
"He seemed to consider working out the details of the atom and its nucleus more as busywork than as fundamental science."
He was great in that movie with Meg Ryan!
Is that a quote from him?
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.
Doesn't sound reasonable, so it's probably not him.
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.
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.
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.
I wouldn't trust anything by that Art Bell guy, he was kind of a kook, always interviewing UFO people and all . . .
What assumption is that?
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".
John Stuart Bell.
I think he might hold the same chair that Newton held.
Damn the Absolute
He will always be remembered as the guy who invented "bad hair."
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.
Who is certainly no run-of-the-John Stuart-Mill thinker, I think.
I think he just meant to say "quantum mechanics" instead of "relativity".
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.
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.
The Siege Perilous?
The Lucasian(sp?) chair at Cambridge?
I'm wrong, I think that's Horton.
WHAZ UP BRO?
(Henry James walks across thread to high-five his big brother, Willie James.)
P.S. By the way, what the heck is a "Swedenborgian?"
A species of Christian. Johnny Appleseed was one. So was Helen Keller.
I can never quite get my arms around Miss Universe either.
Oh, THE universe......nevermind.
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!
I like his bicycle poster.
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.
oh, and my socks are white.
Thanks for the ping!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Denis Weaire wrote an article about the physics of missing socks years ago. What is it about Irish physicists and foot garments?-)
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.
-good times, G.J.P. (Jr.)
Aye, we be a strange lot, laddie boy. I tink it's de Guinness.
As a hardcore ENTP, I know where he's coming from. Paperwork...can't the clerks do that?
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.
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