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If Einstein was still alive

  1. Jul 31, 2003 #1
    Lets brainstorm what kind of impact he might have had if he were still alive. Also do you think he'd be as popular? People seem to be more famous after their death.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2003 #2
    No, he wouldn't.

    The world needs more Computer Scientists now, that is where the world is leading. Computers are helping medical science and other major sciences.

    Besides, Science always changes.

    Einstein would be famous, but thought more as a celeberty.
  4. Jul 31, 2003 #3
    Feynman is dead, and he is not nearly as famous as Einstein. Why is this? His influence on physics is as least as strong, if not stronger than Einstein's. [?]
  5. Jul 31, 2003 #4
    Well, Einstein had pretty original hair. Believe it or not, his hair style defines him. Do you think Don King would be as popular as he is now without his white, tall hair? There are plenty of promoters out there, and Don King isn't even promoting the Champ, Lennox Lewis yet he is by far the most popular.

    Once you see the hair, you think Einstein. Einstein also contributed to WW2, which could of made him more famous.

    Galileo Galilei was just as great of a Scientist (better/best in my opinion), yet little kids think of Galileo as the cartoon frog anime character.
  6. Jul 31, 2003 #5
    He had this white hair only in his old age when he was at Princeton. He was famous well before that. Can somebody please answer these questions:

    1) When did Einstein get the Nobel Prize? How old was he then?
    2) When did Einstein make his appearances on TV? In what context?
    3) Were his speeches on TV about physics, or about politics?
    4) What was Einstein's position concerning Zionism/Communism/Pacifism?

  7. Aug 1, 2003 #6

    I would disagree. Einstein invented all of relativity, and started QM.

    Feynman merely improved QM. Feynman is famous for being so charasmatic.
  8. Aug 3, 2003 #7
    Don king is well known not popular, and i hope your saying he is more popular than any other promoter not lennox lewis. Sorry for going off topic but i had too.
  9. Aug 3, 2003 #8
    You need to remember the day/Time in which Einstein became a famous man, back in the days of radio news, his coming over to America was a celebrated event, in American news, and Americans had radios, so they all learned it together, in a way, all at once.

    The Greats, in past history, have more of the "ReKnown for there works, after death" attachment, probaby because of the lack of any realistic and capable, "mass" media.
  10. Aug 4, 2003 #9
    Maybe he would have derived classical electromagnetism from a unified field theory, then followed up with a derivation of basic quantum principles from it, explained the existence of all those fancy leptons, mesons and baryons, and devised real test experiments to prove it all, like those he devised for special/general relativity and the quantum. I suppose none of that is very likely, but I don't really know. I assume here that he would stick to his own guns.
  11. Aug 6, 2003 #10
    lucky Albert 1

    Einstein may have been smart and Einstein may have been clever, but he also benefited from a run of good luck.

    (1) About 1902, Einstein was graduated from ETH with "all but dissertation" completed. But he had no academic offers. He had p****d off the head of physics at his school and ended up with no job recommendation. He was doing tutoring and part-time teaching just to get by. Then, by luck, he ran into his school chum, the geometer Marzel Grossmann. Grossmann's father had contacts in the Swiss government and secured Einstein an appointment as a technician in the government office of patents in Bern. Einstein found this job so easy, he had plenty of time at work to do his own research. He was still working there when he published his monumental works in special relativity, kinetics of molecules and the quantum of light in 1905. That would likely not have been so easy if he had been struggling to make a living some other way.

    (2) About the same time (after 1900), Einstein started writing research papers. He found a brand new startup journal called Annalen der Physik and sent his early papers to it. The editors were so anxious to get submissions, they accepted Einstein's papers with little or no refereeing, in spite of the fact that Einstein had not actually gotten his doctorate yet. By 1905, the readership and critical attention to this mag had built up such that the editors could be more discriminating. But since Einstein was already published in it, they accepted his 1905 papers, in spite of the fact that the relativity papers contained no citations of earlier work by other researchers. If Einstein had tried to publish in the better-established journals of that time, or waited until 1905 to start submitting to Annalen der Physik, he might have gotten nowhere.

    (3) Einstein's relativity papers of 1905 were found by no less a figure than Prof. Max Planck of U. Berlin, who wrote Einstein a letter with questions. Planck recognized the value of Einstein's presentation of classical electromagnetism and presented the ideas to his own students. Soon the word got around, and Prof. Arthur Sommerfeld of Munich and his students picked up on it. These became fierce defenders of Special Relativity against a wall of objections. Even the objectors contributed to the reputation of Einstein (what the hell- any news is good news).

    (4) Einstein defended his light quantum idea almost entirely alone, before 1913. This is the idea that light consists of compact discrete units of energy, rather than merely manifesting a peculiarity of the radiating and absorbing atoms and molecules, as Planck had assumed in 1900. He wrote his explication of the photoelectric effect in his 1905 quantum paper as an afterthought. The main part of that paper is just a rederivation of the Planck radiation law. It was the photoelectric effect explication that later earned Einstein his Nobel prize. At first, nobody would believe the light quantum hypothesis, because electromagnetic wave theory was so successfully established already. But Einstein got an inspiration to use his idea in another context, the specific heats of solids. This was published in 1906. It was meat-and-potatoes stuff for physical chemists, and this paper became one of the most cited ones in the field. In fact, chemistry researchers became some of the most ardent defenders of quantum theory, especially after the work of Niels Bohr beginning in 1913. But it really started with Einstein's 1906 specific heat paper.
  12. Aug 6, 2003 #11
    lucky Albert 2


    (5) When Einstein finally parlayed his small fame into an academic appointment, he got the "happiest idea of his life", extending relativity into the domain of gravitation, by comparing uniform constant gravitation to uniform constant acceleration of reference frames. But it proved harder to proceed than he had reckoned for, and he had to put this research on a back burner for a while. He was moving up to better and better academic positions and needed to spend his time lecturing on the light quantum. Finally, he arrived in Zurich and resumed work on his general relativity idea. But he was quickly frustrated that things just weren't working out as easy as he had hoped. Who comes to the rescue? His pal Grossmann again. Grossmann, a geometer, got Einstein material on Riemannian geometry, an obscure mathematical research subject. Einstein looked it over and immediately understood how it might get him out of his jam. It would allow him a means to guarantee physics laws in a general covariant form, a necessity he had been thinking about, but couldn't quite formulate before then. If Grossmann and Einstein had not both been in Zurich at the same time, how might the future of General Relativity fared? Einstein and Grossmann published a preliminary piece jointly. Then Einstein got a sweet plum of an appointment to U. Berlin, where he could pursue his goal independently.

    (6) World War I produced a condition that eventually led to the Einstein craze of the 1920s. First, there were fewer active research scientists in Germany, so Einstein's closing on a viable General Theory of Relativity got a lot more attention there than it might have gotten otherwise. Of course, this did not extend much into the outside world until the war was over. But Einstein set up a network to get his ideas out a bit. He sent copies to Willem DeSitter in Leyden, Holland, a neutral country, sometimes smuggled in diplomatic pouches. DeSitter recopied these and sent them along with his own papers and remarks to Arthur Stanley Eddington in Cambridge, England. The British government had decided to leave Eddington, a pacifist, alone during the war years. These letters and the return mail were probably technically contraband, but they assured that at least some people in the west would know about General Relativity and how it should be computed.

    (7) Britain lost a lot of young university scientists in World War I. Most of them were made junior field officers in the army, the favorite target of German machinegunners. At war's end, the government was sold on sponsoring total eclipse expeditions, as a means to reestablish British eminence in pure science. Several opportunities to get good eclipse photographs had been missed because of the war. Eddington was recruited (or volunteered) to lead one of them. Of course, he was gung-ho to confirm Einstein's starlight-bending prediction, and so getting photographs of the star background during totality was made a priority. Competing with the General Relativity prediction was an earlier prediction of light-bending based on a pure Newtonian gravitation computation. The displacements of background stars would need to be large enough to declare General Relativity a winner. Eddington also was involved in the data examination after the return to England. It seems that Eddington "stacked the deck" by rejecting some of the photographic data in favor of the more favorable data (not exactly good scientific protocol). But his reputation was so formidable, he convinced the head of the Royal Society to announce that General Relativity had been vindicated. The next day the Times, and later other leading newspapers, declared in bold headlines that Newton's law had been overthrown, etc. Suddenly, Prof. Einstein, well known in scientific circles, became a world class celebrity.

    What luck!
  13. Aug 6, 2003 #12
    In some of what I have seen on Einstein, on televison, over the years, mention has been made of his coming to New York City, and the Sudden Fame that that brought with it, Mass media, (radio) Newsreels in cinemas etc.

    Apparently that had frightented him...slightly.

    But if you look back farther, most of the 'Greats/Giants of Science' had no "mass media" to deal with, 'word of mouth' was how reknown was made in the general populations, by publication, in the Science Circles.
  14. Aug 6, 2003 #13
    thanks so much for your excellent summary of Albert's biography. Isn't it a bit like with pop stars: There are many who have talent. But only few who also have luck...

    Edit: filled in the 'also'
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2003
  15. Aug 6, 2003 #14
    What does Luck have to do with anything, timing is way more important, and provable, "luck" is just a word for people who don't accept/find any other reason(s).

    Aside from that, talent at advancing Humanities knowledge is something that has been demonstrated by very few people in history, especially with the requirements of proof that need to be met.
  16. Aug 8, 2003 #15
    If Einstein had been more curious about automobile mechanics and discovered something in this field hardly anyone would remeber that.
    If you had 1000 smart scientist all independently working on the same problem and all given infinite time, would they all find the solution?
    I still believe that it is more likely that Einstein fathomed general relativity to act as a smoke screen and slow down the weapons progress of the war crazed people of his time from greater self destruction, because every advance in knowledge can be used for good or bad and it was more popular at the time to invision the most deadly uses of any new knowledge-physics being a great form of knowledge could also be a great weapon and so physicist held high positions of possible destruction. Also, people are easily duped into believing the words of some study from Harvard than the words of the bum on the street, despite the reasoning of the words themselves it is difficult to recognize sound reasoning when I'm not reasoning soundly.
  17. Aug 16, 2003 #16
    I don't know if anyone really answered your questions so:

    1. Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1921 for his paper on the photoelectric effect. He was born in 1879 so..

    2. Honestly, I've heard a speech by Einstein and he had that white "physicist" hair.

    3. Again, he may have made speeches on science but I heard one speech he made concerning Mahatma Ghandi's Nonviolent Resistance.

    4. Some people have tied him to socialism but regardless the case, he was a staunch anti-fascist. He strongly supported Zionism and Pacifism (until World War II where he realized the threat that the Nazi War Machine posed). ON an interesting note, Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel but declined.

    Hope some of this helps.
  18. Sep 3, 2003 #17
    First of all, I think he'd be one of the oldest people alive.

    Secondly, and more importantly, I think he would be a strong supporter of M-Theory, even if for its elegance alone.

    He would probably still despise Quantum Mechanics, and would thus be unable to make much of a contribution in Theoretical Physics.
  19. Sep 3, 2003 #18
    Thank you Sting.
  20. Sep 3, 2003 #19


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    I don't think so. Or I hope not, which is kinda wierd as we are talking about a dead man. What was most important about his early years of success is the weight he put on evidence - and with the new experiments done after his dead, he should finally be convinced of the success of QM. (Einstein didn't hate QM per se, but argued that it was incomplete. This is still true in a sense, just not in the way he imagined.)

    Yes, Einstein had luck. "Fortune favoured the prepared mind."
  21. Sep 6, 2003 #20
    I would also hope that Einstein would finally give in to the experimental evidence for QM, but it might still not have happened, since his hold on the "God does not play dice" concept was entirely a matter of personal belief, not based on any scientific evidence.
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