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Will there be a new Einstein ?

  1. Oct 17, 2009 #1
    I don't know if it has been asked before - if so, I'm sorry :)

    I was just sitting and thinking. Are there any "Einsteins" alive here in 2009 ?
    I mean... 100 years ago you had Newton who came up with the laws for mechanics, then you had Maxwell who came up with the laws of electrmagnetism, you had Einstein with relativity and Schrödinger with his equation. All of them (Along with many others ofc) made a really tremendeous discovery in their time, and we use it everyday here in 2009.

    So, I know there are very smart people around the world, probably smarter than any of them I mentioned, but you don't hear about them, as when Einstein published his General Relativity.

    So why is that ? Is things just getting so hard, that it is nearly impossible to do on your own, and therefor can't claim "the fame" like Newton, Einstein, etc. did ?

    I'm just curious. Is it just me that doesn't read enough articles to know that there are plenty of them around the world, or is it just because it's so hard these days. or...?

    Well, I'm just asking :)

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2009 #2
    I think that Michiu Kaku is a great example that would be have this fame.He is a great physist and his books are extremely interesting which are include some original ideas..But Einstein,Maxwell,Newton were unique personalities with great work behind them...
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
  4. Oct 17, 2009 #3


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    Presumably because there isn't much "low hanging fruit" left in physics. It is certainly possible to still make important discoveries, but the people you mentioned made several important contributions in what we nowadays would consider to be very different fields which is why they are so famous.
    Moreover, if you look at what e.g. Einstein did you'll see that most of it (the exception is GR) is pretty "easy" in terms of mathematical complexity etc; this means that he did not have to spend years learning new mathematical techniques etc before he could attack a certain problem.

    However, the main reason is simply that there are so many physicists around today so it is simply very difficult to be original; there are so many people working on all important problems. The number of active scientists have grown enormously since WWII, there are probably as many physicsists at an average sized university today as there were in the whole of Europe and USA 100 years ago, back then even large universities only employed maybe 2-3 physicists and they spent most of their time teaching.
  5. Oct 17, 2009 #4


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    I agree with f95toli. It is very interesting to read about the birth of quantum physics. In the 1920's, physics itself was a rather new field it's actually amazing how some of the breakthroughs seem so fundamental now. For example, a lot of the relationships that we teach in AP high school chemistry were just being discovered in the 20's and 30's. But the field has greatly matured since then in both complexity and sophistication. It is very difficult for someone to make a huge breakthrough independently like Einstein did. Look at QED, probably one of the last major breakthroughs was developed by a number of brilliant people.
  6. Oct 18, 2009 #5
    Currently, there is no one in this world who can be good as Einstein at physics. Even Stephen Hawking nor anyone can catch up with Einstein.
  7. Oct 18, 2009 #6
    I expect that if someone reconciles GR with quantum mechanics they will have a reputation as good as Newton and Einstein within the physics community. It's hard to say what the general public will make of it, but it's likely they will be whipped into shape by the press. If it explains everything, then it will explain how really destructive weapons work and so the discoverer will be blamed for creating those weapons.
  8. Oct 18, 2009 #7
  9. Oct 19, 2009 #8
    It should have said: "Hundreds of years ago" :)
  10. Oct 19, 2009 #9
    The math involved in QED ruined it all!

    Maxwell, newton, albert...useful math (stuff i can actually see and feel).
  11. Oct 19, 2009 #10


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    Oooh, good catch. And I was just about to flame Helen for necroposting.... right before I replied that I was sure there would be an Albert Einstein in less than a 100 years.

    Seriously, it's a lot harder to gain wide spread fame because the field of physics has broken into specialized subfields. The intellect of the person creating a theory is only half the equation - the opportunity to make a theory that shakes the entire field of physics has to be there, as well.

    On a less serious note, the smart aleck answer would be that there are 749 people in the United States with the last name of Einstein, so the odds are almost 100% that there will be at least one more Einstein. How Many of Me

    Interestingly, there are no Albert Einsteins currently in the United States, while there are 21 people in the US named Isaac Newton. There are only 16 people in the US that share my name. No celebrities share my last name, while one celebrity shares Einstein's last name (the celebrity is Albert Einstein, himself). Olivia Newton-John and Thandie Newton are the only celebrities (other than Isacc Newton, himself) that have the last name of Newton (what ever happened to Wayne Newton?)
  12. Oct 19, 2009 #11
    And Fig Newton? When I followed the link there was one Big Al showing. There are 175 Jimmy Snyders, one (aka Jimmy the Greek) was famous, but is now dead. Several were almost famous, a race car driver in the 30's, a country music singer, an actor etc. I don't count James Snyder, so I don't know how many there are or if they are famous.
  13. Oct 20, 2009 #12


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    Of course!

    If an isomorphism from people in the past to the people in the present existed, clearly Einstein -> Kaku would be one of those isomorphisms. :rolleyes:
  14. Oct 22, 2009 #13
    I think during Einstein time, it was easier to get an academic article published than it is to get an academic article published in an academic journal today.(ironically) The guidelines for publishing an academic article in an academic journal was not as rigid as they are in einstein's time. I read in a popular physics book that said the academic journal that Einstein published his famous paper on Relativity had a rejection rate of 5-10 percent, remarkably low I expect for todays rejection rate in academic journals. According to historian Daniel Kennefick, Einstein had only ONE paper out of his 300 published scientific papers that were peer reviewed!http://scitation.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_58/iss_9/43_1.shtml [Broken]),http://www.abhishek-tiwari.com/2009/01/einstein-and-peer-review.html [Broken] ; Peer review culture that has sprung up in the scientific community in recent decades may be a few of the reasons why we have not be able to identify an Einstein in recent decades.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  15. Dec 7, 2010 #14
    There are many people who are more smarter than Newton , Dirac and Einstein but if they want to discover something new they should first spend most of their time and efforts to understand all the discoveries of Newton , Dirac and Einstein and use the rest in discussing and comments about these discoveries until death come to them
  16. Dec 7, 2010 #15
    If some scientist has some really ground breaking ideas that prove true, it might wind up being called something other than physics. There are many many geniuses out there and there is a mountain of research to big for an Einstein to comprehend. It might also take 50-200 years before the importance of current research is realized.

    At the moment, biochemical is a hotter science than physics, and computer science is evolving very rapidly. At the moment, I get the sense that the discovery of Earth like planets is relatively immanent, but I'm not sure that it will take an Einstein to discover them.
  17. Dec 8, 2010 #16
    I doubt he actually ever said that, but he had such a sense of humor, he might have.
  18. Dec 8, 2010 #17


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    There was an article by Lee Smolin addressing this very question that appeared in Physics Today, back in 2005.

    <link to pdf file - Why No 'New Einstein'?>

    This article sparked a flurry of responses, back when it appeared. Googling the article title will lead you to some of these. I don't quite agree with everything it says, but I think it provides valuable reading. Put differently, if you were to write a paper on your question, you would be very remiss to not list Smolin's article in your references.
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