Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Einstein at the office

He was the pre-eminent scientist in a century dominated by science. The touchstones of the era — the Bomb, the Big Bang, quantum physics and electronics — all bear his imprint."

"He was the embodiment of pure intellect, the bumbling professor with the German accent, a comic cliché in a thousand films. Instantly recognizable, like Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, Albert Einstein's shaggy-haired visage was as familiar to ordinary people as to the matrons who fluttered about him in salons from Berlin to Hollywood. Yet he was unfathomably profound — the genius among geniuses who discovered, merely by thinking about it, that the universe was not as it seemed.” (Time Magazine)

2005 marks the 100th anniversary of perhaps the most astonishing year in the history of science when Albert Einstein, then a clerk in a patent office, literally envisioned the modern world. Everyone remembers the mass-energy equivalence formula, E = mc^2, and the idea that motion is relative. Few understand the concepts or implications of his Relativity Theory (Special Relativity) or know the impact that the photoelectric effect had on the quantum view of nature and on modern technology. His third milestone in 1905 was the theory of Brownian motion that gave the first good measure of the size of molecules.

Tonight at the Palos Verdes Library, Peninsula Center, the actress Kres Mersky portrays “The Life and Times of Albert Einstein” from the unique perspective of his secretary. (It's time to go now.)

(I'm back.) The play was wonderful. Einstein's secretary Ellen worked for him in Berlin then moved with him to Princeton before the war. Tonight she greeted the audiance who were waiting for the great man to arrive. While we waited Ellen told us about her three decades with, in her words, the greatest Jew since Jesus. She warned us not to ask him to explain the theory of Relativity .... because of course he will do so. Gradually Ellen revealed her secretarial understanding of the twin paradox, gravity bending light beams, the spacetime continuum and curved space, and his distrust of quantum mechanics. Enchanting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell us more! Give us your thoughts about Einstein! Enchanting? Why? PJ

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