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Einstein Redux(a humorous and refreshing new chapter in the Einstein saga)
By Dwain K. Butler
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Dwain K. Butler
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEinstein Relaxing and at Play
Albert Einstein loved to relax—alone and with friends. He played music on the piano and violin, he rode bicycles, he liked sailing, he read, and he enjoyed his pipe. In younger years, he and friends would go on long hikes around Lake Como in Northern Italy, during which discussions of physics, mathematics, philosophy, and politics were free and uninhibited, unlike the formalized, impersonal nature of the school classroom at the time.
While he loved to sail, he was reportedly never very good at it, but he kept sailing as a hobby throughout his life. While attending college in Switzerland, Einstein would take a boat onto a lake, pull out a notebook, relax, and think. However, he apparently never learned to swim. "Mere mortals" are fascinated with and like to key on various things and aspects of his life that Einstein was "not good at." A typical urban myth that "mere mortals" like to quote and find comforting is that "Einstein failed math as a child." Well, while Albert Einstein may not have been a totally sterling student and sometimes ran afoul of teachers, he never failed a mathematics course.
There is no reference to Albert Einstein ever being involved with remote controlled model airplanes or actually ever flying on a "full size" airplane. However, planes, trains and automobiles played a key role in thought experiments that led to and illustrated the Special and General Theories of Relativity. In fact, the famous confirmation of time dilation in the 1960's by University of Michigan physicists involved identical, highly accurate atomic clocks in two sets of identical airplanes; one set of clocks remained in airplanes at rest on the ground, and the other set of clocks were on planes flying around the world.
Whether stunt riding on the top or piloting inside (stuffed), Einstein Redux thoroughly enjoyed his introduction to model airplanes during a visit to South Bend, Indiana. Albert himself would surely have been an enthusiast, enjoying the aerodynamics, technical design, and radio-controlled aspects of the experience.
Einstein Redux enjoys fishing, whether it be from the banks of a small southern pond or a fishing charter on the high seas. He also has become an excellent swimmer (yes he learned finally!), enjoys sunning on beaches, relishes having a friendly drink with friends, and yes is always ready for a good meal—be it fast food or gourmet dining.
Einstein and War
Albert Einstein was a well known pacifist. His expressed pacifism quickly earned disdain in the late 1920's from Germany's Weimar Republic, and when the Nazis and Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, while Einstein was in California, his house was attacked by stormtroopers of the Sturm Abteilung. On learning what had happened to his house and the general anti-semitic and anti-intellectual climate in Germany, Einstein decided not to return home. He renounced his German citizenship and toured Europe detailing the evils of National Socialism.
He immigrated to the United States in 1934 and began to rethink his rigid pacifism.
Einstein's most famous involvement in World War II was his collaboration with fellow physicists Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, and Edward Teller on a letter in August 1939 to President Roosevelt. In the letter, signed by Einstein, the physicists warned the President of recent discoveries that indicated it might be possible to build "extremely powerful bombs of a new type" and that there was strong possibility that Germany was actively pursuing such a weapon. Motivated by many factors, including Einstein's letter, President Roosevelt initiated the Manhattan Project that led to the eventual development of the atomic bomb. While the benefits of successful accomplishment of the goals of the Manhattan Project are certainly debatable, as indicated below by Einstein's post-war disappointment with his minor involvement, the project certainly indicated what was possible with a committed government-sponsored and encouraged research and development program. This same type effort resulted in placing men on the Moon during the Apollo Program of the 1960's and 1970's, finally breaking the bonds of gravity, which had held the human race close to the surface of the Earth throughout history.
Although Einstein's role in the development of nuclear weapons has attained mythic proportions, he was dismayed at the actual deployment of the weapon and its destruction of human life. After the war, he emphasized that "My participation in the production of the atomic bomb consisted of one single act: I signed a letter to President Roosevelt.... I emphasized the necessity of conducting large-scale experimentation with regard to the feasibility of producing an atom bomb.... I saw no alternative but to act as I did, although I have always been a convinced pacifist." After the war and until his death in 1955, Einstein campaigned for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Less well known was Einstein's direct work for the Navy Department as a consultant (for $25 per day). His letters to the Navy Department, many on the letterhead of The Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, are fascinating. In the example shown below, he essentially asks for permission to spend the summer months in a cottage at Lake Saranac, rather than at Princeton. Other letters indicate a humility (or uncertainty) in making suggestions, recognizing that his ideas might not be new or could have already been discounted for practical reasons. One remarkable letter suggests that mathematical or theoretical formulations of a particular problem would be useless, and that the problem was best approached through experiment. In the same letter, Einstein indicates that he doesn't need an assistant, apparently in response to an offer to hire an assistant for him. These letters were classified until the late 1960's.
Although he might be heard to say "make love not war," Einstein Redux also has connections with the military and involvement in wartime activities. During a recent visit to the Pentagon to brief the military commands, he took time to visit a large display honoring the military services. The visits to such a storied place, always cause an intense patriotic sense of duty in Redux. He feels a call to contribute all that he can to the security of the nation he loves so much.
Albert Einstein's efforts on arms control following the first use of atomic weapons are legendary. Einstein Redux similarly is concerned about weapons of mass destruction; however, he has an intense desire to use any and all means to keep the forces of tyranny at bay and preserve freedom for all. This desire leads Einstein Redux to carefully study the weapons of war. From decades old weapons to modern weapons, he studies the designs, the effectiveness, the aesthetics ("everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler"), the ergonomics, and formulates improvements. He also studies battlefield tactics, which carries him to places near and far, often placing him in harm's way.
In 2007, Einstein Redux made an inspection tour of the conflict in Iraq. He was impressed with the military personnel, but was appalled at the challenges they faced with the insurgency and terrorism and unconventional warfare. "War is hell, even when both sides 'play by the rules of war'," he said. But in the type of warfare involved in Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world, known in military parlance as "asymmetric warfare," troops must be trained from scratch to deal with the nonconventional threats they face, such as improvised explosive devices (the infamous IED's), which can be extremely devious and unpredictable in nature and deployment.
Noble as his efforts were, Einstein Redux realized the true dangers of this particular battlefield, when he was taken captive by terrorists. Held for ransom, he experienced fear and loneliness as he awaited his fate. Sadly, even his most imaginative relativistic thinking was ineffective for dealing with this situation. Reason, rational thinking, and compassion were not in his captors' vocabulary.
Following the appearance of a ransom notice in a local newspaper, along with proof of life, a daring rescue plan was put in place. Planning for the rescue took place at the highest levels of CENTCOM, since failure was an unacceptable outcome for such a valuable American icon. An elite Special Forces unit was assembled and staged a daring and dangerous rescue of Einstein Redux. Everyone feels an enormous debt of gratitude to the brave members of the elite unit, for saving Einstein Redux. The world would have been a much sadder place had the rescue been unsuccessful. Unfortunately the identities of the brave rescuers of Redux must remain in obscurity and never receive the accolades they deserve.
With freedom came a much more treacherous adventure for Einstein Redux, the challenges of airline travel back to the United States. For one so tired as Redux after his adventures, the trials of negotiating so many airports and security checkpoints was equally tiring and frustrating.
Einstein and Style
The iconic images of Albert Einstein with the wild, bushy hair, the sweaters, and sandals without socks were largely products of his later years, after immigration to the United States in 1933. In his earlier years, Albert Einstein would likely have been considered dapper in style; although, his hair clearly went from short and well kempt to long and unruly as it went from black to gray to white. Einstein's evolution in dress and style might be viewed as just a normal progression of growing older and developing a lack of concern for what people think. However, given the common knowledge of Einstein's personality, his evolution in style was a manifest expression of his free spirit and actually did indicate that he wanted to be comfortable and really didn't care at all about his appearance or what others thought about it.
Einstein Redux likewise is a free spirit in his expression of style, but he will dress appropriately for special occasions. Like his namesake, he prefers casual dress and most often wears sweaters. The basic sweater is easily accessorized to be appropriate for many occasions.
With a cool, calm demeanor, he is able to wear sweaters year round, even in the hot humid Southern US or in hot dry desert settings. The basic sweater can be traded for a seasonally appropriate sweater when desired. Also the basic sweater can be accessorized with scarves, hats, and distinctive embroidery as desired. To truly feel the Latin mariachi spirit, the basic sweater is easily augmented with sombrero, scarf, and maracas.
There are some occasions, however, when the sweater just seems out of place, and Redux is not reluctant to experiment. At a southwestern barbecue or a western-themed party, western attire is a must. The sweater must be put aside for rockin' leather, for a rock and roll ambiance. For sunning and swimming, the sweater absolutely must be left behind for appropriate beach wear. There are those truly special occasions, such as a wedding, when formal attire is required and the sweater just will not work; the blushing bride can be quite demanding.
Einstein and Women
Albert Einstein was in many ways and, using modern terminology, a "babe magnet." In his early years, his dashing good looks and easy going, eclectic manner were quite attractive to women. He made friends with women easily. However, it was just his "easy going, eclectic manner" and distracted, self-absorbed lifestyle that made it difficult to establish and maintain lasting relationships with women.
While attending school in Aarau, Switzerland, in 1895, Albert roomed with the Winteler family. One of the Winteler daughters, Marie, became his first girlfriend; she was 18 and he was 16. Marie was described as pretty, sweet, and somewhat flighty. During school breaks and later when he moved on to Zurich Polytechnic, he wrote her a few love letters in response to many letters from her. At first after moving to Zurich, he would send her baskets of laundry to do for him, sometimes without even a note attached. Eventually, he began to suggest that their correspondence should stop, and finally he declared that the relationship was over in a letter to Marie's mother. While not exactly the modern exemplar of how to end a relationship, it proved quite effective.
During his years at Zurich Polytechnic, Einstein came to know fellow student Mileva Mari. Mileva was Marie's polar opposite. She had many qualities that attracted and intrigued Albert, and was in many ways his intellectual equal. While his family was entirely in favor of his relationship with Marie Winteler, they were equally opposed to his relationship with Mileva. In a move that would play a key role in her failure to achieve her dream of becoming a scientist, Mileva decided to have Einstein's child—out-of-wedlock. The child, born in 1902, was apparently named Lieserl, and quickly vanished from the public eye after birth, without her father ever seeing her. Stories abound surrounding the mystery of the fate of the illegitimate daughter of Albert and Mileva (e.g., Zackheim, 1999).
Einstein and Maric finally wed in 1903 and subsequently had two additional children, Hans Albert and Eduard. However, Albert's professional wanderings and frequent long-term absences put such a strain on the marriage that it was doomed. Following a lengthy separation, a divorce was finalized in 1919, after much negotiation and anguish on both sides. Part of the divorce agreement was that the proceeds from the Nobel Prize that Einstein expected at some point would go to Maric. Finally, in 1922, Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of the photoelectric effect, and the proceeds went to a trust for Maric and sons—the monetary part of the prize amounted to approximately ten times the annual salary of a university professor.
Shortly thereafter, Albert married his cousin Elsa. His affair with Elsa actually began in 1912, when he became reacquainted with her during a stay in Berlin. Elsa desired to domesticate Albert, and actively pursued him. Elsa and Albert married in 1919, and the marriage lasted happily until Elsa's death in 1936. The Einsteins settled in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1933, following immigration to the United States to escape Nazi Germany and the growing anti-Jewish environment in Europe. While Albert's marriage to Elsa may have lacked some of the romance and passion of his first marriage, he and Elsa were happy together and it was a solid and effective relationship. After Elsa's death, Albert Einstein continued to live in the 112 Mercer Street address in Princeton, New Jersey. Initially he lived with his faithful secretary Helen Dukas and his stepdaughter Margot. They were joined by Einstein's sister Maja in 1938. Einstein always seemed to be surrounded by women.
Like his namesake, Einstein Redux likes women and they are attracted to him by his wit and charm—they just can't resist him—he is the definitive "babe magnet." Before learning that it was best to just meet and greet and walk away, Redux had a rather sordid affair with a red-haired vixen. She totally swept him off his feet—or vice versa (see below). In any event, twins were born, and the headfull of white hair on one of the twins seemed quite incriminating, regarding paternity. It got really ugly when the vixen retained a famous lawyer to sue Redux for all she could get.
Redux, representing himself of course, totally outclassed and confused the famous attorney, and in turn filed a frivolous lawsuit against the attorney.
Even after initial misadventures, it is still a fact that Redux is irresistible to females, and they literally flock to have their picture taken with him. What a terrible burden he bears!
While the above pictures feature Einstein Redux in encounters with women in ordinary circumstances, there have been some more eclectic encounters. The two pictures below show examples that Redux just chooses to let speak for themselves. In one case, he feels somewhat conflicted and torn. In another case, he feels a closeness to the source, as the soothing sound of splashing water washes over his consciousness.
Einstein and Technology
Albert Einstein, by most "classifiers" of scientists, was a theoretical physicist. However, he was ever fascinated by "technology," and recognized, as much as any theoretician ever has, the importance of experiment. The ultimate test of any theory is in the ability to predict and be validated by results of experiment. Conversely, the ultimate value of any good experiment is to serve as validation or refutation of a theory, as the seed for refinement of the existing theory, or as the impetus for development of a new theory. Einstein was famous for his "thought experiments," which served him well as he developed his special and general theories of relativity and contributed so much to the early development of quantum mechanics. However, it was later, as "technology" caught up with the capability to test predictions from Einstein's theories, that the true synergy of theory and experiment was revealed in its most spectacular nature.
Excerpted from Einstein Redux by Dwain K. Butler Copyright © 2011 by Dwain K. Butler. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Einstein Relaxing and at Play....................9
Einstein and War....................14
Einstein and Style....................24
Einstein and Women....................28
Einstein and Technology....................34
Einstein and Music....................38
Einstein and the Future....................41
References and Bibliography....................44