20 May 2010

Some strange facts about Albert Einstein

If you ask someone to name a genius, nine times out of ten that person is going to name a man by the name of Albert Einstein. Einstein is the image of a genius in our society because of his revolutionary concepts that helped to create the future that we know. It is no surprise that Time Magazine chose Einstein as the Person of the Century in 1999. While we know all about Einstein creating the Theory of Relativity and E=mc2, there are some other interesting facts about the man with the wild hair.

1. Einstein Had Trouble peaking

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Even though he was essentially a genius, Einstein had trouble speaking when he was a child. As a child, Einstein would speak very slowly as he would form sentences in his head so he could speak them properly. This was not something confined to his very early years, but continued all the way until he was nine. It worried his parents so much that they thought he may have been mentally-handicapped. As it turns out, speech problems are actually very common in individuals who are described as brilliant later in their lives. In a book by Thomas Sowell, the term Einstein Syndrome has been coined to describe gifted individuals who have trouble speaking as children.

2. Einstein Had an Interesting Relationship with His Wife

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Einstein was married to Mileva Maric, with whom he had two children, Hans Alberta and Eduard. While Einstein was known as somewhat of a ladies’ man, plus his constant traveling as part of his academic fame, the relationship between him and Mileva became strained. After trying to work things out, the couple entered into a contract that would allow them to live together under certain conditions. These conditions, outlined by Einstein, were as follows:

1. You will make sure my clothes and laundry are in good order.
2. You will make sure that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room.
3. You will make sure my bedroom and study is kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
4. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons.
5. You will stop talking to me if I request it.

3. Einstein, a Pacifist, Urged Roosevelt to Create the Bomb

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Einstein was well-known for being a pacifist but even he could see the danger of the Nazi Regime. So, in 1939, worried about the rise of Nazi Germany, Einstein was convinced by Leo Szilard, a fellow physicist, to write a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The letter warned Roosevelt that Nazi Germany may be working on developing an atomic bomb and it was important that the United States began work on its own atomic program.

This letter is often cited as one of the main reasons that Roosevelt began work on the Manhattan Project. The odd thing is that even though Einstein helped push Roosevelt towards the idea of the atomic bomb, the army did not trust Einstein and he was seen as a security risk. As a result, he was not invited to help with the Manhattan Project in any way.

4. The Great Brain….Ends Up In a Trunk

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The brain of one of the most important men in history was seen as just too valuable to leave alone following the death of Einstein in 1955. As a result, Thomas Stoltz Harvey, the pathologist who did the autopsy on Einstein, chose to remove Einstein’s brain, without notifying the family. Harvey took the brain home and placed it into a jar where it remained for 43 years. Harvey was even fired from his job because he would not release the brain to the family.

Eventually, the son of Einstein, Hans Albert, received permission to study Einstein’s brain, which he did by sending slices to scientists all over the planet. Some of the information found included the fact that Einstein’s brain had more glial cells in the region of the brain that is responsible for synthesizing information. Another study of the slices found that Einstein’s brain lacked a certain wrinkle characteristic called the Sylvian Fissure. It is believed by some that this allowed the neurons in Einstein’s brain to communicate better with each other. One more study found that Einstein had a denser brain than most and the inferior parietal lob, which is where scientists believe mathematical ability comes from, was larger than in normal brains.

So, how did Einstein’s brain end up in the trunk of a car? Well, in the early 1990s, Harvey went with a freelance journalist on a cross-country trip to meet the granddaughter of Einstein. They drove in a Buick Skylark with Einstein’s brain sitting in a jar in the trunk. This entire escapade was turned into a book by the freelance journalist.

5. Some More Strange Facts

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There are plenty of strange facts about Einstein’s brain that are short and sweet, so here are a few more about the great man.

1. No one knows what Einstein’s final words were because he spoke them in German and his nurse did not understand German.
2. When Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics, he was not on hand to accept the award because he was touring Japan at the time.
3. When Israel was made into a country following the Second World War, Einstein was offered the presidency. However, he chose to decline because as he said, he had no head for problems.
4. Einstein was not known for being particularly well-dressed. When he was younger, he found his big toe would make a hole in his sock, so he stopped wearing socks from that point on. In addition, he refused to dress properly for anyone, including important heads of state.
5. Einstein was so famous in his lifetime that people would stop him in the street to ask him to explain to them the Theory of Relativity. He finally got so tired with the questions that when someone would ask, he would respond “So Sorry! Always I am mistaken for Professor Einstein.”
6. Einstein was a genius of physics, but he was not very good at spelling. Einstein’s second language was English, which may be a reason why his spelling was pretty bad. Einstein often claimed he could speak English, but could not write it because of his poor spelling.
7. Einstein was a man of science, but he hated science fiction. He felt that science fiction distorted pure science and he told people to stay away from science fiction. As he said, “I never think about the future, it comes soon enough.” He also did not believe in flying saucers, which became very well-known in the last few years of his life.
8. At the age of 17, Einstein tried to enrol in the Swiss Federal Polytechnical School, but he failed his University Entrance Exam. While he passed the math and science portions, he failed the rest, which including languages, geography and history. As a result, Einstein went to trade school before he could retake the exam a year later. The second time around, he passed.
9. Einstein actually had a poor memory. He often forgot the birthdays of his wife and children, and it was not uncommon to see Einstein wandering around the Princeton area in the afternoon because he could not remember where he lived.

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