Sunday 16 June 2024

The World of Einstein - Part 1

 


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April 18th is the death anniversary of Albert Einstein. On this day in 1955, Albert Einstein passed away at the age of 76. From March 14, 1879, to April 18, 1955, Einstein's biological life spanned seventy-six years, one month, and four days. However, some lives do not end with physical death; their achievements endure forever. Einstein's life is precisely like that. In the world of science, Albert Einstein is immortal.


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Einstein's last year of life was not good at all. Alongside physical illness, he experienced tremendous mental pressure. Since the beginning of 1954, Einstein had been suffering from anaemia. Despite his ailing health, he continued to work as much as he could. At that time, under the leadership of American Senator McCarthy, the communist witch-hunt was in full swing. Professors and scientists working at various universities and research institutions were all on edge, waiting for a summons from the 'House of Un-American Activities Committee.' The committee was interrogating Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the father of America's first atomic bomb. The committee suspected Oppenheimer of having communist sympathies. Oppenheimer's security clearance was revoked, and he was relieved of all responsibilities. America discarded the man who had led the scientific project for the atomic bomb, turning the country into the world's most powerful (or terrifying) nation.

Einstein supported Oppenheimer from the beginning to the end. He publicly criticized the committee in harsh terms. He called on all scientists in the country not to appear before the committee. American leftists and liberals praised Einstein's courage. To them, Einstein was a 'hero.' On the other hand, to conservative right-wing and extremist Americans, Einstein was a traitor. They demanded that his citizenship be revoked and that he be expelled from America. Demonstrations and meetings were held, demanding that the traitor Einstein be tried. Einstein had seen such disrespect for science and civil rights in Germany before World War II. Now, seeing the same disrespect in America, he became deeply disheartened.

This despair was expressed in a letter he published in the New York Times. 


Einstein's letter published in New York Times


On October 13, based on a letter written to the editor of "The Reporter," the New York Times published an article on November 10 titled "If Einstein Were Young Again, He Says He'd Become a Plumber." If he were born again, what would Einstein want to be in his next life? Einstein wrote that in his next life, he would not want to be a scientist, teacher, or scholar. Instead, he would like to be a craftsman or a peddler. He wanted to see if the freedom currently enjoyed by craftsmen or peddlers would still exist in the future. If it did, then perhaps he could pursue physics with full independence. This is because Einstein believed that research conducted while holding a job is not truly independent.


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The burdens of popularity are numerous. Whatever a person like Einstein says, becomes a topic of discussion and influences many people. Upon learning that Einstein wanted to become a plumber, the Stanley Plumbing and Heating Company in New York offered him a partnership. The company's owner, Stanley Moore, even said that he was prepared to change the company's name to "Einstein and Stanley Plumbing Company."


Letter to Einstein from Stanley Plumbing & Heating Co

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References:

1. Albert Einstein, The Einstein Reader, Citadel Press, New York, 2006

2. Freeman Dyson, in Einstein Hundred years of relativity, ed, Andrew Robinson, ABC Books, Sydney, 2005

3. Stephen Hawking, in Einstein Hundred years of relativity, ed, Andrew Robinson, ABC Books, Sydney, 2005



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