Albert Einstein quotes
Birthdate: 14. March 1879
Date of death: 18. April 1955
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist. Einstein developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics . Einstein's work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. Einstein is best known by the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 . He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the evolution of quantum theory.
Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led him to develop his special theory of relativity during his time at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern , Switzerland. However, he realized that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields and—with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916—he published a paper on general relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the large-scale structure of the universe.
Between 1895 and 1914, he lived in Switzerland , where he received his academic diploma from the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zürich in 1900. He later taught there at the same institute as a professor of theoretical physics between 1912 and 1914 before he left for Berlin. In 1901, after being stateless for more than five years, Einstein acquired Swiss citizenship, which he kept for the rest of his life. In 1905, Einstein was awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich. The same year, his annus mirabilis , he published four groundbreaking papers, which were to bring him to the notice of the academic world, at the age of 26.
He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and—being Jewish—did not go back to Germany, where he had been a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He settled in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he endorsed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the potential development of "extremely powerful bombs of a new type" and recommending that the U.S. begin similar research. This eventually led to what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein supported defending the Allied forces, but generally denounced the idea of using the newly discovered nuclear fission as a weapon. Later, with the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.
Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works. Einstein's intellectual achievements and originality have made the word "Einstein" synonymous with "genius".
Quotes Albert Einstein
As quoted by LIFE magazine (2 May 1955)
Variant: Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value.
As discussed in this entry from The Quote Investigator http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/04/universe-einstein/#more-173, the earliest published attribution of a similar quote to Einstein seems to have been in Gestalt therapist Frederick S. Perls' 1969 book Gestalt Theory Verbatim, where he wrote on p. 33: "As Albert Einstein once said to me: 'Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.' But what is much more widespread than the actual stupidity is the playing stupid, turning off your ear, not listening, not seeing." Perls also offered another variant in his 1972 book In and Out the Garbage Pail, where he mentioned a meeting with Einstein and on p. 52 http://books.google.com/books?id=HuxFAAAAYAAJ&q=human+stupidity#search_anchor quoted him saying: "Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe." However, Perls had given yet another variant of this quote in an earlier book, Ego, Hunger, and Aggression: a Revision of Freud’s Theory and Method (originally published 1942, although the Quote Investigator only checked that the quote appeared in the 1947 edition), where he attributed it not to Einstein but to a "great astronomer", writing: "As modern times promote hasty eating to a large extent, it is not surprising to learn that a great astronomer said: 'Two things are infinite, as far as we know – the universe and human stupidity.' To-day we know that this statement is not quite correct. Einstein has proved that the universe is limited." So, the later attributions in 1969 and 1972 may have been a case of faulty memory, or of intentionally trying to increase the authority of the quote by attributing it to Einstein. The quote itself may be a variant of a similar quote attributed even earlier to the philosopher Ernest Renan, found for example in The Public: Volume 18 from 1915, which says on p. 1126 http://books.google.com/books?id=cTPmAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA1126#v=onepage&q&f=false: "He quotes the saying of Renan: it isn't the stars that give him an idea of infinity; it is man's stupidity." (Other examples of similar attributions to Renan can be found on this Google Books search http://www.google.com/search?q=renan+infinity+stupidity&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1.) Renan was French so this is presumably intended as a translation, but different sources give different versions of the supposed original French quote, such as "La bêtise humaine est la seule chose qui donne une idée de l'infini" (found for example in Réflexions sur la vie, 1895-1898 by Remy de Gourmont from 1903, p. 103 http://books.google.com/books?id=RtrtAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA103#v=onepage&q&f=false, along with several other early sources as seen in this search http://www.google.com/search?q=%22humaine+est+la+seule+chose+qui%22+renan&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1) and "Ce n'est pas l'immensité de la voûte étoilée qui peut donner le plus complétement l'idée de l'infini, mais bien la bêtise humaine!" (found in Broad views, Volume 2 from 1904, p. 465 http://books.google.com/books?id=9NEaAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA465#v=onepage&q&f=false). Since these variants have not been found in Renan's own writings, they may represent false attributions as well. They may also be variants of an even older saying; for example, the 1880 book Des vers by Guy de Maupassant includes on p. 9 http://books.google.com/books?id=cQUvAAAAMAAJ&pg=PP21#v=onepage&q&f=false a quote from a letter (dated February 19, 1880) by Gustave Flaubert where Flaubert writes "Cependant, qui sait? La terre a des limites, mais la bêtise humaine est infinie!" which translates to "But who knows? The earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is infinite!" Similarly the 1887 book Melanges by Jules-Paul Tardivel includes on p. 273 http://books.google.com/books?id=n9cOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA273#v=onepage&q&f=false a piece said to have been written in 1880 in which he writes "Aujourd'hui je sais qu'il n'y a pas de limites à la bêtise humaine, qu'elle est infinie" which translates to "today I know that there is no limit to human stupidity, it is infinite."
Variant: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Earliest version located is in Technocracy digest: Issues 287–314 from 1988, p. 76 http://books.google.com/books?id=L7LnAAAAMAAJ&q=%22sure+about+the+former%22#search_anchor. Translated to German as: "Zwei Dinge sind unendlich: das Universum und die menschliche Dummheit. Aber beim Universum bin ich mir nicht ganz sicher." (Earliest version located is Arndt-Michael Meyer, Die Macht der Kürze, Books on Demand GmbH, 2004, p. 14 http://books.google.gr/books?id=12DW-RBKTW8C&pg=PA14&dq=%22Zwei+Dinge+sind+unendlich:+das+Universum+und+die+menschliche+%22+arnd&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gquJUsrYBomM7AapmYGgCQ&ved=0CC8Q6wEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Zwei%20Dinge%20sind%20unendlich%3A%20das%20Universum%20und%20die%20menschliche%20%22%20arnd&f=false.)
Variant: Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
„There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.“
As quoted in Journal of France and Germany (1942–1944) by Gilbert Fowler White, in excerpt published in Living with Nature's Extremes: The Life of Gilbert Fowler White (2006) by Robert E. Hinshaw, p. 62. From the context http://books.google.com/books?id=_2qfZRp9SeEC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA62#v=onepage&q&f=false it seems that White did not specify whether he had heard Einstein himself say this or whether he was repeating a quote that had been passed along by someone else, so without a primary source the validity of this quote should be considered questionable.
Some have argued that elsewhere Einstein defined a "miracle" as a type of event he did not believe was possible—Einstein on Religion by Max Jammer (1999) quotes on p. 89 from a 1931 conversation Einstein had with David Reichinstein, where Reichinstein brought up philosopher Arthur Liebert's argument that the indeterminism of quantum mechanics might allow for the possibility of miracles, and Einstein replied that Liebert's argument dealt "with a domain in which lawful rationality [determinism] does not exist. A 'miracle,' however, is an exception from lawfulness; hence, there where lawfulness does not exist, also its exception, i.e., a miracle, cannot exist." ("Dort, wo eine Gesetzmässigkeit nicht vorhanden ist, kann auch ihre Ausnahme, d.h. ein Wunder, nicht existieren." D. Reichenstein, Die Religion der Gebildeten (1941), p. 21). However, it is clear from the context that Einstein was stating only that miracles cannot exist in a domain (quantum mechanics) where lawful rationality does not exist. He did not claim that miracles could never exist in any domain. Indeed, Einstein clearly believed, as seen in many quotations above, that the universe was comprehensible and rational, but he also described this characteristic of the universe as a "miracle". In another example, he is quoted as claiming belief in a God, "Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world."
As quoted in From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter (1993) by David T. Dellinger, p. 418
Variant: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Variant: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Variant: If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.
„If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.“
Found in Montana Libraries: Volumes 8-14 (1954), p. cxxx http://books.google.com/books?id=PpwaAAAAMAAJ&q=%22more+fairy+tales%22#search_anchor. The story is given as follows: "In the current New Mexico Library Bulletin, Elizabeth Margulis tells a story of a woman who was a personal friend of the late dean of scientists, Dr. Albert Einstein. Motivated partly by her admiration for him, she held hopes that her son might become a scientist. One day she asked Dr. Einstein's advice about the kind of reading that would best prepare the child for this career. To her surprise, the scientist recommended 'Fairy tales and more fairy tales.' The mother protested that she was really serious about this and she wanted a serious answer; but Dr. Einstein persisted, adding that creative imagination is the essential element in the intellectual equipment of the true scientist, and that fairy tales are the childhood stimulus to this quality." However, it is unclear from this description whether Margulis heard this story personally from the woman who had supposedly had this discussion with Einstein, and the relevant issue of the New Mexico Library Bulletin does not appear to be online.
Variant: "First, give him fairy tales; second, give him fairy tales, and third, give him fairy tales!" Found in The Wilson Library Bulletin, Vol. 37 from 1962, which says on p. 678 http://books.google.com/books?id=KfQOAQAAMAAJ&q=einstein#search_anchor that this quote was reported by "Doris Gates, writer and children's librarian".
Variant: "Fairy tales … More fairy tales … Even more fairy tales". Found in Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes (1979), p. 1 http://books.google.com/books?id=MxZFuahqzsMC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false.
Variant: "If you want your children to be brilliant, tell them fairy tales. If you want them to be very brilliant, tell them even more fairy tales." Found in Chocolate for a Woman's Heart & Soul by Kay Allenbaugh (1998), p. 57 http://books.google.com/books?id=grrpJh7-CfcC&q=brilliant#search_anchor. This version can be found in Usenet posts from before 1998, like this one from 1995 http://groups.google.com/group/rec.music.beatles/msg/cec9a9fdf803b72b?hl=en.
Variant: "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Found in Mad, Bad and Dangerous?: The Scientist and the Cinema by Christopher Frayling (2005), p. 6 http://books.google.com/books?id=HjRYA3ELdG0C&lpg=PA6&dq=einstein%20%22want%20your%20children%20to%20be%20intelligent%22&pg=PA6#v=onepage&q=einstein%20%22want%20your%20children%20to%20be%20intelligent%22&f=false.
Variant: "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Found in Super joy English, Volume 8 by 佳音事業機構 (2006), p. 87 http://books.google.com/books?id=-HUBKzP8zsUC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA87#v=onepage&q&f=false
Context: Fairy tales and more fairy tales. [in response to a mother who wanted her son to become a scientist and asked Einstein what reading material to give him]
Variant: Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere.
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Letter to his son Eduard (5 February 1930), as quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), p. 367
„I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.“
Attributed to Einstein by his colleague Léopold Infeld in his book Quest: An Autobiography (1949), p. 291 http://books.google.com/books?id=fsvXYpOSowkC&q=%22garbage+man%22#v=snippet&q=%22garbage%20man%22&f=false
Attributed in posthumous publications
Source: Attributed in posthumous publications, p. 94
Context: Religion and science go together. As I've said before, science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind. They are interdependent and have a common goal—the search for truth. Hence it is absurd for religion to proscribe Galileo or Darwin or other scientists. And it is equally absurd when scientists say that there is no God. The real scientist has faith, which does not mean that he must subscribe to a creed. Without religion there is no charity. The soul given to each of us is moved by the same living spirit that moves the universe.
Ich habe keine besondere Begabung, sondern bin nur leidenschaftlich neugierig.
Letter to Carl Seelig http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Seelig (11 March 1952), Einstein Archives 39-013