September 27, 2005 6:31 AM   Subscribe

e=mc^2*100 It has been a hundred years since the date that Einstein's famous equation was first published, the last of his four annus mirabilis papers of 1905. In celebration, you can hear Einstein explain his formula (or listen to any of 10 other famous physicists do the same), or read an interesting site in celebration of his life and works, or, if physics isn't your thing, peruse his views on religion, or his exchange with Freud about war, or take a look at hundreds of his original manuscripts.
posted by blahblahblah (19 comments total)
I was supposed to get some work today, but here you have to go and spoil it. Thanks for the links, great post.
posted by purephase at 6:43 AM on September 27, 2005

Einstein, though the fact is often not discussed, had strong left-wing politics. In the inaugural issue of the Marxist journal Monthly Review, he wrote an article titled Why Socialism? endorsing, well, socialism. A few months ago, the magazine had a political profile on his activism, including in the early years of civil rights. It always interests me how much the real details about heroes tend to be overlooked when they're dead.

Good stuff, btw. Just felt it was worth pointing out another side of the man.
posted by graymouser at 6:58 AM on September 27, 2005

This is a very good post. Thanks, bbb.

I've always liked the Einstein-Freud exchange for two reasons:
1) Einstein's evident respect for Freud's theories is a nice contrast to the insistence by many scientists that science and rank empiricism are one and the same. Although it's clear that Einstein is being polite in his initial letter, I see no reason to suspect that he thought Freud was full of shit. In fact, he seems to suggest the opposite at the very end, that those who criticize Freud cannot account for how usefully descriptive they find his theories to be.

2) Despite a disagreement of the most profound kind about the nature of humanity, and the possibilities that either are or are not precluded by that nature, they both remain civil and gracious.

I don't have audio here at work, but I can't wait to get home and listen to the recordings. Also, the big Einstein site looks great.

Thanks again.
posted by OmieWise at 7:05 AM on September 27, 2005

pssstt...(There is no *100 in the formula)
posted by Red58 at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2005


Now that is a spicy rest mass energy.
posted by gramschmidt at 7:27 AM on September 27, 2005

pssstt...(There is no *100 in the formula)

Um, isn't blahblahblah just multiplying by 100 for the number of years? you know, as a clever title?
posted by NationalKato at 7:35 AM on September 27, 2005


Operator precedence, man! You surely meant:
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:47 AM on September 27, 2005

Great post blahblahblah! Reading through the Einstein-Freud correspondence was fascinating and increases my respect for both men.
posted by vacapinta at 8:29 AM on September 27, 2005

the last of his four annus mirabilis papers of 1905
Oh, there are two n's in that? I think I had a misunderstanding at some point.
(Nice post. Thanks.)
posted by Wolfdog at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2005

During the 9 June, 2005 episode of CBC's Ideas (sorry, the CBC site is down due to the lock out...) Peter L. Galison said this about Einstein (emphasis and transcript are by me):
"I think part of the question is a certain willful disregard of his elders a certain arrogant youthful enthusiasm. But I think it's also - we need to look not just at the fact that this paper doesn't look like other physics papers, that it's visual, that it doesn't cite others ... It looks a lot like a patent application. Which by law is required to address itself to the general reader trained in the art rather than a super expert. It's got to be organized around something that can be pictorially understood ... At least very visual representation of what your doing. That is one of the things that Einstein had to be taught to do, but he learned that lesson, and very well. In a patent you don't want a lot of footnotes. You are trying to establish your intellectual priority. The last thing you want to do is to talk about the 73 other people who did it first. And I think with Einstein in this paper too, he wanted to establish the newness and freshness of what he was doing. It's break from the past, not it's similarity to what went before."

I will be glad to see the 100th anniversary year pass - this Einstein cult stuff is getting tiresome...
posted by Chuckles at 9:32 AM on September 27, 2005

(nothing against the post though, really)
posted by Chuckles at 9:34 AM on September 27, 2005

No link to EinsteinFest?
posted by GuyZero at 9:45 AM on September 27, 2005

Einstein made easy.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:06 AM on September 27, 2005

Hey, you know relativity is only a theory, right? Why aren't stupid religious morons with a blatantly obvious agenda certain people in America eagerly trying to push an alternative Intelligent Dilation theory in schools?
posted by Decani at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2005

d'oh! Silly me. Missed the clever title bit.
posted by Red58 at 10:20 AM on September 27, 2005

Metafilter: Where three people correct your joke math before anyone bothers to make the inevitable annus/anus joke.

Which is kind of gratifying, I think.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2005

Einstein made easy.

Fleischer Studios (of Betty Boop fame) made a short film called The Einstein Theory of Relativity and received a thank-you not from Einstein commending them for popularizing the theory in simple language.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:54 PM on September 27, 2005

in simple language

Oh yeah, its a silent film.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:56 PM on September 27, 2005

Thanks for this excellent post. Albert Einstein is a hero to many people, in many ways. We can't all understand General Relativity, but we can all follow his clear, precisely reasoned, arguments on questions of religion and politics.

Thus I came - though the child of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents - to a deep religiousness, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of twelve. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment-an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections.

posted by cleardawn at 5:58 PM on September 27, 2005

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