Father of modern physics. Nobel Prize winner. Moustache-touting deep thinker. Albert Einstein was many things.
The German-born theoretical physicist is probably the world’s most recognised scientist. His formula expressing the relationship between mass and energy – E = mc2 – is well-known, if not widely understood.
Now, over a century on from the publication of his iconic theory of general relativity, it is back in the news. Scientists looking at black hole gravity believe the theory is “beginning to fray at the edges” in the most comprehensive test of Einstein’s thinking to date.
Although his explanation still holds for now, the researchers believe it doesn’t fully explain gravity inside a black hole. The monstrous example at the centre of the Milky Way doesn’t appear to follow the same laws of physics as elsewhere in the universe and Einstein’s theory may need to be revisited to take account of this. The astrophysicists from the University of California, Los Angeles, say their work has already ruled out Newton’s theory of gravity.
But Einstein’s legacy extends beyond giving us a greater understanding of the workings of the universe. His boundless curiosity, creativity and imagination went beyond the realm of science to include the world and humanity more generally. Here are 10 of his quotes that have stood the test of time.
1. Human intelligence...
"We have been endowed with just enough intelligence to be able to see clearly just how utterly inadequate that intelligence is when confronted with what exists. If this humility could be imparted to everybody, the world of human endeavours would become more appealing."
2. … and stupidity
“Fear or stupidity has always been the basis of most human actions.”
“I believe in intuitions and inspirations... I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know that I am.”
“I still struggle with the same problems as ten years ago. I succeed in small matters but the real goal remains unattainable, even though it sometimes seems palpably close. It is hard, yet rewarding: hard because the goal is beyond my abilities, but rewarding because it makes one oblivious to the distractions of everyday life.”
“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”
"Love brings much happiness, much more so than pining for someone brings pain."
7. Society and the individual
“Valuable achievement can sprout from human society only when it is sufficiently loosened to make possible the free development of an individual's abilities.”
Have you read?
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries to comprehend only a little of this mystery every day.”
“All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking.”
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world.”
All quotes taken from 'The Ultimate Quotable Einstein' from Princeton University Press.