Einstein's Humanity

November 2017

When I did a report on Albert Einstein in 3rd grade, I cherished him as a grandfatherly eccentric, whose portrait hung with uncharacteristic solemnity in my dad’s study. I watched Young Einstein and learned the tall tales of his youth (I suspected he didn’t actually diffuse an A-bomb by shredding on an electric guitar). I read the word “pacifist” for the first time.

Encountering the thought experiments he used to elucidate his theories in High School, I wondered if he was the most creative person of the 20th century. My physics teacher said that society had never seen a celebrity of his magnitude, and that the world was momentarily obsessed with physics. I loved the idea that someone could be famous for those reasons.

In college I saw suspiciously clipped Einstein quotations used to argue that even genius scientists believe in God, but took them to mean that a numinous beauty resides at the edge of our understanding of the universe.

I’ve only started reading his assorted essays in the past couple of weeks, and his humanity almost brings me to tears. How do we get more people like him?