March 14, 2014
We may think of him as the world’s most revolutionary physicist, but ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879–1955) is also one of the world’s most successful aphorists. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that the man whose quote “Imagination is more important than knowledge” adorns thousands of classroom posters, and whose classic exhortation “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth” was uttered while he was still in his early 20s, went into physics in the first place as a means of getting his foot in the apothegmic door. Certainly it’s undeniable that his epigrams — e.g., “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds” — went unnoticed until after 1905, the annus mirabilus in which Einstein’s dissertation was accepted and he published papers on the photoelectric effect (which research inspired quantum theory as a subject of study), Brownian motion, special relativity (wherein space and time are fused into spacetime, mass is stretched or compressed, and time slows down or speeds up, all depending on one’s position and velocity) and the equivalence of mass and energy. Einstein’s work fundamentally changed the face of physics; and his sayings — except, perhaps, for the semantically lacking “I had not thought of that at all,” regarding his influence on the development of the A-bomb — have been immortalized.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Raymond Aron, Robert Bingham, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Diane Arbus, Algernon Blackwood, Osa Helen Johnson.
READ MORE about members of the Psychonaut Generation (1874–83).