Monday, March 15, 2010

The Sublime and the Silly of It

"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
~ Albert Einstein

For many years a very special greeting card hung by my desk. It was Einstein on a bicycle, as in this photograph, but on the card he was not alone. On his head stood a dog. The dog was balancing a pole on which a cat and a mouse perched. All three animals — dog, cat and mouse — were standing on one leg, each performing a trick.

The card was, for me, a visual metaphor for all that makes science fun for non-scientists. Einstein: always fascinating. Einstein on a bicycle: better because that makes him more like us. Dog, cat and mouse on a bicycle with Einstein, all fighting the force of gravity and no doubt demonstrating various principles of physics: hilarious.

I think Einstein would have loved it. After all, this shot by UPI photographer Albert Sasse — taken on Einstein's 72nd birthday in 1951 — was one of his favorite photos; he is said to have ordered nine copies of it.

Yesterday would have been Albert Einstein’s 131st birthday. Wherever in the universe your molecules are, happy belated birthday, Mr. E!

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."

~ Albert Einstein

1 comment:

  1. My husband had a poster of the top photo in his bike shop. Maybe it's just bike-shop lore--in fact, I would probably bet that it was -- but I remembering hearing or reading that Einstein came up with the theory of relativity while riding his bicycle.

    Great post, as usual.