The rock and roller of physics turns 138 today. And as everyone’s favourite scientist, only the crème de le crème would have been invited.
So who was Einstein’s #squad?
Image: Madame Curie, Wikimedia Commons
A total boss.
Madame Curie was the first woman to win two Nobel Prizes, one for chemistry and one for physics. Curie and her husband, Pierre's efforts, led to the discovery of radium, polonium and furthered the development of X-rays.
Einstein penned his support for Marie Curie after she was denied a seat on the French Academy of Sciences for being a woman. His letter reads:
“I am so enraged by the base manner in which the public is presently daring to concern itself with you….if the rabble continues to occupy itself with you, then simply don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.”
Best friends forever.
Image: Chaim Weizmann, Wikimedia Commons
Chaim Weizmann: Zionist leader, Israeli statesman and later the first president of Israel spent time travelling around the US with Einstein in 1921. Weizmann was the reason the USA recognised the young state of Israel.
A biochemist at heart, he developed the acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation process, which was instrumental for the British during World War I.
Einstein and Chaim established the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Weizmann even suggested Einstein assume the presidency of Israel, but Einstein turned him down.
Image: Max Planck, Wikimedia Commons
The man who “discovered” Einstein. Einstein being the rebel he was, lacked a PhD or a teaching position at University, with Planck’s backing Einstein, was recruited to Berlin.
The mastermind of black-body radiation, Planck was in many ways, Einstein’s opposite: loyal to Germany and stern organisation to Einstein’s free-spirited, liberal demeanour. The two remained close until the Nazi party took power of Germany…
Hendrick Antoon Lorentz
Image: Einstein and Lorentz, Wikimedia Commons
Grandfather of special relativity and a father figure to Einstein, Lorentz was regarded by all theoretical physicists as the “world’s leading spirit” completing what was left by his predecessors and paving the way for new thought. Einstein used many of Lorentz’ concepts to write his theory of special relativity, so much so, that the theory was originally supposed to be called the “Lorentz-Einstein theory.”
Image: Max Born, Wikimedia Commons
A life-long friend of Einstein the two kept in letter correspondence for 40 years. Born helped Einstein with the development of quantum mechanics. Einstein visited Born’s house often, advising him; “theoretical physics will flourish wherever you happen to be; there is no other Born to be found in Germany today.” But, Hedwig, Born’s wife constantly challenged Einstein on his personal issues.
So, no plus one for Born.
Einstein’s besty. A Jewish/Italian engineer, Besso was Einstein’s closest confidant, introducing Einstein to the works of Ernst Mach, who later influenced Einstein’s approach to physics. When Einstein published his first paper on special relativity, he accredited Besso on the last page: “In conclusion, I wish to say that in working at the problem here dealt with I have had the loyal assistance of my friend and colleague M. Besso and that I am indebted to him for several valuable suggestions."
Image: Erwin Schrodinger, Wikimedia Commons
Known for his cat, Schrodinger was an Austrian physicist specialising in Quantum theory. Schrodinger formulated the wave theory. The two were partners in probabilities and uncertainties at first, but butted heads later and very publicly in the media, with Schrodinger exclaiming: “my method is far superior to Albert’s! Let me explain to you, Moffat, that Albert is an old fool.”
Unfortunately for Schrodinger, his greatest work remains a cat in a box.
Philipp Lenard -Not Invited
Image Philipp Lenard, Wikimedia Commons
Einstein’s nemesis, Philipp Lenard was a German- born physicist. In 1905 he received the Nobel Prize for his work on Cathode Rays.
Lenard stooped lower and lower into the German nationalist movement and became increasingly convinced of the existence of a distinctively German-physics that needed to be defended. Lenard was considered to be an anti-Semite and accused the “Jewish press” of promoting Einstein’s work on relativity. Lenard opined of Einstein:
“Just because a goat is born in a stable does not make him a noble thoroughbred.”
Which Einstein attempted to laugh off:
“When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second, but when you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”
Einstein’s birthday would’ve been a round table of physics, music and hopefully some science-themed drinking games.
Header: Wkimedia Commons