Wednesday, March 14, 2012

For The Love Of Einstein

Most people know Einstein for his theory of general relativity, or, simply put, E=MC2. Because of this breakthrough, he is regarded as the father of modern physics, and one of the most intelligent beings in human history. But this theoretical physicist was so much more than a mathematician and scientist. He was more than his theory of relativity, in my opinion.

Other things the man did, simply leave me in awe. For example, his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect would later be the stepping stones for establishing quantum theory within physics. He spent a lot of his time dealing with the problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which eventually led to his explanations of particle theory and motion of molecules. His success spans form his early work with Brownian Motion, in 1905, through to his answer to why the sky is blue in 1911 and on to 1916 with his general theory of relativity. I mean, these are things I can barely comprehend let alone imagine thinking up myself.

Anyway, today is Pi day. March 14th. It also happens to be Einstein's birthday, which means people the world over are celebrating the birth of this genius, which I think is wonderful. Except, I've noticed some people seem to think that Pi, or 3.14, is actually Einstein's invention. This is not true. Pi pre-dates Einstein, and by more than just a couple years.

First, a little bit about Pi, and then we'll get back to Albert.

Pi is not only the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, but the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Meaning, it doesn't matter how big your bloody circle is, you're going to come up with Pi, which is roughly 3.14. In reality, Pi goes on forever because it is an irrational number, so the digits never end, or, more accurately, they don't repeat in any known way. So, who came up with it? Well, ancient civilizations knew about this fixed ratio circumference to diameter thing a long time ago, but it was the Greeks who refined the process and it is Archimedes who is credited with the first theoretical calculation of Pi. 

Okay, so, maybe that isn't all that interesting to you, but it needed to be said. For informational purposes, of course. Regardless, Einstein didn't come up with Pi. Now, if this is news to you, perhaps you're all befuddled. You might be wondering why today is celebrated as Pi Day and not just Einstein's birthday. 

Well, that's simple. 

Our little friend Pi, or this awesome symbol π, often appears in mathematical equations which describe the fundamental principles of the Universe. And what is the most famous, popular and awesome equation about the Universe? The theory of relativity. And who invented the theory of relativity? 

That's right. Albert Einstein. See how it all ties together in a pretty package with a beautiful bow?

Some might think it is coincidence that this genius was born on March 14th and that he later went on to utilize Pi in his most ground breaking works. But, I don't think so. I think it was a sign he was on the right path. Every day, there are little notes and clues around us, letting us know if we are on the right journey. And, as hippy dippy as it sounds, this to me was a sign. Einstein was only fulfilling his destiny. Or something like that.

Now, as it goes, not a lot of people know much about Einstein, other than the fact that he was brilliant. They don't know that he loved to sail, a sea-faring creature after my own heart, he played the violin, or that he never wore socks. But, I think, one of the most endearing facts about this man is his love for music. One of his statements that completely enamours me is, "I get most joy in life out of music." Well, I've probably spoken those words a hundred times in my lifetime. 

The truth is, he was a simple man, quoted as saying, "A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?" And it is the truthfulness in the words he's spoken that sing to me. Another example of his wisdom is, "Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools." As someone who often struggles to phrase what she thinks, I find his honesty and simplicity mind boggling. It is these little sayings that allow us a glimpse into the person Einstein was, beyond his mathematical prowess, into his heart. The man is well worth our thoughts today. Or, everyday, really. 

On that note, I will leave you with my favourite quote by the father of modern physics: 

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. 

Ah, a romantic. Who doesn't love that? 

Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein. 


Anonymous said...

'The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.'

Ashen said...

I enjoyed this heartfelt tribute :)

Anonymous beat me to the quote that's also one of my favourites.

Tyson said...

It is a good quote!

And thank you for reading. :)