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Albert Einstein Exhibition

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 751 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... EXHIBIT = MAJOR, COPIOUS CLARITY By Michelle Delio
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2002
      NHNE News List
      Current Members: 751
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      By Michelle Delio
      November 23, 2002


      Pauline Einstein's baby boy, with his "extremely large and angular" skull,
      went on to lay the foundation for much of modern scientific research.

      The ideas of lasers, computer chips and atomic energy were first born in
      Albert Einstein's brain. Einstein's molecular theories helped unlock the
      mysteries of DNA.

      But although we may think we know him and his science, strange and wonderful
      things lurk below Einstein's wild-haired and seemingly well-documented

      Visitors to the American Museum of Natural History's new exhibition on
      Einstein (http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/einstein/) linger long before the
      glass case that contains the most famous mathematical equation of all time.

      "E=mc2," scrawled in Einstein's own handwriting, is displayed under dim
      lights. Viewing that scrap of paper is like gazing at a potent religious

      But in the end it's Einstein the man who truly fascinates visitors. The
      museum has put together a wonderful collection cataloging Einstein's entire,
      eccentric life. (Einstein rationalized against wearing socks because they
      would eventually develop holes.)

      He was "passionate, the smartest human ever, but not conceited, proud or
      arrogant," show curator Michael Shara said.

      Einstein was kind, graciously helping the neighbor's children with their
      math homework, but he could also be cruel: He described his first wife as
      "uncommonly ugly."

      Einstein's personal life was messy. He was an unrepentant flirt and even a
      bit of a trollop.

      Einstein's love letters to his various mistresses are on display at the
      museum, as well as missives to scientific colleagues and a note containing
      his mother's description of little Einstein's oddly shaped skull.

      There's a letter offering Einstein the presidency of Israel (he declined),
      and references to the 1,400-plus-page file the FBI maintained on the
      scientist, who was for a time considered a national security risk by the
      U.S. government.

      The documents paint a personal portrait of the man who wanted nothing less
      than to understand the inner workings of the entire universe.

      Visitors to the exhibit walk through a series of rooms named after the
      scientist's core interests: Light, Time, Gravity, Energy, War and Peace, and
      Global Citizenship.

      Taken together, it's a glimpse of what it would be like to possess the sort
      of brain that dared to believe it was capable of describing all physical
      phenomena in the universe through one "Grand Unified Theory."

      Einstein firmly believed that he would be able to describe every single law
      of physics through one simple mathematical equation. He devoted 35 years of
      his life to this quest.

      He failed.

      The exhibit of Einstein's last notebook containing his final calculations in
      pursuit of his Unified Theory, which he was working on just before his death
      in 1955, is a sobering sight.

      But the playful genius that inspired Einstein, who could see a ray of light
      and envision what it would be like to climb on top of it and ride through
      space and time, is also on display.

      A video of a black hole sucks in visitors at the entry, demonstrating
      gravitational theories. Fun-house mirrors show how mass warps light.

      An interactive "blackboard," when touched, reveals the layers of reasoning
      behind E=mcÂ…. Cartoons illustrate Einstein's thoughts on time, by showing
      the impact that frame of reference has on perspective.

      The games and gimmicks are perfectly suited to the spirit of Einstein, who
      once explained his complex ideas about time by offering this example: "When
      you have a pretty girl sitting on your lap, an hour seems like a second;
      when you're sitting on a hot stove, a second seems like an hour."

      "The fact that he used both heat and a girl to explain a complex theory
      tells you something about Einstein," Shara said. "It's very much the essence
      of the man."


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