Einstein as person of the last century

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Offline Alan McDougall

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Einstein as person of the last century
« on: 09/09/2008 12:33:48 »

Einstein as Person of the Century (or Not?)

When Time magazine named Albert Einstein as the Person of the Century at the end of 1999, the choice drew welcome attention to the role of physicists in our times. According to the newsmagazine’s editors, the century coming to its end “will be remembered foremost for its science and technology,” and Einstein “serves as a symbol of all the scientists—such as Heisenberg, Bohr, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Hawking...who built upon his work...” Other fields of human creativity, even other sciences despite their great achievements, got only a brief nod from Time in the century of the radio, the atomic bomb and the Internet.

Do you agree that a physicist can transcend the greatest spiritual, philosophical or politician during this epoch?

I see the understanding of physics as what separates us from the animals and places us firmly of the pinnacle of the evolutionary tree

« Last Edit: 11/09/2008 06:07:29 by Karen W. »
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Offline stevewillie

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Re: Einstein as person of the last century
« Reply #1 on: 10/09/2008 21:22:44 »
Having Einstein named the person of the 20th century by TIME was a great thing, particularly if you consider Einstein as the public face of modern physics. However, as you say, there is a long list of physics luminaries behind the face whose public profile is much lower (and many prefer it that way). In fact Einstein had completed most of his important work before 1920, just as he was becoming a public "superstar." With the exception of Einstein-Bose statistics and EPR (where most of the work was done by his collaborators)Einstein remained aloof and therefore irrelevant to the intense development of particle physics and quantum mechanics from 1920 until his death in 1955. Beginning about 1965 the situation changed as the time for Grand Unification was at hand. Einstein became relevant again. Black holes and an expanding universe, both which popped out of General Relativity (GR), are just two examples of the relevance of Einstein today. It's true that Einstein didn't know about either one when he published GR, but they were there in the equations he composed. Physics is indeed transcendent.
« Last Edit: 10/09/2008 21:29:21 by stevewillie »


Offline DoctorBeaver

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Einstein as person of the last century
« Reply #2 on: 05/10/2008 14:36:07 »
Scientist of the Century, maybe. But Person of the Century? I'm not so sure about that.
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Offline yor_on

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Einstein as person of the last century
« Reply #3 on: 12/11/2008 13:41:08 »
I like him.
He was a humanist,
And brave enough to doubt himself:)
Even after his 'icon_ization'

So he's a good choice.
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Offline crystallite

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Einstein as person of the last century
« Reply #4 on: 06/05/2009 11:42:30 »
Einstein was great, and I agree that by the end of 1999, the year and the years before will be remembered for the scientists who have done remarkable achievement...