When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker’s circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work. One night as they were driving to yet another rubber-chicken dinner, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat resembled Einstein in looks & manner) that he was tired of speechmaking.
”I have an idea, boss,” his chauffeur said. ”I’ve heard you give this speech so many times. I’ll bet I could give it for you.” Einstein laughed loudly and said, ”Why not? Let’s do it!” When they arrive at the dinner, Einstein donned the chauffeur’s cap and jacket and sat in the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein’s speech and even answered a few questions expertly.
Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to let everyone in the audience know that he was nobody’s fool. Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, ”Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me.”
”The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.”
- ”The World As I See It,” originally published in FORUM AND CENTURY, 1931.
”Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become
a man of value.”
- Life magazine. May 2, 1955.
”Small is the number that see with their own eyes
and feel with their own hearts.”
- Albert Einstein.
”Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the world.”
- Albert Einstein.
”The more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks”
- from a letter to Zangger, May 20, 1912.
”A man must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings.”
- from an interview in the New York Times, September 1952.
”Curiosity is a delicate little plant which, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom”
- Autobiographical Notes. 1949.
”Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge in the field of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
- contribution to a publication commemorating the eightieth birthday of German rabbi and theologian Leo Baeck, 1953.
”I believe in intuitions and inspirations. I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know if I am.
- G. S. Viereck interview, October 26, 1929, reprinted in ”Glimpses of the Great” (1930).
”A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell
too much on the future.”
- CPAE, Vol 1. , Doc 22, 1896.
”The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity; of life; of the marvelous structure of reality...”
- from the Personal Memoir of William Miller, 1955.
”The most important endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity for life”
- Einstein, a Portrait, p. 102.
”The monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind”
- Speech ”Civilization and Science,” at Royal Albert Hall, London, 1933.
”Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion... The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”
- SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY, AND RELIGION: A SYMPOSIUM, 1941.
”Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
- letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, professor emeritus of philosophy at the College of the City of New York, defending the controversial appointment of Bertrand Russell to a teaching position, March 19, 1940.
”What can the schools do to defend democracy? Should they preach a specific political doctrine? I believe they should not. If they are able to teach young people to have a critical mind and a socially oriented attitude, they will have done all that is necessary.”
- message to the New Jersey Education Association, Atlantic City, 1939.
”It would be better if you begin to teach others only after you yourself have learned something.”
- quote from Einstein Archive 25-044, 1928.
”Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit... not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in what we believe is evil.”
- United Nations radio interview recorded in Einstein’s study, Princeton, New Jersey, 1950.
”Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common.”
- address to a group of children, 1934.
”I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity”
- quote from Out of My Later Years, p. 13.
”I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.”
- quote from Einstein Archive 60-587, 1950.
”Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.”
- letter to Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh-Onne’s widow, February 25, 1926; Einstein Archive 14-389.
”It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”
- 1921, on Thomas Edison’s opinion that a college education is useless; quoted in Frank, Einstein: His Life and Times, p. 185.
”Science will stagnate if it is made to serve practical goals.”
- Quoted in Nathan and Norden, Einstein on Peace, p. 402.
”After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.”
- Remark made in 1923; recalled by Archibald Henderson, Durham Morning Herald, August 21, 1955; Einstein Archive 33-257.
”I have not eaten enough of the tree of knowledge, though in my profession I am obligated to feed on it regularly.”
- Albert Einstein
”The most precious things in life are not those you get for money.”
- Ladies Home Journal. December 1946.
”Good acts are like good poems. One may easily get their drift, but they are not rationally understood.”
- quote to Maurice Solovine, April 9, 1947.
”One must shy away from questionable undertakings, even when they bear a high-sounding name.”
- quote to Maurice Solovine, spring 1923.
”It is not so important where one settles down. The best things is to follow your instincts without too much reflection.”
- quote to Max Born, March 3, 1920.
”I believe that a simple and unassuming life is good for everybody, physically and mentally.”
- quote from ”The World as I See It” (1930), reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 8.
”Mysticism is in fact the only criticism people cannot level against my theory.”
- quote from R. W. Clark. , Einstein ”The Life and Times” 268.
”... The ideals which have guided my way, and time after time have given me the energy to face life, have been kindness, beauty, and truth.”
- quote from ”The World as I See It” (1930). Reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 9.
”All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking.”
- quote from ”Physics and Reality” (1936), reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 290.
”God gave me the stubbornness of a mule and a fairly keen scent.”
- quote from G. J. Whitrow, Einstein: The Man and His Achievement, 91.
”When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute - and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”
- quote from Journal of Exothermic Science and Technology (JEST, Vol. 1, No. 9; 1938).
”I have remained a simple fellow who asks nothing of the world; only my youth is gone - the enchanting youth that forever walks on air.”
- quote to Anna Meyer-Schmid, May 12, 1909.
”A scientist is a mimosa when he himself has made a mistake, and a roaring lion when he discovers a mistake of others.”
- quote from Ehlers, Liebes Hertz! , 45.
”The true value of a human being is determined primarily by how he has attained liberation from the self.”
- quote from Einstein Archive 60-492, 1932.
”A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the ”Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
- quoted in H. Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu (Boston 1977).
”The life of the individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful...”
- quoted in Ehlers, Liebes Hertz! , 162.
”One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”
- quote to Walter Daellenbach, May 31, 1915.
”I have little patience with scientists who take a board of wood, look for its thinnest part, and drill a great number of holes where drilling is easy.”
- Albert Einstin (quoted by Philipp Frank in ”Einstein’s Philosophy of Science,” Reviews of Modern Physics, Vol 21, No. 3 July 1949.
”Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
- quote to The New York Times, June 20, 1932.
”Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do-but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.”
- quote to Fred Wall, 1933.
”Work is the only thing that gives substance to life.”
- quote to son Hans Albert, January 4, 1937.
”Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
- To Margot Einstein, after his sister’s Maja’s death, 1951; quote by Hanna Loewy in A & E Television Einstein Biography, VPI International, 1991.
”The search for truth and knowledge is one of the finest attributes of man - though often it is most loudly voiced by those who strive for it the least.”
- quote from The Goal of Human Existence, April 11, 1943. [AEA 28-587]
”I am also convinced that one gains the purest joy from spirited things only when they are not tied in with earning one’s livelihood.”
- quote to L. Manners, March 19, 1954. [AEA 60-401]
”Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me.”
- quote from New York Times, March 12, 1944
”It is abhorrent to me when a fine intelligence is paired
with an unsavory character.”
- quote to Jacob Laub, May 19, 1909 [AEA 15-480]
”True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.”
- quote to Ernst Bloch, November 15, 1950 [AEA 34-332]
”I have firmly decided to bite the dust with a minimum of medical assistance when my time comes, and up to then to sin to my wicked heart’s content.”
- Letter to Elsa Einstein, August 11, 1913; CPAE, Vol. 5, Doc. 466
”Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.”
- Letter to Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh-Onne’s widow, February 25, 1926; [AEA 14-389]
When Einstein died and arrived at the gates of heaven, St. Peter wouldn’t let him in until he proved his identity. Einstein scribbled out a couple of his equations, and was admitted into paradise. And when Picasso died, St. Peter asked, ”How do I know you’re Picasso?” Picasso sketched out a couple of his masterpieces. St. Peter was convinced and let him in. When George W. Bush died, he went to heaven and met the man at the gates. ”How can you prove to me you’re George W. Bush?” Saint Peter said. Bush replied, ”Well heck, I dont know.” St. Peter says, ”Well, Albert Einstein showed me his equations and Picasso drew his famous pictures. What can you do to prove you’re George W. Bush?” Bush replies, ”Who are Albert Einstein and Picasso?” St. Peter says, ”It must be you, George, c’mon on in.”-0+
”Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.”
”Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
”Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”
”I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.”
”The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”
”Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
”The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
”A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.”
”I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.”
”God is subtle but he is not malicious.”
”Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
”I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
”The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”
”Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”
”Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”
”Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
”Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.”
”Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
”Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
”Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one’s living at it.”
”The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
”The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
”God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.”
”The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”
”Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
”Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
”The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.”
”We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
”Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
”The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
”Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”
”Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.”
”If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”
”Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”
”As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
”Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
”I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
”In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.”
”The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no risk of accident for someone who’s dead.”
”Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves.”
”Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!”
”No, this trick won’t work... How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?”
”My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
”Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.”
”The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.”
”Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”
”The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
”A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
”The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.”
”Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
”You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.”
”One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.”
”... one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.”
”He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
”A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
”Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)
Albert Einstein used to go to dinners where he was invited to give a speech. One day, on his way to one of those dinners, he told his chauffeur (who looked exactly like him) that he was dead tired of giving the same speech, dinner after dinner.
”Well,” said the chaffeur, ”I’ve got a good idea. Why don’t I give the speech since I’ve heard it so many times?’ ’ So Albert’s chauffeur gave the speech perfectly and even answered a few questions. Then, a professor stood up and asked him a really tough question about anti-matter which the chauffeur couldn’t answer
”Sir, the answer to your question is so easy that I’ll let my chauffeur answer it!”