• Phil Tanny
    Well of course Einstein was interested in physics. But what if he had been interested in physics to the exclusion of all else?

    What we learn in the ten hour dramatization of Einstein's life by National Geographic is that Einstein was very interested in the approval of his peers, of being recognized and applauded. You can watch this excellent film on Hulu, or see a trailer on YouTube.


    Of course these are normal human emotions that most of us have to some degree. We typically seek validation from the group in some form or another. But the greatest achievements may come from those who are so intensely interested in their topic that there is no room left in their mind for more mundane concerns such as what other people think.

    The greatest achievements in human history are after all just the achievements that we know about. How many achievements have there been that we don't know about because the pioneer involved just didn't care what we thought about their achievement, so they didn't bother to tell us?

    Imagine an unknown Einstein working out his theories at his job at the patent office. He does his thought experiments in the privacy of his own mind, scribbles the math out on scraps of paper on his desk, and comes to this theory of relativity. Satisfied with his accomplishment he goes home at the end of the day, eats a big bowl of chili for dinner, reads a novel by the fireplace, has sex with his wife, and drifts off to sleep.

    Imagine an Einstein who is so consumed by his work, and so satisfied with his life, that he sees no need to involve us in his project. After all he reasons, we probably won't understand his theory anyway, and will probably just use his theory to create even more problems in the world. Why bother telling us about the theory of relativity? Why not just focus entirely on what he loves, doing the science?

    What if Einstein had just found us too boring to bother with?

    How many of the great achievements of the human race will never be known because the genius behind them just wasn't interested in us? We assume we know about all the great achievements because we assume that great thinkers will always be interested in us. But, when you think about it, why should they be?

    Einstein discovered the theory of relativity and gave to us. And we turned it in to the mass production of hydrogen bombs.


    How many great minds have observed this pattern of behavior and decided to keep their great discoveries to themselves? How many great minds found the joy of discovery to be enough?

    Hey, I bet Einstein would have something to say about all this. You can chat with a digital version of Einstein by clicking here.
Add a Comment

Welcome to Thoughtage.com

The mission of this site is to provide a higher quality intellectual discussion experience than is typically available on social media. Click Here To Learn More