The Who2 Blog

Two Einstein Photos For Einstein’s Birthday

A photo of Albert Einstein at a chalkboard, writing an equation and looking back at the room

Albert Einstein would have turned 133 today, if humans lived into their 130s.  He was born in Germany on March 14 of 1879.

But forget all that. Just focus on the photo. Here’s the caption:

Albert Einstein writes out the equation for the density of the Milky Way, at the Mt. Wilson Observatory Headquarters of the Carnegie Institute in Pasadena, CA. January 16, 1931.

The problem with Albert Einstein photos is that one tends to just glance past them because of the Einstein-the-icon factor. “Oh, another Albert Einstein photo with the wild hair and the distant gaze.” Ho-hum.

Meanwhile, dude is writing out the equation for the density of the Milky Way! He’s incredible. And in this shot, you can see he’s a real human being: his suit’s a little big, his hand’s a little pudgy, and his moustache is a mess.

Here’s another very human shot from 16 years later:

Photo of Albert Einstein in portrait, with white hair, looking a bit gloomy

By this time he was wearing his wife’s housecoat everywhere, and you can just see a glint of the gold earring he had begun sporting during World War II.  This was the famous “transphysicist” Einstein — quite controversial at the time, of course.  These days nobody would give it a second thought.

Einstein died in 1955. If only he’d lived 16 more years, he could also have played Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Felicity Dahl via The Los Angeles Times

So his death turned out to be a loss to both physics and Hollywood.

The mass density of the Milky Way ended up being 4 × 10(?24)g/cm(3), incidentally. Although naturally it’s not perfectly uniform.

Neither was Einstein. Neither was Einstein.

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