Albert Einstein

May 21, 2013 in 1951, Am, Popular Culture, Portrait, United States

Picture Taken On:
March 14, 1951

Princeton University

Behind the Camera:
Arthur Sasse

Picture Summary:
Einstein leaving his 72nd birthday. Annoyed with the media he stuck out his tongue at the cameramen.
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Einstein, the man who brought us E=mc2, nuclear power, and changed how we look at the universe. His name, Einstein, has become synonymous with brilliance or genius. Yet he wasn’t the serious, stodgy scientist stereotype, which is perhaps why he is still such a popular figure. His giant intellect, crazy hair, humor and indifferent wardrobe made him probably one of the most famous scientists if not public figures in history. The picture of Einstein with his tongue sticking out seems to sum up these down to earth characteristics that people like so much about him. Frederic Golden of TIME nailed it when he said, Einstein was “a Cartoonist’s dream come true.”

Caveo Sileo, assignment editor ... Liked it, but the chief editor didn't

--Art Sasse

Taking the picture

The shot was taken on Einstein’s 72nd birthday right after an event in his honor was finished at Princeton on March 14, 1951. While walking with Dr. Frank Aydelotte, the former head of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Mrs. Aydelotte back to their car, reporters followed trying to get shots of Einstein. Art Sasse of the INP let the crowd of reporters take their pictures and when the crowd had dispersed walked up close to the car and said, “Ya, Professor, shmile [sic] for your birthday picture, Ya?” Einstein probably thinking the photographer wouldn’t be fast enough stuck his tongue out and quickly turned his head away. The picture ran as a shot of all three people in the car. The editors debated on whether or not to use the picture and Sasse remembers that “Caveo Sileo, assignment editor … Liked it, but the chief editor didn’t. So they had a conference with the ‘big chiefs upstairs.’ The picture got okayed, and we used it…” Einstein liked the image and cut up the picture so that it was just his head. He used it for greeting cards that he sent to his friends. This famous image has probably been reproduced on everything from posters to coffee cups.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm in Württemberg on March 14, 1879, in what was then known as the German Empire. He was born in a secular Jewish family of Hermann and Pauline Einstein. His father ran an electrochemical business. Einstein had a normal education and didn’t suffer from autism, dyslexia, and/or attention deficit disorder. In 1894 Albert’s father’s electrochemical business went belly up and the family moved to Pavia, Italy. Albert stayed behind to finish his high school but even though he passed all his courses decided to leave early before graduation and didn’t get his diploma so he could be with his family.

He eventually moved to Switzerland to finish his high school and he continued on at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zurich) University, finishing a teaching diploma in the year 1900. He wasn’t able to find any work as a professor and a friend got him a job at the Swiss Patent Office in 1902. On January 6, 1903, he married Mileva Marić a fellow student at ETH and longtime girlfriend. The two had three children, the earliest a girl, Lieserl, was born out of wedlock and after her birth disappeared. In 1919 Einstein divorced Mileva and wed his cousin Elsa Löwenthal (born Einstein, Löwenthal was her first husband’s name) a few months later.

Throughout 1905 he published a number of papers later called the Annus Mirabilis Papers. Included in these papers was one titled, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content? Which contained the famous E=mc2 equation. He left the Patent office and taught at a number of Universities in Europe eventually settling down in Berlin in 1914. He stayed in Berlin, until 1933, where he was the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics.

In 1915 he started a series of lectures where he described his theory of gravity, known as general relativity. The theories he introduced were proven in 1919 by Arthur Eddington. Eddington using observations obtained from Brazil and Africa recorded the bending of light during a solar eclipse, reinforcing Einstein’s theory of relativity. Some scientists resisted these new concepts and when Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 it was granted for his earlier work on the photoelectric effect rather than his Relativity Theory. The Nobel committee picked the less-contested theory in hopes that the prize would be more acceptable to the scientific community.

Einstein flees the Nazis

Einstein becomes a US citizen

In 1933 Hitler came to power and passed the “The Law of the Restoration of the Civil Service” which forced Jewish government employees from their jobs. Einstein who had been teaching in America part-time decided to stay in America and in 1940 became a US citizen. In 1939 Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt urging America to start a nuclear program out of fear the Nazi’s would develop atomic weapons first. In his later years, he would hold a number of teaching positions while trying to prove his theories.

President of Israel

Throughout his life, he was a big supporter of Israel and worked with a number of Israeli Universities and Israeli causes. In 1952 the Israeli government offered the post of president of Israeli to Einstein an offer he declined. In letter to the Israeli government he wrote:

I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel [to be President], and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions. Therefore I would also be an inappropriate candidate for this high task … I wish from the bottom of my heart that a man is found who will be able to take over the hard and responsible office due to his work and his personality.

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Passes away at 76

Aged 76 at 1:15 AM, April 18, 1955, he died in a Princeton hospital in New Jersey from internal bleeding caused by a ruptured aortic aneurysm. His brain was removed and preserved before the body was cremated. Many groups studied the brain without any significant discoveries until it eventually ended up being studied by Canadian scientists in 1996. They discovered that the part of the brain, the inferior parietal lobe, which is responsible for mathematical thought and the ability to understand space and movement was 15% wider than average brains. Also, Einstein’s brain lacked a groove that normally runs through that region of the brain. These attributes of Einstein’s brain may have given him his genius.
Upon death Einstein left his name and image to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a University he supported while alive. The royalties from the licensing of his name and any products in his likeness now go to the University. The agency that runs manages the Einstein brand is very strict and insists that when using the name, ‘Albert Einstein™’, that the trademark ™ symbol must always be present. Albert Einstein™ is a lucrative trademark that makes millions for the University. Apple computer, Disneyland, and many other corporations use his name or likeness to sell products.

Ever seen a picture of young Einstein?

Albert Einstein with friends Habicht and Solovine,ca. 1903

Einstein on the right in 1903

Almost all of the products licensed to use Einstein’s image exploit the crazy-haired mad genius look of old Einstein. Pictures of young Einstein are usually ignored even though it was this time that the man Einstein changed the world. In contrast to his later years young Einstein was by all accounts and pictures, where he is clad in the latest styles, was a snappy dresser. His admirers overlook young Einstein, perhaps because his earlier images are of him following the herd rather than the popular later old Einstein, black sheep image. Images of the old Einstein have reached iconic status. Purists and admirers of young Einstein will have been left to moan about how “the most persistent myth about Einstein is that he was born at the age of 50.”

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