The Man

Texts by Dr. Antonio Moreno González

The certificate of naturalisation issued to a 61-year old Einstein in Trenton (New Jersey) describes him as a white male of average complexion, brown eyes and grey hair, standing 5 feet 7 inches high and weighing 175 pounds.

The popularity Einstein achieved in his lifetime was comparable to Newton's, but because of the centuries that separated the two, Einstein is known throughout the world by people of all ages and classes, whether or not they come from the academic or scientific field, achieving far greater public recognition than Newton enjoyed in his own time or at the present.

From the point of view of general comprehension of the two scientists' work, however, Sir Isaac's was more and better assimilated than that of Albert the bold dreamer. This may be due to the fact that the latter's work is more complex, especially his general theory of relativity, which qualifies, broadens and modifies the significance of Newton's theory of gravity.

Einstein travelled extensively, partly because he had become an attraction in himself. He was distinguished with the highest honours a scientist can receive. A host of books and articles are still published about him, surpassing the popularity of any other person - in 1999, Time Magazine named him "Person of the Century". For better or worse, people have even tried to penetrate his life and the process of gestation of his work as they have done with no one else. He is unquestionably a singular character, and one of the most enigmatic of the twentieth century. He was a person of simple tastes: he dressed untidily, in casual shabby clothes; he lived in a modest house; he loved macaroni and a dish of lentils with sausages, apple or plum pie, coffee and a good cigar... and his beloved pipe, which he continued to fiddle with even after he had been ordered to stop smoking; he liked playing in musical soirees at home with anyone from the neighbourhood, but he fled pomp and celebration because he was an Einspänner , a loner in all his behaviour, among his students, his colleagues, his friends and his family. One of his greatest joys was go out sailing on a small boat on the calm water of the lakes he used to frequent; despite the fact that he was not a skilled sailor (on more than one occasion he had his wife on tenterhooks). He preferred sailing to any other activity: not only did it offer the pleasure of solitude; it was also, as he said, "the sport that requires least energy". It typified the comfort and easy life he preferred within the modesty that always characterised him.


 TIME 1999 front cover


Preparing to sail