Much is known about the iconic, brilliant scientist with the wild eyes and white hair. Some of Albert Einstein’s quotes and accomplishments are common knowledge, including his Nobel Prize win for physics in 1921 and this poignant quote: ‘Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to never stop questioning.’ Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on 14 March, 1879. He revolutionised the field of physics as we know it and formulated the world’s most famous equation: E = mc2. As with every brilliant mind, there is more to Einstein than common knowledge can tell us. In celebration of his recent birthday, here are 10 surprising things about Albert Einstein.
Music was his biggest joy in life
Deeply fascinated with science and how the universe works, Einstein dedicated his life to scientific discovery. But did you know he was a passionate violinist? Quoted as saying ‘I get most joy in life out of music’, Einstein played since the age of six. His second wife Elsa claimed he liked to take breaks from his studies to play the violin, because it relaxed him and helped him think.
He declined an offer to be president of Israel
On 17 November 1952, Einstein received a letter asking if he would accept the offer for the presidency of Israel. His response was cordial and diplomatic, claiming that although he was ‘deeply moved by the offer … I cannot accept it.’ Having dedicated his life to ‘objective matters’ he felt he lacked ‘the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions’.
An illegal autopsy was performed on Einstein’s body
Pathologist Doctor Thomas Stolz Harvey performed the autopsy following Einstein’s death. Normal procedure—except that no paperwork has ever been found that gave permission for the autopsy. Against Einstein’s final wishes to be cremated whole, Einstein’s eyes were removed (they remain somewhere in a safe deposit box in New York City) and Harvey also removed his brain, which he allegedly kept for 50 years.
He inspired the look of Yoda
Star Wars fans would be delighted to know that the green, 4 ft. tall Jedi Master’s face was inspired by Albert Einstein’s own unique look. Special effects artist Nick Maley says he had a picture of Einstein in his office and chose to incorporate Yoda’s wrinkles and white hair to resemble the scientist.
He didn’t believe in God
One of Einstein’s most famous quotes has encouraged people to think he believed in God: ‘God does not play dice with the universe.’ He wrote in 1954 that he did not ‘believe in a personal God’ but likened his ‘unbounded admiration for the structure of the world’ to a religious worship. In the famous quote, Einstein was referring to subatomic particles and their unpredictable nature. ‘God’ and ‘dice’ were simply elegant metaphors.
He declined life-saving surgery
When Einstein died on 17 April 1955, the world mourned his loss. Experiencing internal bleeding due to the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurism, Einstein’s statement in his refusal of surgery showcases his stubborn yet profound and philosophical nature: ‘I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.’