Many people have read that little Albert’s parents thought he was mentally deficient because he refused to talk for the first five or six years of his life. You may even know that he was somewhat of a prankster. But here’s some stuff you may not know about the famous physicist.
1) Slow, Silent, and Funny-Looking
Not only did his parents think he was slow, but when he was born, his head was so big that his mother thought he was deformed. His grandmother thought he was too fat. He grew into the head and the body relatively quickly, and everyone was relieved. However, he wouldn’t speak; by some accounts, he only mumbled to himself until he was about 9 years old, preferring to practice his sentences on his own before sharing with others. He is said to have finally broken the silence by telling his parents, “The soup is cold.” When asked why he hadn’t spoken before, he replied that everything had been fine up until then.
2) He Was a Fan of Dancing… And Something of a Poet
Einstein called dancers “the athletes of God.” He was impressed enough to compose this ode:
“Dancing in our heads…
We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.”
3) Always the Ladies’ Man
Albert was quite the ladies’ man. In one instance he described the theory of relativity this way: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” He had a lot of girlfriends, including Marie Winteler, whom he dumped by writing a letter to her mother, for heaven’s sake. Back in the day, this was almost as bad as breaking up via text today. He was 18 years old at the time, and thought the girl was too clingy and not conducive to his burgeoning career as a scientist.
4) He Had a Marriage Contract
It couldn’t be called a prenup because Albert imposed it upon his first wife, Mileva Maric, 11 years into their marriage, when the road to romance had become rocky. The conditions of the contract were rather harsh.
You will make sure:
- that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
- that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
- that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, you will forgo:
- my sitting at home with you;
- my going out or traveling with you.
You will obey the following points in your relations with me:
- You will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
- You will stop talking to me if I request it;
- You will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it
- You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out they were headed for divorce. Part of Mileva’s agreement was that she would get all the money if he were to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Five years later, she got her divorce and her money. Meanwhile, as soon as the divorce cleared, Albert married his cousin Elsa, after a brief dalliance with Elsa’s 22-year-old daughter.
5) He Was a Genius at Avoiding the Military
Born in Germany, Einstein was determined to avoid that country’s compulsory military service. His parents had parked him in boarding school when his father’s electrical business forced the family to relocate to Milan. Left behind, the young genius wangled a note from his doctor and bailed from the school to flee to Italy. Even though he did poorly in all subjects, save math and physics, the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School made an exception and admitted him into a special high school, from which he graduated at the age of 17. Then he renounced his German citizenship to make sure he didn’t end up in the military.
Arguably history’s most famous celebrated genius, Albert Einstein’s professional accomplishments overshadowed his eccentricities (e.g., he hated wearing socks) as well as his personal life. Had that genius thing not worked out, he might have been a violinist or perhaps a sailor, two more of his non-scientific interests.
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