Facts about Albert EinsteinEinstein changed our scientific understanding of the universe. He was also and continues to be a palpable figure in the zeitgeist. After receiving global acclaim for his research, culminating with the Nobel Prize in 1922, Einstein put his newly acquired fame to good use. He used his platform on the world stage to promote and fight for causes of global development and unity. Below are 10 interesting facts about Albert Einstein.

10 Interesting Facts About Albert Einstein

  1. Einstein was a peacekeeper. Einstein was an ardent pacifist. While World War I raged across Europe, many of Einstein’s colleagues put forth a “Manifesto of Ninety-Three.” The document declared their unequivocal support for the war. Einstein attempted to put forth a counter-manifesto to no avail. Einstein continued to be a fervent ambassador for peace for the rest of his life.
  2. He understood the political turmoil that comes from world hunger. Einstein once observed, “An empty stomach is not a good political advisor.” The physicist was a witness to the effects of poverty. After his emigration from Nazi Germany, Einstein saw how the need for food and basic resources created instability within a country and had the potential to engulf the world in chaos.
  3. He believed in equality. Einstein also put his name, along with thousands of other signatories, on the Magnus Hirschfeld petition. This petition was a direct infringement of paragraph 175 of the German penal code which outlawed homosexuality in Germany.
  4. He didn’t claim any nationality. Einstein was the 20th century’s man without a country. In other words, he was a self-proclaimed “citizen of the world.” He was a passionate supporter of a world government, which is a far-reaching body that can rise above nationalist tendencies. As he wrote in his open letter to the United Nations General Assembly in 1947, Einstein was fearful that institutions such as the United Nations would be toothless bureaucracies. He advocated for a global, apolitical body that would be above all governments. Furthermore, he believed that it would broaden the U.N.’s powers above individual nations. This, in Einstein’s opinion, would be the surest way to prevent another world war and the use of newly acquired nuclear weapons.
  5. Einstein was a refugee. Another among this list of facts about Albert Einstein concerns how he was a refugee from Germany. Adolf Hitler’s regime threatened Jewish intellectuals like Einstein. Due to this, he was one of 125,000 Germans who immigrated to the U.S. to escape persecution in the years between 1933 and 1945.
  6. He was a supporter of his Jewish background. Following the atrocities against the Jewish population during the Nazi regime, Einstein became an outspoken supporter of the establishment of a Jewish state. While he supported the creation of Israel, Einstein was not sold on the necessary characteristics of a state. Some characteristics, for example, are borders or a standing army. So, while he would lobby for the support of such a nation, he never lost touch with his pacifist roots. Einstein was even offered the position of Israeli President in 1952. He declined the opportunity, stating: “I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it.”
  7. He was a passionately curious person. Einstein was “passionately curious” his whole life. Therefore, access to education and information and general love for learning were close to his heart. He was aware of the threat that figures such as Senator Joseph McCarthy posed to the world. He condemned McCarthy’s tactics of public shaming as a “matter of using people as tools for the prosecution of others that one wants to label as ‘unorthodox.'” Einstein was keen to point out the dangers that McCarthy reflected blatant attacks on intellectualism and educational freedom and access.
  8. He fought for civil rights. Following the Second World War, Einstein could not help but notice some disheartening similarities between the treatment of German Jews with the institutional segregation and racism in America. Einstein infamously turned down engagements to speak at prestigious American universities. Instead, he opted to speak at the historically-black Lincoln University in 1946. He is quoted as saying, “The separation of the races is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. And I do not intend to be quiet about it.” This was quite controversial at the time.
  9. Einstein was a humanitarian. In 1927, Einstein was a participant and supporter of the League Against Imperialism in Brussels. This organization was a transnational anti-imperialist organization that pushed back against rampant colonialism and colonial power. Einstein and others felt that it would help countries that have been negatively impacted by the world’s colonial powers.
  10. He was a socialist. In order to promote a freer and fair society, Einstein was in favor of socialism over capitalism as the reigning social, political and economic ideology. In his article, “Why Socialism?” Einstein stated, “I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils…the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.” Einstein felt that socialism would instill in people a sense of collective responsibility to one another, “in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.”

A Genius of Injustice

Einstein was nothing short of tenacious. He would continue to speak out against foreign and domestic injustices where he saw them. Near the end of his life, Einstein saw his voice as one of his greatest assets. He understood that those who can speak out also share an obligation to do so. This was, perhaps, the most important on this list of interesting facts about Albert Einstein.

Though some of the ideas that Einstein promoted never came to be, he never stopped promoting global unity. These facts about Albert Einstein only scratch the surface of his work. However, the continued efforts of organizations such as the United Nations and UNICEF carry out the values he believed in. They have taken up the mantel to ensure global health, stability and development.

– Connor Dobson
Photo: Flickr

Nobel peace price borgen project
The Nobel Peace Prize is the most distinguished prize in the world. Every year, one individual “who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” is awarded the prize. The prize is the stuff of myth in terms of both prestige and mystery: how and why was it ever conceived? Why is the Peace Prize so legendary and illustrious?

In 1895, Swedish industrial magnate Alfred Bernhard Nobel hand-drafted the first conceptions of the prestigious Nobel Prizes in his will. Nobel left his vast wealth for the awarding of five annual prizes to five individuals in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, and, most prestigious of all, Peace.

The man behind the prize is a character steeped in paradox and enigma. Son of salt-of-the-earth inventor and builder Immanuel Nobel, Alfred Nobel’s childhood was filled with frequent moving and change from Stockholm to St. Petersburg, and from modest means to bourgeois status. Growing up, Nobel was a quiet intellectual who preferred the solitude of philosophy books and writing; his weak health surely contributed to his broody temperaments.

Alfred Nobel, along with his brothers, was tutored to become fluent in five languages, and taught fundamental mathematics, physics, and chemistry while in St. Petersburg. He eventually received training to become a chemist and engineer, leading to his invention of dynamite as well as other explosives used in modern warfare. Ironic, for the man who would become posthumously famous for the most famous prize in world peace, explosives was Nobel’s industry and base for wealth.

It is suggested by historians that his belated adjustments to his will to include the Prizes were inspired by a poignant but nevertheless strange occurrence. When his brother died in Cannes, France in 1888, the French papers mistook his brother for the Alfred Nobel. The headlines read: “Le marchand de la mort est mort” (“The Merchant of Death is dead”). His brother’s obituary was eerily a dress rehearsal for his own—one that he did not want for himself for when his time finally came. Historians conclude that Nobel, who was also a philosopher and pacifist, belatedly added the prizes to his will to ameliorate his fears of posthumous disrepute.

The curious case of Alfred Nobel aside, the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize is an undeniable medium of both change and historic record. Reading the accomplishments of the award through its 110 years is to turn through the pages of Modern history.

For example, there were no prizes for award peace during the tumultuous First World War that ended with no victors—only a whimper. The only prize awarded during the war years was to the Red Cross. The same occurred during WWII.

In the 1990s, “Pluralist Globalization” seemed to be the theme of the prizes. In 1990 for example, Mikhail Gorbachev was controversially awarded the Peace Prize because The Norwegian Nobel Committee had seen that he had done the most to end the Cold War. In 1993 Nelson Mandela and Frederick Willem de Klerk were award the Peace Prize for their work towards ending the violence and oppression of Apartied in South Africa.

But above all controversy and politics, the prize paints an enduring narrative of the human desire for salvation from suffering and war.

– Malika Gumpangkum

Sources: Britannica, Nobel Prize, Sweden
Photo: ABC