Persistence, Not Genius, Is the Reason We Know Einstein’s Name

In 1905, Albert Einstein's mother thought he was a genius, his sister thought he was a genius, his father thought he was a genius – but that was about it, says author David Bodanis.

Einstein had three great character traits. "I might not be more skilled than other scientists," he liked to say, "but I have the persistence of a mule." If he built a house of cards and it came crashing down, young Einstein would exhale and start again, says biographer David Bodanis. He languished for many years in a patent office in Switzerland, unable to get a job as a high-school teacher, while in the top drawer of his desk were four recently completed papers – two of which were Special Relativity and E=mc2. He pressed on with his work until people noticed. Secondly, Einstein had a thick skin. One bad whisper can shatter most mere mortals, but in 1920 there was an anti-Einstein rally at the Opera House in Berlin, where people opposed to "Jewish science". Later still, in 1933, highly educated students from Göttingen, one of the greatest university in the world at the time, burned his books. Thirdly, he was inherently noble. He had a great conscience for his fellow humans, and used a huge amount of his income and other raised money to get people out of Germany and safely to America. Despite having thick skin, he was not callous – he had great sensitivity for humanity as a whole. Though the FBI did not let him be part of the team that built the atom bomb, Einstein’s work paved the way for the technology. When he heard the U.S. had dropped the bomb on Japan, he was grief stricken, and said "If I had known I wouldn't have lifted a finger." David Bodanis' most recent book is Einstein’s Greatest Mistake.

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Einstein's Greatest Mistake Wasn't Technical – It Was All Too Human

Einstein believed his greatest blunder to have been the retraction of one of his equations but, as writer David Bodanis tells, the great scientist's misstep actually happened immediately after.

David Bodanis is a futurist, business advisor and popular science writer, and when it comes to Einstein, he literally wrote the books – plural. His first was called E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation, which was translated into 26 languages and turned into a documentary and an award-winning ballet. Now Bodanis goes deeper into the genius’ world with the biography Einstein’s Greatest Mistake.

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