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Ethan Siegel tries busting Albert Einstein


Theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel writes popular science. Here here he tries “demythologizing” Albert Einstein:

That’s the myth we frequently tell ourselves about Einstein. That he, an outcast and a dropout, taught himself everything he needed to know on his own and revolutionized the field of physics in a number of ways. In the early days, his work thinking about light gave us the photoelectric effect, special relativity, and E = mc sup>2, among other advances. Later on, his work alone gave us General Relativity, arguably his greatest achievement. All by his lonesome, Einstein single-handedly dragged the field out of Newtonian stagnation and into the 20th, and now the 21st, centuries. Here’s why that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Ethan Siegel, “Einstein wasn’t a “lone genius” after all” at Big Think (April 12, 2022)

Sorry, Ethan. Good thoughts but overall, it doesn’t work. Lots of people had help and they never did what Einstein did.

The spark of genius is real.

Much as I hate to say it, Ethan is right about this. Einstein didn't change the world, he just developed "thought experiments" showing how the Lorentz transforms might apply to the real world. A fairly important extension of existing science, but less consequential than the concurrent work of Lodge and Marconi and Fleming. polistra

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