Program Particulars: Einstein's Ethics

Program Particulars

*Times indicated refer to online version of audio

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Albert Einstein in 1931.

Albert Einstein in 1931.

(01:39) Quote about Technology

Krista cites a line from Einstein's message to the World Disarmament Conference of Geneva in 1932. Seeing the devastation of World War I, Einstein maintained a pacifistic stance through the 1920s and into the early 30s before Hitler came to power. He wrote these words while living in Berlin in 1931 (translated passage excerpted from Einstein on Peace):

What the inventive genius of mankind has bestowed upon us in the last hundred years could have made human life care free and happy if the development of the organizing power of man had been able to keep step with his technical advances. As it is, the hardly bought achievements of the machine age in the hands of our generation are as dangerous as a razor in the hands of a 3-year-old child. The possession of wonderful means of production has not brought freedom — only care and hunger. Worst of all is the technical development which produces the means for the destruction of human life, and the dearly created products of labor. We older people lived through that shudderingly in the World War. But even more terrible than this destruction seems to me the unworthy servitude into which the individual is swept by war. Is it not terrible to be forced by the community to deeds which every individual feels to be most despicable crimes? Only a few have had the moral greatness to resist; they are in my eyes the true heroes of the World War.

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(02:10–04:14) Music Element

"The Multiples of One"
from Awakening,
performed by Joseph Curiale


(02:45) Einstein's Miracle Year

In 1905 — Einstein's annus mirabilis, or "miracle year" — Albert Einstein submitted five seminal papers to the journal Annalen der Physik. In June, his first paper on the quantum theory of light, "Generation and Conversion of Light with Regard to a Heuristic Point of View," — for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 — was published. The paper dealt with the photoelectric effect and postulated that light sometimes acts like a stream of particles with discrete energies, or quanta. This paper upended the prevailing belief that light was a wave traveling through an invisible medium known as the "ether" (listen to theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson discuss how Einstein singlehandedly reversed this interpretation). Einstein's work on this subject contributed to the field of study he ultimately rejected, quantum mechanics.

The following month the second paper on Brownian motion, "The Motion of Elements Suspended in Static Liquids as Claimed in the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat," was published. This article was based on the doctoral thesis he had submitted. It was more mathematical than his other papers and allowed for experimental testing. Here, Einstein offered not only a new way for studying the movement of atoms but reinforced the idea that atoms and molecules were verifiable.

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This image is an inset of a page from one of three existing Einstein manuscripts on special relativity (1912). No known original manuscripts exist from the year of publication in 1905. (Courtesy: The Jewish National & University Library,  the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

This image is an inset of a page from one of three existing Einstein manuscripts on special relativity (1912). No known original manuscripts exist from the year of publication in 1905. (Courtesy: The Jewish National & University Library, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Published in September, Einstein's third paper on the special theory of relativity is considered revolutionary for its time because it wasn't being actively pursued by other scientists. Einstein determined that the speed of light is a universal constant that is independent of any reference frame. Nothing is faster than the speed of light. Space and time are not absolute but are relative to the position and velocity of different observers. Einstein incorporated the term "special" because he realized that his idea only worked if the effects of gravity were ignored.

Later that year in September, Einstein expounded upon the implications of special relativity in a short paper containing the famous equation E=mc² — energy equals mass times the speed of light squared — which linked electromagnetic theory and ordinary motion using the "principle of relativity." The consequence of this equation is that two quantities that were previously thought to be quite different (energy and mass) were shown to be very closely related and interchangeable. Einstein commented to a friend about his work: "I cannot possibly know whether the good Lord does not laugh at it and has led me up the garden path."

(02:58) Einstein's General Theory of Relativity

Einstein's 1915 paper is considered his magnum opus. Here, he expanded his special theory of relativity to include the effect of gravity on the shape of space and the flow of time. Thus, Einstein's general theory of relativity proposed that matter causes space and time to curve. Even light will bend. The discovery of general relativity gave rise to the Big Bang theory, the discovery of black holes, and quantum mechanics.

movement of atoms but reinforced the idea that atoms and molecules were verifiable.

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Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli. (Courtesy: AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives)

Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli. (Courtesy: AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives)

(03:57) Archival Audio of Einstein

On the same day (October 12, 1945) as the Nobel Prize in Physics was being presented to Wolfgang Pauli for his work on atomic theory, Albert Einstein spoke about the post-war world and the need for scientists to use scientific advancement for peace:

The war is won, but the peace is not. We can not and should not slacken in our efforts to make the nations of the world, and especially their governments, aware of the unspeakable disaster they are certain to provoke unless they change their attitude toward each other and towards the task of shaping the future.

On Being has compiled a series of audio clips of Einstein speaking on scientific and humanitarian topics from 1930 to 1945. Listen to "The Post-War World" and others. (FlashPlayer required)

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(04:20–05:10) Music Element

"From Jewish Life"
from Bloch: From Jewish Life: Supplication,
performed by Paul Marleyn


(05:27) Einstein in Berlin before WWI

In October, 1914, while living in Berlin, Einstein wrote a "Manifesto to the Europeans" calling on educated leaders — specifically, scientists and artists — to let go of "any nationalist passion" for the sake of a common European culture and a transnational alliance (the following translation by Alfred Engel is excerpted from The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein: Volume 6):

The struggle raging today will likely produce no victor; it will leave probably only the vanquished. Therefore, it seems not only good, but rather bitterly necessary, that educated men of all nations marshall their influence such that—whatever the still uncertain end of the war may be—the terms of peace shall not become the wellspring of future wars. The evident fact that through this war all European relational conditions slipped into an unstable and plasticized state should rather be used to create an organic European whole.

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(06:58–08:53) Music Element

"Adagio"
from Sonatas for Violin and Piano,
performed by Mela Tenenbaum and Richard Kapp


(07:29)Reading from "My Opinion of the War"

In 1915, the same year that he published his groundbreaking work on general relativity, Einstein also published an essay directed at the German public titled "My Opinion on the War." World War I had begun the previous year. Here, he compares warring nations to little boys in a schoolyard (the following translation by Alfred Engel is excerpted from The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein: Volume 6):

I will never forget what honest hatred the schoolmates of my age felt for years against the first-graders of a school in a neighboring street. Innumerable fistfights occurred, resulting in many a hole in the heads of those little striplings. … Understandably, the more modern organized states had to push these manifestations of primitive virile characteristics vigorously into the background. But wherever two nation states are next to each other and without a joint superpower above them, those feelings at times generate tensions … that lead to catastrophes of war. … Every well-meaning person should work hard on himself and in his personal circle to improve in these respects. The heavy burdens which presently plague us in such a horrible way will then vanish too. But why so many words when I can say it in one sentence, and in a sentence very appropriate for a Jew: Honor your Master Jesus Christ not only in words and songs, but rather foremost by your deeds.

(10:15) Quote of Einstein

The following passage was excerpted from Einstein's reply (February 24, 1918) to an academic colleague who was a German nationalist(translation from Einstein on Peace):

I greatly admire your versatility and entertaining style although your ostentatious Teutonic muscle-flexing runs rather against my grain. I prefer to string along with my compatriot, Jesus Christ, whose doctrines you and your kind consider to be obsolete. Suffering is indeed more acceptable to me than resorting to violence. History alone will teach us whither we shall be led by the attitudes exalted by you and so many of your contemporaries. Apart from the ultimate objectives, there can be no argument in matters of taste. Mine simply differs from yours.

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Albert Einstein and opera singer Hermann Jadlowker give a public concert in the New Synagogue of Berlin on January 29, 1930 for a charity concert for the Jewish Welfare and Jewish Youth Welfare Offices. (© Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS)

Albert Einstein and opera singer Hermann Jadlowker give a public concert in the New Synagogue of Berlin on January 29, 1930 for a charity concert for the Jewish Welfare and Jewish Youth Welfare Offices. (© Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS)

(10:39) Einstein on Jewish Ideals

In the fourth chapter of The World As I See It, Einstein comments on the moral core of his Jewish identity:

The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice, and the desire for personal independence—these are the features of the Jewish tradition which make me thank my stars that I belong to it. Those who are raging today against the ideals of reason and individual liberty and are trying to establish a spiritless State-slavery by brute force rightly see in us their irreconcilable foes. History has given us a difficult row to hoe; but so long as we remain devoted servants of truth, justice, and liberty, we shall continue not merely to survive as the oldest of living peoples, but by creative work to bring forth fruits which contribute to the ennoblement of the human race, as heretofore.

Einstein later answers the question if there is a "Jewish point of view":

Judaism is not a creed: the Jewish God is simply a negation of superstition, an imaginary result of its elimination. It is also an attempt to base the moral law on fear, a regrettable and discreditable attempt. Yet it seems to me that the strong moral tradition of the Jewish nation has to a large extent shaken itself free from this fear. It is clear also that "serving God" was equated with "serving the living." The best of the Jewish people, especially the Prophets and Jesus, contended tirelessly for this. Judaism is thus no transcendental religion; it is concerned with life as we live it and can up to a point grasp it, and nothing else. It seems to me, therefore, doubtful whether it can be called a religion in the accepted sense of the word, particularly as no "faith" but the sanctification of life in a supra-personal sense is demanded of the Jew.

((11:30) Concept of Tikkun Olam

The Jewish concept of tikkun olam literally means "world repair." "Repair the world" represents the core ethical directive of Judaism for many. In modern Jewish culture, the phrase generally connotes social action and the pursuit of social justice. In the Speaking of Faith program, "Religion and Our World in Crisis," Rabbi Harold Schulweis discusses how religion created by man has played a role in the world's fragmentation. In the Speaking of Faith program "Listening Generously: The Healing Stories of Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen," Remen describes the Jewish mystical understanding of the origins of the world's fragmentation and the meaning of tikkun olam in individual modern lives.

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Letter from Embassy of Israel offering Einstein the presidency. (Courtesy: The Albert Einstein Archives, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Letter from Embassy of Israel offering Einstein the presidency. (Courtesy: The Albert Einstein Archives, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

(11:39) Einstein and Zionism

The concept of Zionism has existed since the Jewish people were exiled from the land of Israel during the first century CE. This longing can be found in passages of the Bible, here in Psalm 137: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion." With Theodor Herzl's organization of the First Zionist Congress in 1897, Zionism has come to signify a modern political and ideological movement based on the establishment of a modern Jewish state in Palestine. Jewish communities around the world have exercised different levels of support for the cause. Some believe that it is a divine obligation of Jews to return to the land of their ancestors. Others advocate that success comes through propagation of the Jewish diaspora. The Nazi Holocaust provided a sense of urgency to the movement, and in 1948 the nation of Israel was founded.

Chaim Weizmann was the most prominent leader of the Zionist movement in the United States. He favored a state in which Jews and Arabs lived together while operating as sovereign entities. Einstein concurred, telling Weizmann in 1929 after a series of Arab riots against Jews in Palestine: "Should we be unable to find a way to honest cooperation and honest pacts with the Arabs, then we have learned absolutely nothing during our two thousand years of suffering and deserve all that will come to us."

(12:52) Einstein Offered Presidency of Israel

When Chaim Weizmann, who was serving as Israel's first president, died in 1952, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion instructed his ambassador Abba Eban to offer the presidency to Einstein. Aware that he might be offered this position the day before an urgent telegram and formal letter from Abba Eban arrived, Einstein drafted his response declining the invitation (translation from the Albert Einstein Archives, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem):

I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions. For these reasons alone I should be unsuited to fulfill the duties of that high office, even if advancing age was not making increasing inroads on my strength. I am the more distressed over these circumstances because my relationship to the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond, ever since I became fully aware of our precarious situation among the nations of the world.

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(14:26–16:08) Music Element

"Liebesleid Love's Sorrow"
from Kennedy Kreisler,
performed by Nigel Kennedy


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Eduard Einstein, Mileva Maric Einstein, and Hans Albert Einstein in 1914. <cite>(Courtesy: Courtesy: The Albert Einstein Archives, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Eduard Einstein, Mileva Maric Einstein, and Hans Albert Einstein in 1914. (Courtesy: Courtesy: The Albert Einstein Archives, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

(14:50) Einstein's First Wife and Children

Einstein's Wife, a one-hour television documentary produced by PBS, explores the relationship of Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Maric. The program presents the history and influential role Mileva played as a spouse and scientific partner in the Einstein's early years. In an unofficial poll conducted on the companion Web site, over 80 percent of respondents said that Mileva contributed to his research resulting in his breakthrough papers of 1905.

Einstein and Mileva had three children: a daughter born before their marriage and two sons. Einstein never met his daughter Lieserl and, though there is no official record of her, it is believed she died before the age of two. Their first son, Hans Albert, studied engineering in Zurich and later moved to the United States with his wife and children. Their second son, Eduard, spent most of his adult life institutionalized with schizophrenia.

(15:26) Quote from Einstein

In a 1913 letter to his then-mistress, first cousin, and future wife, Einstein wrote:

Dear Elsa, It isn't easy to get a divorce if one does not have any proof of the other party's guilt. So, I treat my wife as an employee whom I cannot fire. I have my own bedroom, and avoid being alone with her. But how nice it would be if one of these days, we could share a small, unassuming household.

(15:35) Quote from Einstein's "The World As I See It"

Krista recites a passage from Einstein's essay, "The World As I See It":

My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced freedom from the need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I gang my own gain and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties I have never lost an obstinate sense of detachment, of the need for solitude—a feeling which increases with the years. One is sharply conscious, yet without regret, of the limits to the possibility of mutual understanding and sympathy with one's fellow-creatures. Such a person no doubt loses something in the way of geniality and light-heartedness; on the other hand, he is largely independent of his fellows and avoids the temptation to take his stand on such insecure foundations.

(17:50) Einstein and the Military Draft

Einstein wrote several essays opposing military conscription during the 1920s and 30s. More famously, Einstein — along with other prominent figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, H.G. Wells, and Bertrand Russell — signed two documents opposing imposed drafts: the Anti-Conscription Manifesto of 1926, and the Manifesto Against Conscription and the Military Training of Youth in 1930. Language from the signed document included: "It is debasing human dignity to force men to give up their life, or to inflict death against their will, or without conviction as to the justice of their action. The State which thinks itself entitled to force its citizens to go to war will never pay proper regard to the value and happiness of their lives in peace. Moreover, by conscription the militarist spirit of aggressiveness is implanted in the whole male population at the most impressionable age. By training for war men come to consider war as unavoidable and even desirable."

(18:44) Book on Einstein and Race

Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor published their book Einstein on Race and Racism in 2005. The work is a compilation of documents and interviews providing a narrative history of Einstein's efforts for civil rights in the United States and throughout the world. The book contains some interesting correspondence between Einstein between prominent black leaders such as the author and NAACP founder W.E.B. Du Bois and performer and activist Paul Robeson. The book documents fascinating recollections from Princeton's African-American community about Einstein.

(19:30) Einstein-Russell Manifesto

On July 9, 1955, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, along with nine other prominent scientists, issued the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. The paper called for the downsizing and renunciation of nuclear weapons. The group also warned that if nations do not work for peace and remember humanity, the risk is "universal death." Listen to Bertrand Russell recount his work with Einstein on the resolution during the scientist's final days.

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(21:32–22:33) Music Element

"Sonata II:Grave e Cantabile (Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso)"
from Haydn: The Seven Last Words,
performed by the Emerson String Quartet


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Title page to Einstein and Freud's <i>Warum Krieg</i>, or <i>Why War?</i> <cite>(Library of Congress)</cite>

Title page to Einstein and Freud's Warum Krieg, or Why War? (Library of Congress)

(21:35) Reading from Einstein's Letter to Freud

From 1931–32, Einstein and psychologist Sigmund Freud corresponded with the intent of publishing the book titled Warum Krieg, or Why War?. Although skeptical that war would ever cease to be a fact of human existence, Einstein and Freud thought this could only be achieved if individual nations were willing to relinquish some of their sovereignty to an international governing body. One way of accomplishing this aim, Einstein advocated, was through the organization of a group of intellectuals who could persuade religious groups to spearhead the effort to fight war. Einstein writes to Freud:

I greatly admire your passion to ascertain the truth — a passion that has come to dominate all else in your thinking. You have shown with irresistible lucidity how inseparably the aggressive and destructive instincts are bound up in the human psyche with those of love and the lust for life. At the same time, your convincing arguments make manifest your deep devotion to the great goal of the internal and external liberation of man from the evils of war. This was the profound hope of all those who have been revered as moral and spiritual leaders beyond the limits of their own time and country, from Jesus to Goethe and Kant. Is it not significant that such men have been universally recognized as leaders, even though their desire to affect the course of human affairs was quite ineffective?

(22:30) "St. Francis Einstein of the Daffodils"

Following is William Carlos Williams' poem commemorating Einstein's first visit to the United States in the spring of 1921:

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Albert Einstein lived here, April 19, 1955 / Herb Block / Ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing on layered paper (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-126902)

Albert Einstein lived here, April 19, 1955 / Herb Block / Ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing on layered paper (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-126902)

On the first visit of Professor Einstein to The United States in the spring of 1921. "Sweet land" at last! out of the sea — the Venusremembering wavelets rippling with laughter — freedom for the daffodils! — in a tearing wind that shakes the tufted orchards — Einstein, tall as a violet in the lattice-arbor corner is tall as a blossomy peartree A Samos, Samos dead and buried. Lesbia a black cat in the freshturned garden. All dead. All flesh they sung is rotten Sing of it no longer — Side by side young and old take the sun together — maples, green and red yellowbells and the vermillion quinceflower together — The peartree with foetid blossoms sways its high topbranches with contrary motions and there are both pinkflowered and coralflowered peachtrees in the bare chickenyard of the old negro with white hair who hides poisoned fish-heads here and there where stray cats find them — find them Spring days swift and mutable winds blowing four ways hot and cold shaking the flowers — Now the northeast wind moving in fogs leaves the grass cold and dripping. The night is dark. But in the night the southeast wind approaches. The owner of the orchard lies in bed with open windows and throws off his covers one by one.

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(23:43–24:16) Music Element

"Sonata II:Grave e Cantabile (Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso)"
from Haydn: The Seven Last Words,
performed by the Emerson String Quartet


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(24:08–27:45) Music Element

"Vaisnava Bhajan"
from Hollow Bamboo,
performed by Jon Hassell, Ry Cooder, and Ronu Majumbar


(24:32) Archival Audio of Einstein on Gandhi

The audio clip of Einstein speaking about Gandhi was taken from a 1950 interview by a United Nations correspondent:

I believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil.

Speaking of Faith has compiled a series of audio clips of Einstein speaking on scientific and humanitarian topics from 1930 to 1945. Listen to the Gandhi clip and others. (FlashPlayer required)

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(28:03–28:59) Music Element

"Sonata II:Grave e Cantabile (Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso)"
from Haydn: The Seven Last Words,
performed by the Emerson String Quartet


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Albert Einstein is congratulated by Judge Phillip Forman after receiving his certificate of American citizenship during a ceremony held in Trenton, New Jersey on October 1, 1940. (Photo: Al Aumuller/Library of Congress)

Albert Einstein is congratulated by Judge Phillip Forman after receiving his certificate of American citizenship during a ceremony held in Trenton, New Jersey on October 1, 1940. (Photo: Al Aumuller/Library of Congress)

(28:20) Einstein's Stay at the California Institute of Technology

In December 1932 as Adolph Hitler rose to power in Germany, Einstein and his wife Elsa traveled to America for an extended stay at the California Institute of Technology. The following March, Hitler's Third Reich barred Jews and Communists from teaching in German universities. Jewish scientists became a special target because they defied the logic of the superior Aryan race.

During this interim period, the Nazis ransacked the Einstein's apartment in Berlin and froze their bank account. Then, in March, Nazi agents confiscated and sold their summer cottage in Caputh. From California, Einstein declared to the press that he would not return to Germany.

As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance and equality of all citizens before the law prevail. Civil liberty implies freedom to express one's political convictions, in speech and in writing; tolerance implies respect for the convictions of others, whatever they may be. These conditions do not exist in Germany at the present time. Men, among them leading artists, who have made a particularly great contribution to the cause of international understanding, are being persecuted there.

(29:17) Correspondence with Du Bois

In 1931, two white women falsely accused nine black teenagers of raping them while riding a freight train in Alabama. Although there was a lack of evidence and the women's stories conflicted, the case went to trial. The boys were given two weeks to prepare their defense with only one lawyer representing them and without being able to consult their parents. Eight of the boys were convicted after three days of trial and sentenced to be lynched.

The NAACP intervened and argued that the boys did not receive due process. And, even after evidence was submitted that one of the accusers admitted not being raped, the verdict was upheld. The appeal reached the the U.S. Supreme Court. In Patterson v. Alabama, the Court ruled that the defendants were denied the right to counsel, which violated their right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and remanded the verdict to the lower court. To learn more, visit "Scottsobro: An American Tragedy," which goes into further detail about the complexity of the events and the final results.

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Former Vice President Henry Wallace, Albert Einstein, Lewis L. Wallace of Princeton University, and actor Paul Robeson meeting in Princeton on September 21, 1947. <cite>(Photo: Princeton University)</cite>

Former Vice President Henry Wallace, Albert Einstein, Lewis L. Wallace of Princeton University, and actor Paul Robeson meeting in Princeton on September 21, 1947. (Photo: Princeton University)

(29:58) Einstein and Robeson

Paul Robeson, the son of a runaway slave, was considered by many a Renaissance man because of his athletic, academic, and artistic talents. He is most noted for his singing and acting, playing lead roles in Shakespeare's Othello and in O'Neill's The Emperor Jones, and is widely remembered for singing "Ol' Man River" in Showboat. He was an outspoken critic of racism and a socialist who would later be targeted by McCarthy and others during the Red Scare.

Einstein and Robeson first met after his performance of Negro spirituals in Princeton in 1935. Nearly ten years later they would co-chair the American Crusade to End Lynching. In a September 1946 letter to President Harry S. Truman, Einstein endorsed the group's agenda and urged an end to all acts of violence, "To insure such protection is one of the most urgent tasks for our generation. A way always exists to overcome legal obstacles whenever there is a determined will in the service of such a just cause."

Through the Freedom of Information Act, you can view over 1,400 pages of FBI files investigating Einstein's activities from 1937 through 1954.

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(29:59–31:20) Music Element

"Chassidic Chant"
from Songs Of Free Men,
performed by Paul Robeson


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Albert Einstein walking on the campus of Princeton University. <cite>(Photo: The Hannah Fantova Collection, Princeton University)</cite>

Albert Einstein walking on the campus of Princeton University. (Photo: The Hannah Fantova Collection, Princeton University)

(34:30) Reading from "Out of My Later Years"

Einstein warned against racial prejudice when he first published "The Negro Question" in the January 1946 issue of Pageant magazine. Gates reads from a reprint appearing in Einstein's Out of My Later Years:

In the United States everyone feels assured of his worth as an individual. No one humbles himself before another person or class. Even the great difference in wealth, the superior power of a few, cannot undermine this healthy self-confidence and natural respect for the dignity of one's fellow-man. There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the "Whites" toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out. Many a sincere person will answer: "Our attitude towards Negroes is the result of unfavorable experiences which we have had by living side by side with Negroes in this country. They are not our equals in intelligence, sense of responsibility, reliability." I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers from a fatal misconception. Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man's quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery.

(35:50) Quote of Einstein

In an address at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1929, Einstein said, "If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew."

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(39:12–41:37) Music Element

"Adagio"
from Sonatas for Violin and Piano,
performed by Mela Tenenbaum and Richard Kapp


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Einstein with faculty children, May 3, 1946, from Lincolnian, Tues., June 4, 1946

Einstein with faculty children, May 3, 1946, from Lincolnian, Tues., June 4, 1946

(39:45) Einstein at Lincoln University

In 1946, Einstein spoke to students and faculty at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. The following excerpt was reported by the Baltimore Afro-American:

The only possibility of preventing war is to prevent the possibility of war. International peace can be achieved only if every individual uses all of his power to exert pressure on the United States to see that it takes the leading part in world government. The United Nations … will be effective only if no one neglects his duty in his private environment. If he does [neglect it], he is responsible for the death of our children in a future war. My trip to this institution was in behalf of a worthwhile cause. There is a separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.

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(44:10–45:23) Music Element

"Liebesbotschaft"
from Bach/Brahms/Schubert,
performed by Marian Anderson


(44:25) Einstein and Anderson

Marian Anderson is considered one of the great operatic voices of the 20th century. Although she had gained international acclaim by the late 1930s — Arturo Toscanini once stated, "Yours is a voice one hears once in a hundred years." — Anderson would face discrimination in the United States through most of her life. Eventually, she invited to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955.

In Einstein on Race and Racism, authors Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor recount an incident in 1937 when Anderson was denied a room even though she was invited to perform at a prominent theater in Princeton:

Despite the accolades Anderson received, her international fame, and an overflow audience at McCarter, the African American contralto was denied a room at Princeton's whites-only Nassau Inn. Albert Einstein promptly invited her to stay with him, Margot, and Helen Dukas. The diva accepted Einstein's offer and their friendship continued for the rest of his life. Whenever she returned to Princeton, Marian Anderson stayed at Einstein's house on Mercer Street.

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(47:16–50:25) Music Element

"Sonata II:Grave e Cantabile (Hodie mecum eris in Paradiso)"
from Haydn: The Seven Last Words,
performed by the Emerson String Quartet


(48:15) Archival Recording of Einstein

On October 12, 1945, as the Nobel Prize in Physics was being presented to Wolfgang Pauli for his work on atomic theory, Albert Einstein spoke about the post-war world and the need for scientists to use scientific advancement for peace:

The world was promised freedom from fear. But, in fact, fear has increased tremendously since the termination of the war. The world was promised freedom from want, but large parts of the world are faced with starvation while others are living in abundance. As far as we the physicists are concerned, we are no politicians. But we know a few things that the politicians do not know. That there is no escape into easy comfort. There is no distance ahead for proceeding little by little and delaying the necessary changes into an indefinite future. The situation calls for a courageous effort, for a radical change in our whole attitude and the entire political content.

Speaking of Faith has compiled a series of audio clips of Einstein speaking on scientific and humanitarian topics from 1930 to 1945. Listen to all of them. (FlashPlayer required)

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(50:27–52:43) Music Element

"Ode To Joy (Beethoven, arr. J. Heifetz)"
from The Odyssey Of Paul Robeson,
performed by Paul Robeson


Voices on the Radio

is a theoretical physicist and John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland. He's written widely on string theory, and has advanced unified field theories of the type first envisioned by Einstein.

is Associate Professor of Science Writing at MIT. He's produced "Einstein Revealed" for NOVA and has authored several books on science and technology, including Einstein in Berlin.