Gary and the kids and I watched a Nova video on the origins of various physics theories today. This one was entitled "Einstein's Big Idea". These videos are quite well done, with lots of attention paid to personal lives of the various physicists, making them all the more appealing to those of us who do not get excited about the mere mention of words like "atomic mass" and "Anthropic Principle". It occurred to me that this was a brilliant way to humanize these often unapproachable greats and somehow make their theories more interesting. In fact, I was rather amused to note how many flirtatious conversations between male and female researchers were peppered with discussions of mass versus motion versus energy. Who knew photons could be erotic?
Near the end of the video, as the narrator was summing up the moment in which Einstein went from being a lowly patent clerk to a great theorist, we also learned that he divorced his wife of several years just when he was finally becoming successful. This was the wife who'd lived with him during his leanest years, who'd encouraged him to pursue his passion when he considered giving up, who had dropped her own education to raise their child.
My sixteen year old, Daniel, who had been sprawled across the floor watching the video with rapt attention, sat up. "He left his wife? Why?"
"He liked someone else better," answered his Dad.
"Well, that was stupid!" said Joseph.
I agreed, much amused at their reactions.
Sam, my blond-headed, freckle-faced almost ten year son, who peers at the world through wire framed glasses muttered something.
"What?" I said.
Thinking I might have to have a conversation with him about language (a first in his case), I pressed him to repeat himself.
Sam sighed heavily. "I said Albert Einstein is a dummy-faced poopy-head."
There you have it folks. Albert Einstein, the discoverer of the theory of relativity, the man best associated with E=MC2, a man who wrote over 300 scientific works, is a poopy-head in my son's estimation.