Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Einstein doesn't Know Beans

Some lucky auction winner is about to own a letter penned by Albert Einstein in 1954 that sheds light on his ambivalent views about religion:

This is a good time to share one of my favorite Einstein storied, as told by Henry Eyring, who one every major prize in chemistry except the Nobel prize (because they aren't awarded posthumously) .

"...a man from the Navy and I spent the morning with Einstein talking about high explosives [that's a conversation I would have LOVED to hear, but that's not the story...]. I think he was more interested in relativity than high explosives, but he was not a bad chemist. He didn't talk sense all the time because he had been studying astronomy and physics...

"At noon we walked out into what had been a rose garden, but in wartime had been replanted as a victory garden. Now, I'm a farmer from Pima, so I guessed what the crop was, but I didn't know whether Einstein knew or not. So I picked up a plant and asked him what it was. He didn't know. I asked [the gardener] what it was. He said, "They're soybeans."

"Well, I though what you would have thought: "Einstein doesn't know beans." (Reflections of a Scientist, Henry Eyring, 1983, Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City).

To be fair, Eyring concludes, "But he knew everything else. He was just weak on beans," and, I might add, Faith too.

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