Loved for his democratically lucid scientific explanations, Einstein illustrated his most famous theory as “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.” Relationships can feel like both. This Valentine’s Day, commemorate something that will last forever: Einstein’s physics. One hundred years ago, he published three papers that changed the world as we knew it. During his annus mirabilis (“miracle year”) of 1905, he provided evidence for the existence of atoms, which were before only recognized as a useful concept; claimed that light must sometimes behave like a stream of particles with discrete energies, thus explaining the photoelectric effect; and replaced previous notions of space and time put forth by Isaac Newton with his special theory of relativity. CUNY Grad Center’s centennial lecture series gathers scholars, authors, and fans to testify to his enduring influence. Opening lecturer David Cassidy, a professor of natural sciences at Hofstra University and author of Einstein and Our World, considers Einstein’s impact, which paved the way for cool, important things like lasers, automatic door openers, and the L.E.D.’s that light up the display on your iPod, as well as the digital era of computers and other electronics.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 1, 2005