Starts With A Bang

The four biggest mistakes of Einstein’s scientific life (Synopsis)

Albert Einstein in 1920. Image credit: "The Solar Eclipse of May 29, 1919, and the Einstein Effect," The Scientific Monthly 10:4 (1920), 418-422, on p. 418. Public domain.

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Scientists make mistakes. We fail. We have our intuition lead us astray; we synthesize information in ways that lead to catastrophically wrong predictions. Whether we make sloppy, calculational errors, have oversights in what we consider, or whether we simply engage in motivated reasoning to attempt to reach our desired conclusions, even the greatest of us make mistakes. Even Einstein.

Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein together in 1925, engaging in their famous conversations/debates about quantum mechanics. Public domain image.

While the mind who brought us special and general relativity, E = mc^2 and some of the greatest advances in quantum and statistical physics might seem unassailable, Einstein had more than his share of mistakes. His sloppiness and stubbornness often blinded him to the reality of the situation, and may be directly responsible for some of the most egregiously held positions regarding the quantum nature of our Universe today.

The particles and forces of the Standard Model. Image credit: Contemporary Physics Education Project / DOE / NSF / LBNL, via http://cpepweb.org/.

Come learn about the four biggest mistakes of Einstein’s scientific life, and see if you agree!