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tv   John Mc Laughlins One on One  PBS  October 6, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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the ages. the burst of genius starting in 190m, the 26-year-old patent clerk revolutionized science with a series of paperson light, gravity and relativity, culminating with his discovery that matter and energy are e!ual. this made him the first celebrity scientist of the 207b8g century and a cultural icon. today, einstein's image is used to market eve"ything from disney educatiol toys to apple computers and fujifilms. does this commercialization@ obscure or worse demean
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einstein's legacy? we'll review einstein life and put that question to einstein experts@alice and bert. captions by: captn colorado, llc (800) 775-7838 @ e- mail: ♪[music] ♪[music] ♪ if. for such a small if i live to a hundred. if social security isn't enough. if my heart gets broken. if she says yes. we believe if should never hold you back. if should be managed with a plan that builds on what you already have. together we can create a personal safety net, a launching pad, for all those brilliant ifs in the middle of life. you can call on our expertise and get guarantees for the if in life.
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after all, we're metlife. ♪[music] ♪ welcome. >> thank you. >> we are celebrating the 100th anniversary, the sennennary of albert einstein's burst of scientific discovery. what is it exactly that we are saluting? i ask you, dr. robert shulman? >> we're celebrating this incredible burst of creativity that he showed in 1905. we also are celebrating the fact that he, in essence, came from nowhere and put his stamp on 20th century physics, in this, a humble patent clerk is an achievement that is probably unparalleled certainly in this
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20th century. >> he becamea celebrity ientist and an icon, and he has affected the popular culture. can you tell us about that, >> he became an icon i think not until 1919 after his general theory of lativity was proven to be correct b9 some british astronomers and he gained worldwide fame right after that. >> so the scientific legacy is really the genesis of all the rest? >> yes. >> is that correct? >> and he was very outspoken lar on, on potical situations and social situations with the state of israel. >> what was remarkable about einstein's scientific disco6ery? was it method as well as results? >> it was a matter of method. i mean, one thang thank's fascinating about him is at that time when he made his
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dioveries, he was, as i said before, a humble pat earnt clerk. working four hours on his was patent application and@fou" hours on his work that he came out with in 1905. the other theory is he he was working it eight hours a@day under the table. it's unclear, both of those of leges. but the method, one thing that we've learned from the love let$ers is that he was well aware of the literature, read all of the primary sources from contemporary and soin one sense he comes from nowhere and on the other nd he's someone who is well versed in the physics of the day. >> this is one of the volumes you were able to produce. tell usabout this. >> this is volume seven@which covers $he period from the -- of the first world war. these are his papers, so the series that we worked on is two
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series, writings and correspondence. this is the -- these are the writings. this is also the critical period where he stops stewing or where he not@only does science but also does political >> i don't see any footnotes his original drafts of his forma. no footnotes. he had no -- he dealt in pure >> well, did he do foottes but one of the spectacular things about the 1905 per, the most famous moving bodies, it has@almost no equations. einstein's creativity has a heavy fill so thetical basis so when you say it's pure thought that really rings true because it is not -- tere is no aborate mathematical system to it or mathematical structure to it. >> he wrote a painer in 1905
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and he discovered that light waves are really particles and that light waves curve. and that had an impact, did it not, on quantum phics. and it had an impact on ape lot of technology that's been invented since then. >> and his paper on relativity blew isaac newton out of the water in isaac newton's, what, 200 year acceptance of his formula with regardto weight and ace and light, gravity? >> that really @apies more blowing newton out of the water as the "new york times" said heaven's all askew. einstein surpasses newton. that really is for the general@ relativity which is papers that he d at the end of 1915,
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1916. moving bodies, his specl theory of relativity establishes the equivalence of mass and energy.@ this is the famous e equals mc squared equati that later is falsely claimed to ma him the father of the atomic bomb. >> e stands for energy, m stands for mass. the small c is a. >> speed of light. >> a term of science. the c itself is e speed of light and you square the speed of light and then matter and matter becomes interchangeable >> energy. >> with energy. >> yes. >> and this of course is at a@ very level the secret to the atomic bb. he, of course, rejected with i think completely correctly rejected the idea that he had
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pa trntty of the atomic bomb. hehad nothing to do with that p"ogram, but he did come up with the equation and soaked in. >> that isn't quite true, though,it? >> he could not see what the equation produced. >> he wrote a letter to roosevelt and said that urani-m is susceptible to the atomic power in so many words. tha( could be done by others. that was suggested in a letter, corrt? and that led roosevelt to form a committee. that committee would then assemble in the manhattan project. now as i read einstein, he's very careful to say i didn't do any of at. he didn't. he wasn't involved in the project directly but he planted the seeds in roosevelt to get with it and get on with atomic power for military use because others were gonna do it. >> he was afraid -- >> i't that true?
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>> yes. >> he was afraid the germans might be able to develop a wea0on, but i don't think he knew exactly what kind of a weapon -- one thing he did not understand and he says that. he did not understand the chain reaction. chain reaction was brought into being by the four scientists who werewho? >> talking about opnheimer, salard. is was then transferred to los alamos. >> the original four were fermie, textellah and they form roosevelt's coittee. then they participated with oppenheimer, did the9 not on the manhattan project? >> certainly salard did not. he he was considered a security risk. so he was pt out of los alamos. feramie was heavily involved. if i could just say one thing about what you justsaid, e committee that was formed after einstein wrote the letter in
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august of 39 had the so-called lyman briggs committee had a very unhappy existence. the americans really only picked up on the atomic bo research after the british and the tube alloy program in england, shortly before pearl harbor suggested the nuclear at that point, the american program really took fire. to elaborate a little bit more on what einstein said about this, this is from your book, recordable einstein. great volume, by the way. >> thank you. >> a lot of surprising terial in here as to an indication of the range -- asyou pointed out. was a multi-disciplinarian. he was not in the narrow boards situation that scientists are in today where they bore down and down in a relatively small area. he was able to interrelate. he was able to connect. he saw -] huh?
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>> he saw the connecons. >> this is what you quote him as saying. "i do not conside" myself the father of the release. my father was quite indirect. i did not in fac$ foresee that it would be released in my lifetime. i beeve@only that it was theoretically possible. it became practical only through the accidental discovery of a chain reaction. this was not something i could have predicted." >> yeah. >> so it's a chain reaction that he didn't see. but he saw the atomic power was therep. >> he saw the possibilities of that, yes, and this is why wanted to warn roosevelt. he he was afraid the germans would develop the bomb and then the united states would have no way of defending itself. >> did roosevelt have him in for dinner? >> he had him to the white house, yeah. >> he was at the white house, not on that occasion.@ >> with wives? >> yes. it was soon after he came in 1933 and elsa was with him. >> wasn't ere an invitation
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that ein sign that who? so he wouldn't go to the white house? >> yeah. >> why wouldn't he want him to go to the white house? >> he was going to lack after einstein like a mother hen? >> was it as simple as that? >> no. >> no? >> i think it was also he's afraid of einstein's one of the things that we admire so much about him that he spoke his mine. i think flecksner was worried about that, also. >> so he's not the father of the atomic bomb? >> i think one thing that should be de clear -- >> was he the catalyst of the atomic bomb? >> he@really didn't know much about nuclear physics. he didn't know much about the subatomic particles. >> he discovered them. >> no, he discovered the at tom. he discovered the mechanics of the at tom. >> and molecules. >> that's right. but i mean, that's a completely >> u mean level of discovery?
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>> yes. yes. >> than what was involved than the actual production of the bomb? >> we're not even sure that he knew in 1932 when koffroff discover the p"o ton at he he was aware of that. >> so he was a commanding geus and there's been no equal to him over the course of the entire century. that safe to say? you think he is fully@ appreciated for what he was? what he was? yes. >> do you think he's fully appreciated today? do you think if you asked students today why is einstein important they're not gonna tell you it's because of his image that i see on fuji film? >> i think many understand what he's famous for and what his physics has meant to scientists and engineers since we made his
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discovery. >> are we not seeing an einstein reappraisal that is far reaching? einstein seminars around the world? a seminal figure for science and advance of our technology? from him you get some say even the computer. you get a whole series of imputed involvements of einstein, satellites, lasers, photocopies, television, telecommunication, n-clear power, true? >> i think that in part einstein's image has overwhelmed the person, and it's something that i think he would be very unhappy about. >> is there a repraisal of great significance going on accomplishments and his genius? >> certainly with respect to cosmology. so these kinds of things -- >> you talking astrophysics
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here? >> i'm not talking it, i'm describing it. >> you mn one impact of this on what? on the univer? >> yes. that the re appraisal of his contributions to technology than it@is that he y have been right about certain phenomenon where the mizzickists are still working on a general everything, einsin's news are coming into new scrutiny. >> you're talking gravity, space and time? >> yes. >> is there any harm done by the marketing of einstein's image of automobiles, computers, mineral water, neckties, mugs, t-shirts, even action figures? einstein himself deplored the use of his image as a commercial endorsement. but we'll put that question to our guests. first, however, here is an es sceeth on albert einstein.
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born 1879, germany. the earliest known photograph of einstein believed to have been taken in munich in the 1880s. einstein's mother pauline koch. einstein and his sister are maya about 1893. einstein at the age of 17. einstein in the classroom in switzerland, his teacher. toward the end of the 19th century. einstein at the swiss patent office burned in the early 1900s. einstein and his first wife taken in 1911 when both were in their early 30s. einstein and his wife meleva and their son hans albert, 1904. einstein and max plank, the originator of the quantum theory which played a key part in the development of
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einstein's theories. einstein and his secondwife elsa. einstein in middle age as director of the keyser wilhelm institute, berlin. einstein on the cover of berlina, december 14, 1919. a new great figure in world history. einstein in winston churchill on the grounds of country home 1933. einstein on the day following his arrival at princeton institute of advanced studies, october 1933. signing the letter to franklin delano roosevelt, a reconstructed set piece photo of the 1939 warning to president roosevelt from einstein about the dangerous possibilities of others developing nuclear weapons. einstein and his wife elsa in pasadena during one of his visits to the california
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institute of technology. in 1945, almost overnight, einstein became the conscience of the world. he wrote, spoke and broadcast throughout the last ten years of his life. einstein and several famous american physicists gatheredin princeton, new jersey to launch an appeal for $1 million to educate americans on implications of nuclear fission. portrait of albert einstein, 1879 to 1955. 76 years of age. that's a lot in those photographs that we can cue off and discuss, but before we do that, did einstein make any commercial endorsements to allow his likeness to be used for marketing purposes that you are aware of? alice? by the way, alice, i should point out that you've done the quotable einstein? you also have a volume here of albert einstein's letters to and from children. tell us about that a little
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bit. >> well, it's a collection of letters that children had written to einstein. there are about 50 or 60 letters on all kinds of topics. they also included e answers to some of the letters. he wasn't able to answe" all of the letters. some of them are fairly trivial and require@no answer, but he did his best. >> you also produced the einstein almanac which goes year by year right up to 1955, is that correct? >> yes. >> and you also point out in 1955 early in the year russell approached einstein asking him to issue a jot statement declaring that a nuclear war there there would be no winners or losers, only a permanent state of catastrophe. signed april 11 and returned it to russell. with it, he sent a short letter. you speak to that? i ask you, robert. >> well, the -- is was seven days fore he died.
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i think he died before the letter reached russell. this then became the toh stone for the pugwash conferences to control internationally the use of nuclear weapons. >> you mean, to put the genie back in the bottle? >> less to put e genie back in the bottle than to control@ the genie. well, put it back into the bott. >> that didn't work, did it? >> no, there are still discussions of giving up some national sovereignty. this was something that was very suspect for a lot of people, but that was the gist of his id. >> if roosevelt hadn't gotten into the act here there would be no atomic bomb. there would be no atomic bomb in the second world war. >> we now have a new book in germany which suggts that the germans not only aiseerg was working but other groups within the german high comantd were working. so it's conceivable that that which einstein feared, the
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development by the germans that a nuclear weapon might have happened. >> can you account for the extreme distaste einstein felt for his countrymen, he being german himself? he really disliked the germs. why? >> well, he disliked them mainly because of their author therien d military mentality, especially when he was growing up as a child during the time of business park and keyser wilhelm ii. and he was such an independent minded and free-spirited boy that he he found such authority oppressing to him. >> have they despite the fact this einsteindisliked the germans for those reasons have they embraced them? i went to berlin and the streets that the book indicates that he was -- that he lived on is not accurate.
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the streets were changed. i finally found where he lived. he lived in anapartment house and that's a parkoutside inditing he lived there. it was not easy to get to. is he now being hidden? >> quite the ntrary. >> quite the contrary? >> if i@could disagree with my colleague a bit, einstein s very favorable to germany until tha$ is to say he certainlyi >> what he writes about his school year's written in 1955 seen thughoutprism already of what the nazis have done. >> he feared the third reich,that right? >> he not only feared it, he wrote many appeals then during the war saying that e germans had descended to a level. >> don't you think this really goes a ttle beyond atjust the third reich? >> it's the elimination what's now called the holocaust, which@ was then the genocide against the jews. >> isn't there something else
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about the german psyche, the german temperament? is it because he experienced what, a extremely disciplined >> i mean, i really don't think -- >> d e holocaust. >> his childhood was a rather pleasant one. he does say of course there was a peculiar antisemitism in the students but that there was not -- that this didn't bother him i really think@that he's seeing that is the period of the nazi re that completely disenchanted him. >> on the marketing of the genius einstein, he sets the stage himself for the commercialization of his image when he bequeathed his papers to the hebrew universit9 of jerusalem because the hebrew university of jerusalem now
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licensing agency run s attorney robert richmond to sell the rights to the use of einstein's image. the proceeds go tothe university. am i right on that? >> yes. >> now, despite the fact that einstein himself had this to say about commercial endorsements. "it is -- is it not a sad meantair commentary onthe commercialition and i must add the corruption of our time that business firms make these offers with wanting to insult me? it evident i had means this form of corruption for corruption itis, is widespread." that makes it clear that he didn't want his name used on any products, correct? >> he did not in his lifetime. i guess he had no control. >> he wanted to give it to the university, p"obly the
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central thing in s life. i don't think he imagined in his wildest dreams that it would turn into a corn that cope yaof endorsements. >> do you think hebrew university in jerusalem is exploiting einstein's image? >> i thk they are, shall i say, capitalizingon it. >> should it stop allowing einstein's image to be commercialized? >> apparently, they have the right to do it if they want to. >> you think they have it in the light of what einstein corrupon involved, the commercial endorsements?@ >> well, his will did not specify, i thk that they cannot do this, and i don't think he foresaw that they an agencyto sell his image. ire >> is there any harm done by the marketing of einstein's
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image? einstein is untouchable in the sense that his true commit -- true acevements both in physics and in the political sphere are safe from this kind of above the commercialization @@ that i dot think that it -- >> is it like the branding of any@corporate image@that's hammered into the american psyche in this particular instance that popular culture takes over and soon the image replaces the reality behind it. >> that's probably true. >> is that deplorable? >> in some ways it is, yeah. >> sorry. >> on the other@hand it also keeps his work alive and his contribution.@ >> alice, how many times was einstein married? >> he s married twice and ch time for 17 years. >> what happed during those@ marriages? d he have any additional
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liaisons? >> not during his first marrge until he met the -- or he reacquainted himself with his cousin elsa. >> we haven't ally discussed that. we haven't diussed einstein the man. we'll@do that in part two of this program.
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