Reading biographies are always a great source of inspiration - esp. if it is one of the most famous scientists of the 20th century. Walter Isaacson is a meticulous writer who keeps you gripped to the story. I have read 2 biographies by him now - Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs - and both are outstanding.

Drawing

Few key takeaways for me from Einstein biographies were:

  1. Einstein had tough initial days and people were not willing to give him a permanent job. He had to resort to taking part-time tuition to meet his financial needs. Even though, by this time he had published his now famous 1905 paper on Special Relativity. But this didn't ruffle Einstein and he was happy publishing his papers and working on his equations.

  2. Non-Conformity - Einstein had a rebellious trait and always challenged existing beliefs and authorities. It served him well, as he was able to challenge the concept of time when in those times Time was considered sacrosanct, as laid down by Newton.

  3. In spite of his intelligence, he had a tough family life and had a difficult time maintaining cordial relations with his 2 wives. Shows his fallibility or human-ness. Even Einstein was not perfect.

  4. He laid a lot of emphasis on individual freedom and abhorred any authoritarian regimes. He was a proponent of pacifism. Even though fate would have that, his inspiration led to the formation of the team which eventually discovered atom bomb.

  5. He spent a lot of time in his later life trying to disprove quantum mechanics, though there was increasing experimental evidence in its support. Basically, after 1920 he didn't produce anything of significance. In a way, the belief that led him to discover relativity - that Nature is governed by simple, elegant laws - made it very difficult to accept that the world can be better described by probabilities of Quantum Mechanics.

In his own words " God doesn't play dice" - was his ardent belief. He believed that there is an independent "reality" which exists independent of the observer, while quantum mechanics was suggesting that - what is observed is dependent on the observer and there is no "reality" independent of the observer