There are scores of ultra-famous people from history, those figures that all but the most under-informed know by name. These include, to name a few, Abraham Lincoln, Hellen Keller, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What do these famous folks have in common, when all are famed for decidedly different reasons? For one thing, all of them were quite quotable.
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Another figure who achieved nearly peerless fame and who remains almost endlessly quotable even 65 years after his death is Albert Einstein. We will share a few of Einstein’s most famous, beloved, amusing, and inspirational quotes below, but first, let’s put this man, arguably the most famous scientist in human history, in context – and then we’ll consider why, exactly, Einstein quotes are so compelling.
Albert Einstein, a Bio in Brief
Born in Germany 1879, as a young man Albert Einstein would also live in Italy and Switzerland, studying at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich between 1896 and 1901, per the official site of The Nobel Prize, which Einstein would win in the field of physics in 1921. Before that, he had not only taught at many renowned universities around Europe, but, among other work in math and physics, he had developed his famous Special Theory of Relativity. It fundamentally changed the approach to physical science that had held sway since the era of Sir Isaac Newton some 200 years prior.
Having re-settled in Germany in 1914, only to emigrate from the country forever in 1933 given the rise of Hitler, Einstein would spend the last 22 years of his life living and working in America. He died in Princeton, New Jersey in 1955.
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His work, of course, lives on now as it will forever, as do so many of the things the brilliant physicist said. But why are quotes by Albert Einstein so appealing to members of the general public, most of whom can make little to no sense of, say, the Einstein gravitational constant or the Einstein tensor?
Perhaps it’s precisely because most of us have no idea what to make of gravitational constants or tensors that we love the often easily relatable quotes of this great thinker. (And in case you’re actually wondering, per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a tensor is: “a generalized vector with more than three components each of which is a function of the coordinates of an arbitrary point in space of an appropriate number of dimensions.” Clear as day, right?)
Why We Find Einstein Quotes So Inspiring
Albert Einstein achieved more in his life than most of us could do with five lifetimes. His brilliance and his successes are so unparalleled that he’s a purely inspirational figure, not an aspirational one. Few among us seek to compare themselves to Einstein, in other words.
Part of the reason so many of his quotes are so inspiring is because this man played such an instrumental role in history and is so widely renowned for his intelligence, but the operative here is that Einstein nonetheless comes across as relatable.
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Many of his utterances were funny, many were compassionate, and many were just so human – “Oh, I’ve been there!” you might find yourself thinking, for a moment forgetting that the man who said the relatable words also said things like: “I do not see any reason to assume that the heuristic significance of the principle of general relativity is restricted to gravitation and that the rest of physics can be dealt with separately on the basis of special relativity.”
5 Inspiring Einstein Quotes to Remember
Arguably the most famous Einstein quote of all is this one:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Why is it such a powerful line? Because it applies to every aspect of life. You can’t end an argument with a friend or loved one by fighting harder. You can’t close a business deal by agreeing less. Nations don’t come to peace without ending wars. And on it goes.
Another quote that can be applied far beyond the realm of physics, reaching into the arts, the spiritual, and beyond is:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Replacing the word “man” with “person” here, next consider this call to the true quality of a person:
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
Next, consider this quote in which Einstein unifies so many aspects of human life together, revealing that even the most brilliant man known to science was ever searching for meaning in life:
“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.”
And finally, consider this elegantly simple yet entirely accurate thought:
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
That sounds like something an actor might say during a TV interview, or that you might see emblazoned on a store-bought greeting card, not exactly like a quote from Albert Einstein. But it is. And it’s all the more significant for being a rather plainspoken truth coming from a man whose mind was anything but plain.
The Most Famous Einstein Quote That Albert Einstein Never Said
There is a quote that makes perfect sense, that does indeed sound Einsteinian, and that is constantly attributed to the great scientist. The thing is he never actually said it. That quote is:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Sure, it’s a good point – maybe the famed physicist would even have wished he said it, but per History, he did not. (Einstein also never said: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Which is good, because while the second part of that oft misattributed quote is true, the first part is not.)
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