Shopping cart


A Pocket-Sized Telling of the Genesis of the Greatest Ideas of the Greatest Thinker of All Time OR How Analogy Showed Einstein the Light, and How Light Showed Einstein the Universe – Douglas Hofstadter

Date: Thu. September 15th, 2005, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm
Location: Rockefeller 301

Call it hubris or call it hubris squared, but somebody had to tackle it in this, the centenary of Albert Einstein’s “Annus Mirabilis” — “Miraculous Year” in Latin — and so I, once a physicist of sorts, and now a cognitive scientist fascinated by how people think, and in particular by the universality of analogy-making in human thinking, ranging from the most modest to the most exalted acts of cognition, inevitably found myself turning my metaphorical gaze to the above-mentioned thinker par excellence and reading his own papers as well as books and papers about him, in which, somewhat to my surprise and certainly to my deep gratification, the density of beautiful yet simple analogies was not only high but indeed overwhelming, which fact lent unexpectedly strong support to my long-standing thesis that intuitive, artistic analogy-making is the mental mainspring in the development of concepts in physics, and given that this thesis was so happily confirmed in the salient case of the Newton of the twentieth century, I have now framed a celebratory talk in which my goal is to summarize my findings with as much clarity as I know how to muster, presenting in particular the gist of the genesis of, and highlighting the key role of analogy in, EinsteinÕs discovery of (in chronological order) the quantum of light, the theory of special relativity, the equivalence of energy and mass, the quantum of sound, the principle of equivalence, and of course, last but not least, the theory of general relativity, the entire event lasting no more than an hour, or at least so I most fondly hope…

Scroll To Top