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Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness – John Rigden

Date: Thu. October 13th, 2005, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm
Location: Rockefeller 301

In the short duration of six months, one week, and two days, Einstein, in 1905, wrote five papers that stand today at the bedrock of physics. In the context of 1905, only one of these papers was revolutionary. This paper, on the nature of light, made him the father of quantum physics. In the other four papers, Einstein clearly eschewed trivialities as he demonstrated the reality of atoms, established the dimensions of atoms, put the laws of thermodynamics on a new footing, established the validity of the kinetic theory, enhanced the significance of the speed of light, and purged the basic concepts of space, time, mass, and energy of profound fallacies. These accomplishments qualified him as one of the greatest physicist, but the Einstein mystique cannot be explained in terms of what he did. Einstein is the standard of greatness for deeper reasons.

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