Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Einstein's Last Lecture in Berlin

(A shorter version was printed in the Jewish Spectator, Winter, 1979)
As a student activist, Willi was responsible for finding funds for the many projects the Jewish Students Organization sponsored, such as finding scholarship money for students in financial need. This led him to the renowned physicist, Albert Einstein at the end of 1931.
My father often spoke admiringly of Einstein and explained his belief that his brilliant insight into the inner functioning of the universe was an example of the classical Biblical concept of prophecy, the meeting of the human mind with the Divine in revelation. The proof, he was sure, was that Einstein’s greatest work occurred within the span of one year, in 1905, when Einstein was 26. The rest of his career, my father contended, was spent in fruitless search for the Unified Field Theory, the theory that would tie together all universal phenomena and force, what a religious thinker would call ”God”. While Einstein rejected formal religion, it is well known that he viewed the laws of the universe with a religious awe. For example, here are two of his well-known quotes:
“Knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man.”