How Smart Was Einstein?

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Albert Einstein (1879-1955).

Asked what made him different, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) once said, "God gave me the stubborness of a mule and a fairly keen scent." AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives hide caption

itoggle caption AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives

Online Einstein Exhibit

This American Institute of Physics exhibit includes photos, timelines, essays on and by Einstein, audio clips of Einstein and more.

Contrary to conventional thinking, there are a few things Albert Einstein wasn't so good at. His poetry? Mediocre. His violin playing? Passable. At some point, Einstein was asked to be Israel's president. He declined — not his strong suit.

In physics, though he did seem superhuman. How did a man who had been working as a patent clerk publish four groundbreaking papers about space, time, atoms and the strange nature of light — all in one year?

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein's "miracle year," David Kestenbaum asks the question: Just how smart was Einstein anyway?

This story is part of a series commemorating the scientific breakthroughs of 1905, including the publication of Einstein's papers and of Sigmund Freud's seminal work, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.



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