Albert Einstein in popular culture
Albert Einstein has been the subject of or inspiration for many works of popular culture.
On Einstein's 72nd birthday on March 14, 1951, UPI photographer Arthur Sasse was trying to persuade him to smile for the camera, but having smiled for photographers many times that day, Einstein stuck out his tongue instead. This photograph became one of the most popular ever taken of Einstein, often used in merchandise depicting him in a lighthearted sense. Einstein enjoyed this photo and requested UPI to give him nine copies for personal use, one of which he signed for a reporter. On June 19, 2009, the original signed photograph was sold at auction for $74,324, a record for an Einstein picture.
Einstein is a favorite model for depictions of mad scientists and absent-minded professors; his expressive face and distinctive hairstyles have been widely copied and exaggerated. Time magazine's Frederic Golden wrote that Einstein was "a cartoonist's dream come true."
"Einstein" has become a word used to describe someone extremely intelligent; the name is also applied sarcastically to someone who states the obvious or displays a lack of intelligence or insight ("Way to go, Einstein!").
In 1999, leading physicists voted Einstein the "greatest physicist ever".
His birthday, March 14, is also Pi Day, so called because 3/14 corresponds to 3.14, the first three digits of the number Pi. The town of Princeton, New Jersey, where Einstein lived for more than 20 years, celebrates March 14 every year as "Princeton Pi Day and Einstein Birthday Party."
Usage of his name and image
Iranian cartoonist and humorist Javad Alizadeh publishes a column titled "4D Humor" in his Persian monthly Humor & Caricature, which features cartoons, caricatures and stories on Einstein-related topics. In 1991 he published in Persian "4D Humor", a comic book on Einstein's life and work, inspired mainly by the Theory of Relativity.
Einstein bequeathed his estate, as well as the use of his image (see personality rights), to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which from the mid-1980s has sponsored the Einstein Papers Project with the Princeton University Press. Einstein actively supported the university during his life and this support continues with the royalties received from licensing activities. GreenLight licences the commercial use of the name "Albert Einstein" and associated imagery and likenesses of Einstein, as agent for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As head licensee the corporation can control commercial usage of Einstein's name and theoretically ensure compliance with certain standards (e.g., when Einstein's name is used as a trademark, the ™ symbol must be used).
There is a persistent popular belief that Einstein was left-handed, but there is no evidence that he was, and the belief has been called a myth. Einstein wrote with his right hand, and authoritative sources state flatly that he was right-handed. An autopsy on Einstein's brain showed a symmetry between the two hemispheres, rather than a left-sided dominance as is typical of most right-handed people or a right-sided dominance as found in most left-handed people.
Several schools are named after him.
In media and drama
Einstein has been the subject of or inspiration for many novels, films and plays, such as Steve Martin's comedic play Picasso at the Lapin Agile. He was the subject of Philip Glass's 1976 opera Einstein on the Beach, and his humorous side is the subject of Ed Metzger's one-man play Albert Einstein: The Practical Bohemian. He features prominently in Daniel Kehlmann's play about Kurt Gödel, Ghosts in Princeton (2011).
He was the subject (along with Arthur Eddington) of the BBC Two film Einstein and Eddington, featuring David Tennant as Eddington and Andy Serkis as Einstein, and detailing Einstein's development of his theories and Eddington's attempts to prove them and in Yahoo Serious's intentionally inaccurate biography of Einstein as an Australian in the film Young Einstein, although the movie is fictionalized.
An Einstein-like character appears in Nicolas Roeg's 1985 film Insignificance. Set in New York in 1953, the film includes a scene in which "The Professor" (played by Michael Emil) the character evidently representing Albert Einstein, discusses Relativity with "The Actress" (Theresa Russell), a Marilyn Monroe-like character.
The 2009 film The Nutcracker in 3D includes a character named Uncle Albert who resembles Einstein, speaks with a German accent, and recites Albert Einstein quotes, but is never explicitly identified as Einstein.
In the movie Back to the Future, the character of Dr. Emmett 'Doc' Brown, played by actor Christopher Lloyd and portrayed as a brilliant scientist, time traveler and inventor, has a dog called "Einstein", named after Brown's favorite scientist, as well as bearing a superficial resemblance to him. Lloyd also credited Einstein as being his inspiration for the character.
In the 2011 film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the Autobot character known as Que sports an Einstein-inspired head design, including his wild hairstyle, dapper mustache, and eyes. However, his accent is often confused for being German because of these similarities. Like his G1 counterpart and Einstein alike, he is one of the most intelligent members of his team, and is an accomplished scientist and inventor. However, his onscreen name "Que" was derived from Professor Q, a James Bond character, who also inspired Wheeljack/Que's overall character.
A holographic representation of Einstein, played by Jim Norton, appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He first appears to debate physics with Reginald Barclay in The Nth Degree. Norton returns in the first part of Descent. The episode starts on the Enterprise with a game of poker being played by holodeck representations of Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Stephen Hawking (portrayed by himself). All are programmed by Lt. Commander Data, playing as the fourth person in the game.
In the television series Eureka, the town of Eureka was established when President Harry S. Truman commissioned development of a top-secret lab, staffed by Albert Einstein, after World War II and it became home to the scientists and their families working there.
Alan Lightman's first book Einstein's Dreams, consists of short stories which are portrayed as being the dreams of Einstein while he was working on the theory of relativity; these stories explain how time would work in imaginary parallel universes.
David Bodanis's book E=mc2 is a biography of Einsteins famous equation and the other scientists before during and after his time that contributed to the understanding we have about the equation.
In visual arts
In 1940, Philadelphia artist Louis Hirshman did a caricature of Einstein using found objects, including a wild mop of hair, an abacus chest and shirt collar scribbled with the equation 2+2 = 2+2. In 1977, the piece was purchased by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Moody Blues include his likeness on the cover of A Question of Balance, released in 1970.
Greek singer Giorgos Lembesis has released a song titled "Einstein" in which he states that he always admired Albert Einstein, but now he needs his help in his relationship problems.
In video games
Einstein is an integral character in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert series, being responsible in Red Alert for altering the course of history using a time traveling device he created to remove Adolf Hitler from existence in an attempt to prevent the horrors of World War II, inadvertently leading to Soviet Union's rise to power and conflict with Europe. He continues to be featured in the altered timeline in Red Alert and Red Alert 2 developing time travel technology for use by the Allies, and his fictional murder at the hands of the Soviets, also involving a time machine, is a central plot point of Red Alert 3.
In Mega Man, released in 1987, Dr. Wily's design is inspired by Albert Einstein, and was initially conceived to appear as a tall, thin scientist with a mustache, glasses, balding hair, and lab coat.
In Half-Life, one of the scientist models is based on Einstein's appearance.
- List of things named after Albert Einstein
- Thomas Edison in popular culture
- Benjamin Franklin in popular culture
- Isaac Newton in popular culture
- Nikola Tesla in popular culture
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