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What? The Genius Einstein Often Skips College? How come?

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Hello Warstek friends, who here likes to skip college? let’s confess? Don’t like to skip class, guys, it’s not fun to miss subject matter, unless you’re as genius as Einstein . Anyone as genius as Einstein ever skipped college? how come? let’s find out the answer in this article, check it out!

Lecture material that looks out of date

Einstein was not really a lazy student, he just felt the professor focused too much on the historical foundations of physics and didn’t talk about recent developments. “All the knowledge that emerged after Helmholtz was simply ignored. At the end of the lecture, we know all the physics of the past, but know nothing about the physics of the present and the physics of the future,” Einstein lamented.

Feeling that many of the lectures at the Zurich Polytechnic seemed out of date, Einstein and his friends were forced to study on their own, reading the work of the latest theorists for themselves. “I often skipped and studied the works of the masters of theoretical physics with pure passion at home,” Einstein recalled.

The works that Einstein read at that time, among others, works by Gustav Kirchhoff on radiation, Hermann von Helmholtz on thermodynamics, Heinrich Hertz on electromagnetism , and Boltzmann on statistical mechanics . Einstein was also inspired by the writings of a lesser-known theoretical physicist, August Foppl. In 1894 Foppl wrote a popular book entitled Introduction to Maxwell’s Theory of Electricity . As historian of science Gerald Holton points out, Foppl’s book is full of concepts that would echo in Einstein’s work.

In between his time also Einstein read the work of Henri Poincare, a  great polymath , who almost discovered the core concept of special relativity. (Note: Polymath is a person who mastered a lot of knowledge).

Einstein's Little-Know Passion Project? A Refrigerator | WIRED
Source: https://media.wired.com/photos/5971444b604b270877d0d35e/master/w_2560%2Cc_limit/EinstienTA-123396082.jpg

Einstein avoided more complicated math lessons

When it came to more complicated mathematics, Einstein preferred to avoid it, so his mathematics professor Hermann Minkowski dubbed him a lazy dog: “He never cared about math at all.”

At that time, Einstein had not realized how important the subject he was avoiding was, “As a student, it did not appear to me that a deep knowledge of the basic principles of physics was closely linked to the most complex methods of mathematics .” admits Einstein a decade later, when he had to wrestle with geometry in his theory of gravity. And like it or not, he was forced to rely on professor Minkowski’s help. “I had a very high regard for mathematics, something subtle, which my humble mind regarded as a true luxury until now,” Einstein wrote to a colleague in 1912.

Often borrows Marcel Grosmann’s notes

Einstein preferred to study based on his own interests and passions, with one or two friends. One of his friends at that time was Marcel Grossmann , the mathematician. Grossmann diligently took notes, so it’s no wonder that Einstein always relied on his notebook to borrow, it’s known that Einstein was not diligent in studying. Luckily he has friends like Grossmann, “His notes deserve to be printed and published, when it came time to prepare for exams, he always lent me his notes and they became my lifesaver. Without his notebook, all I can do is guess.” Einstein said expressing his admiration for Grossmann to Grossmann’s future wife.

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Lecture notes on Differential Geometry by Marcel Grossmann that Einstein borrowed. Image Source: https://www.relativity.li/uploads/images/G/G3_1.jpg
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Marcel Grossmann, Albert Einstein, Gustav Geissler and Marcel’s brother Eugen while students at the Zurich Polytechnic. Image Source: https://www.relativity.li/uploads/images/G/G3_2.jpg

As a result of his habit of avoiding the more complicated

 mathematics lessons , shortly before his death Einstein expressed his regrets to a younger friend. “At a very young age, I assumed that a successful physicist only needed to master basic mathematics. Later, it was with deep regret that I realized that this assumption was completely wrong.”

Well, it turns out, guys, the reason why Einstein often skipped college, don’t imitate his skipping, imitate his intelligence and interest in studying science. Spirit!


“I don’t have any special talents, I’m just a curious person.” – Albert Einstein

Reference:

  1. Walter Isaacson. 2012.  Einstein, His Life and Influence on the World . Translation by Mursid Wijanarko & Word++ Translation Service. Library Landscape
  2. David Eckstein. relativity. ( https://www.relativity.li/en/epstein2/read/g0_en/g3_en ). Retrieved January 22, 2022.

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