Einstein: The Man and the Myths

Happy birthday Albert Einstein! The legendary scientist turns 135 years old today. In celebration of his life and work, Dr. Lee Falin (aka, Ask Science) tackles 3 popular myths that you've probably heard about the creator of E=mc2.

Lee Falin, PhD
2-minute read

Today is Albert Einstein's birthday. He would have turned 135 years old.

To celebrate the life of the world's most famous scientist, let's take a look at the truth behind 3 common myths you've probably heard about Einstein:

Myth #1: Einstein Was Horrible at Math

If you've used this phrase to comfort yourself after a bad grade on a math exam, I've got bad news for you. Not only did Einstein not do poorly at mathematics, he was extremely advanced. By the age of 13 he was already studying calculus and by the age of 21 he had graduated from ETH Zurich as a teacher in mathematics and physics. Click here to learn more about Einstein's life. 

I know something that you do not...I am not left-handed!Myth #2. Einstein Was Left-Handed

Another popular notion is that Einstein was left-handed. Not only is there no proof of this, but there is considerable proof that he was right-handed. For example, the popular Einstein blackboard meme uses a cropped photo of Einstein writing on a blackboard with his right hand. 

Myth #3: Einstein Invented the Atomic Bomb

Not only did Einstein not invent the atomic bomb, he never even worked on the project!

After learning that Nazi scientists were working on an atomic bomb, he signed a letter that other scientists had written to President Roosevelt warning him of the possibility that Germany would be able to create and use such a weapon. While many people believe it was this letter that convinced Roosevelt to begin the Manhattan Project (which ultimately led to the development of the atomic bomb), Einstein's scientific involvement never went beyond the publication of his famous E=mc2 discovery.

In fact, after the war was over, Einstein said in an interview: “Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I never would have lifted a finger.” He also said, “My participation in the production of the atom bomb consisted in a single act: I signed a letter to President Roosevelt.”

Please note that archive episodes of this podcast may include references to Ask Science. Rights of Albert Einstein are used with permission of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Represented exclusively by Greenlight.

About the Author

Lee Falin, PhD

Dr. Lee Falin earned a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, then went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology from Virginia Tech.