In his later years Einstein was dismissed as a stubborn old fool because of his futile search of a unified field theory and yet - contemporary theoretical physics is dominated by what are known as String theories.

They are geometrical -the interactions of one multi-dimensional shape with another produces the effects we call forces, just as the 'force' of gravity in general relativity is what we feel as we move through the curves of four-dimensional space-time. And they unify, no doubt about it: in mathematics, at least, all of nature from quantum mechanics to gravity emerges from the equations of string theory.

As it stands, string theories are unproved, and perhaps improvable, as they involve interactions at energy levels far beyond any we can handle. But they are beautiful, to those versed enough in the language of mathematics to follow them. And in their beauty (and perhaps in their impenetrability) they are the heirs to Einstein's attempts to produce a unified field theory.

A sample of prophetic statements :

On Japan in 1925 :
'Japan is like a kettle without a safety valve. She has not enough land to enable her population to exist and develop. The situation must somehow be remedied if we are to avoid a terrible conflict.'

On Russia in 1932 :
'Outside Russia Lenin and Engels are of course not valued as scientific thinkers and no one might be interested to refute them as such. The same might also be the case in Russia, but there one cannot yet dare say so.'

On McCarthyism in 1953 :
'Every intellectual who is called before one of the committees ought to refuse to testify .. this refusal to testify must not be based on the well-know subterfuge of invoking the Fifth Amendment ..., but on the assertion that it is shameful for a blameless citizen to submit to such an inquisition and that this inquisition violates the spirit of the Constitution'

- a stance admired by most people today, but not at the time, as an editorial reply in The Washington Post concluded:
'Dr. Einstein proved once again that genius in science is no guarantee of sagacity in political affairs'

At an early age Einstein decided to drop his German nationality because Germany was too chauvinistic. Like other opponents of military imperialism Einstein assumed that a small nation like Switzerland would be devoid of super power ambitions and he eventually acquired Swiss citizenship.

Einstein alone among the famous German scientists refused to sign the document. A courageous act since Einstein - as a foreigner (by that time he was Swiss), a Jew, and a newly hired professor at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute - was especially vulnerable to pressure. His opposition was important because the document caused bitter, widespread, and long-lasting anger in Allied circles. After the war the French Premier Clemenceau called this manifesto 'the greatest crime of Germany, a worse crime than all other acts of which we know'.

On Classic Literature (1952):

'Somebody who reads only newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like a near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts of other people is even at the best case rather monotonous. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity that the people of the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist's snobbishness.'

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