Was Albert Einstein a hoax?

Articles have been appearing all over the Internet asserting that Albert Einstein was a hoax. I have always been troubled by the thought that any one man, regardless of how brilliant or exceptional, could be head and shoulders above all of the other men of his time. Since I have long doubted that Albert Einstein could possibly be the greatest genius that he is made out to be, I find the theory interesting. I have also been wondering why Einstein became so famous, whereas other great scientists remained virtually unknown.

The basic idea is this: Einstein was a poor student, of average ability. He even failed seventh grade math. There was nothing exceptional about his ability or accomplishments, until he got a job as a low level clerk in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland.

It was during the period that Albert Einstein worked in the patent office that he produced the greatest works of genius in the history of humanity. Does this not strike anybody as strange?

The claim is made that by working in the patent office, Albert Einstein had access to secret documents submitted by the leading scientists of his day. Albert Einstein essentially cut and pasted together these secret documents and published them as his own work. The scientists could hardly complain, as they had patent applications pending in his patent office.

Here are a few basic facts:

The Encyclopedia Britannica says of Einstein's early education that he "showed little scholastic ability." It also says that at the age of 15, "with poor grades in history, geography, and languages, he left school with no diploma." Einstein himself wrote in a school paper of his "lack of imagination and practical ability." In 1895, Einstein failed a simple entrance exam to an engineering school in Zurich. This exam consisted mainly of mathematical problems, and Einstein showed himself to be mathematically inept in this exam. He then entered a lesser school hoping to use it as a stepping stone to the engineering school he could not get into, but after graduating in 1900, he still could not get a position at the engineering school! Unable to go to the school he wanted, he got a job at the patent office in Bern.

In 1905, Einstein published his four ground-breaking papers. Even after publishing these works, he still could not get a job in the university, although he applied several times, and he stayed in the patent office and continued to work there until 1909.

None of the ideas of Albert Einstein were completely new. He drew on the works of James Maxwell and Max Planck. No less an authority than Stephen Hawking has said that none of the works of Einstein were original. Hawking provides a list of names of scientists, all of whom are unknown to the general public today, but who had the ideas now associated with Einstein before Einstein had them.

This, however, is hardly conclusive. The mark of every great thinker is that he takes the ideas of others before him, combines them together, improves and comes out with a unified theory. If that is what Einstein did, then he fully deserves his reputation of being the greatest genius in human history.

On the other hand, if he simply copied in his own hand works written by others, then he probably does not deserve the reputation he enjoys.

Here are some curious facts:

After he died, the brain of Albert Einstein was taken out, preserved and studied. It is still in a glass jar somewhere. Scientists who have studied the brain say that it appears to be an average brain, no different from many others.

A nanny named Alice, who took care of me when I was a little boy, said that she knew Albert Einstein. She used to live in Princeton, New Jersey and he would walk by her house on the way to work every morning. She said that he appeared to be a very unexceptional and average man. She had heard but could hardly believe that he could be a great genius.

Albert Einstein had several children, one of whom he gave away for adoption. For a number of years, his descendants have been fighting a court case in the San Francisco Bay Area over the ownership of the original papers of Albert Einstein. I know one of the lawyers in that case. The case is still going on. None of the children of Albert Einstein are in any way exceptional. One is an invalid. The one that is an invalid wants the original papers of Albert Einstein sold at public auction, where they will fetch millions of dollars. Other descendants are opposed to the sale or even the photocopying of the original documents. Examination of the original hand written papers of Albert Einstein might provide clues as to whether he wrote them or merely copied them. Typically, original works contain a lot of cross-outs, re-writes and changes in the text, whereas copies do not.

I personally do not have an opinion on any of this. I merely think that it raises new questions which have not been asked before.

Sam Sloan

UPDATE: Einstein Online: Genius Hits Web

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