I love Einstein. For a genius, he was a pretty down-to-earth chap. He endeared himself to me with his explanation of Relativity - "When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity." Not only was his explanation simple, it was very kind as well. After all, remembering that people like me exist, he could well have said, "When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. For the girl, though, it would seem like an eternity. That's relativity."
It is not surprising that he kept it simple. After all, it was he who also said, "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." Something that is even less comprehensible to the leaders of the world than his theory of relativity. I, particularly, loved that oxymoron - 'intelligent fool'. The world abound in people who are extremely intelligent, indeed, but refuse to apply it in deciding what needs to be done and, instead, exult in how well they have done whatever they have done - even if all that they have done is pulling down civilization around our ears.
That, though, is probably a result of thinking that schooling equals education. Einstein has something to say on that as well - "Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school." One can only bemoan the persistence of memory in people, for it leaves them with a collection of facts but robs them of all understanding. As a result, everyone chases the will-o-the-wisp of progress and, more often than not, the progress that they chase is technological progress. And, strangely for the foremost scientist of his times, Einstein says, "Technological progress is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal." The solutions that we search for the problems that we create with our over-use of technology also seem to lie in more technology. The failure to solve the problems proves the Einsteinian statement "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
One cannot accuse Einstein of being right all the time. After all, as he himself says, "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." So, when Heisenberg proposed his uncertainty principle, Einstein opposed it with his "God does not play dice." The problem, though, was that he was wrong as were most - if not all - people who presumed to have read the mind of God. (Apropos of that, even Einstein gave up on understanding one thing that all of us dread - "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.") It appeared that God reveled in playing dice, since the Quantum theory is held to be true and has given rise to a whole menagerie starting with the conundrum of Schrodinger's cat and on-wards to the String and M theories of the Universe, which have nearly replaced Einstein's own General Theory of Relativity, even though the Special Theory of Relativity is still considered valid enough for practical use.
One cannot take away from Einstein his seminal contribution to science on account of one misstep. He had the courage to step outside the bounds of the science of his day, thereby earning the right to say, "In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep." It also seems like he was a man who knew that what was valuable in life is not always what can be measured. For he held that "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."
I only wish that one of his other statements also proves wrong, at least in the future - "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Failing which, we may find ourselves testing the truth of one more of his statements - "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."