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Science & Technology => History of Science => Topic started by: Deborah Valkenburg on May 04, 2008, 11:14:29 pm

Title: Why Einstein was such a babe magnet
Post by: Deborah Valkenburg on May 04, 2008, 11:14:29 pm
Why Einstein was such a babe magnet
Oct 23, 2005 09:44 AM
Kenneth Kidd
The tongue is out there, but it's not pointing directly at us, telling us where we all can go. This is not a tongue wagged in anger. It's playful, almost joyous, a little exclamation mark on a man celebrating his 72nd birthday in 1951.

He has, after all, packed a lot of living into those years and we're not talking about all the scientific breakthroughs, the five seminal papers he crammed into a few months of 1905, or his general theory of relativity, completed in 1915.

No, we're talking about Albert Einstein the rake, the blade, the swordsman who bedded many, only the tiniest fraction of whom happened to be his wife at the time.

As it happens, this is not what is being celebrated this year, the anniversary of both his triumphs in physics and his death 50 years ago. But it may explain the otherworldly contentment that Einstein so often exudes in any portrait. He had solved one of mankind's greatest riddles (to men): What attracts women?

"Einstein loved the company of women almost as much as he loved physics," reads the guidebook to a 2002-03 exhibit on Einstein at the American Museum of Natural History.

There are two things to note about this not just how did he find the time? but why, inexplicably to many of the male persuasion, he was such a magnet for babes. Were this mentioned at the outset of every Grade 10 physics class, the world might be a different place.

Einstein was not, it seems, a natural romantic. One of his earliest love letters this to the woman who would become his first wife, Mileva Maric is the sort of thing that gets engineering students elbowing each other in the ribs and announcing, "Say no more."

"My dear kitten," it begins. "I just read a wonderful paper by Lenard on the generation of cathode rays by ultraviolet light."

He'd met this particular kitten when they were students in Zurich. Einstein was just 17; she was four years his senior. He called her "Dollie." She called him "Johnny." So far, so good. But it gets complicated.

The marriage was passionate enough at first, and produced two sons, in addition to the mysterious daughter, Lieserl, born in 1902 when Einstein and Mileva were still courting. There's no evidence that Einstein ever saw Lieserl, who was presumably given up for adoption and whose very existence has only recently come to light.

Whatever domestic bliss ensued did not ensue for long. The marriage soured into warring camps, with hints of violence and Einstein later insisting that Mileva abide by a long list of commandments, such as, "You must answer me at once when I speak to you."

Einstein had, by then, embarked on a series of affairs, culminating with a new lover his cousin, Elsa. They married in 1919, but Einstein's curious eyes had a lifelong habit of surveying the wider landscape.

This would include the younger niece of a friend, by which point the tone of Einstein's love letters had improved somewhat, such as this one from 1924: "Dear Betty... Laugh at me, the old donkey, and find somebody who is 10 years younger than me and who loves you just as much as I do. I embrace and kiss you. A. Einstein."

Maybe, with Einstein, it was the larger-than-usual head, encasing all those awesome brains, a reliable turn-on for discerning ladies

Said Betty is soon enough hired as Einstein's "secretary," an arrangement Elsa learns to live with. She lets Einstein see his mistress twice a week, provided they remain discreet.

Now, all of this may seem hard to square with what we know of Einstein the latter-day bohemian. He walked around without socks. His pants were too short, his clothes dumpy, and his hair was unacquainted with the device known as a comb. Asked once to name the secret of his unique hairstyle, he had only one word in reply: "Neglect."

No doting mother (or winking father) ever counselled a son that the surest way to a woman's heart was to look like a half-crazed beggar. It's the sort of thing that leaves other men, well, bewildered. What could they possibly see in him? Or, in George Formby's famously musical formulation:

Take Lord Nelson with one limb

Lady William Hamilton she fell for him

With one eye and one arm gone West

She ran like the devil and she grabbed the rest

Now if women like them like men like those

Why don't women like me?


Maybe, with Einstein, it was the larger-than-usual head, encasing all those awesome brains, a reliable turn-on for discerning ladies. Or maybe those big, watery eyes: There's something soulful there and, yes, he did play the violin, though not especially well. One listener described his work on the fiddle as akin to that of a lumberjack. So we'll leave "musicality" out of the equation.

Nor was he socially adept. Einstein's default position was always "resolute loner," caring less than a fig what anyone thought of him. Rudolf Ladenburg, a fellow academic who worked with Einstein in both Berlin and Princeton, once said: "There were two kinds of physicists in Berlin: On the one hand was Einstein, and on the other all the rest."

He had no time for university life and stayed clear of any emotional tie that might tether him too tightly. As Einstein himself put it in 1930: "I have never belonged wholeheartedly to any country or state, to my circle of friends, or even to my own family."

We don't know how many of Einstein's conquests approached him with the delusion that they (and they alone) could "make him change," but they must have been a tolerant bunch. Sure, he's got brains, fame and soulful eyes. But the package, in toto?

This is the point in the conversation where men-boys, faced with the seemingly inexplicable, will note dismissively dismissive of women, really, which may be their problem in the first place that any improbably successful rival in the sex department must be, well, uniquely endowed. Or, to keep this vaguely scientific, his E really did equal mc{+2}.

But we'll never know for sure. Einstein never wrote a paper about electro-magnetism and the opposite sex, and you can't blame him, really. Having solved yet another of life's grand mysteries, why on earth would he want to share that?

Title: Re: Why Einstein was such a babe magnet
Post by: Volitzer on May 05, 2008, 12:51:42 pm
Women attracted to intelligence.

Very few and far between.