Einstein on CD
Mar 22, 2005
Albert Einstein became famous before the advent of the mass media so there are very few recordings of him. However, as part of the celebrations of Einstein's famous discoveries in 1905 the British Library has released a CD containing various speeches and radio broadcasts by the great physicist. Although the CD starts with a 57 second explanation of E=mc2, most of the material concerns Einstein's interest in international affairs and the fate of the Jewish people.
The centrepiece of the CD is a 25 minute eulogy to Einstein by the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw recorded at a dinner in support of two Jewish charitable organizations at the Savoy Hotel in London on 28 October 1930. Shaw contrasts Einstein's greatness with that of leaders like Napoleon. Men like Einstein, says Shaw, "are not makers of empires, but they are makers of universes. And when they have made those universes, their hands are unstained by the blood of any human being on earth."
Shaw goes on to list eight such makers of universes - Pythagoras, Ptolemy, Aristotle, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton and Einstein - before drawing a distinction between those who actually made universes as opposed to those who repaired them. "Ptolemy made a universe which lasted 1400 years," says Shaw. "Newton also made a universe which has lasted 300 years. Einstein has made a universe and I can't tell you how long that will last." Einstein replied to Shaw, in German, with a speech entitled "Jewish community".
The strangest item on the CD is a radio interview with Einstein after he had been made an American citizen in 1940. Recorded after the start of the Second World War, but before the United States joined the war, Einstein reflects on democratic freedom and the responsibilities of science in time of war.