Meet Mr Brilliance
Published by: Rupa
Price: INR 195
We associate Einstein with intelligence. We know of his Theory of Relativity, associated with relativism in morality, politics and art; breaking the imaginative conformity of the absolute. Some know how he could amalgamate logical reasoning with intuition and willfully connect it to the spiritual. However, few know about the man behind the genius. Virender Kapoor’s book was conceived with this in mind—how everybody knows of Einstein but nobody really knows him.
This book, aims to capture “the essence of Einstein’s creativity in such a way that people who read this three-dimensional biographical account will be motivated to become creative in their respective field and those who have a scientific bent of mind will pursue serious research into the world of invention.” Thus, each chapter circles around a specific quality of Einstein’s and what lessons we can draw from them.
Notwithstanding the author’s aim, the summarised takeaways at the end of each chapter fall short of appropriating Einstein’s thoughts to creativity or scientific innovation. The title is thus misleading. The book is not so much about sparking innovation as it is about illustrating principles which Einstein live by and which can help lead a good life overall, innovative or not.
What still make this a worthy-read are the enigmatic thoughts and anecdotes from Einstein’s life. Virender Kapoor has cherry-picked the most interesting leaves from history to reveal to us the Einstein we don’t know.
“The more I study science, the more I believe in God.” — Einstein interpreted God through science. Humbled by the structure, the expanse and the unlimited energy of the universe, and having analysed matter, time, space and motion scientifically, he realised the insignificance of man in front of the spirit manifest in nature. He advocated not fear but being in awe of God. Humility was in his nature.
“In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.”
If his wife suggested he dress properly for work, Einstein would say, “Why should I, there everybody knows who I am!” Yet, while going for a big conference, he resisted dressing special saying, “No one knows me there, so it doesn’t matter!” This ready wit made him quite likable.
Some studies have concluded that creativity and intelligence are independent but a sense of humour correlates highly with both. Einstein’s knack for lateral thinking made him explain the most complex theories of science easily: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it is longer than an hour. That’s relativity.”
The book shows us how while others thought Einstein primarily imagined and created theories. For instance, “What if I travel at the speed of light along a beam of light? Will the beam appear stationary?”, and this became the foundation of his theory of relativity. Einstein admitted, “The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”
A vacant mind daydreaming is a very productive neurological process, say Virender. And Einstein made full use of uninterrupted time, listening to what was up in his head. He found solace as well as stimulation in solitude… and in music. Einstein imagined differently not just because he listened to his favourite music when stuck with a problem, but also because he always thought in musical architectures, even in inner feelings and not mathematical equations.
This book asks us to emulate a man who fascinated the world. After his death, his brain was removed by neuroscientists and studied. What did they find? Some parts of his brain were actually missing, thus making the neurons communicate better! The day after his death, as a tribute, the Washington Post carried a sketch of the cosmos in which the Earth was identified by the label “Albert Einstein lived here”.
And within the folds of this book, Virender Kapoor makes him come alive for his readers.
This was first published in the June 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.