Popular myth has it that Albert Einstein originated the concept of “space-time”. However, not only did Einstein not originate the idea of “space-time”, he vigorously opposed it for quite some space of time. In fact, space-time theories have been quite common in folk-lore, philosophy, mathematics, religion, science, science fiction, psychology, and are even inherent in some languages.
Contrary to popular myth, Einstein did not usher in the atomic age. In fact, he found the idea of atomic energy to be silly. Einstein was not the first person to state the mass-energy equivalence, or E = mc2. Myths such as Einstein’s supposed discoveries are not uncommon. Newton did not discover gravity, nor did he offer a viable explanation for it, nor did he believe that matter attracted other matter. Consider that few in his time knew that President Roosevelt was severely handicapped, being limited to a wheel chair, and the press cooperated in keeping Roosevelt’s disability a secret. Is it difficult to believe that this same press presented Albert Einstein as a super-hero of science, when he was in fact less than that, much less? It was a good story for them to sell. Einstein wrote to Sommerfeld, “It is a bad thing that every utterance of mine is made use of by journalists as a matter of business.”
Einstein rarely gave filmed interviews, but when he did, he came across as something considerably less than a “genius”. Einstein’s public appearances were scripted as were his lectures. His public appearances were most often repetitions of his lectures. He appeared oblivious to the distinction between an academic lecture and a media event. He appeared rehearsed and incapable of adapting to his audience. Einstein appeared to be an actor giving a performance. The physics community and the media invented a comic book figure, “Einstein”, with “E = mc2” stenciled across his chest. The media and educational institutions portray this surreal and farcical image as a benevolent god to watch over us. Some modern portraits depict the man with a godly glow and all the other visual cues inspiring reverence. For some, Einstein (often together with Marx and Freud) is seen as a source of tremendous ethnic pride. To question “Einstein”, the god, either “his” theories, or the priority of the thoughts he repeated, has become the sin of heresy. “His” writings are synonymous with truth, the undecipherable truth of a god hung on the wall as a symbol of ultimate truth, which truth is elusive to mortal man. No one is to understand or to question the arcana of “Einstein”, but must let the shepherd lead his flock, without objection. Do not bother the believers with the facts!