When it comes to historical legends, it’s fair to say that Albert Einstein will be on most people’s lists. Known for being a scientific genius, Einstein not only made waves in the world of theoretical physics, but he also became a prominent member of society and a big name within popular culture. And despite the fact that he passed away in 1955, Einstein’s legacy still lives on through his work and his impact. But even if you understand his scientific theories, how much do you know about Einstein’s life outside of the laboratory?
1. Albert Einstein Was Asked to Be the President of Israel
Although Albert Einstein was more focused on his theories than his faith, his journals and his past work prove that he was proud of his Jewish heritage. He would often use his platform to speak out against antisemitism both around the world and within the scientific realm, and it wasn’t long before he caught the attention of the Israeli government.
In fact, when Chaim Weizmann – Israel’s head of state – passed away in 1952, the government asked the scientist whether he would consider taking over the role. While the scientist appreciated the offer, he politely turned it down, stating that he was not the right man for the job. In his letter to the Israeli ambassador, he wrote “All my life I have dealt with objective matters. Hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official function.”
2. He Was Married Twice, the Second Time to His Cousin
Albert Einstein was born in Germany but left the country in 1896 to avoid the state-mandated military service. After this, he made his way to study at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich, where he fell in love with another physics student by the name of Mileva Maric. Einstein and Maric’s relationship evolved quickly, and they got married soon after their graduation and later welcomed two sons into the world.
However, their marriage broke down in the early 1910s, and Einstein decided to move back to Germany. And despite the fact that his divorce from Maric had not been finalized, he began dating his cousin and patiently waited until he could call Elsa his second wife. That day finally came in 1919, and just a short while after Einstein and Elsa became husband and wife. They stayed this way until Elsa sadly passed away in 1936.
3. The FBI Spied on Him for Over 22 Years
Over the course of his life, Einstein moved wherever his work required him to. He lived in Zurich and Berlin, and in the early 1930s, he made his way across the pond to the United States. He just couldn’t turn down the chance to study and teach at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University – but his arrival certainly caused a stir.
Throughout his career, Einstein had made no secret of his left-wing beliefs and that he was a pacifist, and this just didn’t sit right with the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover. He wanted to investigate the physicist, and so the FBI spied on him for over 22 years. During this time, his FBI file amounted to around 1,800 pages, but they never found him to be involved in any wrongdoing.
4. His Brain Was Stolen for Research Purposes
It was a tough blow for the science world when Albert Einstein passed away in 1955. Scientists commemorated his life and his family mourned their own loss. But his family were incensed when they learned that, against his wishes, his brain had been stolen by Princeton pathologist Thomas Harvey. Although Einstein had requested to be cremated after his death, Harvey decided to remove the brain while performing the autopsy.
Harvey hoped that he would be able to study Einstein’s brain to see if there were any indicators of his genius hidden within the folds, but he could not find any definite proof. So, he then cut the brain into pieces and sent them to other scientists around the world to perform their own research. While it’s been suggested that his parietal lobe is more unusual than the average brain, nothing conclusive has ever been found.
5. He Became a Vegetarian in the Last Few Years of His Life
Over the course of his life – and particularly in his last few years – Albert Einstein suffered chronic digestive issues, alongside other maladies. And while he ate meat for most of his existence, his doctor advised the scientist to cut out meat as he got older and as he became more unwell. This was not a big deal for the genius, who had stated on previous occasions that “I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience.”
As he continued to eat a diet without meat and full of whole food and fresh fruit and vegetables, Albert became an outspoken vegetarian. He noted that”Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” A year before a blood vessel bursts near his heart, causing his death, Einstein also confessed that “I am living without fats, without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way.”