Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An interesting little fact about Einstein

(Image above: Albert Einstein as child)
Something I will be covering in my class tomorrow will the topic of 'Why Children's picture books are important, and why our jobs as their illustrators/creators are important'. One example I thought would be interesting simply because of the fact that it pertains to the universally known Albert Einstein is something I came across while listening to one of my favorite podcasts called Radio Lab, this one in particular being on the subject of Time. ('Beyond Time')
On the show (at about 25.21 minutes into it if you want to have a listen yourself) a Professor of Physics at City College in New York tells the following story:

When Einstein was a child he read a Children's book by Aaron Bernstein. (The book I have now found out was part of a science series for kids, so not a picture story book but nontheless) In the book the question is posed, what it would be like to out race a telegraph message in a telegraphy wire. In other words, to out race electricity. But this was only the beginning because in Einstein's head, he thought of a different question. Which was 'What would it be like to out race a light beam?'. What would it look like? He obsessed about this for years. After 10 years of thinking about this without solving the puzzle, he was riding the bus to work one day and looked at a famous big clock. As he was moving away from the clock on the bus, he imagined would it would be like if the bus he was in all of a sudden started to move at the speed of light. What would happen to the clock and it's time then. And thus was born the theory of relativity.

The Professor of Physics telling this story also refers to this book by Aaron Bernstein as 'perhaps the most important children's book ever written in the history of the human race.' With which I don't think I would completely agree, but I do definitely see how it would be the most important one to you IF you were a Physicist. Either way, I thought that this little story featured on the podcast would make just another fine example of the power that is contained within the Children's book. Books that make us think, books that make us imagine, books that help transform us and shape us into who we will become later on in life.

Also, on a non related note. Should you not be familiar with the Radio Lab podcasts I highly recommend them to anyone. Amazing.

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