From: John Irons
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2005 11:31 AM
To: All Center
Subject: Einstein 100 years later
FYI – 2005 is the 100th anniversary of some of Einstein’s ground-breaking work: 1905 was a banner year for Einstein and all of physics. His 1905 work included papers on special relativity (including the famous E=mc^2 equation), some work on Brownian motion, and on black-box radiation which in part led to modern quantum mechanics (and a Nobel Prize).
There is a very good op-ed in the NY Times on this work, Einstein, and the cosmic implications of the quantum-level work (which Einstein never quite believed!)
Much of this work took years (or even decades) to fully develop and to gain widespread acceptance; but they did change how people think about the world in which we live.
As Keynes said back in ’36, “It is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.” And also: “ideas … both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else.”
(Actually, the full quotation is from The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money:
“But apart from this contemporary mood, the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, whom hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.”
You can see why economists love to quote this!)
John S. Irons, Ph.D.
Director of Tax and Budget Policy