Looking through the pages of God


‘There can be little doubt that Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is the world’s most famous scientist. In fact, he personi-fies the very concept itself of scientific genius. This widespread acclaim can be traced back to 1919, when the first experimental results confirmed the Theory of Relativity, and the news hit the headlines of newspapers all round the world in a way that was, for once, justified by the outstanding significance of the event. ‘Scientific revolution. Theories of Newton demolished’ (The Times, 7th November); ‘Einstein triumphs. Light bends’. (The New York Times, 8th November). At the time it was said that only a handful of persons in the whole world were capable of fully understanding the complexities of Einstein’s work, but the paradoxical effects of relativity were a great sti-mulus for the fantasy of writers and film makers. A whole generation of time machines and journeys into the prehistoric past was created, and the legend grew. Einstein is responsible for the only scientific formula known to the general public, E = mc2, which represents the relationship between matter and energy, that enor-mous, secret, diabolic mass of energy concealed within matter which was released by the atom bomb and which we are still attempting to harness for peaceful ends. Einstein’s scientific genius was complemented by his appearance and character, with unkempt hair and general indifference for the niceties of smart clothes, non-conformist attitudes, and a constant commitment to disarmament and peace. Without doubt, Einstein ap-peals, he is almost a legend, and the legend is sur-prisingly resistant to the ravages of time. Posters with his picture are still sold all round the world, and he is the only member of the scientific community who shares the fame of the stars of Hollywood. Once, after having read an article attacking him, enti-tled «A hundred against Einstein», the great scientist commented that «one would be enough», and this reply is still valid. Einstein is presented in this exhibition in a straightforward fashion, as an exceptional man, but for all that, still a man. The links with the cultural milieu of his times are also illustrated, in an attempt to allow us to meet and understand the man and his work as completely as possible by avoiding the cumbersome and often misleading collection of anecdotes which have sprung up around him. The exhibition which Meeting has dedicated to Einstein seeks to portray this great figure, universally recognized as the genius who revolutionized the world of science at the beginning of this century when he demolished the foundations of Newtonian theory, as a man, albeit an exceptional man, but nevertheless a man. The first of the five sections of the exhibition, bearing the title ‘A whole life’, is principally biographical, and includes a vast amount of material on the life of Einstein, accompanied by information on the main historical and cultural events of the period. The second section, ‘God does not throw dice’, focuses on the ethical, religious and pedagogical elements which are to be found in the writings of Einstein and which show how his scientific research was always related to a particularly coherent conception of the universe and of mankind. The third section, which takes its name from a phrase of Robert Oppenheimer «Science has known sin»>, is dedicated to the dramatic crises which the discoveries made in the field of nuclear physics have induced in many scientists since the end of the last war. Though Einstein himself did not take part in the construction of the atomic bomb, this tragic event affected him profoundly, together with other famous figures, such as Bertrand Russell. In the fourth section, «Einstein and the Italians», an analysis is made of the impact of the new relativistic theory on the Italian scientific world and on the cultu-ral themes of the day, illustrating the division between those who opposed and those who accepted, with greater or lesser reservations, the conclusions of Einstein. The last section of the exhibition, ‘Not quite so rela-tive’, concentrates on the Theory of Relativity itself, and shows how a number of the concepts which were fun-damental to Einstein’s work were, in fact, present in at last some of the art and poetry of the period.’


25 Agosto 1990 - 09 Gennaio 1990


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions