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How Smart Was Einstein?

Contrary to conventional thinking, there are a few things Albert Einstein wasn't so good at. His poetry? Mediocre. His violin playing? Passable. At some point, Einstein was asked to be Israel's president. He declined -- not his strong suit.

In physics, though he did seem superhuman. How did a man who had been working as a patent clerk publish four groundbreaking papers about space, time, atoms and the strange nature of light -- all in one year?

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein's "miracle year," David Kestenbaum asks the question: Just how smart was Einstein anyway?

This story is part of a series commemorating the scientific breakthroughs of 1905, including the publication of Einstein's papers and of Sigmund Freud's seminal work, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Kestenbaum
David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.
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