Robbert Dijkgraaf is a theoretical physicist and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is also the co-author of “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge.”
In this video, he explains how Albert Einstein saw the world in a different way from how most scientists see it. Following is a transcript of the video.
Einstein was a true genius and it’s the example that we all aspire to be as a scientist. But already as a child he had a very original way of thinking.
So from the very beginning, for Einstein, his imagination was crucial. He was not such a good student because he was a very original thinker.
And I think that was, kind of, the magic touch that he had. He always had a completely original point of view. He somehow didn’t conform to the existing theories, and he was always thinking in his own particular way.
His favorite way to operate as a scientist was the thought experiment. And he describes for instance, the crucial moment, where he essentially discovered the theory of general relativity.
He was watching workers on the roof of a building and suddenly thought whoa what would happen if they fell down. And then he realized, if you fall down, you no longer experience gravity.
And that, in some sense, that’s the natural motion and that actual led him to derive the theory of general relativity and described that moment as the happiest moment in his life.
And later he said something that I actually find personally very comforting: Is that imagination is much more important than knowledge because knowledge describes what we know. Imagination is describing everything that we can potentially know in the future.
Jessica Orwig and Alana Kakoyiannis