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Albert Einstein - Person of the Century

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the sounds-good-to-me dept.

Science 331

fat_mike writes "Seems that Time Magazine has picked Albert Einstein as Person of the Century. You can check out the scoop here at Drudge Report. " I think I could agree with this, but it's really almost impossible to qualify something like this, although it does give me pleasure to have the icon *really* match the story.

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Relativity (1)

DJStealth (103231) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444713)

Although we were not able to prove relativity or show it's true capabilities in this century, I think Einstein deserves the credit.

Gandhi (1)

Charvak (97898) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444714)

i prefer gandhi after all einstein himself was fan of gandhi

Einstein (1)

tadd (51292) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444715)

Hrmm?? Pretty tough one to pick isn't it? I cannot even think of a person of the year, let alone the century, milleneum, or whatever. One would at least need to categorize the choice. How could one compare, for example, Einstein with, say, Crick and Watson (sp?).

Gandhi (1)

hogwaller (421) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444716)

Gandhi affected waaaay more people on a personal,
emotional and spiritual level than Einstein did.
I think if Einstien were alive, he'd laugh at Time
But what do you expect from an organization that
REALLY thinks Jeff Bezos is the "Man of the Year".
I stopped reading Time long ago, anyway. It's

In all sense of fairness... (2)

sporty (27564) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444717)

In all sense of fairness, we all dont' directly know him except for his theories and what history books tell us. And who is person of the century is not very subjective. Saying who contributed most to physics might be more appropriate. IMHO, I would think Mark Twain, Erickson (psychologist of Social Psych), Piaget, Pavlov and others were more important. But then again, that's my subjective view for man of the century.


cute. (1)

pb (1020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444718)

Excellent choice on the part of Time Magazine for Person of the Century. Although it probably isn't very politically correct. Soon, the Weekly World News will run the story: "Time Magazine Says Some People Better Than Others!" Also, shouldn't this be in the News section instead of Science? ;)
pb Reply or e-mail rather than vaguely moderate [] .

Didn't he.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444719)

drink his own piss?

cool (1)

brainy (121004) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444720)

Heh, it is pretty cool that the icon matches the story. And Einstein is pretty deserving of the honor...

It should have been (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444721)

AL Gore. If he hadn't invented the Internet and electricity, none of this would be possible.

STFU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444722)

You are a sad little person. Please stick to masturbating and leave /. to educated people.

What's scary (1)

Little Brother (122447) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444723)

The person of the century: Couldn't tie his shoelaces Couldn't find his own house, even if he were right in front of it, (he'd knock on a neighbor's door and ask which house was his) Was considered retarded through most of his childhood I on the other hand: Can tie my shoelaces Can find my house so long as I'm on the right street and block Was considered "gifted" through most of my childhood. Strange how things turn out isn't it?

Another sign of geek mainia (2)

GFD (57203) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444724)

My take on this - if it is true - is that it is a reflection of the .com/geek mainia that is flooding the mainstream. Time is a political rag. If they stuck to their guns they would have chosen FDR or Ghandi. Einstien would be a rational choice for Slashdot but I have to wonder about Time magazine. Of course, I wonder about just everything that the mainstream media does these days....

Rimjob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444725)

Those can be kind of cool if you are into that kind of stuff.

Obvious, but not for the reasons everyone thinks.. (5)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444726)

Einstein was indeed a brilliant man...but he was also very...wrong. A lot. Einstein would not have been the scientist of the century...that one would have to go to Neils Bohr. This man, one of the creators of quantum theory, understood the universe in a way that Einstein never could. Einstein was very entrenched in classical physics..he was absolutely sure that the universe was, in essence, a great "clock." A clock whose gears could be seen by science, and understood in the most basic sense, ultimately.

Bohr, on the other hand, was open enough to realize the value of quantum mechanics. He saw the outcomes of quantum theory as nature's way of telling us that we have no business imposing our own macroscopic concepts on nature itself. Ideas such as color, particle, and wave have essentially no meaning in terms of electrons, quarks, and photons. Do a search on "Copenhagen interpretation" or "Einstein Bohr debates" to find out how Einstein was so shortsighted in his quick disregard of "quantum strangeness" and "weird forces at a distance" thought experiment...see the quantum physics story posted earlier for's about two photons being emitted in opposite directions having a superposition of two states until one is measured...then the other becomes definite...also see "Schrodinger's cat" for an interesting thought experiment">. Anyway, Bohr was a greater thinker than Einstein, without a this level where philosophy and science intertwine.

I would have to agree underservedly about their selection as Einstein for man of the century. Bohr was a scientist and philosopher. Einstein was a cultural icon. In his personality, his naive political beliefs, and ultimate quotability have made him an ultimately unique figure, recognized worldwide. His disregard for any cultural norms made him loved. He was also a man of paradox....showing a tremendous understanding of everything, so much more than the average genius...but also displaying a magnificent naivite in every aspect of his being. Einstein represents the goals, ideals, and accomplishments of this century more than any man - culture, science, politics....
I'll shut up now, and I'm sorry if most of this was mentioned in the was /.'ed

Did i miss anything? :)

Last Week They siad FDR (1)

isolation (15058) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444727)

I dont know how many read the druge report on here, I do. I like drudge alot but he has said 3 differnt people in the past 2 weeks.

Re:In all sense of fairness... (1)

jpr1 (115308) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444728)

einstein was a brilliant man, i think he is definetly worthy of an honor like this... but i also agree many others are too. i think maybe they should have done a group of most important people of the century (10 or so people) to touch on every aspect of life...

Is it really important who it is? (3)

mTor (18585) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444729)

Does it really matter who "Time" chooses? Who decides at Time who the person of the century is? It's an editor/owner type of deal. Why should I listen to some guy in a suit telling me that the man of the century is Einstein or whatever?

I recommend you all stop waisting your time thinking what a single most important person of the century is. Just think about "people" who have influenced particular fields or parts of the every day life.

There is no single "Man of the century" that will be the man of the century for everyone.

PS: Why not have a person of the century? Women are people as well.. maybe TIME hasn't figured that one yet.

Pish Posh (1)

Sp@mMan (82919) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444730)

He may have delt with relativity, and black holes and theories, but did he understand, have a theory or take on the SLASHDOT effect? I think not!


Screw Einstein! (1)

Kaht (122157) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444731)

If anyone's the man of the century, it's Gates.

Look at how he showed us the fundamental problems with proprietary software through his programs and... what? Windows was actually seriously supposed to be an OS? Whoa... that changes my whole perspective. I thought it was a joke...

(Sorry, I'm drunk.)

Re:Is it really important who it is? (1)

mTor (18585) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444732)

Also... Who gives TIME to decide for everyone? What happens if NY Times decides that Roosevelt is the man of the century?


Re:hi comments, ect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444733)


That was a joke posting right?

Well... I'm no Alfred Einstein (1)

betamax_ (106116) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444734)

All this most important person crap is making me sick. Some say that the ability to reflect and think about oneself defines intelligence, but this proves otherwise. It is impossible to compare people's influence if they are from different points in time since all achievements are based on others. And anyway, I'm not really sure if I can agree on Einstein as influential since the average moron of the nineties doesn't even know what e=mc^2 stand for, let alone understands relativity. "Well... I'm no Alfred Einstein" -Joe Namath

Re:Gandhi (3)

seaportcasino (121045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444735)

I think Einstein was a fantastic choice because he was not "spiritual" as Gandhi was. This century marked a decay in the spiritual, a decline in Christianity; People finally are looking beyond Christ for answers. Science has overtaken religion finally this century. It is mainstream. People are more likely to have a cell phone or a pda than a cross in this day and age. Now I'm not saying this is an entirely good thing. That probably won't be known for quite some time. Maybe in the next hundred years? But I do know that Einstein would have been my choice as well. It's about time we start appreciating true genius!

altavista query (2)

sluncho (129260) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444736)

A search for "Einstein" results in 190,720 pages found. "Roosevelt" scores 2nd with 175,130 hits. "Gandhi" is found on 62,695 web pages.

This might not be the best way to judge people and their influence on the society (There are only 436 pages about "John Postel", but every Slahsdotter will agree that his work influenced the life of everybody on Earth in the past decade)

But looking for some name on Altavista is a good way to judge people's popularity among the web users (how does this relate to popularity among the general public, I don't know).

Einstein's science may have directly affected everybody's life, but he had become an icon for the whole sceintific field. Have you seen the science icon on Slashdot?

He deserves being the person of the century.

Re:Relativity (1)

tooth (111958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444737)

Although we were not able to prove relativity ...

Actually, your wrong. Even though relativity (special and general) started out as what Einstien called "Gedankenexperiment" or a thought experiment, It has actually been proven beyond a doubt since then using very sensitive atomic clocks and high speed planes. Plus lots of other ways, it's just that I can't remember any other examples at moment.

I think that they even have to take relativity into account with GPS systems etc, but then again IANAS :)

Re:In all sense of fairness... (2)

sporty (27564) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444738)

Perhaps catagorizing it would have been nice too.


Re:Gandhi (2)

Buaku (93539) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444739)

Actually, I'd disagree with that. The E=MC2 formula ultimately led to the development of atomic weapons and nuclear energy. Those developments have impacted just about everyone on the planet. Gandhi's influence on the world was very minor by comparison.

Einstein 5th? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444740)

It's strange. On the Time webpoll, the top listed people are Elvis Presley, Yitzhak Rabin, Adolf Hitler, and Billy Graham, with Einstein coming in 5th. Gandhi was 9th, and FDR didn't make the top 20, while Drudge's report lists them as the runners-up. IMHO, Presley, Graham, and Rabin can be ignored as ballot-stuffed votes. But as much as I hate to say it, wasn't Hitler really much more influential on world history?

OMG!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444741)

Then it's Leonardo DeCrapio for man of the millenium.

Re:Obvious, but not for the reasons everyone think (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444742)

Einstein was very entrenched in classical physics.

What about Einstein's work on the photoelectric effect? The photoelectric effect was not explainable by classical physics.

Einstein... the safe choice? (2)

Croaker (10633) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444743)

Einstien is probably the best choice from the aspect of "this is someone we're proud of."

Who has had real impacts on the 20th century? Well... Hitler and Stalin come to mind. Both individuals certainly changed the course of history in a way that, possibly, no one else could. Hitler's aftermath, especially, is still being felt today. The reunifcation of Germany and the events in Bosnia after communism's collapse are both events that have hitler's fingerprints on them. Of course, few would want to commemorate sharing a century with him...

You might argue that Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and others of a more humane bent had a major impact on the 20th century. Certainly, their impact on their homelands was great... and their philosophies have inspired many beyond the borders of the lands where they primarily did their work. But, quantifying their direct impact on any arbitrary world citizen's daily life is hard. There are still the opressed, there are still those killed in the name of supressing freedom.

Einstien is a safer choice. His work has weaved its way into our lives on a daily basis. His papers basically jump-started the field of quantum mechanics, which gave rise to modern electronics, which gave rise to Slashdot (how could you get more noble? ;). Aside from the passion of the moment, computers and the Internet, Einstien's work also made possible the earlier communications revolutions, such as TV.

And... of course, his little E=MC^2 equation was put to rather dramatic use in Hiroshima, and held the world hostage to the fear of complete and utter destruction for the better part of half a century.

I guess, in all, that sort of duality is symbolic of the 20th century. We've seen advances in medicine that can cure as a matter of course what was incurable at the start of the century. We can save the unsaveable, give relief to those in great pain. And, we've also seen the infliction of pain en-mass, from the mustard gas of WWI, to the ovens of Auschwitz. We saw the Earth rise over the barren wastes of the moon, a tiny, fragile world... conspicuosly lacking the lines demarking the arbitrary borders that people have fought and died over. We've also seen that we can destroy the Earth (at least for ourselves) either quickly through nuclear explosion and fallout, or slowly through CO2, DDT, CFC, and...

Einstien, as part of all this, can be credited with the best and damned with the worst. Well, perhaps damning is too strong a word. Certainly, though, it's a warning that even the work of what seemingly was a kind, gentle man can wreak havoc when let loose in this world.

Good choice. (1)

Buaku (93539) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444744)

I'd say Time made a reasonable choice here. Some people have suggested people like Gandhi, but most of these people didn't impact the course of history for the last century the way Einstein did. Atomic energy and the atomic bomb have so utterly shaped the course of history for the last several decades that there isn't really any comparison. Further, the ramifications and danger of this technology reach out to everyone in the world, even if they are totally ignorant of it. Nuclear war is the end all and be all as far as importance goes.

As for credit, Einstein wasn't working alone on these things, there were a lot of brilliant minds involved. Einstein is a good figurehead to hang it all on.

As much as we all hate'em.... (2)

smoondog (85133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444745)

Sadly, Adolf Hitler is without much question, IMO, the true man of the century. WWII has altered our lives in profound ways. Beyond the deaths of millions and the rewriting of European borders. He also has affected how America deals with threats, ie Hussien, Vietnam, Korea, all directly affected by wartime interaction with axis powers. I think Albert Einstein is the Scientific personality of the century, but not the "man of the century"....
-- Moondog

Einstein WAS the most significant individual (1)

glomph (2644) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444746)

OK, look at it this way:
Which human, of the billions on the planet, changed the course of history in his time, and left an indelible mark in perpetuity?
You could pick mass butchers like Hitler or Stalin, who qualify due to the sheer volume of their atrocities.
Or you could go with the person who is identified with literally changing the way everyone thinks.

The guy earlier is right about Bohr. And Rutherford. And Pauli. And Oppenheimer. And Rabi. And a whole lot of other physicists in the first half of this century.
Sorta sorry I missed it. But I got to study with a lot of guys who worked with the above. Hard to forget this legacy. Screw the politicians, movie stars, sports figures, and other 'leaders'.

Re:Obvious, but not for the reasons everyone think (2)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444747)

You're right, it's late and i didn't quite say exactly what was meant. Einstein wasnt entrenched in classical physics at all. What he steadfastly believed was the same thing classical physicists: that the universe could be completely understood through the scientific process, eventually. Einstein believed that there were no mysterious probabilisitic elements to the universe. He saw quantum physics as a manifestation of our current limitations - limitations which will be overcome shortly enough. He stated that we simply didn't know enough to explain it, not that electrons were these weird probability waves.

He refused to believe that the universe was not totally mechanistic....this has implications on randomness, chaos, and determinism, but /. isn't a place for modern philosophy.

Re:It should have been (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444748)

You forgot Flight, space travel and television.

Re:cute. (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444749)

I think Time wimped out. As much as I admire Einstein, I would argue that Hitler and Stalin had a larger influence on the modern world. We still haven't finished cleaning up all of the problems created by World War II and it's aftermath.

Why do we need such things? (1)

emolitor (129606) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444750)

Why do we need such polls as these? Are we that much of a shallow society in need of self-gratification? To what purpose are we throwing these people up on polls and declaring them the best this and the greatest that of the millenium, century, week, or hour. One would think we position others in polls such as these because of our own lack of self-confidence.

How about "best religion of the millenium!" or "Worlds worst hunting accident of the century!" or "America's Funniest beheadings!"

I once listened to a man tell me that "America is a sick society." He was wrong, America is a society with a lot of sick people.

Re:altavista query (1)

Louis (21388) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444751)

(There are only 436 pages about "John Postel", but every Slahsdotter will agree that his work influenced the life of everybody on Earth in the past decade)

There are 21,183 hits on Altavista for "Jon Postel".

Re:Obvious, but not for the reasons everyone think (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444752)

And btw, you can email me and I can point you to some sources if you'd like to read some more on the political and philosophical leanings and implications of Einstein.

But.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444753)

Where would Hitler be without SATAN.

I vote for our LORD SATAN. Without the Dark Prince nothing would be possible,

Postel..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444754)

Wasn't he Al Gore's assistant.

My favourite Einstein quote (1)

Syn.Terra (96398) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444755)

This is my favourite quote, showing he has a firm grasp on both physics and relationships...

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it feels like an hour. Talk with a pretty girl for an hour, and it feels like a minute. That's relativity." - Albert Einstein



excuse me, but that's bull (2)

Asparfame (96993) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444756)

You are enormously incorrect. You are simply buying the popular stereotype of an intelligent scientist. Einstein was in fact very practical. He was very social. He was even offered presidency of Israel. Of course, if you knew anything about him instead of rambling on and perpetuating the stereotype, you would know that already.

Perhaps you got him confused with Paul Erdos.

agreed. (1)

Asparfame (96993) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444757)

I agree with you completely. I look up to Einstein, but I think people like Hitler had a larger effect this century.

That's especially hard for me to say, being Jewish and knowing very closely the extent of his atrocities. But the fact is, he had more influence than Einstein.


Re:Is it really important who it is? (1)

Pope Slackman (13727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444758)

>PS: Why not have a person of the century? Women are people as well.. maybe TIME hasn't figured that one yet. far as I know, the title *is* 'person of the century'.
The chosen just happens to be male.



Einstein on Gandhi (4)

LinuxMacWin (79859) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444759)

A leader of his people, unsupported by any outward authority, a victorious fighter who always scorned the use of force; a man of wisdom and humility who has confronted the brutality of Europe with the dignity of the simple human being and has at all times risen superior ..... Generations to come, will scarce believe that such a man as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth"

- Albert Einstein on Gandhi

Re:Last Week They siad FDR (1)

Relforn (105625) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444760)

That's because ol' Matt wants to make sure he's right. He should just say it will be somebody mentioned in the Encyclopedia Britannica and leave it at that.

Re:altavista query (1)

sluncho (129260) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444761)

Sorry for the misspelling. Well, he wrote about 200 RFC-s and I suppose that there are at least 100 RFC archives on the web, so his name will be found on about 20000 pages.

It makes sense :-)

here's another (1)

Asparfame (96993) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444762)

Einstein, explaining the wireless telegraph.

"A normal telegraph is like a large cat with it's tail in New York and it's mouth in LA. When you pull the tail in New York, the cat squaks in LA. A wireless telegraph is the same thing, but without the cat." - Albert Einstein

Re:Einstein 5th? (1)

Relforn (105625) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444763)

If Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard didn't make the top 20, I think you can simply forget your theory that there was ballot stuffing involved.

and another (1)

Asparfame (96993) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444764)

"It's of no concern to me with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but I know that World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones." - Albert Einstein

Re:Is it really important who it is? (1)

mezzo (20109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444765)

Does it really matter who "Time" chooses?

Yes it does matter. Because it brings the person into the spotlight. The general public will use it as topics of conversation, "Hey, you saw who Time chose? What did he/she do anyways?".. children might question their parents about the face on the cover.

I mean, look at slashdot itself. At least 4 stories that relate to Time's person of the century have been posted:
This one, A quiet adult [] , Katz's net person of the year [] , the one on Linus [] .

And every time someone says, "Does it really matter what Time thinks?", it gets moderated to 'insightful'.

Oh well.

Re:altavista query (1)

Kaht (122157) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444766)

apparently Dr. Naked-chicks-free-sex-britney spears-hard-core-titties is much more influential, he gets a -lot- of hits!

Re:Relativity (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444767)

In 1919, an expedition by the Royal Society of London confirmed Einstein's prediction of the degree of deflection of light passing by the Sun during a solar eclipse.

Re:Relativity (1)

Kaht (122157) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444768)

It has actually been proven beyond a doubt

Nothing in science can be proven definately true. That's one of the first things science students have to understand. There can always be one experiment that can prove you wrong...
that's the whole basis for the idea of experiments being designed to prove yourself wrong, rather than right.
Tomorrow someone might discover something that shows that Einstein was wrong, just as Aristotle has been proven wrong on so many accounts, despite what everyone thought was right.

Re:Gandhi (1)

uh (127786) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444769)

The idea of the man of the century is idiotic. You really can't pick a man of the century. There are just too many great men within any given century to just pick 1.

If I can am allowed to ask only one question - (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444770)

T'is being the LAST OFFICIAL Christmas of the 1xxx years, if I am allowed to ask only ONE question, my question will be -

What man have accomplished (good and bad) in the two thousand years since Jesus Christ was introduced into this world?

It sure beats "Who is the man of the century" type of useless survey.

Re:Gandhi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444771)

Actually, Gandhi's demonstrated that non-violent protest works. However, I really doubt you can compare the achievements and effects of Gandhi to Einstien's. The whole idea is idiotic IMHO (man of the century/year/etc). Men of the century would be be better.

Re:Gandhi (1)

uh (127786) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444772)

All hail the new dogma of science! God is dead! People are serfs (myself included). Does it really matter what doctrine we follow or belive in? None of us really understand. None of us really decide for ourselves. If humanity can ever empower itself to decide for itself and not as a collective, that will be something revolutionary.

Re:cute. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444773)

I trust the Weekly Worldd News more than I trust Time. Check out their latest (perhaps last :) edition, the cover is in color.

I would have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444774)

I would have selected Churchill (Time's Many of the Half-Century). I have always believed that people overrate Einstein. Further, I consider scientific progress inevitable and one-directional, but freedom fragile, and subject to the tides of history. Einstein makes a reasonable choice, though. I thought they would pick that !@#$%^&* socialist FDR.

Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444775)

Satan himself of course. No one has done more than the Dark Prince to shape our way of life, past, present & future.

Isnt this premature? (1)

jwatkins (129610) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444776)

Are we writing off next year? Maybe the "man" of the century is holding out on us...waiting until the last moment to put his bid in. :)

For the record....the 21st century and the 3rd millennium dont start until January 1st, 2001...not January 1st, 2000.


Hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444777)

I did not know that fictional literary characters were elegible. In that cas I vote for Capt. J.L. Picard.

Re:altavista query (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444778)

I'm sorry, even if Jon Postel invented and ran the internet completely on a daily basis, that doesn't mean he has influenced every person on this planet. I could find you billions of people whose lives have not been touched by the internet at all - much less by port numbers and addresses.

Perhaps that statement is an exaggeration in itself, but you get the idea.


Remember the saying.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444779)

Nobody likes a math geek...besides since when has accuracy been allowed to get in the way of a good posting, news story etc. Especially here at /.

Re:Why do we need such things? (1)

uh (127786) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444780)

Um, you haven't watched fox lately have you...? Some of those ideas were already on TV. I think the next special is "Who wants to marry a milionare?". Do you really need to even ask if we are a shallow society? The answer is quite obvious. They say the Roman empire fell when its population stooped to entertainment in perverse activities. One can only wonder when the American Empire will come crashing down.

Re:It should have been (1)

shogun (657) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444781)

We'll remember them only as long as you Americans dont try and credit the Wright Brothers with inventing powered flight.

Re:Relativity (1)

tooth (111958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444782)

In 1919, an expedition by the Royal Society of London confirmed Einstein's prediction of the degree of deflection of light passing by the Sun during a solar eclipse.

Not 100% sure, but didn't thier results have more errors than the "deflections" they were looking for? Kind of like cooking the data.

It's been done since then with more modern equipment, and produced better (more accurate) results.

The Turing Century (2)

James Morris (48377) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444783)

While it is obviously flawed to try and work out who was the most significant out of Einstein, Ghandi, JFK and any number of great people, there is one person who bears special consideration. I think, in the very long march of history, perhaps many thousands of years from now, people will remember this as the Turing century. Quantum physics and relativity will be historic relics, while politicians and spiritual leaders will have assumed mythical status. One concrete, profound change will remain wedded inseperably to the future of humanity: the conception of the general purpose programmable computer, or Turing Machine. Why? Because it is the computer that is the first real extension of the human mind. In a similar way that an axe or hammer is an extension of an arm, the general purpose computer is the direct extension of what makes us inherently different to other known species: intelligence. I will not try and predict the future of computing or speculate any further on the future of humanity (many others have done this already in this context), but will ask you this: Would you even be reading this message if it wasn't for Turing?

Note -- please see this web site [] for more information on Turing's life and achievments.

Re:It should have been (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444784)

They were the first ones from a 'civilized' country to achieve it.

Re:Is it really important who it is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444785) far as I know, the title *is* 'person of the century' And when did we have 'Woman of the century' ? Naming is one thing, acting is a whole different one.

Re:Relativity (1)

tooth (111958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444786)

Whoops my bad :) Yeah, I forgot that bit... Question everything, right?

Tomorrow someone might discover something that shows that Einstein was wrong...

Wouldn't that be the ultimate holy war? For Science/Physics at least :)

Re:Gandhi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444787)

I find it rather odd that you would write about Gandhi and Christianity. I hope that you were not making a connection between the two.

What I don't like is to compare and contrast ppl that had impact in different fields. Who is to say that science is more important that politics or the arts, or religion, or whatever. I do know that advances in science (for instance, making a nuclear bomb), without advances in humanity (that ability to properly harness this power) is a scary thought.

Re:Gandhi (2)

HackLore (31416) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444788)

Perhaps you fail to realize what beliefs Einstein actually held concerning religion.
I will give you one of my favorite quotes of his:

"Science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind."


Re:Gandhi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444789)

Didn't Ghandi just do what ever Jesus would have done if he were a real person. I think Ghandi's favorite quote was

"What would Jesus do?"

Remember what we spent much of this century doing: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444790)

Dealing with German expansionism.

Doesn't sound very profound, does it?

150 million people have died this century in conflicts directly or indirectly related to a belligerent German state.

Computers as we know them were forged as part of the effort to combat Germany, as was our atomic technology.

Re:Well... I'm no Alfred Einstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444791)

Not to give John Namath (sic) too much credit, but Alfred Einstein was a well-known musicologist and wrote the most notable biography of Mozart. So holding up Alfred as a standard of intelligence isn't too far off the mark.

With regard to the prospect of Einstein being named man of the century, it seems to me that he did something unique in 20th century science: he adopted a broad and simple general idea (the invariance of physical law with respect to different inertial frames of reference) and followed it through to its counterintuitive logical consequences. (Lorentz and Poincare probably deserve some credit here too). And that's only special relativity. With even less experimental inspiration he also gave us general relativity. And, despite his debates with Bohr, his analysis of the photoelectric effect started the ball rolling on quantum theory. It's hard to imagine anyone who could have had a broader and deeper impact on 20th century science. And he did it by noting deep principles of invariance in physical law---not just by trying to artificially construct models to explain experimential results. His ideas were _deep_ and newer physical theories are going to have to make some concession to the invariants he noticed in formulating his theories.

I agree with those posters who point out that a single man of the century inevitably slights noncommensurable areas of human eneavour. But I'd certainly back Einstein as scientist of the century.

Whether or not he was influential on the "average moron" has more to do with whether or not his results have influenced the "average moron"'s life than whether or not the "average moron" understands the justification of E=mc^2. With semiconductor technology and with the A-bomb casting a shadow over the latter half of the twentieth century, I'd say Einstein's theories had a pretty clear influence on nearly everyone.

So.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444792)

Besides telling us what we already know, the fact that Germany sucks and is a fucked up country, what is your point. What should we say to Germany, "Thanks for the PC Adolf." The only thing truly German is disgusting Pr0n. You overstate Germany's importance. Like a bee sting they hurt like hell but it is still just an insect pissed off at something.

Man Of The Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444793)

Shoulda been Bob Fineman, who used to live
next door to me. Periodically, he'd give
give up drinking and smoking dope, and gimme
all his dope.

Einstein y drudge (1)

Lx (12170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444794)

So you say Einstein is Person of the Centrury, and you post a link to the Drudge report for further information? This is about equivalent to saying "Einstein is not Person of the Century". The Drudge Report is at best, accurate half of the time. Why don't you just wait until it's officially declared, instead of reporting rumors? Is this from the same crowd that said RedHat was going to buy Be, or what?

I think Slashdot would do well to check the sources of its information, lest it become a gossip page.


Who's smarter? (1)

Bizzaro (14691) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444795)

Bohr was a greater thinker than Einstein, without a doubt

This is your opinion, as I have some doubt about the statement. I never liked this desire people have to say one person is smarter than the other. And Einstein's place and importance in society has been exaggerated, largely due to the social phenomenon of celebrity. (He is certainly a better choice than a rock star, actress or politician, and I was almost expecting one of these to be picked by Time.) But Neils Bohr was so often wrong himself. The "Bohr model of the atom," for example, shows electrons in elliptical orbitals, like planets orbiting a star. It's well known in physics and chemistry to be completely false, and it is only valued today as an appoximation for hydrogen-like atoms.

In any case, I am thrilled to see a fellow scientist chosen for person of the century. It almost restores my respect for the media. This is a much better choice than the runners-up would have been, which (I haven't checked but I bet) are Elvis, John Lennon, JFK, Princess Diana, James Dean, etc. Yuck.

This sort of thing has cropped up before. And it has always been due to human error.

From the mouth of the man himself (1)

Kaht (122157) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444796)

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." -Albert Einstein

Really. He said it.

Re:Gandhi (1)

uh (127786) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444797)

I am personally undecided (agnostic, but leaning towards existance) on the existance of God. However, what I do find amusing is the adamant atheist dogma on slashdot. What is quite intriguing is how many of their "gods", those who did tremendous work in the sciences, were religous. What is even more intriguing is you'll never find a slashdot athiest reply to a post that brings this issue up :].

Re:Top 100 of Millenium (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444799)

Back in October, A&E ran a countdown of the top 100 people of the millenium. I don't quite remember the criterion they used, I believe it was polling a bunch of academics and important people today.

Anyways, I thought the list was pretty decent once you got in the Top 50 (#50-100 were largely from the 20th century) They tried to keep the areas of influence pretty separate (ie, how do you weigh influence on culture against influence on physical life?), but within the categories, the ordering seemed right.

I'm sure you can get a complete list from A&E, but here's an except from an email to a friend:

53) Murie Curie
41) Billy-Bo-Bob Gates
28) Beethoven
27) JS Bach
26) Wolf Mozart
24) St. Thomas Aquinto
23) Abe Lincoln
17) Mahot Gandhi
16) Al Hilter
13) Sig Freud
10) Galileo
9) Nick Copernicus
8) Al Einstein
5) Will Shakespeare
4) Chuck Darwin
3) Martin Luther
2) Issac Newton
1) Guttenburg


Henry Ford influenced MANY more people (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444800)

I think you really mean more people believe they understand what Gandhi was talking about. But Einstein's thoughts, even if most people didn't understand them, affected more people.

After all, the end result of Gandhi's efforts was the creation of three of the world's poorest nations, who waste their scarce resources in making war against each other. Two of them have now atomic weapons, how long till Bangladesh gets its own Bomb?

Spiritual end emotional leaders may get the admiration and respect of millions of people, but it's only the fear of atomic bombs that stopped WWIII from happening. You love and admire that Apple ][, but it's the pentium III that gets things done.

I believe that, if it's possible to choose a "person of the century", he should be Henry Ford. This has, very definitely, been the century of the automobile. People often do not think about it, because it's so trivial, but the way we live today is entirely shaped around the automobile, for better or worse.

Bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444801)

Any list that has Steve Guttenberg has got to be a joke. come on Police Academy was not that great. Al Hitler...any relation to Adolf?

Re:Einstein y drudge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444802)

Uh, /. isn't a news site. Any indication that it is, is misleading. Slashdot is a website whose sole purpose is to generate revenue. All of /.' s other purposes are secondary concerns. The fact that this post genereated over 80 comments within a few hours is proof alone it belongs on /.. The fact that it did so on the day after christmas (still christmas in some areas), is impressive. The poster of this post should be commended for the banner generating revenue deriven from this post. All Hail Hemos!

E=mc2 was Italian's idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444803)

Einstein's E=mc2 'was Italian's idea' Rory Carroll in Rome Thursday November 11, 1999 The mathematical equation that ushered in the atomic age was discovered by an unknown Italian dilettante two years before Albert Einstein used it in developing the theory of relativity, it was claimed yesterday. Olinto De Pretto, an industrialist from Vicenza, published the equation E=mc2 in a scientific magazine, Atte, in 1903, said Umberto Bartocci, a mathematical historian. Einstein allegedly used De Pretto's insight in a major paper published in 1905, but De Pretto was never acclaimed, said Professor Bartocci of the University of Perugia. De Pretto had stumbled on the equation, but not the theory of relativity, while speculating about ether in the life of the universe, said Prof Bartocci. It was republished in 1904 by Veneto's Royal Science Institute, but the equation's significance was not understood. A Swiss Italian named Michele Besso alerted Einstein to the research and in 1905 Einstein published his own work, said Prof Bartocci. It took years for his breakthrough to be grasped. When the penny finally dropped, De Pretto's contribution was overlooked while Einstein went on to become the century's most famous scientist. De Pretto died in 1921. "De Pretto did not discover relativity but there is no doubt that he was the first to use the equation. That is hugely significant. I also believe, though it's impossible to prove, that Einstein used De Pretto's research," said Prof Bartocci, who has written a book on the subject. Einstein's theory held that time and motion are relative to the observer if the speed of light is constant and if all natural laws are the same. A footnote established the equivalence of mass and energy, according to which the energy (E) of a quantity of matter (m) is equal to the product of the mass and the square of the velocity of light (c). Now known as: E=mc2 . The influence of work by other physicists on Einstein's theory is also controversial. A German, David Hilbert, is thought by some to have been decisive. Edmund Robertson, professor of mathematics at St Andrew's University, said: "An awful lot of mathematics was done by people who have never been credited - Arabs in the middle ages, for example. Einstein may have got the idea from someone else, but ideas come from all sorts of places. "De Pretto deserves credit if his contribution can be proven. Even so, it should not detract from Einstein."

Re:If I can am allowed to ask only one question - (1)

craw (6958) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444804)

Let's see, perhaps there are other religions that were founded/influenced by other ppl in the last 2K years. And perhaps there are more ppl in the world that are believers of those religions. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindi may wonder what is the true meaning of Y2K?

Jesus is just one of many that have had a profound influence on the religions of the world.

I don't say this as total flamebait. Please think about this. If you live in India, China, Japan, Pakistan, to name a few countries, what would your answer be. I don't want you to care about what my religion is, and I don't care to want to know about yours. Whatever it may be, I respect your decision.

GPS and Relativity (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444805)

You are right in that GPS wouldn't work without relativity. We are deeper down in the gravity well than the satellites, and the frequency shift caused by the signal falling down to us must be taken into account (it's not the same as the Doppler effect, also taken into account in GPS).

In 1957, a german student named Rudolf Mössbauer invented a very precise method for measuring this effect, using gamma rays emitted by radioactive nuclei. This method was much more precise than all other confirmations of Einstein's general relativity theory at the time, and Mössbauer was awarded the 1961 Nobel prize for his invention.

But I don't think relativity has been proved beyond a doubt. We never reach the final truth in Science, but we are always moving closer to it.

That's PC bull (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444806)

No one can be considered "better" than others today. If someone is obviously superior in some respect, then he *must* have other handicaps. That's why every scientist in Hollywood productions is mad, every millionaire is corrupt, every artist is a dope fiend. Only Joe Average, who has absolutely nothing to distinguish him, is allowed to be perfect.

Re:Hey (1)

Rakarra (112805) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444807)

Now now... we know Jesus wasn't a fictional literary character. The Romans have records of him at the time. Now, whether he was really the sun of God is another debate. But denying his existance is a little trickier.

Jeez... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444808)

The award should've gone to Kurt Cobain,
Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix. They embodied
the 20th Century perfectly.

Re:In all sense of fairness... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444809)

Mark Twain?


Wrong century dude.

I do love Twain though.

Who is Albert Einsten? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1444810)

Who is this Einsten guy and why do you use the picture of Albert Einstein?

Re:Isnt this premature? (1)

giggab00 (93602) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444811)

That's right! Randal Mills at BlackLight Powers will demonstrate his "hydrinos" million uses and how it uncovers the Grand Unified Theory in a few months! WooooOoooOOOoooooo...... Suck that Mister-Everything-Is-Relative-Dude!

Re:As much as we all hate'em.... (1)

jyang (86770) | more than 14 years ago | (#1444812)

There were butchers before, there will be butchers in the future. Adolf Hitler is just another Alexender the Great (sorry to Macedonians), except his evils were amplified by modern weaponary. Hitler can't do 1 / 1000 th of what he did without the German people's consensus and the fact of unique European internal geo-politic history.

"Kings are slaves of history" -- Tolstoy.

P.S. I thought Pearl Harbor changed America, not Hitler.

P.P.S Earth is much bigger than America.
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