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Dr. Albert Einstein: Theoretical Physics, Relativity and the Photoelectric Effect, 1935

An Eternal Riddle

Though he is conceived of as a genius in modern society, Einstein's ways of thinking diverged sharply from those of a majority of other scientists when he initially penned some of his most famous theories. In the early years of the 20th Century, theorists were not regarded with great respect, but Einstein viewed theoretical work as a high calling. Contemplating theoretical physics, Einstein wrote, "I soon learned to scent out that which was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else, from the multitude of things which clutter up the mind and divert it from the essential...Out yonder there is this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle."

The Franklin Institute urged Einstein to attend the Medal Day exercises during which he would be presented with the Franklin Medal, which recognized the strides Einstein had made in solving the "great, eternal riddle" which both perplexed and intrigued him. One such urging letter appears at right, followed by Einstein's confirmation of his plans to attend the exercises.