Einstein’s Theory of Creativity

With the news that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity had been definitively proved, The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly described some compelling aspects of the brilliant scientist’s creative process in How Mozart Unlocked a Galactic Secret. The gist for us: to be a scientist you have to be an artist and…

things we make, ideas, art, music is brought into the world by intuiting and discovering them. (It’s almost as though they already exist; we just have to find them.)

Richard Long

Richard Long

What Einstein understood from the start was that he would not achieve his goal of describing the essential structure of the cosmos with just conscious thought and the delineations of logic.

He instead relied upon intuition and what he described as “the architecture of music.” He would grab his violin or plunk down at the piano when he seemed stuck.
‘Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music,’ his older son, Hans, would recount. ‘That would usually resolve all his difficulties.’

Einstein declared that a great scientist had to be an artist before all else. He sought and found inspiration in the work of Mozart above that of all others.

‘Mozart’s music is so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master,’ Einstein once said.

…The biographer Walter Isaacson would quote an Einstein friend describing the great thinker as playing his violin in the kitchen late into the night. The music would suddenly stop.

‘I’ve got it!’ Einstein would exclaim.
He did not so much envision as intuit, feel a cosmos where space and time were a vibrant whole, expanding and shrinking, animated by gravitational waves generated by the motion of matter.

Einstein’s office at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey on April 18, 1955. The famous physicist died of a gall bladder ailment at the age of 76. (AP Photo/Jacob Harris)

Einstein’s office at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey on April 18, 1955. (AP Photo/Jacob Harris)


With thanks to Joshua Eisen.

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