Making Einstein youth friendly

A century on, physicians realise they must rebrand their shunned science to appeal to youth.

By: JEREMY LAURENCE (REUTERS)
| Updated on: Jan 12 2005, 03:58 IST

Bicycle stunts, rap music and modern dance -- all in the name of Einstein.

Hardly E=mc2, but 100 years after Albert Einstein published three seminal research papers which changed scientific thinking about the universe forever, physicians are conscious they must rebrand their shunned science to appeal to young people.

Einstein Year was launched in Britain this month at a youth driven ceremony at London's Science Museum where a BMX stunt rider performed an 'Einstein flip', said to be the first bicycle stunt to be designed by a physicist.

'There tends to be a knee-jerk negative reaction about physics -- that it is boring and hard. What we are trying to do is change people's perceptions,' said Caitlin Watson of the Institute of Physics (IoP) in London.

'We want to show that physics is not about the stereotype of the mad scientist. Physicists are normal people doing normal things.'

Rap artist DJ Vader has also been drafted in by organisers to rebrand physics as cool. His love song 'Einstein (not enough time)' has been adopted as the theme tune for the year-long celebrations across Britain.

It is unlikely he will ever replace Einstein as the face of science. Einstein's iconic image is known the world over.

'We remember (him) now mainly as an older man, the benign and unkempt sage on a poster and t-shirt,' said Professor Martin Rees of Cambridge University.

'That's surprising because his great work was well over by the time he was 40. At that time (1905) ... he was a nattily dressed young professor. In a way, the icon is rather different from the man who made these great achievements.'

Some people say the celebrations marking Einstein's annus mirabilis border on being irreverent.

'Of course, physics is a science used in all kinds of applications in technology, the environment etcetera, and anything we can do, even if it means dumbing down to enthuse young people about physics, is surely excellent,' said Rees.

Einstein loved music and cycling. He was also a school drop-out.

He did so badly at school his teachers ld his parents to take him out because he was 'too stupid to learn' and it would be a waste of resources to invest time and energy in his education. The school suggested that his parents get him an easy, manual labour job as soon as they could.

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First Published Date: 11 Jan, 12:54 IST
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