Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

I feel as if I had been wandering with Alice in Wonderland and had tea with the Mad Hatter.

—Astronomer Charles Lane Poor, on reading Einstein’s theory of relativity

… it can only be hoped that German science will not again be embarrassed by such sad scribblings.

Albert von Brunn, critiquing the theory

It’s hard to imagine success greater than having one’s name become a synonym for “genius,” but Albert Einstein was not always recognized as such. After publishing his theory of relativity, he was met with disbelief, mockery, dismissal, and a considerable dose of antisemitism. (Physicist Philipp Lenard referred to Einstein’s work as “Jewish physics.”)

The resistance was so formidable as to result in the publication of a book called A Hundred Authors Against Einstein. But almost a hundred years later, these authors’ objections are mostly forgotten and dismissed, while the Nobel-prize-winning target of their hostility has an element and an asteroid named after him, and was chosen as the person of the century by Time magazine.