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Biographer Discusses Einstein’s Life, Legacy

Journalist Walter Isaacson discusses his new biography of Albert Einstein and historians' recent, more nuanced views of the scientist's life and achievements.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Albert Einstein, his very name conjures up an image of the brilliant physicist, the unruly locks, E equals MC squared, the special theory of relativity, the Brownian movement of molecules, the photon theory of light.

    Einstein first published these theories in 1905. He was then a 26-year-old Swiss patent examiner. Over 100 years later, and more than 50 years after his death, thousands of Einstein's private letters and correspondence from these early years and later were unsealed and made available to scholars.

    That correspondence provided the insight for a new biography of the physicist who ushered in the modern age. It is "Einstein: His Life and Universe" by Walter Isaacson. I talked with him recently at his home in Washington.

    Why did you want to write about Albert Einstein?

  • WALTER ISAACSON, Author:

    Well, I love the magic and the wonders of science. And sometimes we feel alienated or intimidated by science, especially Einstein, who seems so intimidating. But the new letters show what a passionate, creative, imaginative human being he was. And I felt it could make not only science come alive, but the whole 20th century, refugees from oppression, people like Einstein who helped make it such an amazing modern era.

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