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Colleges join worldwide Einstein fete

Posted on Thursday, July 05, 2012

Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.

Matthew Daneman

Associated Press 1936 file photo

Albert Einstein affected areas from arts to technology, a Hobart and William Smith professor says.


(February 13, 2005) - GENEVA - Albert Einstein never taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, never walked the campus on the north shore of Seneca Lake.

But the works of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist turned pop culture icon touch discipline after discipline here, and not just in physics professor Donald Spector's class.

"His career impacted so many areas - the arts, philosophy, technology, civil rights," Spector said.

Hobart and William Smith will dedicate a day of events to Einstein later this month, including a daylong symposium on his legacy. It comes as part of International Einstein Year, with scientists and schools around the globe hosting events to mark the centennial of what was one of the most remarkable years in science.

In 1905, Einstein wrote a series of papers that changed how science understands reality by, among other things, proving the existence of and establishing the properties of atoms; changing the understanding of how light works; and developing his theory of special relativity.

"Any one of which was worthy of a Nobel Prize," Spector said. "It was a stunning year."

At Hobart and William Smith, the annual HWS Day - a traditional event that looks at a contemporary issue from the points of view of various disciplines - is revolving around Einstein.

The Feb. 22 symposium will feature happenings ranging from a discussion of contemporary issues surrounding nuclear power and weapons, to a performance of the opera Einstein on the Beach.

Capping the day will be a pair of talks: one by Peter Galison, a professor of physics and of the history of science at Harvard University, and one by Sylvester James Gates Jr., a University of Maryland physicist.

Hobart and William Smith isn't the only area institution taking part in the Einstein fete. An Einstein-themed film will be shown at the Rochester Museum & Science Center through early May.

 


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