In the wake of the New York Times’ controversial obituary of Yvonne Brill (beef stroganoff, anyone?), a pioneering rocket scientist and according to her son, Matthew, “the world’s best mom,” I thought a rewrite of Albert Einstein’s obituary was in order to highlight the disparity in how the New York Times might have written it using the same style as it took with Brill:
Isolated as a child and reported to have struggled with a speech difficulty that made his cadence slow, Albert Einstein found interests in geometry, the force that moved a compass and classical music. His parents objected to his romance with first wife, fellow physicist Mileva Maric , whom he eventually married and had three children with (and possibly a fourth; there is some mystery as to whether that child died or was adopted by another family) and later divorced the same year as he remarried his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal.
1905 was known as a magical year for Einstein when he published both the paper for his doctorate and four for Annalen der Physik, one of the most highly regarded and well-known physics journals. These four papers covered the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity and the equivalence of matter and energy. The work he published that year had profound effect upon the field of physics. We boil this down to one all-important equation: E=mc2. The suggestion that tiny particles of matter could be converted into huge amounts of energy was critical to the development of nuclear energy. He did not acknowledge Maric’s assistance in any of these discoveries, although there are rumors that she served as a trusted sounding board.
His solitary tendencies caused him trouble from childhood, including throughout his academic career. He was fortunate that family friends intervened in ways to support his livelihood and his ability to pursue his passion for physics. Born in Germany, he became a Swiss citizen after his family left Germany for Italy. He lived and worked in Europe until he renounced his German citizenship in 1933 for political reasons. He then emigrated, to the United States, where he took a position as Professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton University. He became a U.S. citizen in 1940.
Einstein died April 18, 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey at the age of 76.