4 times Einstein had an influence on pop culture
From Kanye West to "Back to the Future," the world's most beloved genius has popped up in lots of places.
"Einstein's face is the most recognizable face worldwide," Hanoch Gutfreund, the director of the Albert Einstein Archives at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told From The Grapevine. "The interest in Einstein does not fade into history," Gutfreund told us by phone from Israel. "If anything, if one can say anything about this, the interest in Einstein increases with time. It's greater now." Case in point is the genius' constant presence in pop culture. While he has way too many cameos to list in full, we've curated a few of our favorites below.
Yoda and the science of 'Star Wars'
The makeup supervisor for "Star Wars" modeled Yoda’s eyes after Einstein, giving the Jedi master a wise look. (Photo: Courtesy Albert Einstein/Twitter)
For starters, did you know that the makeup supervisor for the original "Star Wars" modeled Yoda’s eyes after Einstein’s, giving the Jedi master a wise look? But his influence on the famed franchise goes much deeper. Einstein's theory of relativity touched on the topics of time travel and gravitational pull, both of which can be seen in the "Star Wars" universe. The Millennium Falcon used hyperspace to quickly traverse a galactic empire spanning more than 120,000 light years. According to a scientific paper on the subject, those ships using hyperspace would experience time much differently than those without it. And in a case of fact mirroring fiction, a rocket was recently launched to actually test Einstein's theory of relativity in space.
The dog from 'Back to the Future'
Fans of "Back to the Future" know that before Marty McFly took a ride in the time-traveling DeLorean, the plutonium-powered journey was first tried by a sheepdog named Einstein. To help show how the machine worked, Doc Brown strapped his dog into the driver's seat and sent the pup zooming through a mall parking lot at 88 mph. With a quick flash, Einstein left a trail of fire in his wake that made its way onto the film's movie poster. Wired Magazine named Einstein one of the top 10 awesome dogs in geek culture. What's more, actor Christopher Lloyd has said that he took inspiration from the real-life Albert Einstein for his Doc Brown character who sported a shock of white hair and dreamed of time travel.
Kanye West, the Beatles and other musicians
Kanye West made news recently when he performed a seven-minute rap song at a private party. In it, he compares himself to the world's most famous genius. "I know I'm the most influential / That TIME cover was just confirmation / This generation's closest thing to Einstein / But don't worry about me, I'm fine." This is not the first time, nor certainly the last, that the genius will find himself attached to a musical icon. He was one of the celebrities on the cover of the Beatles' famous "Sgt. Pepper" album, and pop star Kelly Clarkson also named a song after him. Mariah Carey titled her "E=MC²" album after his most famous theory.
The romantic comedy 'IQ'
Einstein may be a genius in the laboratory, but is he also a genius matchmaker? That was the question that formed the basis for the 1994 romantic comedy "IQ" starring Walter Matthau as the beloved Einstein. In the film, he plays Uncle Al to his niece, played by Meg Ryan, whom he tries to set up with an auto mechanic played by Tim Robbins. Roger Ebert called the film "fun and warmhearted" and said that Matthau's portrayal of Einstein "is a stroke of casting genius .... It's one of the year's genuine comic gems. He deserves an Oscar nomination."
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