Albert Einstein's famous visage is seen in artwork throughout the world. Albert Einstein's famous visage is seen in artwork throughout the world. Albert Einstein's famous visage is seen in artwork throughout the world. (Photo: Bokic Bojan / Shutterstock)

Einstein's most famous theory turns 100, and it hasn't aged a day

Fans of the world's favorite genius are celebrating a momentous occasion this month.

Ask somebody on the street what's the first thing they think about when you say, "Albert Einstein." Most people will bring up the genius' famous theory of relativity, which turns 100 this month. On Nov. 25, 1915, Einstein presented the theory to the Prussian Academy of Science in Germany. To commemorate the occasion, people of all ages are celebrating the life of Einstein.

"There are so many events and exhibitions around the world," Hanoch Gutfreund, the director of the Albert Einstein Archives at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told From The Grapevine. Einstein was a founder of Hebrew University, a member of its Board of Governors and the chairman of its Academic Committee. He bequeathed to the university 80,000 documents which span the spectrum of both his personal and professional life. Which makes Gutfreund, himself a theoretical physicist, perhaps the world's leading expert on Einstein's legacy.

Gutfreund, the former president of Hebrew University, has spent the past several months leading up to the anniversary traveling across the globe. When we reached him by phone recently at his office in Israel, he told us that he's just returned from Japan where he gave a talk at the University of Tokyo. Earlier this summer, he was in Rome for a conference about the theory of relativity. This week he's headed to Poland, then to Germany, then to Spain. At each stop he will exhibit some of Einstein's original papers.

He calls the original theory of relativity the most cherished manuscript they have in the Jerusalem archive. "I refer to it as the magna carta of physics," he says.

From Baltimore to Brandenburg and from India to Ireland, 2015 has seen a bevy of Einstein-related activity. For those who can't attend one of the myriad anniversary events, Gutfreund has just co-authored a book called "The Road to Relativity," which uses documents scanned from the archive alongside annotations to better explain Einstein's work. Hebrew University has also collaborated with Caltech and Princeton University on a digital collection of all of Einstein's papers which users can sift through from the comfort of their own home – while wearing slippers, in typical Einstein fashion.

Scientific American magazine dedicated its entire September issue to Einstein. On our own site, a bizarre story about the man who stole Einstein's brain broke records as our most-liked story on social media. The official Albert Einstein Facebook account is currently holding a #ThanksEinstein contest for its nearly 17 million followers. The winner will receive a framed Einstein-themed print created by street artist Mr. Brainwash.

Piece of modern artwork featuring albert einsteinA print based on this work, worth about $1,500, will go to a winner of a contest celebrating the 100th anniversary of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. (Photo: Courtesy Mr. Brainwash)

"He appealed to the modern man at that time, and he really still does," Anthony Iliakostas, who runs Einstein's Facebook account, told From The Grapevine. "His comments are that timeless." Some of Iliakostas' most popular posts are memes of Einstein's favorite quotes. He's seeing increased engagement leading up to the anniversary.

At 100 years old, Einstein's theory is still thriving. New discoveries are constantly being made that stand on the shoulders of the original theory of relativity. On Back to the Future Day, for example, some brought up how Einstein showed how time is relative, thereby opening the doors for possible time travel. (Fans of the trilogy will also recall the name of the dog was Einstein.) Others point out how relativity enabled our modern-day GPS systems:

Earlier this month, an Ohio high school student won nearly a half million dollars from the Breakthrough Junior Challenge for using popcorn and spaceships to help demonstrate the theory of relativity. In Toronto, the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University organization hosts the annual Next Einstein prize, awarded to up-and-coming big thinkers. Last year's winner was a teenager who invented a way to construct strong, inexpensive, 3D-printed prosthetic hands.

As for Gutfreund, the Israeli professor understands the responsibility of his job, as the keeper of the genius' legacy. "Einstein's face is the most recognizable face worldwide," he says.

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Related Topics: Albert Einstein, Science