Did Feynman ever meet Einstein?

Did Feynman ever meet Einstein?


Portrait of Einstein taken at Princeton

Richard Feynman did meet Albert Einstein. Feynman was a young graduate student at Princeton University in the early 1940s when he first met Einstein, who was a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Feynman later described the meeting in his book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

Apparently Feynman’s first actual meeting with Einstein became quite disarming rather quickly when Einstein entered the seminar hall where Feynman was lecturing. Upon entrance into the hall Einstein said:

“Hello, I’m coming to your seminar. But first where’s the tea?”

Feynman (center) with Robert Oppenheimer (immediately right of Feynman) at Los Alamos Laboratory

Apparently Feynman felt so in awed of Einstein that he was shaking, his hand specifically while giving the lecture. Of course many of us have had a limb shake out of nervousness. Moreover, having Einstein in attendance and monitoring your lecture surely evokes stress to the Nth degree!

Feynman said of the lecture:

“the moment I start to think about Physics, and have to concentrate on what I’m explaining, nothing else occupies my mind. I’m completely immune to being nervous.”

Feynman diagram of electron/positron annihilation

When the famous Wolfgang Pauli showed skepticism regarding Feynman’s lecture, Einstein said:

“The only difficulty that I would find is in the corresponding theory for gravitational interaction. Since we do not have a great deal of experimental evidence, I’m absolutely not sure of the correct gravitational theory.”

However, Feynman ended up becoming grateful of Pauli’s skepticism. As it turns out, Pauli’s question inspired Feynman to improve his work.

In conclusion Feynman said of Einstein:

“Einstein was a giant. His head was in the clouds, but his feet were on the ground. But those of us who are not that tall have to choose!”


Did Feynman ever meet Einstein?

When Richard Feynman Met Albert Einstein | by Sunny Labh | Cantor’s Paradise (cantorsparadise.com)

Collective Electrodynamics: Quantum Foundations of Electromagnetism: Mead, Carver A.: 9780262632607: Amazon.com: Books