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Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein! (Plus: Pie Recipes For Pi Day)

Today marks the 135th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s birth in Ulm, Germany. It’s also Pi Day (3.14, get it?), which means March 14 is the most numerically serendipitous day of the year. Obviously, the ideal way to commemorate this day is to read about Einstein, bake pie, and defend your mathematics dissertation. We can’t help you with the latter, but for everything else, we’ve got you covered:

1. Did you know that David Ben Gurion asked Einstein to be the second president of Israel, following the death of Chaim Weizmann in 1952? Einstein declined:

I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions. Therefore I would also be an inappropriate candidate for this high task, even when my old age didn’t interfere with my forces more and more […] I am the more distressed over these circumstances because my relationship to the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond, ever since I became aware of our precarious situation among the nations of the world.

The two titans had met at Princeton University the previous year, where they were photographed sitting in the sunshine, smiling and chatting. (Their expressions are exuberant–it’s quite the bromance, no?) From the original newsreel footage:

“Here are two men, one whose history will be written deep in the history of social progress, and the other who helped found a new age. A meeting to remember!”


2. Einstein was supposed to address the American people on ABC, NBC and CBS on Israel’s Independence Day in 1955, but he died eight days before delivering the speech. Writes Yair Rosenberg for Tablet:

“His speech–a passionate plea for peace and defense of the fledgling state of Israel–had been written in conjunction with the Israeli consulate and famed ambassador Abba Eban… [he] remained until the end a passionate defender of Israel and seeker of peace–and a strong believer that the two causes were not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually reinforcing.”

3. He was an avid, articulate correspondent, and often wrote to children. Here he responds to a question from a third grader about the relationship between faith and science:

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish…

But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.

4. His face graced Israel’s 5 Lira note from 1948-1980, before shekels became the official currency:

DON’T WORRY, YOU GUYS: We didn’t forget the pi/pie!

5. Here’s our recipe for Squash Pie, made with honey. It’s delicious and cozy and sort of healthy because it’s made with squash. (Right?) Hyper-organized menu planning types: bookmark for Thanksgiving/fall.

6. Joan Nathan has this easy, delicious, Zucchini Pie with a matzo-meal base over at Tablet. It’s Turkish in origin! (AKA: Kabak kalavasucho.) Hyper-organized menu planning types: bookmark for Passover.

7. Want more pie? The Los Angeles Times beat 82,299 other Google entries to take home the 2014 “Pi Day” SEO prize with this 52 recipe behemoth. Here is apple, here is key lime, here is cherry, here is bourbon chocolate.

Happy reading/baking!


Image: Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion visits Albert Einstein at Princeton University on 1951. (AFP/Getty)

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