Forty years ago, a good-natured
fellow by the name of Al Weber spent his summers with us in the Space Sciences
Lab at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Al was the chairman of the
physics department at St. Louis University, and he had a couple of good
stories to tell about Einstein. One of them was about the time when Einstein
came to St. Louis University to talk about the work he was doing on his
Unified Field Theory. The bans went out near and far that Einstein would
be presenting his results at an evening seminar at St. Louis University,
and people flocked from far and wide to hear what the leading genius of
our age would have to tell them. Einstein got up, said, "I have nothing
new to report.", and sat down. I don't know what they did with the rest
of the evening.
Another story about Einstein came either from Al Weber or from the chairman of our physics department at Case, Dr. Robert Shankland. One or the other of these worthies said that Einstein would go to colloquia where some physics professor was ridiculing his work. Einstein would listen quietly, and would applaud him when him finished. Einstein would never say a word in defense of his work. I'm fabricating the wording for this, but it went something like, "If it's true, then I don't need to defend it. If it's not true, then I don't want to defend it. My struggle is not between myself and my colleagues, but between myself and Nature."
Dr. Shankland had spearheaded follow-on studies of Dr. Dayton C. Miller's experiments that purported to show small residual values of ether drift. Dr. Shankland was able to show that Dr. Miller's anomalies were caused by solar heating in the little shed where Dr. Miller had performed his experiments. The anomalies fit an insolation curve very nicely. Dr. Shankland reported his results to Einstein, and later told us in class about his impressions of Einstein. He said that what struck him most about Einstein were his eyes. Einstein's eyes seemed to telegraph the mind that lay behind them.