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When shown told of the rumour, Einstein was amused; “I never failed in mathematics,” he replied. “Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.” In elementary school, Einstein was at the top of his class in math. By age 12, he was able to solve complicated problems in applied arithmetic and began learning geometry and algebra on his own. Einstein also tackled new mathematical theories and even came up on his own with a way to prove the Pythagorean theorem.
Actually I'm not sure that's the correct explanation for how the myth got started. I found an alternate explanation, though I'm not sure it's correct. It relates to a change in the grading system and people misinterpreting his grades as a result of the change:
Originally posted by PurpleChiten
Einstein did NOT fail math!
I get sooooo tired of seeing people parrot this insane myth.
Some “idiot” somewhere took this quote from him: “Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.” And assumed it meant he did poorly in math. That’s not the case at all.
The person or people who started the insane myth didn’t know enough math themselves to realize how “deep” it actually goes.
So someone is replacing one myth with another one, but I'm not sure who. It's either you or the source I quoted, since they are two different explanations.
In 1895, he sat the entrance examinations to get into the prestigious Federal Polytechnic School (or Academy) in Zurich, Switzerland. He was 16, two years younger than his fellow applicants. He did outstandingly well in physics and mathematics, but failed the non-science subjects, doing especially badly in French - so he was not accepted. So in that same year, he continued his studies at the Canton school in Aargau (also called Aarau). He studied well, and this time, he passed the entry exams into the Federal Polytechnic School.
So the next year, he finally started studying at the Federal Polytechnic in Zurich (even though he was now one year younger than most of his fellow students). Also in the year 1896, even though he was only 16 years old, he wrote a brilliant essay that led directly to his later work in relativity.
So he definitely did not fail his high school, and definitely was not a poor student.
So how did the myth that he failed high school start?
Easy. In 1896, which was Einstein's last year at the school in Aargau, the school's system of marking was reversed.
A grading of "6", which had previously been the lowest mark, was now the highest mark. And so, a grading of "1", which had been the highest mark, was now the lowest mark.
And so, anybody looking up Einstein's grades would see that he had scored lots of grades around "1" - which under the new marking scheme, meant a "fail".
Einstein was awarded the Zurich Polytechnic teaching diploma, but Marić failed the examination with a poor grade in the mathematics component, theory of functions.[27] There have been claims that Marić collaborated with Einstein on his celebrated 1905 papers,[28][29] but historians of physics who have studied the issue find no evidence that she made any substantive contributions.[30][31][32][33]
Originally posted by winterkill
Sadly though, all those kids who said..."hey, if Einstein sucked at math and became great, so can I" no longer have that to believe in.
.
If your post didn't address how the myth got started, and just said myth busted, then there would be no need to discuss a new myth. But someone is creating a new myth about how the old myth got started, and even if it doesn't matter to you, it matters to me. I'll have to look into this a little more.
Originally posted by PurpleChiten
ETA: The specifics of each and every spreading point of the incorrect information isn't what is important to me, what's important to me is the proving that the incorrect information is incorrect as is pointed out by several sources. The only discussion issue would be the cause of the spread of the incorrect information, which does not take away from the fact that it was incorrect to begin with.
Originally posted by Arbitrageur
If your post didn't address how the myth got started, and just said myth busted, then there would be no need to discuss a new myth. But someone is creating a new myth about how the old myth got started, and even if it doesn't matter to you, it matters to me. I'll have to look into this a little more.
Originally posted by PurpleChiten
ETA: The specifics of each and every spreading point of the incorrect information isn't what is important to me, what's important to me is the proving that the incorrect information is incorrect as is pointed out by several sources. The only discussion issue would be the cause of the spread of the incorrect information, which does not take away from the fact that it was incorrect to begin with.
The "science has proved that bees can't fly" urban myth originated in a 1934 book by entomologist Antoine Magnan, who discussed a mathematical equation by Andre Sainte-Lague, an engineer. The equation proved that the maximum lift for an aircraft's wings could not be achieved at equivalent speeds of a bee. I.e., an airplane the size of a bee, moving as slowly as a bee, could not fly. Although this did not mean a bee can't fly (which after all does not have stationary wings like the posited teency aircraft), nevertheless the idea that Magnan's book said bees oughtn't be able to fly began to spread.
It spread at first as a joke in European universities, at Sainte-Lague's & Magnan's expense. But later it became a "fact" among the gullible or the uneducated not smart enough to get the joke. Later still it became a "fun" experiment to develop complex mathematical theories both to explain how insects fly, or why they can't -- scientific intellectual sophism.
Originally posted by MysterX
reply to post by PurpleChiten
Seriously though...who cares?
The bloke is long dead...he really doesn't mind who thinks he failed or passed maths..he's probably more concerned with rotting slowly away to nothing at the moment mate.
edit on 1-12-2012 by MysterX because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by MathematicalPhysicist
Einstein was good at math, yes, but he was no mathematical physicist. That is why it took him more than 10 years to formulate the mathematics for general relativity in the language of differential geometry, even though he had the physics down much earlier.
As you would know, there's a great difference between mathematical and physical intuition. This is evidenced in the different approaches used in proving theorems and relationships in both fields, one being based primarily on rigor while the other primarily on intuition. A mathematician will consider the use of differential forms as well other approximations in deriving physical laws to be extremely lacking and sloppy, while physicists will find the meticulous rigor employed by mathematicians in proofs to be unnecessary and useless.
Originally posted by PurpleChiten
They still have the fact that if dubya can be POTUS, they are capable of anything. There was a time when I didn't feel justified in encouraging certain kids because they didn't have the mental ability to accomplish much (in my opinion), but if dubya can be president, everyone truely is capable of success in some shape, form or fashion.
Originally posted by PurpleChiten
Actually, YES, he was. The "Theory of Relativity" wasn't even what he won awards for, it was a byproduct of his other work.
Originally posted by PurpleChitenAs a Mathematician AND Physicist (with the degrees to support it), I disagree with your summation.