“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.”—Albert Einstein
“Genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration.” —Thomas Edison
We can wax rhapsodic about the Garden State’s most important adoptive sons, but their own words speak volumes about their essential qualities.
Edison gave us, among other things, the lightbulb, the phonograph, and the moving picture. A businessman who once employed 5,000 New Jerseyans, he worked in West Orange in what is now a national landmark. Another Jersey town adopted his name as its own. Edison’s words embody the curiosity and tireless work ethic of the cigar-chomping, tobacco-chewing man who was granted 1,093 patents over his career.
The theory of relativity stepped beyond the absolutes of Newton’s laws to show the relativity of space and time and the startling, fearsome equivalence of mass and energy. By the time Albert Einstein settled in Princeton in 1935, his world-shaking discoveries were behind him, but their ramifications were still unfolding, from Hiroshima to the existence of black holes.
At Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein sought a single overarching theory of everything, which he did not find. But that did not discourage the gentle humanitarian who once said, “God does not play dice with the universe.” In later years, he could be spotted lost in thought walking the streets of Princeton or sailing on Lake Carnegie.
In 1997, Life named Edison “Person of the Millennium.” Two years later, Time named Einstein its “Person of the Century.” In a 1944 letter to a friend, Einstein wrote, “Why is it that nobody understands me and everybody likes me?” In both cases, it’s because each of these men put a face on brilliance. Genius=E2.