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Einstein's Pickup Line, etc.

In Walter Isaacson's book on Einstein he reveals the great physicist as a smooth operator when it comes to the ladyfolk. At one point Einstein's cousin, Elsa, who is the object of his intense affection, writes to him and asks for a photograph as well as a book that explains the theory of relativity. Einstein writes back:

"There is no book on relativity that is comprehensible to the layman. But what do you have a relativity cousin for? If you ever happen to be in Zurich, then we (without my wife, who is unfortunately very jealous) will take a nice walk, and I will tell you about all of those curious things I have discovered."

Baby, I'm your relativity relative.

The relationship progressed. Einstein became estranged from his wife. The biography reprints a chilling letter from Einstein to his wife, a proposed "contract" in which they could continue to live together under certain conditions. Indeed that was the heading: "Conditions."

A. You will make sure
1. that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
2. that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
3. that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
B. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons...

There's more, including "you will stop talking to me if I request it." She accepted the conditions. He later wrote to her again to make sure she grasped that this was going to be all-business in the future, and that the "personal aspects must be reduced to a tiny remnant." And he vowed, "In return, I assure you of proper comportment on my part, such as I would exercise to any woman as a stranger."

He later married his cousin. Somehow in the midst of all this he came up with the general theory of relativity.

The book is out in April.


How much does that hamburger really cost?

Check out this new research.

'The harmful environmental effects of livestock production are becoming increasingly serious at all levels--local, regional, national and global--and urgently need to be addressed, according to researchers from Stanford University, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)...

'...grazing occupies 26 percent of the Earth's terrestrial surface, and feed-crop production requires about a third of all arable land, he said. Expansion of livestock grazing land is also a leading cause of deforestation, especially in Latin America, he added. In the Amazon basin alone, about 70 percent of previously forested land is used as pasture, while feed crops cover a large part of the remainder.

'...when emissions from land use are factored in, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions derived from human-related activities, as well as 37 percent of methane emissions--primarily gas from the digestive system of cattle and other domesticated ruminants--and 65 percent of nitrous oxide gases, mostly from manure.'


I thought this piece on the Left vs. the Middle, by Eilperin and Grunwald, was fascinating, and against my better judgment glanced at the appended comments, which come complete with the obligatory "Kate Graham is rolling in her grave." Can we set the filter to block that particular cliche?


The New York Times says American Idol is the schoolyard bully of prime time television. Our TV columnist has the play-by-play of last night's fractiousness.


Achenbro on lead guitar! (Thanks, Mo!)

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 21, 2007; 10:05 AM ET
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Next: Don't Anger Queen Hillary! [Updated]

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