Making a career of combining art and science | everyday einstein

“The greatest scientists are artists as well,” said Albert Einstein (Calaprice, 2000, 245). As one of the greatest physicists of all time and a fine amateur pianist and violinist, he ought to have known! So what did Einstein mean and what does it tell us about the nature of creative thinking and how we should stimulate it?

In our last post, we suggested that community singing might be a simple way to introduce creativity into one's life. In the post before that Einstein's musical hobbies served as an example of personal creativity providing the kind of recreation that enables professional innovation.

And in an even earlier post on Einstein, we introduced the idea that creative thinking can be done with your body as well as your mind.

In this essay, we want to link all these themes through Einstein's experience to suggest that the daily practice of music might actually stimulate not only everyday creativity, but genius-level creativity as well.

For Einstein, insight did not come from logic or mathematics. It came, as it does for artists, from intuition and inspiration. As he told one friend, “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge.

” Elaborating, he added, “All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration…. At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.

” Thus, his famous statement that, for creative work in science, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” (Calaprice, 2000, 22, 287, 10).

But how, then, did art differ from science for Einstein? Surprisingly, it wasn't the content of an idea, or its subject, that determined whether something was art or science, but how the idea was expressed. “If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, then it is science.

If it is communicated through forms whose constructions are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively, then it is art” (Calaprice, 2000, 271). Einstein himself worked intuitively and expressed himself logically. That's why he said that great scientists were also artists.

Making a Career of Combining Art and Science | Everyday Einstein

Anyone in science education reading this?!

Einstein only employed words or other symbols (presumably mathematical) — in what he explicitly called a secondary translation step — after he was able to solve his problems through the formal manipulation of internally imagined images, feelings, and architectures. “I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterwards,” he wrote (Wertheimer, 1959, 213; Pais, 1982).

Einstein expanded on this theme in a letter to fellow mathematician Jacques Hadamard, writing that “[t]he words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought.

The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be 'voluntarily' reproduced and combined…. The above mentioned elements are, in my case of visual and some of a muscular type….

Conventional words or other signs [presumably mathematical ones] have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the associative play already referred to is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will” (Hadamard, 1945, 142-3).

Einstein Was an Artist: How to Be Creative

Making a Career of Combining Art and Science | Everyday Einstein

Albert Einstein as he plays a violin in the music room of the S.S. Belgenland en route to California, 1931. Keystone/Getty Images

Einstein inspired a paradigm shift in physics not as a scientist but as an artist.

Our entire construct of the world depends on language. What we see isn’t what the universe has defined, but what our brains have learned to label.

English distinguishes a scientist as someone who systematically learns about a part of the natural world and uses that knowledge to describe and predict it. An artist, on the other hand, is defined as someone who creatively produces.

These labels are important. They’re not perfect, but they allow us to differentiate between the different aspects of our reality.

Albert Einstein Quotes – 607 Science Quotes – Dictionary of Science Quotations and Scientist Quotes


Albert Einstein
(14 Mar 1879 – 18 Apr 1955)

German-American physicist who developed the special and general theories of relativity. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

…time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.

— Albert Einstein


Die Natur hates sich nicht angelegen sein lassen, uns die Auffindung ihrer Gesetze bequem zu machen.Nature did not deem it her business to make the discovery of her laws easy for us.

— Albert Einstein

English translation as in The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, (1987), Vol. 5, 202. Also seen translated elsewhere as “Nature has not made it a priority for us to discover its laws,” or “Nature did not care to comfort us with the discovery of its laws.

” Original German in letter from Prague to Erwin Freundlich (1 Sep 1911). Freundlich was an assistant at the Royal Observatory of Prussia in Berlin wishing to investigate the bending of starlight by the gravitational field of Jupiter, but Einstein pointed out it was not massive enough for a detectable effect.

Einstein in the letter also lamented “If only we had an orderly planet larger than Jupiter!”

Gott würfelt nicht.God does not play dice.

— Albert Einstein

Commonly seen paraphrase. Einstein expressed this idea at different times. See variations on this website on the Albert Einstein Quotes page.

Science quotes on:  |  Dice (21)  |  God (758)  |  Play (111)

Raffiniert ist der Herr Gott, aber boshaft ist er nicht.The Lord God is subtle, but malicious he is not.

— Albert Einstein

Remark during Einstein’s first visit to Princeton University (Apr/May 1921), responding to the news that a “non aether drift” had been found by Mount Vernon Observatory.

As quoted by Banesh Hoffmann, in Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1972), 146. Later posted in the Einstein lounge at the Princeton Department of Mathematics Department.

Einstein’s own translation given to Derek Price was “God is slick, but he ain't mean” (1946).

Wenige sind imstande, von den Vorurteilen der Umgebung abweichende Meinungen gelassen auszusprechen; die Meisten sind sogar unfähig, überhaupt zu solchen Meinungen zu gelangen.Few people are able to express opinions that dissent from the prejudices of their social group. The majority are even incapable of forming such opinions at all.

— Albert Einstein

Original German in Essays Presented to Leo Baeck on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (1954), 26. English text by Webmaster assisted by online translation tools.

[Almost certainly not by Einstein.] The more I study science, the more I believe in God.

— Albert Einstein

No cited primary source has been found, so it is almost certainly falsely linked with Einstein. Also, it is not compatible with Einstein’s documented statements on his religious views. See, for example, the quote beginning “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions….” The subject quote is included here so readers may find this disclaimer.

[When asked “Dr. Einstein, why is it that when the mind of man has stretched so far as to discover the structure of the atom we have been unable to devise the political means to keep the atom from destroying us?”] That is simple, my friend. It is because politics is more difficult than physics.

— Albert Einstein

Einstein’s answer to a conferee at a meeting at Princeton, N.J. (Jan 1946), as recalled by Greenville Clark in 'Letters to the Times', in New York Times (22 Apr 1955), 24.

A conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible.

This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs.

On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors.

— Albert Einstein


A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future.

— Albert Einstein

First sentence written in a French essay, 'Mes Projets d'Avenir' (18 Sep 1896), at age 17.

From original French, “Un homme heureux est trop content du présent pour trop se soucier de l'avenir.

” In 'Document 22, Matura Examination (B) French: “My Future Plans”', The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein: The Early Years, 1879-1902 (1987), Vol. 1, Document 22, 28.

A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe”; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Nobody is able to achieve this completely but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

— Albert Einstein

In Letter (4 Mar 1950), replying to a grieving father over the loss of a young son. In Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein’s Letters to and from Children (2002), 184.

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.

— Albert Einstein


A little knowledge is dangerous. So is a lot.

— Albert Einstein


A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.

— Albert Einstein


Science quotes on:  |  Look (582)  |  Man (2249)  |  Think (1086)

A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant. At the least, he is to feel pity for the adherent of another religion but usually it does not stop there.

The faithful adherent of a religion will try first of all to convince those that believe in another religion and usually he goes on to hatred if he is not successful.

However, hatred then leads to persecution when the might of the majority is behind it.

— Albert Einstein


A man’s value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows. We call him good or bad according to how he stands in this matter. It looks at first sight as if our estimate of a man depended entirely on his social qualities.

— Albert Einstein


A people that were to honor falsehood, defamation, fraud, and murder would be unable, indeed, to subsist for very long.

— Albert Einstein


A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.

— Albert Einstein


A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonal value.

It seems to me that what is important is the force of this superpersonal content and the depth of the conviction concerning its overpowering meaningfulness, regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities.

Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself.

In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible.

For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary.

— Albert Einstein


A theory can be proved by experiment; but no path leads from experiment to the birth of a theory.

— Albert Einstein

As quoted in Antonina Vallentin, Einstein: A Biography (1954), 105. The author,
a close friend of Einstein’s family, cites the quote only as “which he has recently made public.”

A theory is the more impressive the greater the simplicity of its premises is, the more different kinds of things it relates, and the more extended is its area of applicability.

Therefore the deep impression which classical thermodynamics made upon me.

It is the only physical theory of universal content concerning which I am convinced that within the framework of the applicability of its basic concepts, it will never be overthrown.

— Albert Einstein

Autobiographical Notes (1946), 33. Quoted in Gerald Holton and Yehuda Elkana, Albert Einstein: Historical and Cultural Perspectives (1997), 227.

After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.

— Albert Einstein

Remark (1923) as recalled in Archibald Henderson, Durham Morning Herald (21 Aug 1955) in Einstein Archive 33-257. Quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein (1996), 171.

All great achievements in science start from intuitive knowledge, namely, in axioms, from which deductions are then made. … Intuition is the necessary condition for the discovery of such axioms.

— Albert Einstein

In Conversations with Einstein by Alexander Moszkowski (1970).

All of our exalted technological progress, civilization for that matter, is comparable to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.

— Albert Einstein

Letter to Heinrich Zangger (Dec 1917), Collected Papers Vol. 8, 412, as cited in Jürgen Neffe, Einstein: A Biography (2007), 256.

All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.

— Albert Einstein


All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.

— Albert Einstein

6 Service Careers for Science Students

Working for the greater good and public service involves putting others before yourself, or working for an organization or public entity whose mission is not to benefit themselves through profit, but instead to work towards some defined greater good.

“Public service, generally, refers to services provided to the general public by a public entity, such as a state, local or federal government.

However, public service also refers to assistance provided by charitable nonprofit organizations, which may be completely separate from any government,” writes Shannon Lee for

Civil servants generally study a broad range of topics from economics, government, management, research statistics, and many of the social sciences. A multidisciplinary approach to a degree program will serve a civil servant well.

Scientists are needed in civil service, too. You’ll find there are many ways to utilize your science degree to help launch your career in service. “Albert Einstein loved his job as a civil servant at the patent office in Bern.

After years of studying, he welcomed the reliable income and job security,” reports Hanns J. Neubert, for

Merging science with civil service means working at an interesting interface and finding ways to converge the two.

What type of scientist would suit the challenges of working for a federal research institute? Dr. Achim Günther, chair of the section Chemists in Civil Service of the Society of German Chemists (GdCh) in Berlin, states, “The ideal candidate for the scientific tasks in civil service is the generalist.

She or he should have a broad knowledge in her or his scientific field. It is also important to be open to acquiring additional knowledge needed for civil servants, e.g., knowledge in budgetary laws.

” Another example is in research and development, which is an important sector for both the sciences and for civil service. 

“I believe there are many scientists and engineers interested in working on scientific issues for the public benefit who, perhaps, have never considered the idea of government service.

Maybe their impression is that technical career paths in government are not as appealing as they are in academe or the private sector,” writes Janet Napolitano for

The stereotype that there’s not money in government work persists, but it’s unfounded. The reality is that many public service employees earn a salary on par with their private sector counterparts.

In addition, many public sector jobs, such as those in government, have relatively rigid work schedules such that the employees only work up to 40 hours per week. Top salaries annual salaries range from starting at $73,000 to $118,000. 

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