Einstein’s 3 Biggest Screw Ups (For Him)

Everyone knows what a successful scientist Albert Einstein was, and how his visions and ideas have literally reshaped the way we perceive the universe. In fact, much of his influence has affected the way we think on a daily basis in our culture. However, for all his amazing achievement and accomplishments, such as completely altering our view of time and space through his amazing theory of general relativity, this Nobel Prize-winning scientist made a few mistakes during his lifetime as well. Actually, this is what happens when you experiment in the world of science. As Thomas Edison taught us – you test out a few ideas and when some of those fall flat, then go out and make a few adjustments and keep trying until you make progress.

The Three Big Einstein Goofs

So let us check out what these mistakes are from Einstein. This is most likely a way too strong of a label to put on his work. Quite honestly, failures often lead to big discoveries in the world exploratory science.

1) The Cosmological Constant – The truth is that Einstein considered this to be by far his biggest screw-up. He decided to attach a cosmological constant to his famous theory of general relativity in an attempt to deal with the sticky dilemma about the viewpoint that the Universe was unchanging and static, yet it seemed to be dynamic mathematically within the equations. The problem came up because the universe was expanding in reality and even accelerating as it expanded. Scientists today attribute the effect Einstein saw as probably dark energy, which is the theoretical force that is causing this expansion.

2) Quantum Mechanics – Einstein was very instrumental in the crafting of the quantum theory along with quantum mechanics. This is the relatively new area of physics that seeks to describe the movement of subatomic particles. As a matter of fact, the paper he wrote about the photoelectric effects in 1905 got him a Nobel Prize and later had a very influential impact on the creation of quantum mechanics. However, the truth is that Einstein absolutely hated the field of quantum mechanics because of its creepy and difficult to prove concepts. He believed it described the universe as chaotic and disorderly. He especially did not care for the “Shroedinger and his cat” idea, or Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” or even the conclusions of Niels Bohr.

3) Gravitational Waves– Here again is something else where Einstein originally predicted this phenomenon in year 1916, but then got cold feet about this discovery, concluding that it would go nowhere or never yield anything significant.

These Gravitational Waves are actually ripples or vibrations within space and time that have been caused by significant space activities such as like movement of a neutron star or even a black hole. And as it turns out, we have learned that supernovae or black holes that collide with each other will usually cause the strongest of these waves. 

Einstein believed that the waves would be too hard to measure and went on to even doubt that black holes even existed at all. In 1936, he attempted to publish a report – which got rejected – that would’ve actually retracted the notion that these gravitational waves even existed. 

Interestingly during the year of 2015, scientists detected these gravitational waves for the very first time, roughly a one hundred years after this prediction by Einstein. All the scientists that were involved in this discovery later got Nobel Prizes.