Albert Einstein’s name is synonymous with extremely high levels of intelligence. Einstein’s name, however, is also used for making fun of someone’s foolish deed! (e.g. Way to go, Einstein!). Today’s photograph combines both of these aspects very well; revealing playful side of the greatest ever physicist.
Einstein’s Tongue photograph was shot on Einstein’s 72nd birthday on March 14, 1951. On that occasion, at a party in Princeton, a UPI photographer, Arthur Sasse, asked him to smile for a photo. Sasse took several photos but could not get the pose he wanted. So, he went on requesting Einstein to smile again and again for camera. Eventually, tired of smiling, the developer of Theory of Relativity, stuck his tongue out at the camera! Sasse did not miss the opportunity and took a photograph that later became one of the most famous photographs of 20th century.
Now, you must not think that this photo is only about an intelligent old man making a funny gesture. The significance of this photograph is much more deep-rooted. Let me tell you how. Einstein liked this photo a lot and requested United Press International (UPI) to give him nine copies for personal use. Only one of these nine photos is known to be signed by the great scientist. Einstein gave this signed copy to his reporter friend Howard K. Smith. On this photo Einstein wrote an inscription in German whose English translation is:
“This gesture you will like, because it is aimed at all of humanity. A civilian can afford to do what no diplomat would dare.”
This message is a brilliant one. Isn’t it?. That was the time, when in America, there was a fear that communists forces are trying to take America’s freedom away. In response the USA had begun anti-communist pursuits. In such troublesome times Einstein’s message and gesture in this photo carried a strong message of non-conformity.
The signed photograph was auctioned on June 19, 2009 for $74,324. Out of nine, this is the only photograph that has ever been sold.
Well, I really love this photograph. Nonchalance of Einstein invariably brings smile on one’s face. With “Einstein” and “sticking his tongue out” combined; this image has become a symbol of non-conformity. It is timeless.
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