The Right Coast
August 07, 2004
Equation Update -- and Presidency of Israel
By Maimon Schwarzschild
Thanks to all of you who e-mailed to explain E = mc2. It helped, although this is still through-a-glass-very-darkly where I am concerned. True story: Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist leader and future first President of Israel, was on an Atlantic ocean crossing with Einstein in 1921. "Einstein explained his theory to me every day", said Weizmann, "and soon I was fully convinced that he understood it."
Abba Eban tells another story, in his memoir "Personal Witness: Israel Through My Eyes". In 1952, Chaim Weizmann died, having been President of Israel since the Jewish state's founding in 1948. (The Israeli President is the ceremonial head of state; the Prime Minisiter is the head of the government.)
"One day after Weizmann's death I received a coded message from Prime Minister David Ben Gurion", writes Eban, "instructing me to talk to Professor Albert Einstein in Princeton, and to find out what his reaction would be if he were offered the presidency of Israel."
Einstein wrote to Eban: