March 14 in freethought history…

alberteinsteinMarch 14, 1879 – Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein is born in Ulm, Germany. A patent clerk with an unremarkable academic past, Einstein went on to become one of the most influential scientists in history. In 1905 (Einstein’s “Annus Mirabilis”), he published groundbreaking papers on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity and matter-energy equivalence (E = mc2 ). In 1939, at the urging of fellow scientist Leo Szilard, Einstein signed the famous letter urging President Franklin Roosevelt to develop the atomic bomb. In later life Einstein campaigned for civil rights, for the State of Israel (although he turned down the presidency), and against nuclear proliferation. Einstein’s views on religion are still widely and often willfully misunderstood. He expressed appreciation of Spinoza’s “god,” but could not be considered a religious or even a Deist in any conventional sense. Einstein once wrote, “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal god is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”

March 14, 1988 – Physicist Larry Shaw organizes the first annual Pi Day at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Pi Day has since expanded into a wider appreciation of mathematics, and has gained a worldwide following, observed with circular decorations and the consumption of pies.

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