Image of Norbert Wiener Meets Albert Einstein Norbert Wiener Meets Albert Einstein
Norbert Wiener Meets Albert Einstein, Letter to his sister Bertha, 1925

A physicist and a mathematician walk into a dining car… . In 1925, Norbert Wiener, an MIT mathematics professor already known from a young age as a child prodigy and for his work in set theory, was visiting colleagues in Europe. On a train through Germany, he recognized Albert Einstein in the dining car (putting the lie to later anecdotes about his absent-mindedness and inability to recognize faces) and approached him for a conversation. In this letter to his sister, Wiener writes that they discussed “his reduction of gravitation and the Maxwell equations to a single equation … bran (sic)-new stuff—it’s not out yet and he only wrote it three weeks ago.” They found they were both on the same connecting train to Geneva, where Einstein was bound for a League of Nations meeting. Einstein moved back to third-class to continue their conversation. For five hours, they discussed everything from politics to the state of science education in Europe and the United States to the natural beauty of Switzerland.

On loan from the Institute Archives and Special Collections.

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