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MUSINGS / Oct. 26, 2017

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Oct. 26 issue.

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There was a girl in Princeton, a town in the United States, who was not good at mathematics. Her mother noticed that the girl sometimes took her homework out of the house.

The girl said, without the slightest hint of concealment: “I was having trouble doing my math homework, and I heard there was a great mathematics teacher living in our neighborhood who is a very good person. So I visited his house and asked him to help with my assignments, and he was very glad to help me.” This person was Albert Einstein.

The late mathematician Kentaro Yano, who studied at a local academic research institution in the town, introduced this story in an essay. It seems that Einstein, regarded as the greatest physicist in history, had a knack for spreading happiness to the people whom he encountered.

In 1922, while staying at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Einstein handed a hotel employee a note that said: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.” The note, written on two sheets of hotel stationery, recently sold for about ¥200 million at an auction in Jerusalem.

How did his brain, which elucidated the origin of the universe with mathematical formulas, also accommodate such mindful concern for others? Einstein marvelously gave warm consideration to the space close to him. Einstein’s warmhearted quotations that go beyond the framework of science are still popular throughout the world. The words he left in Japan now join those quotations.

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