Einstein exhibit reveals man and his work

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 April, 2011, 12:00am


In his first visit to Hong Kong in 1922, Albert Einstein compared the scenic city to Switzerland.

If he were to see the city today, the father of modern physics would probably change his mind.

German-born Einstein could not have imagined that almost 90 years after the visit, more than 200 of his possessions, writings and pieces of furniture will go on display here.

The exhibits, from the Historical Museum of Bern in Switzerland, will be on loan to the city for a coming Einstein festival that will feature seminars, conferences, music composition workshops, an exhibition, and even a writing competition. Guests will include prominent scientists, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and an authority on Einsteinian physics from Peking University.

The 41/2-month exhibition, at the Hong Kong Science Museum, is organised by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Simply titled 'Albert Einstein (1879-1955)', it will run from April 18 to the end of August. The opening date had been timed to coincide with the official openings of the Science Museum and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, in 1991, and Einstein's death on that day in 1955, said Karen Sit Man, the museum's curator.

Tony Chan Fan-cheong, the university's president, said he was excited about the exhibition.

'Einstein's intellectual legacy gave us many technologies that we now take for granted,' Chan said.

'There's something higher than exams and job-hunting. We need more young people who are willing to explore basic science', even though the impact of their exploration would not be felt for decades.

The South China Morning Post reported on Einstein's second visit to the city on January 6, 1923, when he was treated to a party at the then Jewish Recreation Club in Mid-Levels.

When his wife was asked whether she could explain the theory of relativity, she said: 'I don't want to understand it; I am far happier without [it].' It was on his first visit, while travelling between Hong Kong and Shanghai, that Einstein received the news that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for services to theoretical physics.