The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bizarre butt life of Albert

Brussels, Nov. 6: An insight into the eccentric life of Albert Einstein has been provided in a letter written by his favourite grandson.

Bernhard Caesar Einstein, 75, who has never previously spoken about his relative, has recounted a string of anecdotes about the often bizarre life of the great scientist.

At one point, the younger Einstein recalled, his grandfather resorted to collecting cigarette butts from the streets to circumvent his doctor’s effort to stop him from smoking.

In the letter, filed away and forgotten for seven years, the grandson recalled receiving a baffling three-hour lecture from Einstein on the mathematical properties of soap bubbles. He was aged eight at the time. The lecture was delivered while the two were on a becalmed sailing boat.

Einstein, his grandson recalled, deliberately went out sailing when there was no wind because he felt it was more challenging. “While at Knollwood [in America], my grandfather and I frequently went sailing together,” he told Fran'oise Wolff, a Belgian documentary-maker, in the letter.

“On one particular afternoon, one on which there was practically no wind, he became talkative. My grandfather talked continuously about soap bubbles, and of course in mathematical terms. I did not understand a word...”

Wolff asked him to take part in her 1998 documentary as he was one of the few people with memories of the genius. The letter was published first time last week on the website of a Belgian paper, Le Soir.

The younger Einstein, himself a physicist, confesses to “loving his grandfather as soon as he saw him”.

He also remembered his grandfather’s sterner side: he was a steadfast opponent of his young relative’s passion for angling for sport. “Grandfather would only allow me to go fishing if I ate all the fish I caught.”

Einstein was, however, disappointed in his grandson when he discovered that he was not a brilliant physicist. “I was 25 then,” his grandson recalled. “He had given me $5,000 for my studies in Zurich. That afternoon he talked to me for the first time ever about physics. He asked me what I knew about energy, but he dropped the question when he realised that I could not discuss the subject on his terms.

“That was the last time I saw him.”

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