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The Story Behind Albert Einstein's Visit To Chicago On His Birthday, Pi Day

By Linze Rice | March 14, 2017 12:22pm | Updated on March 14, 2017 2:46pm
 Alred Einstein with Professor Arthur Compton at Einstein's 1933 visit to Chicago.
Alred Einstein with Professor Arthur Compton at Einstein's 1933 visit to Chicago.
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Tribune; March 15, 1933

DOWNTOWN — Albert Einstein, the German scientist and professor who changed the world with his theory of relativity, enlightened Chicagoans during a downtown speaking engagement 84 years ago on March 14, 1933 — his 54th birthday.

Einstein arrived in town with his wife that morning after traveling from Pasadena, California and spoke at the Standard Club of Chicago before some of the city's most prominent figures, such as university professors and presidents, the governor, doctors and lawyer Clarence Darrow. 

Described by a Tribune reporter as having an appearance "of a benevolent artist or musician" and whose "smile is frequent," Einstein's speech was marked by what he called the three most "terribly interesting" problems of the time: international affairs, the economy and science. 

Among Einstein's most passionate remarks were pleas to protect Jewish education institutions around the world, citing difficulties Jews had in gaining access to education.

He also emphasized the need for international affairs to improve before disagreements led to war. 

"We see international difficulties, always the danger of a new war," he said. "How to organize international affairs so as not to bring war is the problem. It will be solved only if each citizen forms the will to contribute what he has to settle all such questions in a peaceful way."

The theorist also spoke about the need for more research into the characteristics of light and how to better distribute production across the labor force.

Einstein is known for creating the famous equation E=MC², but over the years his birthday would also come to share more cultural significance with another mathematical formula: pi. 

The mathematician's day of birth, which can be written as 3.14, is also appropriately known as "Pi Day" and often celebrated by digging into delicious pie — rather than doing math.