D O C U M E N T 5 1 1 O N A U R E L S T O D O L A 4 3 9 511. “On Aurel Stodola” [Einstein 1925ff] Dated between 27 April and 12 May 1929 Published 12 May 1929 In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 12 May 1929: [1]. In taking up my pen to say a few words about Stodola,[1] the master of engineer- ing who is refined and at the same time strong,[2] I feel that my expressive abilities are too inadequate to do justice to the man. But my great liking for this noble and generous man overcomes my reservations and the seventy years that now lie be- hind him give me a right to say things that in our era of objectivity, to which the cult of personality is wholly alien, would otherwise not be mentioned. Had Stodola been born in the Renaissance, he would have become a great painter or sculptor because the most powerful drive in his personality is imagina- tion and the urge to create. For the past hundred years, such natures have moved, for the most part, toward engineering. That is where the period’s creative urge is mightily discharged, and the sense of beauty, with its impulsiveness, also finds there an opportunity to realize itself that is richer than the layman imagines. For many years Stodola’s seminal teaching has provided a powerful stimulus for his students, and their eyes light up when they speak of him and his work. If the mainspring of his work is a flourishing creative ability, his work is also based on an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and on scientific thinking of a rare clarity. When the author of these lines was a newly fledged teacher giving a lecture on theoretical physics at the University of Zurich, to his joy and understandable ter- ror the awesome figure of Stodola appeared in the auditorium in order to follow the development of this subject, partly for the sake of pure knowledge, but also partly in order to evaluate creatively what he learned. When the lecture was over, he— who always easily grasped the essential points—asked deep questions that often contained, in a refreshing form, justified criticisms. In conversation, timidity be- fore the great man quickly disappeared, because good will and a desire to be posi- tive always shone out from what he said. If anything struck his interlocutor, it was Stodola’s profound humility The power and flexibility of his mind contrasted strongly and in a unique way with the gentleness and delicacy of his mental life. The suffering of living crea- tures—especially that of man himself and the pain caused by his obtuse crudity— constantly weighed heavily on him. He was filled with an acute awareness of the
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