The February 22, 1923, Albert Einstein and his wife got off a train in Barcelona, from France. The German physicist forgot to tell them about their arrival time so there was no one to greet them. They walked through the city of Barcelona to a humble pension, before the matter was cleared up and they were transferred to the Ritz.
Thus they began the 20 days that Einstein spent in Spain at the invitation of Spanish scientists Esteve Terradas and Julio Rey Pastor. He visited Barcelona, Zaragoza and Madrid to give lectures for which he would charge 3,500 pesetas, a considerable salary for the time, and more for a university professor.
The press received the father of relativity with excessive attention more reminiscent of the Beatles, 22 years later, than a man of science. The newspapers reported on the daily life of the popular German scientist, although very few really understood their works.
Famous is the anecdote that collects Thomas glick in his book Einstein and the Spaniards when, in Madrid, a chestnut seller yelled at him, "Long live the inventor of the automobile!".
Albert, or Alberto as the journalists made the name Spanish, imparted various conferences in Spanish universities. His talks were always packed with audiences, despite the fact that many had no idea what he was explaining.
The King Alfonso XIII He was awarded the title of academic from the Royal Academy of Sciences and he was awarded Doctor Honoris Causa by the Central University of Madrid. In an evening having tea with personalities like Blas Cabrera, Ortega y Gasset, or Gregorio Marañón, delighted the audience by playing the violin.
Too traveled to Toledo incognito, “camouflaged and with many lies”, As he acknowledges in his diary. In addition, he had time to visit the Prado Museum and to receive a rondalla in Zaragoza who, according to the press, moved him so much as to kiss a young jotera. There is no evidence that the scientist started dancing in the baturro way.
On March 11 he left Spain, leaving behind more chronicles of society than scientific news. And the best definition of the German's passage through Spain is summarized by a comic cartoon by the illustrator Luis Bagaría for the newspaper El Sol (among many that he published about Einstein in those days), in which a child maintains this dialogue with his father:
- Father, is there anyone wiser than Einstein?
- Yes son, the one who understands you
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