Conversations About Science with Theoretical Physicist Matt Strassler
Chapter 1: Overture
Quote: To paraphrase a quotation often incorrectly attributed to Einstein, everything in this book has been made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Endnote: Many Einstein quotations are misattributions or in error. This one is a paraphrase, by classical music composer Roger Sessions, of something Einstein wrote that had a different meaning.
Discussion: Einstein did say “It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.” But this is a statement only about theoretical science, not about everything! The origin of this quotation is discussed in some detail in this article, which includes references, from quoteinvestigator.com. It notes that Alice Calaprice, the editor of “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein”, believes this is where Sessions’ remark came from. Sessions’ remark itself, according to the article, appeared in the New York Times in an interview (“How a ‘Difficult’ Composer Gets That Way”) published on January 8, 1950. Sessions attributes the remark to Einstein but one can read him as stating it as paraphrase, not quotation.