Tucked across the street near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall and completely overshadowed by the nearby Lincoln Memorial sits a memorial to Albert Einstein. Located on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences on Constitution Avenue, the bronze statue lounges in a small grove of elm and holly trees on a circular-stepped dais.
The statue honoring the physicist was unveiled in 1979 on the centennial of Einstein’s birth. The figure weighs four tons, sits twelve feet high and holds a paper with three of the scientist’s most important mathematical equations: the photoelectric effect, the theory of relativity and the equivalence of energy and matter. Three of his more famous quotations are engraved on the bench where the statue is seated.
The dais has over 2,700 metal studs embedded into it, representing the location of astronomical objects in the sky at noon on April 22, 1979 – the date the memorial was dedicated – including all of the planetary bodies, four large asteroids in the solar system, five galaxies, ten quasars and the Moon. Each stud is of a different size to show the apparent magnitude of each object; different studs also are coded to depict binary stars, pulsars, globular clusters, spectroscopic binaries and more.
When you stand in the center of the dais, Einstein appears to be looking directly at you and any words you speak are noticeably amplified. And during most hours of daylight during the summer, you’ll find kids sprawled in his lap with parents nearby taking photos. During the off-season, it’s a favorite place for area workers to congregate for lunch or to take a moment and rest after a hard day.