Albert Einstein’s (1879-1955) life was marked by his ability to answer many of science’s greatest mysteries. Paradoxically, his dying words left us with questions that will never be answered.
In 1948 the great physicist underwent surgery to reinforce an abdominal aortic aneurysm. On April 17, 1955, he checked into Princeton Hospital, New Jersey after experiencing discomfort. Doctors concluded that the aneurysm was bleeding, and they advised him to have immediate surgery. Einstein refused the surgery, saying “I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.”
The next morning the aneurysm burst. Einstein sensed that his death was at hand and spoke his final words. The sole witness to his dying words was the nurse who was at his bedside.
What were the final mortal thoughts of one of the greatest thinkers of human history? Alas, we shall never know. Although the nurse was near enough to hear every syllable, his words were incomprehensible to her. Einstein’s final words were in his native German — a language the nurse did not understand.