The World According to Three Alberts
Camus, Einstein, Schweitzer

About six months ago I decided, out of curiosity, to browse the lists of Nobel Laureates in different fields. I was amazed to discover how many of those names I didn’t recognize, even in areas with which I am quite familiar, such as Physics and Literature. But I also unearthed something which I found intriguing. There were three Nobel Laureates who happened to share the same first name, all of whom I knew rather well, both in terms of their biography, and their work —Albert Camus, Albert Einstein, and Albert Schweitzer. While it was no surprise that I knew Einstein, I began to wonder what it was that made Camus and Schweitzer stand out for me so prominently.

Thinking about this question more deeply, I realized that it must have been the fascinating personalities of these individuals, combined with their passion for making a difference. Their imagination, sense of humanity, and care, have been almost unsurpassed.                                             

We live in extraordinarily challenging times. The future of the Earth’s biosphere is at stake due to climate change, we are in the middle of a once-in-a century pandemic, social justice problems have reached the boiling point, and waves of immigration from Africa, the middle east, and central America are posing unprecedented challenges to both Europe and the U.S. These will all require imaginative solutions.

The three Alberts had their own share of challenging times. They witnessed the horrors of World Wars, lived through the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, and all three immigrated from their native countries. The effect of what they observed in the world, was similar on all three: They very seriously asked themselves the question that many of us think about, but few truly act upon: can I truly make a difference?

Mario Livio is an astrophysicist, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and author of GALILEO and the Science Deniers, Why? What Makes Us Curious, The Golden Ratio, Is God A Mathematician?, and Brilliant Blunders.