The French novelist Stendhal began his most brilliant novel with this sentence: “On May 15, 1796, General Bonaparte made his entrance into Milan at the head of that youthful army which had just crossed the bridge of Lodi, and taught the world that after so many centuries Caesar and Alexander had a successor.” In its military context, the quotation is irrelevant here, but it can be paraphrased a bit: almost exactly a century later Milan saw the arrival of another young foreigner who would soon teach the world that after so many centuries Galileo and Newton had a successor. It would, however, have taken superhuman insight to recognize the future intellectual conqueror in the boy of fifteen who had just crossed the Alps from Munich. For this boy, Albert Einstein, whose name was to become a symbol for profound scientific insight, had left Munich as what we would now call a high‐school dropout.

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