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I am pretty sure that Albert Einstein explained special relativity by saying in effect, sitting on a hot stove for a minute can seem like an hour; sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it might seem like a minute.

Everyone has experienced time not flowing the same (also like a watched pot never boils so people were already noticing this clearly enough to create this aphorism) in all circumstances but how does this elucidate relativity at all, especially since time really does flow differently in special relativity -- it is not a matter of perception.

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    $\begingroup$ He may have said something along those lines, as I can find initial variants of this in newspaper sources from 1929, 1930, and 1931, indicating it is not just a posthumous fabrication. Unfortunately Google gives me only tiny snippets, so the context is not clear. Interpolating between snippets, it appears to have been a quip to a journalist. $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Nov 6, 2023 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ Here is what looks like a reasonably thorough investigation of the supposed quote: quoteinvestigator.com/2014/11/24/hot-stove $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Nov 6, 2023 at 23:10

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@njuffa points in his comment to a strong argument for the case that he did indeed use the analogy. As to its suitability, it’s reasonable to read it as tongue in cheek.

There’s a comparably rough analogy that is also often attributed to Einstein (though this one appears to be apocryphal). That story goes, essentially,

Someone once admitted to Einstein his ignorance of how wireless [radio] works. Einstein explained, “Imagine a very long cat with its tail in Berlin and its head in Paris. If one steps on its tail in Berlin, it is heard to squawk in Paris. Wireless is like that. But without the cat.”

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  • $\begingroup$ That is just one of the worst explanations of radio, ever. Reminds me of how baffled people were in 19th century (some of them) about telegraphy. One cartoon showed a bicycle messenger riding on the wires. Not as dumb as Einstein, but up there. $\endgroup$
    – releseabe
    Nov 15, 2023 at 3:02
  • $\begingroup$ Not as dumb as Supposed Einstein , you mean, @releseabe. Per my linked article, the story had been around (about wireless telegraphy) before Einstein himself. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2023 at 12:08

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