Albert Einstein on problem solving

Explosion of the first atomic bomb at the "Trinity" site (Los Alamos, Alamogordo, New Mexico: Department of Energy, July 16, 1945)

Explosion of the first atomic bomb at the "Trinity" site (Los Alamos, Alamogordo, New Mexico: Department of Energy, July 16, 1945).
Image credit: University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies

Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing power to make great decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparallel catastrophe.

We scientists who released this immense power have an overwhelming responsibility in this world life-and-death struggle to harness the atom for the benefit of mankind and not for humanity’s destruction.

[Hans A.] Bethe, [Edward U.] Condon, [LeĆ³] Szilard, [Harold C.] Urey, and the Federation of American Scientists join me in this appeal, and beg you to support our efforts to bring realization to America that mankind’s destiny is being decided today—now—at this moment.

We need two hundred thousand dollars at once for a nation-wide campaign to let the people know that a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.

This appeal is sent to you only after long consideration of the immense crisis we face. Urgently request you send immediate check to me as chairman, Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, Princeton, N.J. We ask your help at this fateful moment as a sign that we scientists do not stand alone.
Albert Einstein in a telegram sent to “several hundred” potential donors in America (Princeton, New Jersey: Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, May 24, 1946). Cited in part in the article “ATOMIC EDUCATION URGED BY EINSTEIN; Scientist in Plea for $200,000 to Promote New Type of Essential Thinking”, (New York: The New York Times Company, May 25, 1946), p. 11. Available in Einstein on Peace, edited by Otto Nathan and Heinz Horden, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), p. 376. Credited by Alice Calaprice as the likely source for frequent paraphrases in The New Quotable Einstein, (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2005).

First Identified Paraphrases

  • The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
    — Tarek K. A. Hamid (1979), p. viii.
  • The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
    — Dennis T. Jaffe and Cynthia D. Scott (1988), p. 60.
  • Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.
    — Arie de Geus (1997), p. x.
  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
    — Mickey Connolly and Richard Rianoshek (2002), p. 175.
Albert Einstein Posted on behalf of Albert Einstein on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 under Quotations, Source Texts.

One comment so far

  1. […] Albert Einstein is credited with coming up with the observation that “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” He didn’t really say that, but actually said something better in 1946 as part of his celebrity endorsement of what amounted to a telegram-based crowdfunding campaign to raise $200K “to let the people know that a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and … […]

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