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Many websites make the claim that Albert Einstein never learned to drive. For example, this website claims:

Did Albert Einstein have a car? Albert Einstein had no car of his own and he also never learned how to drive. If he had to, he was driven by friends and relatives or their chauffeurs.

The TV show The Big Bang Theory also makes the claim, in which:

In "The Euclid Alternative", Sheldon bemoans, "I just don’t see why I need a driver’s license, Albert Einstein never had a driver’s license." Howard quips, "Yeah, but Albert Einstein didn’t make me wet myself at 40 miles an hour." Penny also snaps and replies, "Yeah, and I never wanted to kick Albert Einstein in the nuts."

Did Albert Einstein learn to drive, or obtain a driver's license, considering he stayed in the USA for a significant proportion of his career?

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  • 13
    Isaac Newton also never learned to drive. Nor did Aristotle.
    – gerrit
    Aug 16 '16 at 15:13
  • 4
    @gerrit The point is that almost everyone is expected to know how to drive in 20th century USA, unlike the "counterexamples" provided.
    – March Ho
    Aug 16 '16 at 17:49
  • 3
    @MarchHo Einstein lived 1879–1955. I don't know from when almost everyone in the USA was expected to drive, but certainly Einstein was an old man by then.
    – gerrit
    Aug 16 '16 at 18:12
  • 10
    In 1950 (the year of Einstein's 71st birthday) there were only 25 million registered cars in the USA against a national population of 150 million. For pretty much his entire life, it wasn't at all unusual not to drive your own car.
    – arboviral
    Aug 17 '16 at 8:23
  • 2
    This is remarkable for modern-day Americans. It is not remarkable for a German émigré who permanently moved to the US in 1933, when he was already 54 years old. (Indeed even today, a migrant who moves to the US at that age will probably not bother learning to drive.)
    – user17967
    Aug 17 '16 at 9:17
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According to Walter Isaacson's biography, His Life and Universe

(Szilard, like Einstein, did not drive)

Source: Chapter 21

Also,

"The professor does not drive," Elsa [Einstein's wife] often said. "It's too complicated for him."

Source: Chapter 19

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  • Can you provide a link to and preferably a screenshot/photo of your citation?
    – March Ho
    Aug 16 '16 at 13:52
  • 1
    -1 As His Life and Universe was published in 2007 and could thus just perpetuate common myths. Aug 18 '16 at 7:06
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    @DavidMulder It's a bit harsh to dismiss the biography because of its publication date. Do you know it wasn't well researched and simply rehashes common myths? My understanding is that this was the first biography written after Einstein's personal documents were made publicly available. The book contains copious footnotes referencing early 20th century personal letters and other documents.
    – ghoppe
    Aug 19 '16 at 19:18
  • @DavidMulder I've read the book, and did not get the impression that it was a mythological retelling of Einstein tropes. It seemed well-researched and substantial to me.
    – ghoppe
    Aug 19 '16 at 19:20
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    @ghoppe: if those footnotes are so good then it should be more than easy enough to quote the original source for this claim. Not saying in any way it's a bad book, just a bad final reference imho for skeptics.SE . Aug 21 '16 at 7:45
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I know this is an old question1, but I couldn't resist mentioning another source that was published a few years ago2, and shows actual evidence of Einstein driving a car. Here is the link:

Newly Unearthed Footage Shows Albert Einstein Driving a Flying Car (1931)

Quoting a part of the explanation:

During his lifetime, Albert Einstein apparently never learned to drive a car–something that also held true for Vladimir Nabokov, Ray Bradbury, Elizabeth Bishop, and Jack Kerouac. But he did manage to experience the thrill of getting behind the wheel, at least once. Above, watch a newly-discovered home movie of Einstein and his second wife, Elsa, visiting the Warner Bros. soundstage on February 3, 1931. The following day, The New York Times published this report.

So it seems Albert Einstein did drive a car at least once in his life, but driving wasn't among his interests.


1. Today, April 18th, is the 66th anniversary of this great man's death.
2. The publication date is two years after posting the accepted answer.
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  • If you watch the embedded video it's hard to conclude he's "driving" at all, let alone a "flying car." "Sitting in a car in front of the 1930s equivalent of a green screen" is probably more accurate.
    – Mike G
    Apr 26 at 21:01
  • @MikeG : That's why I added the explanation part. Actually, I thought the matter is too obvious and a bit of humor wouldn't do much harm.
    – polfosol
    Apr 27 at 2:37

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