In popular culture, Einstein was associated directly with the atomic bomb. It's a relationship that made E=mc2 the world's most famous equation.
So what is E=mc2 anyways?
It’s simple on the surface, but says something fundamental about our universe—energy and mass are different forms of the same thing.
The equation first entered public consciousness when it was featured in the bestselling Smyth Report, an official history of the Manhattan Project, published just days after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
One year later, TIME called Einstein the "father of the bomb," saying it was his equation (E=mc2) that made the atomic bomb theoretically possible.
It’s true Einstein signed his name to a 1939 letter urging President Roosevelt to fund research into atomic energy and weapons.
But it's not really true E=mc2 made the atomic bomb possible. You don't even need the equation to make the bomb. E=mc2 is more of a measuring tool than a building block.
It’s like this: Einstein didn’t invent a gun, he invented an equation that helped measure the explosive power of the bullet.
E=mc2 changed how humans perceive the universe. But the bomb is why the equation is remembered.
Man #1: Did you ever hear of a man named Einstein? Albert Einstein?"