Albert Einstein and his Flying Car

This sequence was filmed on the Warner Brothers special effects stage at Warner Brothers in Los Angeles during a Einstein's visit to California in 1931. It has been colourised and re-processed to 4K, 60 frames per second video.

Einstein was not only a film star, but also an inventor. Just a few months earlier, he and Leo Szilard were granted U.S. patent 1,781,541 for the Einstein-Szilard Refrigerator.


Who is the woman with Einstein? Is that his wife Elsa?

All we need is Bugs Bunny appearing and asking Einstein, “What’s up, Doc” to make it perfect.


Einstein, as inventor, had a mixed record. He failed spectacularly in aerodynamics, specifically in airfoil design.

During the First World War Albert Einstein was for a time hired by the LVG (Luft-Verkehrs-Gesellshaft) as a consultant. At LVG he designed an airfoil with a pronounced mid-chord hump, an innovation intended to enhance lift. The airfoil was tested in the Göttingen wind tunnel and also on an actual aircraft and found, in both cases, to be a flop.

As many do, Einstein misapplied Bernoulli’s Principle to flow around a wing. The passage linked above was quoted by Jef Raskin, a computer scientist who did some important work at Apple in the early days.

Poor explanations of what causes aerodynamic lift is one of my pet peeves. Around 2002, I had gotten interested in this topic and came across Raskin’s essay on this. I exchanged a few emails with him, in which he expanded on an anecdote about how he had challenged a teacher about the bogus explanation of aerodynamic lift. Raskin was just told to shut up and got disciplined even though he was right and the teacher was wrong.

It’s a good thing Einstein’s flying car didn’t use Einstein’s airfoil design. Einstein also had crackpot economics ideas but that’s a subject for a different thread.