Oddball Facts About Albert Einstein's Eccentricity

Albert Einstein might just be the most famous person in history whose contributions to the world are least understood by the general population. We’ve all heard of his mathematical formulas and scientific theorems, but few of us can actually explain what any of them mean. Despite this, it’s still apparent to most that Einstein was a pretty smart guy - so much so that his name has become synonymous with intelligence. Born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879, it would only be a matter of time before Einstein gained worldwide fame. As with many brainiacs, however, Einstein’s genius went hand-in-hand with his eccentricities, which were nearly as unique as his brilliant mind.

It only takes a quick perusal of some facts about Albert Einstein to discover that he was a prototypical eccentric genius. Much of his life’s work may be a mystery to the average person, but the weird things Einstein did in his day-to-day life look strange to just about anyone. He has a reputation of being a free spirit, mostly due to that picture of him sticking his tongue out, but that reputation doesn’t even scratch the surface of the bizarreness that was Albert Einstein.

Photo: Underwood and Underwood, New York / Wikimedia Commons / No known copyright restrictions

  • He Had An Abnormally Large Head And An Abnormally Shaped Brain
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Had An Abnormally Large Head And An Abnormally Shaped Brain

    Albert Einstein’s head was unique the moment he was born, and it had nothing to do with intelligence. At birth, Einstein came out a bit misshapen, with a head far too large for his body and with an abnormal shape, to boot. His mother was concerned, but young Albert grew out of it within a matter of weeks. After his death several decades later, an autopsy revealed that his brain itself was also abnormally shaped. Although smaller than average, Einstein’s brain had some oversized areas related to mathematics and reasoning.

  • He Ate Grasshoppers To Gross Out His Friends
    Photo: Agence de presse Meurisse / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Ate Grasshoppers To Gross Out His Friends

    Throughout his long and brilliant life, Albert Einstein showed a few issues with impulse control. For a man who was so in tune with the nature of the universe and the consequences of human action, Einstein was very prone to making rash decisions. For example, Einstein was known to do things like randomly pick grasshoppers up off the ground and eat them just to freak out his friends.

  • He Smoked Cigarette Butts He Picked Off The Street

    Many of Einstein’s eccentricities are of the sort expected from a genius-type. Others are of the sort expected from a shifty hobo. Picking cigarette butts up off the street and smoking them definitely falls into the latter category, but that’s apparently something that Albert Einstein actually did. He was a lifelong smoker and often spoke of the calming effects of tobacco. After the elderly scientist’s doctors had forced him to quit smoking, Einstein resorted to smoking stubs wherever he found them, even in front of his grandson, who recounted this “humorous” anecdote years later.

  • He Didn’t Wear Socks And Bragged About It
    Photo: Halvor Rosendahl / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Didn’t Wear Socks And Bragged About It

    Something that Albert Einstein carried with him for his entire life was a disdain for socks. For whatever reason, he just hated having his feet covered in fabric. Whenever possible, Einstein would eschew wearing them, preferring to stuff his sweaty feet into any other sort of footwear that was available. This wasn’t simply due to comfort, either, as Einstein clearly knew he was avoiding a social norm by not wearing them. Later in life, he often bragged to friends about how he kept “getting away” without wearing socks, despite working in some respected and cultured institutions.

  • He Couldn’t Speak Until Age Four
    Photo: Photo by Paul Ehrenfest's (1880-1933) associate / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Couldn’t Speak Until Age Four

    Einstein said some incredibly wise things during his life, and perhaps that eloquence was him making up for lost time. In what seems like a strange origin story, young Albert did not learn to speak until the age of four, which would normally be a sign of some serious developmental deficiencies. He still showed himself to be intelligent through other means, but he couldn’t actually form words until he was nearly ready to enter school. This bizarre occurrence, which is rare but happens occasionally in highly-intelligent children, has been dubbed Einstein Syndrome in his honor.

  • He Enjoyed Crying And Playing The Violin While Birdwatching
    Photo: Paul Ehrenfest / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Enjoyed Crying And Playing The Violin While Birdwatching

    It has been said that, if not for a busy career in being the smartest man on the planet, Albert Einstein could have been a perfectly competent concert violinist. He began playing the instrument at the tender age of five and played it well from the beginning. He maintained a lifelong affinity for plucking strings, and he would bust out his violin whenever possible. Later in life, one of his favorite activities was walking around and playing it while watching birds. The combined beauty of music and nature often moved him to tears.