Albert Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers and many of them have been repeatedly cited by subsequent scientists in their work over the years. However, which is the most cited?
What do you mean by cited?
It is important to properly and appropriately cite references in scientific research papers in order to acknowledge sources and give credit where credit is due. Science moves forward only by building upon the work of others. Any Scientist’s paper will cite other scientist’s work that has been used to explain or build on for their own work.
So which of Albert Einstein’s papers do you think is cited the most?
That’s easy, surely it would be E=mc2
You’d think so wouldn’t you, although, of course, the famous equation wasn’t contained in the original paper on special relativity. It was contained in a supplementary paper published later in 1905 and never actually contained the equation in that form. However, that’s for another day. Have another go.
Well, if it isn’t special relativity, it has to be General Relativity
Good guess, I mean this is one of the greatest theories in all of science and changed forever our view of the universe. It is often considered Einstein’s greatest scientific work. However, somewhat surprisingly, this great work is not Einstein’s most cited scientific paper.
Give me a clue.
It’s well known that Einstein won the Nobel Prize, but not for relativity…
The Photoelectric effect – it must be!
You are along the right lines. Einstein made fundamental contributions to Quantum theory, one of which was the paper he won the Nobel prize for – the photoelectric effect, which introduced the idea that light was made of particles as well as being a wave, but this wasn’t his most cited paper.
I give up.
The popular version of Einstein and quantum theory is that Einstein was opposed to it. In some respect this is right, but it wasn’t so much that he was opposed to it, as he didn’t accept that quantum theory was the whole story. As I said he was probably more responsible than any other individual for introducing the concepts that made quantum theory, but he didn’t agree with the non causal element of the theory, which is what led him to his famous comment about God not playing dice.
In 1935 Einstein co-authored a paper with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen. The purpose of the paper was Einstein’s attempt to disprove Niels Bohr’s claim that quantum mechanics was a complete and fundamental theory of nature. It introduced the EPR paradox, which in its simplest terms says that by determining the position or momentum of one of two entangled particles that are on opposite side of the universe, instantaneously the position and momentum of the other is known, which violates his own theory of relativity which says nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light.
The paradox was eventually held to be true and the theory of entanglement is now a fundamental aspect of quantum theory.
In trying to disprove quantum mechanics, Einstein’s paper ended up leading to the discovery of a fundamental aspect of it.
And the most cited paper?
That’s it – the EPR paper. Whereas Einstein’s paper on special relativity has been cited some 700 times, his EPR paper has been cited 2500 times.
An irony that something that proved to be incorrect, is his most cited paper.