On April 2 1921, Jacob stood among the throngs at Battery Park to greet the steamship Rotterdam which brought his idol, Einstein, to America for the first time. As he waited, he thought about the theory of relativity - a set of esoteric ideas that had made a scientist into an international celebrity.
Once Einstein headed off on his motorcade and the crowds began to disperse, Jacob too, headed back.
At last I began winding my way home, taking care to avoid the main streets on the Lower East Side. I knew, as did the rest of the city, that Einstein was headed for the Hotel Commodore. Thousands of people lined the path, in a street party of sorts, waving to his motorcade. Even avoiding his route, I heard for a long time the honking of car horns, this modern form of fanfare being the tribute the streets of New York paid to the gentle genius. I wondered how he puts up with this constant rush of adoration around him. Perhaps he retreats to that secret “chest” in his mind, that imagined place, far out in dark, empty space, that served as a mental testing ground for the general theory of relativity.
Here's what he was talking about: