I'm curious if there has been any study in the success of the children, PhD students, or people that Einstein trained?

Does history show that direct frequent access to an extraordinary mind provide a continuing line of extraordinary people?

I would imagine that passing along the meta-cognitive tools used to think of extraordinary things would be difficult to communicate pass down to someone. But maybe that skill comes with the package.

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    There was no relationship between teaching skill and metacognitive ability in my professors.
    – MCW
    Jul 12, 2018 at 16:55
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    yeah as an anecdote, I've noticed the same thing but I've never had a world-renown extraordinary professor. Also I was wondering what history shows us about his children. But maybe the answers are too obvious for this question to be seriously studied. Jul 12, 2018 at 17:06
  • oh wow! I wonder if it was out of selfishness like the article suggests but out of time constraints. Like he illustrated in his letter to his wife after he was married. Jul 13, 2018 at 16:09
  • I would assume this is a question of genetics, not of history. Genetics will tell you that ability is largely determined at birth. So sure, exposure to a smart person will have an impact, but it won't fundamentally change who you are.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Jul 28, 2020 at 0:13

1 Answer 1


Einstein had no PhD students, although he did famously collaborate with junior colleagues on the EPR paradox. He had three children:

Lieserl Her fate is unclear. She may well have died young, although this has not been confirmed.

Hans Albert He became a successful engineer. For instance, there is a prize named after him.

Eduard He started studying medicine but developed Schizophrenia.

As has been pointed out, there is no clear relationship between a parent's/PhD supervisor's ability and that of their children/students. However, there are some famous examples. For instance, the following fathers and sons won the Nobel Prize in Physics:

  • William Bragg and Lawrence Bragg in 1915 for joint work
  • J.J. Thomson in 1906 and George Paget Thomson in 1937
  • Niels Bohr in 1922 Aage Niels Bohr in 1975
  • Manne Siegbahn in 1924 and Kai Siegbahn in 1981

One specific history-related example: The historian Conrad Russell was the son of Bertrand Russell.

There are also some example of whole families of gifted individuals:

  • The Bernoulli family of mathematicians.

  • The Curie family: Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. Marie Curie was again awarded a Nobel Prize in 1911, that time in Chemistry. Their daughter Irène Joliot-Curie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.

  • The Darwin–Wedgwood family included Charles Darwin and Francis Galton. (Yes, Galton had some detestable opinions, but his contributions to statistics are fundamental.)

As for famous scholars having famous PhD students, here are a few examples (I'm a mathematician and so my selection is skewed towards mathematics):

  • This doesn't seem to answer the question. It shows a correlation between famous teachers and students, but it doesn't draw a line between those two things and why there is a relationship. The relationship could be caused by any number of factors besides the teacher's native ability.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Jul 29, 2020 at 13:39
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    @CanadianCoder As the answer states, there is no clear relationship between a parent's/PhD supervisor's ability and that of their children/students. The answer does not show a correlation between famous teachers and students: It merely lists a few famous examples.
    – dwolfeu
    Jul 30, 2020 at 4:41

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