JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 521
Max Felischer (1883-1972) a nice Galician boy from Brownsville and employee of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the patentee of the rotoscope and arts editor of Popular Science, was an inventor, artist and writer who brought into being such iconic American creations as Popeye and Betty Boop. (Fleischer’s cartooning efforts could hardly be confused with his later nemesis, Walt Disney. Fleischer’s cartoons were almost always edgier, darker, surreal, and slightly hidden to young eyes. Betty Boop, for example, was quite a dish until censors toned her down, way down, into her faded obscurity; Popeye on the other hand survived magnificently but was always saying something not quite intelligible that sounded a little blue.) He also made the first full-length documentary film in 1923 explaining to the great mass Einstein’s theory of relativity, the general theory coming into being in 1916 and the special theory in 1905. The public reception of Einstein’s theory, in 1923, was mixed: it was hallowed, and Einstein was ultra-famous, but the theory by and large was not understood. That really didn’t matter, because it was important and it was proven and it worked; the taxonomy of the thing didn’t come into play in the daily grind. (After bleeding fallow for 16 years, and that would be the length of time from his four epochal papers of 1905 of which the special theory was but one, Einstein was finally “given” the Nobel prize for physics in 1921—this was actually awarded for his work on the photo-electric effect, which is an obvious manifestation of the quantum theory of light, brought into being by Max Planck in 1899/1900. The politics of the non-giving non-award in the meantime is simply not a pretty story.)
The reception of the theory was still problematic in 1923, and Max Fleischer decided to have a stab at the story. The result is the following 18-minute presentation—it isn’t as inspired as it is of historical peeping interest, basically a cartoon for adults that is now 86 years old, and its interesting enough just to know that it was done.