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Frank Wilczek on Einstein's productive years:

 “The later part of Einstein’s career-more than half, chronologically, covering thirty years—was devoted to (let’s call it) Theory of Everything physics, and it was essentially fruitless. During Einstein’s great creative period he dealt with much more specific, less grandiose problems. His special theory of relativity came out of worrying about technical difficulties in the electrodynamics of moving bodies. His general theory of relativity came out of worrying about how to make a theory of gravity consistent with special relativity. His pioneering work on Brownian motion and Bose-Einstein statistics came out of worrying about the relationship between fundamental physics and thermodynamics; specifically, about fluctuations. His seminal work on photons came out of thinking about specific, puzzling experimental results, notably the observed spectrum of blackbody radiation.” 

Frank Wilczek on Einstein's unproductive years:

 “Why did Einstein loathe the implications of quantum mechanics? This question belongs to psychology more than physics. There was certainly no empirical reason for his distaste-on the contrary, quantum mechanics went from success to brilliant success. Einstein apparently just didn’t like the way probability enters into the laws of quantum theory, and he may have sensed difficulties in reconciling quantum theory with his baby, relativity. A normal scientific reaction would have been to respect the overwhelming success of what people were doing in quantum theory, assimilate that work, and try to tinker with it (maybe hoping to remove the probabilities) or build on it (to include relativity). In fact, we know that great results were there to be had along those directions, such as the Bell inequalities and the Dirac equation. But instead of trying to tinker or build, Einstein went into denial.” 

George Uhlenbeck describes advising by Paul Ehrenfest:

 “He worked essentially always only with one student, and that practically every afternoon during the week. He discussed with him either the 
problem on which he was working or recent papers in the literature which he wanted to understand in detail. It went fast, and at the end of the 
afternoon one was dead tired.  ... The wonder was that after a while the tiredness disappeared, and after a year one worked almost as equals.” 

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