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The complete sentence is :

Had Einstein used his spare time on something more useful for the society, the improvement of our knowledge of the nature of the universe would have been greatly delayed.

I move "Had" to the head of the sentence to make it a little uncommon.

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If "society" refers to people in general, rather than a specific society, the "the" before it should be omitted. – Steve Melnikoff Sep 12 '10 at 9:53
up vote 3 down vote accepted

That is a proper conditional statement, so yes, you can certainly frame it like this.

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For what it's worth, this is the contrary to fact usage of the not-quite-dead-yet subjunctive. – moioci Sep 14 '10 at 5:31
Could you please elaborate? – Vaibhav Garg Sep 14 '10 at 11:40
Assuming it's me you'd like to elaborate, the past conditional would go like this: If I knew that information when I finished school, I've forgotten it now. (Maybe I knew it, maybe I didn't.) Contrast with a typical contrary to fact conditional: If I had known you were coming, I would have hidden the vodka. (The point is that I didn't know you were coming.) It could also be phrased, "Had I known..." It looks like a past perfect, but is actually past tense subjunctive mood. – moioci Sep 18 '10 at 6:11
@moioci, Great. Thanks for the clarification. – Vaibhav Garg Sep 18 '10 at 10:44

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