Albert Einstein (Born::March 14, 1879 — Died::April 18, 1955) was a German-born physicist who is best known for his theories of General and Special Relativity. He shaped modern science through his various theories, observations, and discoveries, and is considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century. In 1921, he won the Nobel Prize for his contributions to the field of physics, specifically his study on the photoelectric effect. He discovered the energy constant (E=mc2) and provided an explanation for the space-time continuum.
Biography and Personal Life
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 to Hermann and Pauline Einstein, who were secular Jews, in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. He lived with his parents and younger sister, Maria or Maja Einstein, born two years after Albert. He was a taciturn child, hardly speaking until he reached the age of three. Because he was an unusual young child with an abnormally large head, one of their housekeepers believed Albert was retarded. However, he began to show signs of academic intelligence and understanding at a very early age.
The Einsteins moved to Munich, Germany in 1886 to where Albert’s father and uncle founded an electrochemical factory, the Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie Company. In Munich, Albert started his educational career and attended a Catholic school at the age of five where he began to show his brilliance in mathematics. After three years of Catholic education, he transferred to the Luitpold Gymnasium Post to complete his advanced primary and secondary schooling. He grew very fond of his geometry textbook, referring to it as his “sacred little geometry book.” His love for mathematics and physics developed as he built models and complex, mechanical devices in his spare time. He was extremely fascinated with the works of Max Talmud who later became his friend and tutor. Talmud’s influence also stroke wonder into Einstein’s brain about light and electricity. Einstein grew to be extremely religious at the age of twelve, but that changed when he read science textbooks that completely contradicted his religious beliefs.
Hermann Einstein’s electrochemical factory went out of business, causing the Einsteins to move to Milan, Italy in 1894, then onto Pavia, Italy in the following months. However, fifteen-year-old Einstein remained in Munich, Germany with expectations from his father to complete his formal education in Luitpold Gymnasium. The inflexible intelligence of Luitpold clashed with Einstein’s longing for creative learning. He dropped out six months later and rejoined his family in Pavia at the age of sixteen. Because Einstein dropped out of school and failed to complete his formal education, his chance of getting a job was at risk. He was able to apply to a school in Zurich, the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule, to study electrical engineering. Unfortunately, he failed the school's entrance exam to the school. On the test, Einstein failed all subjects except mathematics and physics. However, the principal of Eidgenössische was highly impressed with Einstein’s math and physics scores, causing him to make a deal with Albert. He proposed that if Albert finished formal schooling, he would allow entrance to the school. Therefore, Albert enrolled in Aargau Cantonal School in Aarau, Switzerland to finish his secondary schooling and graduated in 1896. He graduated from Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule in 1900 as a teacher of mathematics and physics. While in Zurich, he published his first paper called “The Consequenes of the Observations of Capillarity Phenomena.” The following year, he gained Swiss Citizenship.
Einstein claimed his life in Zurich to be the happiest of times. There he met his first love, Marie Winteler, the daughter of Einstein’s lifelong friends, the Winteler Family. He also claimed to have met several fellow students who became loyal friends. He later met his first wife, Mileva Maric, who originated from Serbia. They married in January 1903 and conceived a daughter, Lieseri, and two sons, Hans Albert and Eduard. Lieseri’s fate is unknown; she was thought to have been given up for adoption or dead from Scarlet Fever. Mileva and Albert divorced on February 14, 1919, but Albert remarried the same year to Elsa Löwenthal, a woman he has secretly been in a relationship with since 1912. Albert and Elsa immigrated to America in 1933, but unfortunately, Elsa passed away in 1936 due to kidney and heart failure.
On April 17, 1955, Einstein ruptured an abdominal aortic aneurysm and sustained internal bleeding. Dr. Rudolph Nissen performed surgery on him in 1948, but the problems continued. Einstein was taken to Princeton Hospital, but refused to go through with any surgery. He thought it was pointless to repeat the same procedures over and over. He willingly passed away on April 18, 1955.
After Albert Einstein’s graduation from Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule in 1900, he greatly struggled with finding a job. He desperately took jobs tutoring poor children, but was unfortunately fired. The father of his long time friend and former classmate from Zurich, Marcel Grossman, recommended him for a clerk position in a Swiss patent office in Bern 1902. His patent job gave him an easy and steady income. He often finished his work quickly, giving himself much time to dwell upon theories dealing with the familiar study of light. In school, Einstein extensively studied the nature of light, which helped him to later conclude and develop the principle of relativity, “the speed of light is a constant in any inertial frame (constantly moving frame).” In the 19th century, both Newton’s law of motion and Maxwell’s theory of light were solid scientific discoveries. However, when Einstein realized that light contradicted Netwon’s law, he proposed his principle.
1905 was Eintein’s “annus mirabilis” or “miracle year.” In that year, his scientific career sky-rocketed. He wrote and published four innovational papers that dealt with the Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect, and special relativity. Those papers completely changed the face of science because of his theories and their accuracy. Einstein’s brilliant papers, however, were not immediately accepted in the scientific community. After Max Planck, founder of the quantum theory, gave Einstein a chance, Einstein proved his theories were correct and became tremendously famous. He became a lecturer at the University of Bern and, in 1909, he became a physics professor at the University of Zurich. He traveled on the road several times to speak at international conferences about his theories, which unfortunately ruined his first marriage with Mileva Maric. Countries around the world longed for him to speak. He toured countries such as France, the United States, England, and Japan. In 1911, he took a full-time job as a professor at the Karl-Ferdinand University in Prague and in 1914, Einstein returned to Germany to be appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for physics and professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Einstein then became president of the German Physical Society and joined the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
Albert spent much of his time at the California Institute of Technology during the 1930’s. He also lectured in the Institute for Advanced Study in New Jersey. When Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany in 1933, Einstein moved to the United States and became a permanent citizen in 1940.
Many claim Einstein’s work contributed to the discovery of nuclear fission. Einstein also wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, president in 1939, and requested permission to create a weapon such as the atomic bomb for military use, which causes severe metropolitan issues today. Einstein claimed that he was regretful in signing that letter and, with the help of Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell, moved to stop all nuclear experimentation.
Einstein analyzed and discussed the movement of molecules and proved their existence through the Brownian motion (the random movement of microscopic particles suspended in a liquid or gas, caused by collisions between these particles and the molecules of the liquid or gas). He also questioned the nature of light, leading to his discovery of the photoelectric effect (emission, or ejection, of electrons from the surface of, generally, a metal in response to incident light) by the quantum theory (a theory of matter and energy based on the concept of quanta, especially quantum mechanics) to light. Light energy came into photons, or quanta. Researchers began to view the concept of light very differently. Einstein's most well-known discovery regarded the special theory of relativity. He wrote two papers called, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” and “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?” His famous Theory of Relativity stated that time is not constant, but variable. The speed of time passing is relative to the person experiencing it. In fact, Einstein argued, the only physical constant in the universe is light. And it is an object's relation to another in light that dictates the speed that time passes for that object relative to the speed it passes for the other. The theory was summed up in the famous equation:
E=MC2Or "Energy ('everything') = Mass multiplied by The Speed of Light multiplied by itself".
Why is the sky blue? Einstein validly answered this question by defining critical opalescence. He “. . .[examined] the cumulative effect of the scattering of light by individual molecules in the atmosphere.”
In November 1915, Einstein replaced Newton’s Law of Gravity with his theory of gravity (General Relativity). The theory explained how gravity affects time and space and how gravity, rather than the light’s mass, deflects light. Gravity curves the space in which the light travels. In all, Einstein believed space was curved. Many scientists were not confident in Einstein’s theory because of its lack of physical observation and evidence. However, it was proved scientifically correct in 1919 through the observation of the sun’s gravity and the stars. Light from certain stars were deflected as they came closer to the sun.
In 1943, Einstein developed the Bose-Einstein statistics when, Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian physicist, sent Einstein one of his papers, which described light as photons, for publication help. However, Einstein applied Bose’s theory to atoms and published an article of his own. The statistics explained bosons, indistinguishable particles.
With the help of Leó Szilárd, Einstein created what is now commonly referred to as the Einstein Refrigerator in 1926. The refrigerator utilized ammonia, butane, and water to keep things cool. It became very popular because of its portability, reliability, and silent refrigeration. Currently, the Einstein Refrigerator is mostly used for camping. Einstein’s discoveries and inventions shaped and changed the scientific world into what it is today.
Einstein won numerous awards throughout his lifetime for his discoveries that changed the course of science. On November 12, 1919, the University of Rostock gave Albert and Max Planck the honorary doctorate. Although the Rostock doctorate was the first and only one he received in Germany, he received many other honorary doctorates in several colleges and universities around the world:
- Princeton University on May 9, 1921.
- University of Madrid on March 8, 1923.
- The Department of Mathematics nominated Einstein for the honorary doctorate in Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich), his former school. He received the doctorate on November 7, 1930
- Oxford University gave him the honorary doctorate of science on May 23, 1931.
- Yeshiva College in New York on October 8, 1934.
- Harvard University, one of the most important ivy league schools in the United States, gave Einstein an honorary doctorate on June 20, 1935.
Besides receiving many honorary doctorates, Einstein also received medals:
- He received the Genootschaps Medal on December 13,1923 from a Dutch society called Genootschap ter bevordering van Natuur-, Genees- en Heelkunde, which supports medicinal and scientific productivity.
- Sir Charles Sherrington from the Royal Society of London gave Einstein the Copley Medal on November 30, 1925.
- Weeks after the Copley Medal, Einstein received the Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society on February 12, 1926.
- On June 28, 1929, Einstein received the Max-Planck Medal from the German Physical Society. Max Planck personally presented the medal to Einstein in the ceremony.
- The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia gave Einstein the Franklin Medal on May 15, 1935 for his works on the theory of relativity and photoelectric effects especially.
Albert Einstein’s most significant award and honor was the Nobel Prize in 1921. He was given the award for his contributions to the field of physics. The Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, however, stated that Nobel laureates do not receive their prize money until they physically hold the award. Einstein officially received the award on December 10, 1922 and recited his speech on July 11, 1923 in the Jubilee Hall. Thousands of people, including the king of Goeteborg, listened to his speech. Einstein shared his prize money, which consisted of 180, 000 Swiss Francs, with his family. 
Philosophically Einstein made it clear that, while he could not eliminate the possibility of a cosmic creator (a.k.a. God), he was skeptical of such a concept and he was completely averse to the notion of a personal God (e.g. one who answers prayers, performs miracles, etc).
|“||How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it. ||”|
|“||Even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up. But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind... a legitimate conflict between science and religion cannot exist. ||”|
|“||What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life altogether? To answer this question at all implies a religion. Is there any sense then, you ask, in putting it? I answer, the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life. ||”|
|“||The true sign of intelligene is not knowledge but imagination.||”|
|“||Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.||”|
|“||Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.||”|
|“||When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.||”|
|“||Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.||”|
A deeper look into Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity
10 fun facts about Albert Einstein
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