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Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire, on 14 March 1879 into a family of secular Ashkenazi Jews. His parents were Hermann Einstein, a salesman and engineer, and Pauline Koch.
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May 28, 2021 · Albert Einstein was a famous physicist. His research spanned from quantum mechanics to theories about gravity and motion. After publishing some groundbreaking papers, Einstein toured the world and gave speeches about his discoveries. In 1921 he won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery of the photoelectric effect.
- Einstein’s Early Life
- Einstein’s Miracle Year
- from Zurich to Berlin
- Einstein Moves to The United States
- Einstein’s Later Life
Born on March 14, 1879, in the southern German city of Ulm, Albert Einstein grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in Munich. As a child, Einstein became fascinated by music (he played the violin), mathematics and science. He dropped out of school in 1894 and moved to Switzerland, where he resumed his schooling and later gained admission to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich. In 1896, he renounced his German citizenship, and remained officially stateless before becoming a Swiss citizen in 1901. While at Zurich Polytechnic, Einstein fell in love with his fellow student Mileva Maric, but his parents opposed the match and he lacked the money to marry. The couple had an illegitimate daughter, Lieserl, born in early 1902, of whom little is known. After finding a position as a clerk at the Swiss patent office in Bern, Einstein married Maric in 1903; they would have two more children, Hans Albert (born 1904) and Eduard (born 1910).
While working at the patent office, Einstein did some of the most creative work of his life, producing no fewer than four groundbreaking articles in 1905 alone. In the first paper, he applied the quantum theory (developed by German physicist Max Planck) to light in order to explain the phenomenon known as the photoelectric effect, by which a material will emit electrically charged particles when hit by light. The second article contained Einstein’s experimental proof of the existence of atoms, which he got by analyzing the phenomenon of Brownian motion, in which tiny particles were suspended in water. In the third and most famous article, titled “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” Einstein confronted the apparent contradiction between two principal theories of physics: Isaac Newton’s concepts of absolute space and time and James Clerk Maxwell’s idea that the speed of light was a constant. To do this, Einstein introduced his special theory of relativity, which held that the la...
Einstein continued working at the patent office until 1909, when he finally found a full-time academic post at the University of Zurich. In 1913, he arrived at the University of Berlin, where he was made director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. The move coincided with the beginning of Einstein’s romantic relationship with a cousin of his, Elsa Lowenthal, whom he would eventually marry after divorcing Mileva. In 1915, Einstein published the general theory of relativity, which he considered his masterwork. This theory found that gravity, as well as motion, can affect time and space. According to Einstein’s equivalence principle–which held that gravity’s pull in one direction is equivalent to an acceleration of speed in the opposite direction–if light is bent by acceleration, it must also be bent by gravity. In 1919, two expeditions sent to perform experiments during a solar eclipse found that light rays from distant stars were deflected or bent by the gravity of the sun i...
A longtime pacifist and a Jew, Einstein became the target of hostility in Weimar Germany, where many citizens were suffering plummeting economic fortunes in the aftermath of defeat in the Great War. In December 1932, a month before Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, Einstein made the decision to emigrate to the United States, where he took a position at the newly founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He would never again enter the country of his birth. By the time Einstein’s wife Elsa died in 1936, he had been involved for more than a decade with his efforts to find a unified field theory, which would incorporate all the laws of the universe, and those of physics, into a single framework. In the process, Einstein became increasingly isolated from many of his colleagues, who were focused mainly on the quantum theory and its implications, rather than on relativity.
In the late 1930s, Einstein’s theories, including his equation E=mc2, helped form the basis of the development of the atomic bomb. In 1939, at the urging of the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard, Einstein wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt advising him to approve funding for the development of uranium before Germany could gain the upper hand. Einstein, who became a U.S. citizen in 1940 but retained his Swiss citizenship, was never asked to participate in the resulting Manhattan Project, as the U.S. government suspected his socialist and pacifist views. In 1952, Einstein declined an offer extended by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s premier, to become president of Israel. Throughout the last years of his life, Einstein continued his quest for a unified field theory. Though he published an article on the theory in Scientific American in 1950, it remained unfinished when he died, of an aortic aneurysm, five years later. In the decades following his death, Einstein’s reputation and statur...
- 3 min
- Early Life & Family
- Patent Clerk
- Wife and Children
- Nobel Prize For Physics
- Inventions and Discoveries
- Travel Diaries
- Becoming A U.S. Citizen
- Einstein and The Atomic Bomb
- Member of The NAACP
Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. Einstein grew up in a secular Jewish family. His father, Hermann Einstein, was a salesman and engineer who, with his brother, founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a Munich-based company that mass-produced electrical equipment. Einstein’s mother, the former Pauline Koch, ran the family household. Einstein had one sister, Maja, born two years after him. Einstein attended elementary school at the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich. However, he felt alienated there and struggled with the institution's rigid pedagogical style. He also had what were considered speech challenges, though he developed a passion for classical music and playing the violin, which would stay with him into his later years. Most significantly, Einstein's youth was marked by deep inquisitiveness and inquiry. Towards the end of the 1880s, Max Talmud, a Polish medical student who sometimes dined with the Einstein family, became an informal tu...
Einstein was eventually able to gain admission into the Swiss Federal Institute of Technologyin Zurich, specifically due to his superb mathematics and physics scores on the entrance exam. He was still required to complete his pre-university education first, and thus attended a high school in Aarau, Switzerland helmed by Jost Winteler. Einstein lived with the schoolmaster's family and fell in love with Winteler's daughter, Marie. Einstein later renounced his German citizenship and became a Swiss citizen at the dawn of the new century. READ MORE: What Was Albert Einstein's IQ?
After graduating, Einstein faced major challenges in terms of finding academic positions, having alienated some professors over not attending class more regularly in lieu of studying independently. Einstein eventually found steady work in 1902 after receiving a referral for a clerk position in a Swiss patent office. While working at the patent office, Einstein had the time to further explore ideas that had taken hold during his studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and thus cemented his theorems on what would be known as the principle of relativity. In 1905—seen by many as a "miracle year" for the theorist—Einstein had four papers published in the Annalen der Physik, one of the best-known physics journals of the era. Two focused on the photoelectric effect and Brownian motion. The two others, which outlined E=MC2 and the special theory of relativity, were defining for Einstein’s career and the course of the study of physics.
Einstein married Mileva Maricon Jan. 6, 1903. While attending school in Zurich, Einstein met Maric, a Serbian physics student. Einstein continued to grow closer to Maric, but his parents were strongly against the relationship due to her ethnic background. Nonetheless, Einstein continued to see her, with the two developing a correspondence via letters in which he expressed many of his scientific ideas. Einstein’s father passed away in 1902, and the couple married shortly thereafter. That same year the couple had a daughter, Lieserl, who might have been later raised by Maric's relatives or given up for adoption. Her ultimate fate and whereabouts remain a mystery. The couple had two sons, Hans Albert Einstein (who became a well-known hydraulic engineer) and Eduard "Tete" Einstein (who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young man). The Einsteins' marriage would not be a happy one, with the two divorcing in 1919 and Maric having an emotional breakdown in connection to the split. Einst...
In 1921, Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, since his ideas on relativity were still considered questionable. He wasn't actually given the award until the following year due to a bureaucratic ruling, and during his acceptance speech, he still opted to speak about relativity. In the development of his general theory, Einstein had held onto the belief that the universe was a fixed, static entity, aka a "cosmological constant," though his later theories directly contradicted this idea and asserted that the universe could be in a state of flux. Astronomer Edwin Hubble deduced that we indeed inhabit an expanding universe, with the two scientists meeting at the Mount Wilson Observatorynear Los Angeles in 1931.
As a physicist, Einstein had many discoveries, but he is perhaps best known for his theory of relativity and the equation E=MC2, which foreshadowed the development of atomic power and the atomic bomb.
In 2018, readers were allowed a glimpse into some of the unfiltered private thoughts of Einstein as a young man with the publication of The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922-1923. The young scientist started a sea journey to Japan in Marseilles, France, in autumn of 1922, accompanied by his second wife Elsa. They journeyed through the Suez Canal, then to Ceylon, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan. The couple returned to Germany via Palestineand Spain in March 1923. The Travel Diariescontained unflattering analyses of the people he came across, including the Chinese and Sri Lankans, a surprise coming from a man known for vehemently denouncing racism in his later years. In an entry for November 1922, Einstein refers to residents of Hong Kong as "industrious, filthy, lethargic people ... Even the children are spiritless and look lethargic. It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races."
In 1933, Einstein took on a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. At the time the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, were gaining prominence with violent propaganda and vitriol in an impoverished post-World War IGermany. The Nazi Party influenced other scientists to label Einstein's work "Jewish physics." Jewish citizens were barred from university work and other official jobs, and Einstein himself was targeted to be killed. Meanwhile, other European scientists also left regions threatened by Germany and immigrated to the U.S., with concern over Nazi strategies to create an atomic weapon. After moving, Einstein never went back to his native land. It was at Princeton that Einstein would spend the rest of his life working on a unified field theory—an all-embracing paradigm meant to unify the varied laws of physics. Not long after he began his career at Princeton, Einstein expressed an appreciation for American "meritocracy" and the opportunities people had fo...
In 1939, Einstein and fellow physicist Leo Szilard wrote to President Franklin D. Rooseveltto alert him of the possibility of a Nazi bomb and to galvanize the United States to create its own nuclear weapons. The U.S. would eventually initiate the Manhattan Project, though Einstein would not take a direct part in its implementation due to his pacifist and socialist affiliations. Einstein was also the recipient of much scrutiny and major distrust from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. After learning of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, Einstein became a major player in efforts to curtail usage of the a-bomb. The following year he and Szilard founded the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, and in 1947, via an essay for The Atlantic Monthly, Einstein espoused working with the United Nations to maintain nuclear weapons as a deterrent to conflict.
In the late 1940s, Einstein became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), seeing the parallels between the treatment of Jews in Germany and African Americans in the United States. He corresponded with scholar/activist W.E.B. Du Bois as well as performing artist Paul Robesonand campaigned for civil rights, calling racism a "disease" in a 1946 Lincoln University speech.
- 4 min
- Early years. Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany, a town that today has a population of just more than 120,000. There is a small commemorative plaque where his house used to stand (it was destroyed during World War II).
- Career highlights. Einstein's career sent him to multiple countries. He earned his doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1905, and subsequently took on professor positions in Zurich (1909), Prague (1911) and Zurich again (1912).
- Einstein's brain. Einstein died of an aortic aneurysm on April 18, 1955. A blood vessel burst near his heart, according to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).
- What the studies found. Harvey's 1985 study authors reported that Einstein's brain had a higher number of glial cells (those that support and insulate the nervous system) per neurons (nerve cells) than other brains they examined.
Oct 26, 2015 · Albert Einstein at age 14. (Credit: ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images) Underachieving school kids have long taken solace in the claim that Einstein flunked math as a youth, but the ...
- Born: Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany to parents Hermann Einstein and Pauline Einstein. At age 29, his father married Pauline Koch. She was eleven years his junior.
- Fathead at birth: Albert had a fat head at the time he was born. This startled his mother and grandmother when they saw him for the first time. However, the fat head slowly receded and turned into a normal size.
- Speech difficulty during childhood: Einstein did not speak until the age of three. He revealed this fact about the delay of his speech abilities to his biographer.
- Early years: he spent his teenage years in Munich. His family operated an electrical equipment business in the city. Einstein at a young age liked to work on puzzles, erect complex structures with his toy building sets.
- Einstein wasn't a beautiful baby. When Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, the back of his head was reportedly so huge that his family worried something was wrong with him.
- Einstein was slow to talk. Some say he didn't start speaking until age four. Stanford economist Dr. Thomas Sowell even coined the controversial term "Einstein Syndrome" to describe exceptionally bright people whose speech is delayed.
- Einstein did NOT flunk math. It's long been rumored that Einstein was a bad student -- and these rumors have been fueled in part by headlines like one in a "Ripley's Believe it or Not!"
- Einstein had an illegitimate child. Before Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Marić, married, she secretly gave birth to their daughter at her parents' home in Serbia, Time magazine reported.
- “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.” ― Albert Einstein.
- “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein.
- “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
- “If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” ― Albert Einstein.
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