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a while to become accepted and part of the

Albert Einstein: mainstream."

Early years
Theories & Quotes Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in
Ulm, Germany, a town that today has a
population of just over 120,000 and has a
small commemorative plaque where
Einstein's house used to stand. (The house
was destroyed during World War II.) The
family moved to Munich shortly after his
birth, then to Italy as his father faced
problems with running his own business.
His father, Hermann, ran an electrochemical
factory and his mother, Pauline, took care of
Albert and his younger sister, Maria.

Einstein would write in his memoirs that two

"wonders" deeply affected his early years,
according to Hans-Josef Kpper, an Albert
Famed physicist Albert Einstein at the Einstein scholar. He encountered his first
blackboard. wonder a compass at age 5. He was
Credit: NASA mystified that invisible forces could deflect
Albert Einstein is often cited as one of the the needle. This would lead to a lifelong
most influential scientists of the 20thcentury. fascination with invisible forces. The second
His work helps astronomers study wonder came at age 12 when he discovered
everything from gravitational waves to a book of geometry, which he devoured,
Mercury's orbit. calling it his "holy geometry book."
His equation that helped explain special Contrary to popular belief, young Albert was
relativity E = mc2 is famous even among a good student. He excelled in physics and
those who don't understand the underlying mathematics, but was a more "moderate"
physics. He also is known for his work on pupil in other subjects, Kpper wrote on his
general relativity and the photoelectric website. However, Einstein rebelled against
effect; his work on the latter earned him a the authoritarian attitude of some of his
Nobel Prize in 1921. teachers and dropped out of school at 16.
He later took an entrance exam for the
Einstein also made vain attempts to unify all Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich,
the forces of the universe in a single theory, and while his performances in physics and
which he was still working on at the time of math were excellent, his marks in other
his death. areas were not sufficient, and he did not
pass the exam. He took additional courses
Advertisement to close the gap in his knowledge, and was
admitted to Swiss Polytechnic in 1896. In
"I think he was recognized in his time as
1901, he received a diploma (to teach
being pretty revolutionary," said Harry Cliff,
physics and mathematics).
an Einstein historian at London's Science
Museum, in a February 2017 interview.
"However, with big, new ideas, it takes them
Career highlights
Einstein's career was peripatetic. He earned
his doctorate in 1905, and subsequently
took on professor positions in Zurich (1909),
Prague (1911) and Zurich (1912). Next, he
moved to Berlin to become director of the
Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute and a
professor at the University of Berlin (1914).
He became a German citizen.

However, Einstein could not find a teaching A major validation of Einstein's work came
position, and famously began work in a in 1919, when Sir Arthur Eddington,
Bern patent office in 1901, according to his secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society,
Nobel Prize biography. It was here, after led an expedition to Africa that measured
analyzing patent applications, that he the position of stars during a total solar
developed his work in special relativity and eclipse. The group found that the position of
other parts of physics that made him stars was shifted due to the bending of light
famous. around the sun. Eddington's results rocked
the foundations of science, according to
Einstein married Mileva Maric, a longtime Rowan Hooper, a film critic for New
love of his from Zurich, in 1903. Their Scientist. Set against the backdrop of World
children, Hans Albert and Eduard, were War I, the British Eddington's acceptance of
born in 1904 and 1910. (The fate of a child the German Einstein's theory meant that the
born to them in 1902 before their marriage, ordered universe of Isaac Newton, also
Lieserl, is unknown.) He divorced Maric in British, was replaced with an entirely new
1919 and subsequently married Elsa philosophy. (In 2008, a BBC/HBO
Lwenthal, a cousin on Einstein's father's production dramatized the story in "Einstein
and mother's sides. Lwenthal died in 1933. and Eddington.")

"When that was published in the press,

Einstein became this global celebrity," Cliff
told "Even today there aren't
many scientists who are household names,
like Stephen Hawking. Einstein was the first
of those [modern] celebrities."

Einstein remained in Germany until 1933,

when dictator Adolf Hitler rose to power.
Einstein then renounced his German
citizenship and moved to the United States
to become a professor of theoretical physics
at Princeton. He became a U.S. citizen in
1940 and retired in 1945.

Albert Einstein in Princeton, USA. Einstein remained active in the physics

Credit: ESA community through his later years. In 1939,
he famously penned a letter to President
Franklin D. Roosevelt warning that uranium
could be used for an atomic bomb.
"It was one of the key triggers behind the Harvey failed a competency exam in 1988,
Manhattan Project," Cliff said, referring to and his medical license was revoked, Blitz
the successful effort the United States wrote. Harvey eventually donated the brain
initiated to build nuclear weapons during to Princeton Hospital, where the brain's
WWII. "That letter persuaded the journey had begun. Harvey died in
government to take it seriously. His voice 2007. Pieces of Einstein's brain are now on
was heard at the top of government." display at the Mutter Museum in
Late in Einstein's life, he engaged in a
series of private debates with physicist Niels
Bohr about the validity of quantum theory. What the studies found
Bohr's theories held the day, and Einstein
later incorporated quantum theory in his One of the first papers, titled "On the Brain
own calculations. of a Scientist: Albert Einstein" was
published in 1985 in the
journal Experimental Neurology. The
Einstein's brain researchers found that Einstein's brain had
a greater number of glial cells (cells that
Einstein died of an aortic aneurysm on April support and insulate the nervous system)
18, 1955. A blood vessel had burst near his per neurons (nerve cells) than other brains
heart, according to the American Museum they examined. They concluded that it might
of Natural History (AMNH). When asked if indicate the neurons had a higher
he wanted to have surgery, Einstein "metabolic need" that they needed and
refused. "I want to go when I want to go," he used more energy and that might explain
said. "It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. why Einstein had better thinking abilities
I have done my share; it is time to go. I will and conceptual skills.
do it elegantly." However, other researchers have pointed
Einstein's body most of it, anyway was out a few problems with that study,
cremated and his ashes were spread in an according to Eric H. Chudler, a
undisclosed location, according to the neuroscientist at the University of
AMNH. However, a doctor at Princeton Washington. First, for example, the other
Hospital, Thomas Harvey, had performed brains used in the study were all younger
an autopsy, apparently without permission, than Einstein's brain. Second, the
and removed Einstein's brain and eyeballs, "experimental group" had only one subject
according to Matt Blitz, who wrote about Einstein. Additional studies are needed
Einstein's brain in a 2015 column for Today to see if these anatomical differences are
I Found Out. found in other people. And third, only a
Harvey sliced hundreds of thin sections of small part of Einstein's brain was studied.
brain tissue to place on microscope slides, Another study, published in 1996 in the
and snapped 14 photos of the brain from journal Neuroscience Letters, found
several angles. Harvey moved to Wichita, that Einstein's brain weighed only 1,230
Kansas, where he was a medical supervisor grams, less than the average adult male
in a biological testing lab. Over the next 30 brain (about 1,400 g). Also, Einstein's
years, he sent a few slides to other cerebral cortex was thinner than that of five
researchers who wanted to study the brain, control brains, but the density of neurons
but kept the rest of the brain in two glass was greater.
jars, sometimes in a cider box under a beer A study published in 2012 in the journal
cooler. The story of Einstein's brain was Brain revealed that the Einstein's brain had
largely forgotten until 1985 when a study extra folding in the gray matter, the site of
was finally published. conscious thinking. In particular, the frontal
lobes, regions tied to abstract thought and
planning, had unusually elaborate folding, the time," Cliff said. "It contradicted the 19th-
analysis suggested. century wave picture of light."
Unified field theory: Einstein spent much
of his later years trying to merge the fields
Scientific work of electromagnetism and gravity. He was
unsuccessful, but Encyclopedia Britannica
Einstein's legacy in physics is significant. suggests that Einstein was ahead of his
Here are some of his key scientific time because, for example, the strong force
principles that he pioneered: in quantum mechanics was better
understood in the 1970s and 1980s. Other
Theory of special relativity: Einstein physicists are still working on this problem.
showed that physical laws are identical for
all observers, as long as they are not under
acceleration. However, the speed of light in Applications of
a vacuum is always the same, no matter at
what speed the observer is travelling. This Einstein's work
work led to his realization that space and
time are linked into what we now call space- There are many applications of Einstein's
time. So, an event seen by one observer work, but here are some of the bigger ones
may be seen at a different time by another in astronomy:
Theory of general relativity: This was a Gravitational waves: In 2016, the Laser
reformulation of the law of gravity. In the Interferometer Gravitational-Wave
1600s, Newton formulated three laws of Observatory (LIGO) detected space-time
motion, among them outlining how gravity ripples otherwise known as gravitational
works between two bodies. The force waves that occurred after black holes
between them depends on how massive collided about 1.4 billion light-years from
each object is, and how far apart the objects Earth. LIGO also made an initial detection of
are. Einstein determined that when thinking gravitational waves in 2015, a century after
about space-time, a massive object is a Einstein predicted these ripples existed. The
distortion in space-time (like putting a heavy waves are a facet of Einstein's theory of
ball on a trampoline.) Gravity is exerted general relativity.
when other objects fall into the "well" Mercury's orbit: Mercury is a small planet
created by the distortion in space-time, like orbiting close to a very massive object
a marble rolling towards the large ball. relative to its size the sun. Its orbit could
Photoelectric effect: Einstein's work in not be understood until general relativity
1905 proposed that light should be thought showed that it's the curvature of space-time
of as a stream of particles (photons) instead that is affecting its motions and changing
of just a single wave, as was commonly the orbit. There is a small chance that over
thought by the time. His work helped explain billions of years, Mercury could be ejected
some curious results scientists saw at the from our solar system due to these changes
time. The photoelectric effect refers to how (with an even smaller chance that it could
electrons are ejected from the surface of a collide with Earth.)
metal due to incident light. The "wave" Gravitational lensing: This is a
theory of light suggests that the electrons phenomenon by which a massive object
should be ejected with more energy when (like a galaxy cluster or a black hole) bends
the incident light is increased, but light around it. Astronomers looking at that
experiments showed that the energies are region through a telescope can then see
actually independent of the radiation objects directly behind the massive object,
intensity. "It was a difficult idea to accept at due to the light being bent. A famous
example of this is Einstein's Cross, a quasar
in the constellation Pegasus. A galaxy On humanity
roughly 400 million light-years away bends
the light of the quasar so it appears four "Only two things are infinite, the universe
times around the galaxy. and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about
the former."

Albert Einstein quotes "The difference between stupidity and

genius is that genius has its limits."
Einstein is credited with saying many
"It has become appallingly obvious that our
fascinating things:
technology has exceeded our humanity."
On science
"Only a life lived for others is a life
"Imagination is more important than worthwhile."

"If we knew what it was we were doing, it

would not be called research, would it?"

"The only reason for time is so that

everything doesn't happen at once."

"Everything should be as simple as

possible, but not simpler."

"Science is a wonderful thing if one does

not have to earn one's living at it."

On religion

"God does not play dice with the universe."

"Science without religion is lame, religion

without science is blind."

"Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,

we all dance to a mysterious tune intoned in
the distance by an invisible player."

On war and peace

"I know not with what weapons World War

III will be fought, but World War IV will be
fought with sticks and stones."

"The world is a dangerous place, not

because of those who do evil, but because
of those who look on and do nothing."

"Peace cannot be achieved through

violence, it can only be attained through
300 million meters per second in a vacuum.
Albert Einstein This led to the strange new reality that time
passes more slowly for people traveling at
very high speeds compared with people
moving more slowly.

discovered the hugely important and iconic

equation, E = mc2, which showed that energy
and matter can be converted into one another.

rewrote the law of gravitation, which had

been unchallenged since Isaac
Newtonpublished it in 1687. In his General
Theory of Relativity, Einstein:

Lived 1879 1955. showed that matter causes space to

curve, which produces gravity.
Albert Einstein rewrote the laws of nature. He
completely changed the way we understand showed that the path of light follows the
the behavior of things as basic as light, gravitational curve of space.
gravity, and time.
showed that time passes more slowly
Although scientists today are comfortable with when gravity becomes very strong.
Einsteins ideas, in his time, they were
completely revolutionary. Most people did not became the 20th centurys most famous
even begin to understand them. scientist when the strange predictions he
made in his General Theory of Relativity were
If youre new to science, youll probably find verified by scientific observations.
that some of his ideas take time to get used
to! spent his later years trying to find equations
to unite quantum physics with general
Advertisements relativity. This was an incredibly hard task for
him to set himself. To date, it has still not been
Quick Guide to Albert
His Beginnings
Einsteins Scientific
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in
Achievements Ulm, Germany. He was not talkative in his
childhood, and until the age of three, he didnt
Albert Einstein: talk much. He spent his teenage years in
Munich, where his family had an electric
provided powerful evidence that atoms and equipment business. As a teenager, he was
molecules actually exist, through his analysis interested in nature and showed a high level
of Brownian motion. of ability in mathematics and physics.

explained the photoelectric effect, proposing Einstein loved to be creative and innovative.
that light came in bundles. Bundles of light (he He loathed the uncreative spirit in his school
called them quanta) with the correct amount of at Munich. His familys business failed when
energy can eject electrons from metals. he was aged 15, and they moved to Milan,
Italy. Aged 16, he moved to Switzerland,
proved that everyone, whatever speed we where he finished high school.
move at, measures the speed of light to be
In 1896 he began to study for a degree at the immensely important scientific papers dealing
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in with his analysis of:
Zurich. He didnt like the teaching methods
there, so he bunked classes to carry out Brownian motion
experiments in the physics laboratory or play
his violin. With the help of his classmates the equivalence of mass and energy
notes, he passed his exams; he graduated in the photoelectric effect
special relativity
Einstein was not considered a good student Each of these papers on their own was a huge
by his teachers, and they refused to contribution to science. To publish four such
recommend him for further employment. papers in one year was considered to be
almost miraculous. Einstein was just 26 years

Mass Energy Equivalence

Einstein gave birth in 1905 to what has
become the worlds most famous equation:

E = mc2
Einstein 1903 The equation says that mass (m) can be
While studying at the Polytechnic, Einstein converted to energy (E). A little mass can
had learned about one of the biggest make a lot of energy, because mass is
problems then baffling physicists. This was multiplied by c2 where c is the speed of light, a
how to marry together Isaac Newtons laws of very large number.
motion with James Clerk Maxwellsequations
of electromagnetism.

In 1902 he obtained the post of an examiner

in the Swiss Federal patent office, and, in
1903, he wedded his classmate Mileva Maric.
He had two sons with her but they later
divorced. After some years Einstein married
Elsa Loewenthal.

Early Scientific Publications

A small amount of mass can make a large amount
Einstein continued to work in the patent office, of energy. Conversion of mass in atomic nuclei to
during which time he made most of his energy is the principle behind nuclear weapons
greatest scientific breakthroughs. The and explains the suns source of energy.
University of Zurich awarded him a Ph.D. in
1905 for his thesis A New Determination of
The Photoelectric Effect
Molecular Dimensions. If you shine light on metal, the metal may
release some of its electrons. Einstein said
1905: The Year of Miracles that light is made up of individual particles of
energy, which he called quanta. When these
In 1905, the same year as he submitted his quanta hit the metal, they give their energy to
doctoral thesis, Albert Einstein published four
electrons, giving the electrons enough energy
to escape from the metal.
Einstein Becomes Known
Einstein showed that light can behave as a
to the Wider Physics
particle as well as a wave. The energy each
particle of light carries is proportional to the
frequency of the light waves. As people read Einsteins papers and argued
about their significance, his work gradually
Einsteins Special Theory of gained acceptance, and his reputation as a
powerful new intellect in the world of physics
Relativity grew. In 1908 he began lecturing at the
University of Bern, and the following year
In Einsteins third paper of 1905 he returned to resigned from the Patent Office. In 1911 he
the big problem he had heard about at became a professor of physics at the Karl-
university how to resolve Newtons laws of Ferdinand University in Prague, before
motion with Maxwells equations of light. His returning to Zurich in 1912 to a professorship
approach was the thought experiment. He there.
imagined how the world would look if he could
travel at the speed of light. Working on the general theory of relativity, in
1911 he made his first predictions of how our
He realized that the laws of physics are the suns powerful gravity would bend the path of
same everywhere, and regardless of what you light coming from other stars as it traveled
did whether you moved quickly toward a ray past the sun.
of light as it approached you, or quickly away
from the ray of light you would always see
the light ray to be moving at the same speed
The General Theory of
the speed of light! Relativity Einstein
This is not obvious, because its not how Becomes Famous
things work in everyday life, where, for
example, if you move towards a child Worldwide
approaching you on a bike he will reach you
sooner than if you move away from him. With
light, it doesnt matter whether you move
towards or away from the light, it will take the
same amount of time to reach you. This isnt
an easy thing to understand, so dont worry
about it if you dont! (Unless youre at
university studying physics.) Every experiment
ever done to test special relativity has
confirmed what Einstein said.
A very, very rough approximation: the earths
If the speed of light is the same for all mass curves space. The moons speed keeps it
observers regardless of their speed, then it rolling around the curve rather than falling to
Earth. If you are on Earth and wish to leave, you
follows that some other strange things must
need to climb out of the gravity well
be true. In fact, it turns out that time, length, Einstein published his general theory of
and mass actually depend on the speed we relativity paper in 1915, showing, for example,
are moving at. The nearer the speed of light how gravity distorts space and time. Light is
we move, the bigger differences we seen in deflected by powerful gravity, not because of
these quantities compared with someone its mass (light has no mass) but because
moving more slowly. For example, time gravity has curved the space that light travels
passes more and more slowly as we move through.
faster and faster.
In 1919 a British expedition traveled to the He decided it would be a bad idea to return to
West African island of Principe to observe an Germany, and renounced his German
eclipse of the sun. During the eclipse they citizenship. Einstein did not practice Judaism,
could test whether light from far away stars but strongly identified with the Jewish people
passing close to the sun was deflected. They persecuted by the Nazi Party, favoring a
found that it was! Just as Einstein had said, Jewish homeland in Palestine with the rights
space truly was curved. of Arabs protected.

On November 7, 1919, the London Times It was Einsteins wish that people should be
headline read: respected for their humanity and not for their
country of origin or religion. Expressing his
Revolution in science New theory of the cynicism for nationalistic pride, he once said:
Universe Newtonian ideas overthrown.
If relativity is proved right the Germans will
call me a German, the Swiss will call me a
Honors and More Honors Swiss citizen, and the French will call me a
great scientist. If relativity is proved wrong, the
Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize
French will call me Swiss, the Swiss will call
in Physics in 1921. People are sometimes
me a German, and the Germans will call me a
surprised to learn that the award was not
made for his work in special or general
relativity, but for his overall services to
theoretical physics and one of the works from
his miracle year specifically the discovery of
the law of the photoelectric effect in 1905.

The Royal Society of London awarded him its

prestigious Copely Medal in 1925 for his
theory of relativity and contributions to the
quantum theory. The Franklin Institute
awarded him with the Franklin medal in 1935
for his work on relativity and the photo-electric

Universities around the world competed with

one another to award him honorary
doctorates, and the press wrote more about
him than any other scientist Einstein
became a celebrity.

Einsteins Later Years

Einstein made his greatest discoveries when
he was a relatively young man.

In his later years he continued with science,

but made no further groundbreaking
discoveries. He became interested in politics
and the state of the world.

Einstein had been born German and a Jew.

He died an American citizen in 1955. Einstein
was in America when Hitler came to power.