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Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is a German born Theoretical Physicist known for his work with General Relativity, Special Relativity and his contribution to the Quantum Theory. His equation, E=MC2 is now a pop-culture icon and a corner stone in modern physics. In 1921 he received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the Photoelectric Theory, which lead to the discovery of the atom. Einstein is considered one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, and his work is still very relevant in modern society over 100 years later.

Early Life, Family and Education

Einstein at the age of three
Einstein at the age of three

Born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany, Einstein grew up in a family of four with his mother Pauline, father Hermann and little sister Maja. His father and his uncle Jakob ran a family owned electrical company that was crucial to bringing electricity to the city of Munich. The brothers also provided electricity to Oktoberfest for the very first time in 1855. Despite his obvious brilliance as an adult, Einstein did not speak his first words until the age of two. At the age of four, Einstein fell seriously ill and was bedridden for days at a time. To boost his spirits, his father Hermann brought him a compass. Einstein would become enthralled with the compass and how it worked, which would set him on his pursuit of knowledge and would spark his love for science.


Though his parents were both Jewish, the family was not very observant of their faith. In a search for individuality, Einstein had a strong passion for his faith as a boy, frequenting the synagogue, observing the Sabbath, eating only kosher foods and even going so far as writing his own hymns. This religious fervor would be left behind in his adulthood however. Einstein attended the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich (later renamed the Albert Einstein Gymnasium) for his elementary education. When his father's business failed in 1894, his family would move to Italy in search of work, but leave the young Albert in Munich to finish his education. Despite his brilliance in mathematics from a young age, his distaste for education and the school system would spark the rumor that he in fact failed math in high school, which was false. At age 15 Einstein was already enrolled in differential and integral calculus and was at the top of his class in both.


In the year of 1895 at age 17, Einstein applied to the Zurich Polytechnic in Switzerland for the Math and Physics teaching program and was accepted in 1896 due to his outstanding grades in the two subjects. There he studied many of the topics that would later be the focus of his most groundbreaking work. While studying at the Polytechnic, Einstein fell in love with whom would become his first wife, Mileva Maric. Maric was the only female student enrolled in Einstein's program and the two shared a passion for mathematics. Though some believe she may have made significant contributions to his earlier works, there is no evidence proving her involvement. Einstein would graduate in the year 1900 ahead of his wife to be, who failed the final examinations. After graduating, Einstein struggled to find any teaching positions for a miserable two years, leading him to find work in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland. During his time working there, he often gathered with a small group of friends to discuss science and philosophy, which would help inspire the work he published during his time in Switzerland.
Einstein and his classmates
Einstein and his classmates

The Zurich Polytechnic, modern day
The Zurich Polytechnic, modern day















Work In Science


Special Relativity
Theories of Relativity had existed in Physics for many years, but had never been fully explored. When Einstein's first paper was published in September of 1905, the theory of Special Relativity introduced revolutionary ways of viewing electricity and magnetism, along with new fundamental views of space and time in his first notable work and was the paper that introduced the now iconic equation,E=MC2. These theories disregarded the theory of the aether, which is no longer used today, setting science on a more contemporary course. His theory successfully proved that light has a constant speed of 299 792 458 m/s under all circumstances and cannot be altered by any means, however the perception of the light can be altered by time. Also, the theory stated that time can be affected by the speed at which one travels. For example, if an airplane is moving at incredibly high speeds, those inside the machine perceive time moving as it normally would, but those viewing the plane while motionless from the outside would see events occurring within the vessel as if they were moving in slow motion. Special Relativity was viewed controversially by many scientists because the theory stated that time itself is relative, instead of something constant throughout the universe. Special Relativity would turn the world of physics upside down and permanently change the way we view time.
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General Relativity
Einstein spent the next ten years after Special Relativity was published working on yet another paper that would radically change modern science. His second paper,
General Relativity, was published in 1915 and dealt with geometric gravity rather than light and time as opposed to Special Relativity. Newton's laws of gravity explain that if an object feels no force, it will either remain still or float with a constant speed.
Theory of General Relativity Visual
Theory of General Relativity Visual
However, Einstein realized that if one was to drop an object off a roof, the object would continue to accelerate until it reaches the ground, which creates a paradox. Einstein then realized that gravity must warp space-time itself. Once his theory was complete, Einstein was able to prove that gravity does not cause large objects such as the Earth to pull things directly towards it
but rather creates a dip in the fabric of reality. Imagine that a tennis ball, a soccer ball and a bowling ball are placed on top of a trampoline. The bowling ball would cause the trampoline to dip inwards, and the two smaller balls would roll into the dip caused by the bowling ball. He would also go on to state that nothing can escape the pull of gravity, even things that are intangible such as light. Years later, in 1917, the portion of his theory concerning gravity and light would be proven by astronomers viewing light bend and contort around the sun during a solar eclipse.Even today, the theory remains the foremost authority of gravity in our universe, calculating anomalies in space with utmost precision. His theory also was the first to suggest the existence of black holes, (which would not be discovered until the 1970's) the creation of the Universe in a Big Bang Theory type event, and introduced the idea of wormholes.
Einstein circa 1905
Einstein circa 1905


Photoelectric Theory
Along with his paper on Special Relativity, Einstein released four other papers at the same time, one being his Photoelectric Theory. Though it did not gain publicity until the 1920's, the theory was designed to prove whether light was composed of waves or particles. Einstein managed to create an equation that would predict the movement of what he called "quanta" (photons) and explained why the behavior of photoelectrons was not dependent on the intensity of the light being produced and was only dependent of the light's frequency. (i.e black light, white light) This conclusion was a gigantic leap for theoretical science around the world, and was rejected even when proven to be accurate because of it's contradictions to James Clerk Maxwell's work, which had been proven accurate as well. Being able to successfully prove that light was made up of particles lead scientists to inquire into what else might be made of particles, which lead to work with atoms such as nuclear energy and weaponry. It was for this theory that in 1922 Einstein was awarded the Nobel prize for physics.



Einstein has a chat with Niels Bohr
Einstein has a chat with Niels Bohr

Later Years


Life in America
While visiting the western world in 1933, Einstein realized that he would not be able to return to Germany while Adolf Hitler was in power due to his Jewish bloodline. Ashamed of what had became of his home country, Einstein abolished his German citizenship and stayed in the United States until he could decide his future. Receiving many offers for teaching opportunities in the States and Europe alike, Einstein eventually decided to remain in the U.S.A and applied for citizenship in 1935. There, he began to teach at Princeton University and would hold his position until his death in 1955. During his time in America, Einstein was approached by Hungarian Scientists, including Leó Szilárd, who had escaped Nazi territory and warned him that Hitler may be close to building an atomic bomb. Being a pacifist, Einstein had never even considered the possibility of such a weapon and was astounded by the idea. He soon wrote a letter alongside Szilard to President Roosevelt, confirming the scientific of such a weapon. Due to Einstein's status in the scientific community, Roosevelt took this warning quite seriously, thus sparking what America at the time thought was a race to build the atomic bomb. Einstein would live to regret his involvement in the Manhattan Project, as it went against his moral code as a pacifist.





Outside of Science
Alongside the world of science, Einstein had a love for the arts as well. At the age of five, his mother, a talented pianist, introduced him to the violin in an attempt to expand his horizons. Though he hated playing music at such a young age, he would eventually grow out of his distaste for it and become quite proficient with his violin. When introudced to the work of Mozart at the age of 13, he grew a deep passion for making music and began to teach himself, claiming that his love for the instrument was better than any teacher. Einstein often mentioned that playing the violin would calm his mind and allow him to focus. He claimed that some of his biggest breakthroughs would not have been possible without the violin. Along with music, he carried a great passion for civil rights and social justice. While living in Princeton, Einstein joined the National Association for the
Einstein playing his beloved violin
Einstein playing his beloved violin

Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and participated in justice movements for African Americans within his community. He once called racism America`s worst disease, seeing that it was handed down from one generation to the next. In 1946, he visited Lincoln University (which had become the first university to accept black students) and gave a speech on anti-racism to its student body. Einstein was also known for his public support of Socialism and criticisms on Capitalism, writing many political essays, including 'Why Socialism?'. Though he himself was not a religious man, he did not associate himself as an atheist unlike many famous scientists.
Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore, 1930
Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore, 1930