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Albert Einstein
(March 14,
1879 – April 18, 1955)

 

 


"A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of
the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most
primitive forms are accessible to our minds - it is this knowledge and this
emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and this alone,
I am a deeply religious man."

Born

14 March 1879 in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire.

His father was Hermann Einstein, a salesman and engineer and his mother was Pauline Einstein (née Koch).

Early Years

In 1880, the family moved to Munich, where his father and his uncle founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a company that manufactured electrical equipment based on direct current.

The Einsteins were non-observant Jews.

Albert attended a Catholic elementary school from the age of five for three years.

Later, at the age of eight, he was transferred to the Luitpold Gymnasium where he received advanced primary and secondary school education until he left Germany seven years later.

Although it has been thought that Einstein had early speech difficulties, this is disputed by the Albert Einstein Archives, and he excelled at the first school that he attended.

His father once showed him a pocket compass; Einstein realized that there must be something causing the needle to move, despite the apparent "empty space".

As he grew, Einstein built models and mechanical devices for fun and began to show a talent for mathematics.

When Einstein was ten years old, Max Talmud (later changed to Max Talmey), a poor Jewish medical student from Poland, was introduced to the Einstein family by his brother, and during weekly visits over the next five years, he gave the boy popular books on science, mathematical texts and philosophical writings.

These included Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Euclid's Elements (which Einstein called the "holy little geometry book").

Education

In 1894, his father's company failed: direct current (DC) lost the War of Currents to alternating current (AC).

In search of business, the Einstein family moved to Italy, first to Milan and then, a few months later, to Pavia.

When the family moved to Pavia, Einstein stayed in Munich to finish his studies at the Luitpold Gymnasium.

His father intended for him to pursue electrical engineering, but Einstein clashed with authorities and resented the school's regimen and teaching method.

He later wrote that the spirit of learning and creative thought were lost in strict rote learning.

At the end of December 1894, he travelled to Italy to join his family in Pavia, convincing the school to let him go by using a doctor's note.

It was during his time in Italy that he wrote a short essay with the title "On the Investigation of the State of the Ether in a Magnetic Field."

In late summer 1895, at the age of sixteen, Einstein sat the entrance examinations for the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich (later the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule).

He failed to reach the required standard in several subjects, but obtained exceptional grades in physics and mathematics.

On the advice of the Principal of the Polytechnic, he attended the Aargau Cantonal School in Aarau, Switzerland, in 1895-96 to complete his secondary schooling.

While lodging with the family of Professor Jost Winteler, he fell in love with Winteler's daughter, Marie.

In January 1896, with his father's approval, he renounced his citizenship in the German Kingdom of Württemberg to avoid military service.

In September 1896, he passed the Swiss Matura with mostly good grades (including a top grade of 6 in physics and mathematical subjects, on a scale of 1-6), and, though only seventeen, enrolled in the four-year mathematics and physics teaching diploma program at the ETH Zurich.

Marie Winteler moved to Olsberg, Switzerland for a teaching post.

Married

In early 1902, Einstein and Marić had a daughter they named Lieser, who was born in Novi Sad where Marić's parents lived.

Her full name is not known, and her fate is uncertain after 1903.

Einstein and Marić married in January 1903.

In May 1904, the couple's first son, Hans Albert Einstein, was born in Bern, Switzerland.

Their second son, Eduard, was born in Zurich in July 1910.

In 1914, Einstein moved to Berlin, while his wife remained in Zurich with their sons.

They divorced on 14 February 1919, having lived apart for five years.

Einstein married Elsa Löwenthal (née Einstein) on 2 June 1919, after having had a relationship with her since 1912.
She was his first cousin maternally and his second cousin paternally.

In 1933, they emigrated to the United States.

In 1935, Elsa Einstein was diagnosed with heart and kidney problems and died in December 1936.

Patent office

After graduating, Einstein spent almost two frustrating years searching for a teaching post, but a former classmate's father helped him secure a job in Bern, at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property, the patent office, as an assistant examiner.

He evaluated patent applications for electromagnetic devices.

In 1903, Einstein's position at the Swiss Patent Office became permanent, although he was passed over for promotion until he "fully mastered machine technology".

Much of his work at the patent office related to questions about transmission of electric signals and electrical-mechanical synchronization of time, two technical problems that show up conspicuously in the thought experiments that eventually led

Einstein to his radical conclusions about the nature of light and the fundamental connection between space and time.

With a few friends he met in Bern, Einstein started a small discussion group, self-mockingly named "The Olympia Academy", which met regularly to discuss science and philosophy. Their readings included the works of Henri Poincaré, Ernst Mach, and David Hume, which influenced his scientific and philosophical outlook.

 

During 1901, the paper "Conclusions from the Capillarity Phenomena" was published in the prestigious Annalen der Physik.

On 30 April 1905, Einstein completed his thesis, with Alfred Kleiner, Professor of Experimental Physics, serving as pro-forma advisor.

Einstein was awarded a PhD by the University of Zurich.

His dissertation was entitled "A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions".

That same year, which has been called Einstein's annus mirabilis (miracle year), he published four groundbreaking papers, on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of matter and energy, which were to bring him to the notice of the academic world.

By 1908, he was recognized as a leading scientist, and he was appointed lecturer at the University of Bern.

The following year, he quit the patent office and the lectureship to take the position of physics docent at the University of Zurich.

He became a full professor at Karl-Ferdinand University in Prague in 1911.

In 1914, he returned to Germany after being appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics (1914–1932) and a professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin, with a special clause in his contract that freed him from most teaching obligations.

He became a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences.

In 1916, Einstein was appointed president of the German Physical Society (1916–1918).

During 1911, he had calculated that, based on his new theory of general relativity, light from another star would be bent by the Sun's gravity.

That prediction was claimed confirmed by observations made by a British expedition led by Sir Arthur Eddington during the solar eclipse of 29 May 1919.

International media reports of this made Einstein world famous.

On 7 November 1919, the leading British newspaper The Times printed a banner headline that read: "Revolution in Science – New Theory of the Universe – Newtonian Ideas Overthrown".

Much later, questions were raised whether the measurements had been accurate enough to support Einstein's theory.

In 1980 historians John Earman and Clark Glymour published an analysis suggesting that Eddington had suppressed unfavorable results.

The two reviewers found possible flaws in Eddington's selection of data, but their doubts, although widely quoted and, indeed, now with a "mythical" status almost equivalent to the status of the original observations, have not been confirmed.

Eddington's selection from the data seems valid and his team indeed made astronomical measurements verifying the theory.

In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, as relativity was considered still somewhat controversial.

He also received the Copley Medal from the Royal Society in 1925.

Emigration

In 1933, Einstein decided to emigrate to the United States due to the rise to power of the Nazis under Germany's new chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

While visiting American universities in April, 1933, he learned that the new German government had passed a law barring Jews from holding any official positions, including teaching at universities.

A month later, Einstein's works were among those targeted by Nazi book burnings, and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels proclaimed, "Jewish intellectualism is dead."

Einstein also learned that his name was on a list of assassination targets, with a "$5,000 bounty on his head."

One German magazine included him in a list of enemies of the German regime with the phrase, "not yet hanged".

Einstein was undertaking his third two-month visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology when Hitler came to power in Germany.

On his return to Europe in March 1933, he resided in Belgium for some months, before temporarily moving to England.

He took up a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, an affiliation that lasted until his death in 1955.

He was one of the four first selected (two of the others being John von Neumann and Kurt Gödel).

At the institute, he soon developed a close friendship with Gödel.

The two would take long walks together discussing their work.

His last assistant was Bruria Kaufman, who later became a renowned physicist.

During this period, Einstein tried to develop a unified field theory and to refute the accepted interpretation of quantum physics, both unsuccessfully.

Other scientists also fled to America.

Among them were Nobel laureates and professors of theoretical physics.

With so many other Jewish scientists now forced by circumstances to live in America, often working side by side, Einstein wrote to a friend, "For me the most beautiful thing is to be in contact with a few fine Jews—a few millennia of a civilized past do mean something after all."

In another letter he writes, "In my whole life I have never felt so Jewish as now."

General relativity

General relativity (GR) is a theory of gravitation that was developed by Albert Einstein between 1907 and 1915.
According to general relativity, the observed gravitational attraction between masses results from the warping of space and time by those masses.

General relativity has developed into an essential tool in modern astrophysics.

It provides the foundation for the current understanding of black holes, regions of space where gravitational attraction is so strong that not even light can escape.

As Albert Einstein later said, the reason for the development of general relativity was that the preference of inertial motions within special relativity was unsatisfactory, while a theory which from the outset prefers no state of motion (even accelerated ones) should appear more satisfactory.[85]

So in 1908 he published an article on acceleration under special relativity.

In that article, he argued that free fall is really inertial motion, and that for a freefalling observer the rules of special relativity must apply. This argument is called the Equivalence principle.

In the same article, Einstein also predicted the phenomenon of gravitational time dilation.

In 1911, Einstein published another article expanding on the 1907 article, in which additional effects such as the deflection of light by massive bodies were predicted.

The theory of relativity, or simply relativity, generally encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity.

Concepts introduced by the theories of relativity include:

Measurements of various quantities are relative to the velocities of observers.

In particular, space and time can dilate.

Spacetime: space and time should be considered together and in relation to each other.

The speed of light is nonetheless invariant, the same for all observers.

Died

On 17 April 1955, Albert Einstein experienced internal bleeding caused by the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which had previously been reinforced surgically by Dr. Rudolph Nissen in 1948.

He took the draft of a speech he was preparing for a television appearance commemorating the State of Israel's seventh anniversary with him to the hospital, but he did not live long enough to complete it.

Einstein refused surgery, saying: "I want to go when I want.

It is tasteless to prolong life artificially.

I have done my share, it is time to go.

I will do it elegantly."

He died in Princeton Hospital early the next morning at the age of 76, having continued to work until near the end.



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