The Life of Albert Einstein

The Life of Albert Einstein

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"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education." -Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879. While he was an infant, his parents moved him from Ulm to Munich, then again to Milan, Italy when the family business failed in 1894. It was then that Einstein officially stopped being a German Citizen

Not long after this, Einstein attempted and failed a test that would have allowed him to join the Electrical Engineering program at the Swiss Federal Institude of Technology. He had not completed secondary school at the time of his attempt.

“One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.” -Albert Einstein

Einstein spent the year following his failure at the secondary school in Aarau, where he learned from excellent instructors and was able to use first rate physics facilities. He returned in 1896 to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He graduated in 1900 as a teacher of Mathematics and Physics.

"In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep." -Albert Einstein

In 1902 Einstein’s love interest Mileva Maric, gives birth to their daughter, Lieserl, which they later put up for adoption.


"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal." -Albert Einstein

Two years after graduating from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Einstein got a job working for the Swiss patent office based in Bern. While the work required a great deal of his attention, he managed to produce a great many publications on theoretical Physics. Primarily he worked on these in his spare time and without very much other scientific literature or colleagues to discuss with. He gained his Ph.D. Degree in 1905 by submitting one of these papers to the University of Zurich. Then another paper submission in 1908 gained him a position at the University of Bern as a lecturer. A year later he was appointed as associate professor of physics at the University of Zurich.

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"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school." –Albert Einstein

He followed up his position at the University of Zurich with a professorship at the German University of Prague and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. In 1914 he gained the prestigious position of professor at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellchaft in Berlin.

After marrying Mileva Maric in 1903, the couple proceeds to generate a son, Hans Albert in 1904, and their second son Eduard in 1910.

Einstein and Mileva begin divorce proceedings in 1914, just before World War I begins.

After falling seriously ill and near death in 1917, Einstein marries his cousin Elsa in 1919 just before his General Theory of Relativity is proven true.

In 1933 Albert and Elsa leave Europe for the United States, where they settle in Princeton, New Jersey and he gains a post at the Institute for Advanced Study.

After writing his famous letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, warning of the possibility of the atomic bomb, Einstein becomes an American citizen in 1940.

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." –Albert Einstein


"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility." – Albert Einstein

In 1905 Einstein had three papers published. Each of them would explore farther into the realms of various focuses of physics than anyone before him, and shine a fresh new light upon the solid foundations built by those who came before him.

The first paper examined some of the observations by Max Planck on the discrete energy quantities of EM waves produced by radiating objects. This was a problem that needed addressed because standard electromagnetic theory, based on Maxwell’s equations and the laws of thermodynamics had assumed the presence of ether for the electromagnetic waves to propagate through.

Einstein used Planck’s quantum hypothesis to describe the visible light. According to his viewpoint, light could be described as bundles of radiation. He used this view to explain the photoelectric effect and later this work formed the basis for much of quantum mechanics.

The second paper proposed the now famous special theory of relativity. He knew that according to Hendrik Antoon Lorentz’s theory of electrons, electrons would increase in mass as their velocity approached the speed of light. Einstein expanded this to describe the behavior of any non accelerating particle or rigid body. He based some of the work on the assumption that the laws of physics had to be the same no matter what the frame of reference. He assumed that the speed of light remained constant in all frames of reference, abandoned ether, and recovered the phenomenon of time dilation.

The third paper was about statistical mechanics. Einstein calculated the average trajectory of a microscopic particle effected by random collisions with molecules in a fluid or gas. He observed that these findings could account for Brownian motion, the erratic movement of pollen in fluids. This paper helped to give evidence for the existence of atom-sized molecules. His same results were found independently by physicist Marian von Smoluchowski and later Jean Perrin.

In 1912, Einstein expanded his research into gravitation with Marcel Grossmann, converting his work into tensor calculus. This greatly facilitated calculations in four-dimensional space-time. Einstein called this new work the general theory of relativity. After stumbling several times, he published the final form of the general theory in late 1915. The gravitational equations took the same form in all equivalent frames of reference. These equations gave the observed perihelion motion of Mercury. In it’s original form, the general relativity has been verified frequently in the last 60 years, especially during solar-eclipse expeditions where the light-deflection predictions could be tested.

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat." -Albert Einstein


"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." – Albert Einstein

After the proof of his predictions in regards to the general theory of relativity in 1919, Einstein was set upon by the press, his personal ethics exploded into the public imagination. Being one of only a handful of German professors who did not support Germany’s war efforts, he was considered an acceptable go-between for the victorious allies and the German scientists that they attempted to exclude from international meetings.

His successes triggered violent responses from anti-Semitic physicists such as Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark, attempted creators of Aryan physics in Germany.

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds." –Albert Einstein

Because of the massively controversial nature of his theories of relativity, he did not receive his Nobel Prize in 1921 for those studies, but instead for his 1905 work on the photoelectric effect.

At the late age of 59, when most physicists would have abandoned original scientific research, Einstein achieved major new results in the general theory of relativity along with his co-workers Leopold Infeld and Banesh Hoffman.

Right up until the end of his life, Einstein pursued a unified field theory, so that gravitation and electromagnetism could be derived from one set of equations. While he pursued this however, the rest of the community was moving on to focusing on theories of quantum mechanics, so much of his last work was left unnoticed for quite some time. Even now, scientists are trying to combine Einstein’s relativity work with quantum theory in a massive conglomerated “Theory of Everything”.

“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing." –Albert Einstein

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