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Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, the first child of the Jewish couple Hermann and Pauline Einstein, née Koch. In June 1880 the family moved to Munich where Hermann Einstein and his brother Jakob founded the electrical engineering company Einstein & Cie. Albert Einstein's sister Maria, called Maja, was born on November 18, 1881. Einstein's childhood was a normal one, except that to his family's irritation, he learnt to speak at a late age. Beginning in 1884 he received private education in order to get prepared for school. 1885 he started learning to play violin. Beginning in 1885 he received his primary education at a Catholic school in Munich (Petersschule); in 1888 he changed over to the Luitpold-Gymnasium, also in Munich. However, as this education was not to his liking and, in addition, he did not get along with his form-master he left this school in 1894 without a degree and joined his family in Italy where they had settled meanwhile.

In order to be admitted to study at the “Eidgenoessische Polytechnische Schule” (later renamed ETH) in Zurich, Einstein took his entrance examination in October 1895. However, some of his results were insufficient and, following the advice of the rector, he attended the “Kantonsschule” in the town of Aarau in order to improve his knowledge. In early October 1896 he received his school-leaving certificate and shortly thereafter enrolled at the Eidgenoessische Polytechnische Schule with the goal of becoming a teacher in Mathematics and Physics. Einstein, being an average student, finished his studies with a diploma degree in July 1900. He then applied, without success, for assistantships at the Polytechnische Schule and other universities. Meanwhile he had abandoned the German citizenship and formally applied for the Swiss one which he was granted on February 21, 1901.

In 1901, the year he gained his diploma, he acquired Swiss citizenship and, as he was unable to find a teaching post, he accepted a position as technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office. In 1905 he obtained his doctor's degree.

Apart from all his work Einstein still found time for playing music. Since his youth he played the violin and later he frequently was seen on the street carrying his violin case. He was an admirer of Bach and Mozart and, through continuous practice, he became a good violinist. Apart from his love for music he was a devoted sailor. Doing this just for fun, here did he find the time to think about problems of physics.

Theories & Ideology

In April 1905 Einstein submitted his doctoral thesis “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions” to the university in Zurich which was accepted in July. During this same year he published four pioneering papers in the scientific magazine “Annalen der Physik” which revolutionized physics around the turn of the century. Three of the papers will be briefly mentioned here: In the first article “On A Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light” Einstein proposed that electromagnetic radiation must consist of quantums or photons. Even though this theory is capable of explaining - among other things - the photoelectric effect it was at first rejected by physicists, namely by the pioneer of modern physics, Max Planck, later, however, confirmed by him and adopted. This work became the foundation of a quantum theory and for this in particular Einstein received the Nobel Prize for the year 1921. The paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” delineates the principles of special relativity which deals with questions of objects as part of different coordination systems moving with constant speed relative to each other. It resulted in a new interpretation of the conception of space and time and relies on the constancy of the speed of light and the principle of relativity which postulates that it is impossible to determine motions in an absolute way. Shortly thereafter the paper “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon its Energy Content?” was published. It contains the famous equation E = m · c2 stating the equivalence of mass and energy. Through these publications Einstein attracted the attention of the scientific community. At the end of 1906 he published the paper “Planck's Theory of Radiation and the Theory of Specific Heat” which can be regarded as being the first publication on the quantum theory of the solid state.

Einsteins famous equation (in his handwriting):

Post-WWII

After World War II, Einstein was a leading figure in the World Government Movement, he was offered the Presidency of the State of Israel, which he declined, and he collaborated with Dr. Chaim Weizmann in establishing the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Einstein always appeared to have a clear view of the problems of physics and the determination to solve them. He had a strategy of his own and was able to visualize the main stages on the way to his goal. He regarded his major achievements as mere stepping-stones for the next advance.

In response to the editor of Kaizo, Einstein wrote this short essay to describe his limited involvement in the development of the atomic bomb. Einstein stated that his participation consisted of “a single act” - signing the 1939 letter to President Roosevelt. “I did not see any other way out, although I always was a convinced pacifist.” The essay appeared in a special edition of Kaizo published in 1952:

My participation in the production of the atom bomb consisted in a single act: I signed a letter to President Roosevelt. this letter stressed the necessity of large scale experimentation to ascertain the possibility of producing an atom bomb.

I was well aware of the dreadful danger for all mankind, if these experiments would succeed. But the probability that the Germans might work on that very problem with good chance of success prompted me to take that step. I did not see any other way out, although I always was a convinced pacifist. To kill in war time, it seems to me, is in no ways better than common murder.

As long however, as nations are ready to abolish war by common action and to solve their conflicts in a peaceful way on a legal basis. they feel compelled to prepare for war. They feel moreover compelled to prepare the most abominable means, in order not to be left behind in the general armaments race. Such procedure leads inevitable to war, which, in turn, under todays conditions, spells universal destruction.

Under such circumstances there is no hope in combating the production of specific weapons or means of destruction. Only radical abolition of war and of danger of war can help. Toward this goal one should strive; in fact nobody should allow himself to be forced into actions contrary to this goal. This is a harsh demand for anyone who is aware of his social inter-relatedness; but it can be followed.

Gandhi, the greatest political genius of our time has shown the way, and has demonstrated the sacrifices man is willing to bring if only he has found the right way. His work for the liberation of India is a living example that man's will, sustained by an indomitable conviction is stronger than apparently invincible material power.

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Einstein

10. Loved to Sail When Einstein attended college at the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, he fell in love with sailing. He would often take a boat out onto a lake, pull out a notebook, relax, and think. Even though Einstein never learned to swim, he kept sailing as a hobby throughout his life.

9. Einstein's Brain When Einstein died in 1955, his body was cremated and his ashes scattered, as was his wish. However, before his body was cremated, pathologist Thomas Harvey at Princeton Hospital conducted an autopsy in which he removed Einstein's brain. Rather than putting the brain back in the body, Harvey decided to keep it, ostensibly for study. Harvey did not have permission to keep Einstein's brain, but days later, he convinced Einstein's son that it would help science. Shortly thereafter, Harvey was fired from his position at Princeton because he refused to give up Einstein's brain.

For the next four decades, Harvey kept Einstein's chopped-up brain (Harvey had it cut into over 200 pieces) in two mason jars with him as he moved around the country. Every once in a while, Harvey would slice off a piece and send it to a researcher. Finally, in 1998, Harvey returned Einstein's brain to the pathologist at Princeton Hospital.

8. Einstein and the Violin Einstein's mother, Pauline, was an accomplished pianist and wanted her son to love music too, so she started him on violin lessons when he was six years old. Unfortunately, at first, Einstein hated playing the violin. He would much rather build houses of cards, which he was really good at (he once built one 14 stories high!), or do just about anything else. When Einstein was 13-years old, he suddenly changed his mind about the violin when he heard the music of Mozart. With a new passion for playing, Einstein continued to play the violin until the last few years of his life. For nearly seven decades, Einstein would not only use the violin to relax when he became stuck in his thinking process, he would play socially at local recitals or join in impromptu groups such as Christmas carolers who stopped at his home.

7. Presidency of Israel A few days after Zionist leader and first President of Israel Chaim Weizmann died on November 9, 1952, Einstein was asked if he would accept the position of being the second president of Israel. Einstein, age 73, declined the offer. In his official letter of refusal, Einstein stated that he not only lacked the “natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people,” but also, he was getting old.

6. No Socks Part of Einstein's charm was his disheveled look. In addition to his uncombed hair, one of Einstein's peculiar habits was to never wear socks. Whether it was while out sailing or to a formal dinner at the White House, Einstein went without socks everywhere. To Einstein, socks were a pain because they often would get holes in them. Plus, why wear both socks and shoes when one of them would do just fine?

5. A Simple Compass When Albert Einstein was five years old and sick in bed, his father showed him a simple pocket compass. Einstein was mesmerized. What force exerted itself on the little needle to make it point in a single direction? This question haunted Einstein for many years and has been noted as the beginning of his fascination with science.

4. Designed a Refrigerator Twenty-one years after writing his Special Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein invented a refrigerator that operated on alcohol gas. The refrigerator was patented in 1926 but never went into production because new technology made it unnecessary. Einstein invented the refrigerator because he read about a family that was poisoned by a sulphur dioxide-emitting refrigerator.

3. Obsessed Smoker Einstein loved to smoke. As he walked between his house and his office at Princeton, one could often see him followed by a trail of smoke. Nearly as part of his image as his wild hair and baggy clothes was Einstein clutching his trusty briar pipe. In 1950, Einstein is noted as saying, “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs,” Although he favored pipes, Einstein was not one to turn down a cigar or even a cigarette.

2. Married His Cousin After Einstein divorced his first wife, Mileva Maric, in 1919, he married his cousin, Elsa Loewenthal (nee Einstein). How closely were they related? Quite close. Elsa was actually related to Albert on both sides of his family. Albert's mother and Elsa's mother were sisters, plus Albert's father and Elsa's father were cousins. When they were both little, Elsa and Albert had played together; however, their romance only began once Elsa had married and divorced Max Loewenthal.

1. An Illegitimate Daughter In 1901, before Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric were married, the college sweethearts took a romantic getaway to Lake Como in Italy. After the vacation, Mileva found herself pregnant. In that day and age, illegitimate children were not uncommon and yet they were also not accepted by society. Since Einstein did not have the money to marry Maric nor the ability to support a child, the two were not able to get married until Einstein got the patent job over a year later. So as not to besmirch Einstein's reputation, Maric went back to her family and had the baby girl, whom she named Lieserl.

Although we know that Einstein knew about his daughter, we don't actually know what happened to her. There are but just a few references of her in Einstein's letters, with the last one in September 1903. It is believed that Lieserl either died after suffering from scarlet fever at an early age or she survived the scarlet fever and was given up for adoption. Both Albert and Mileva kept the existence of Lieserl so secret that Einstein scholars only discovered her existence in recent years.

Education


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