Albert Einstein was arguably the most influential physicist of the 20th century who is synonymous with genius. Albert Einstein was a German scientist most famous for his work on relativity and mass energy equivalence expressed by the equation E=mc². His theories revolutionized the way we think about gravity, time, and space.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany. Six weeks later, the family moved to Munich. He famously started speaking late in his childhood, at the age of three. Einstein went to school in Munich until 1894 when he moved to Italy to be with his family. At age 16, Einstein took the entrance exam to get into the Zürich Polytechnic, but failed. He went back to school in Zürich to complete his secondary education. In 1896 he graduated high school and enrolled in a four-year math and science course to become a teacher.
When Einstein was unable to find a job teaching, he took a job in a patent office in Switzerland. While working there, he completed much of his most famous work. In 1905, known as Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis (miraculous year), he produced papers on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and mass-energy equivalence. His work on the photoelectric effect won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, and it laid the foundations for the early development of quantum theory. His work on Brownian motion applied statistical theory to a problem laid out by Robert Brown. His work on special relativity completed changed the way we think about the world: it created a method of comparing the observations and measurements of an event by two people who were moving relative to each other. One of the results of this theory states that the speed of time changes depending on how fast you are traveling. Einstein’s work on mass-energy equivalence led to the world’s most famous equation, E=mc2. This equation can be used to calculate the energy released in nuclear reactions.
His work on general relativity, published in 1916, is probably his most famous. It took the ideas of special relativity (which only deals with uniform, constant movement) and applied it to other situations, where objects are accelerating. He built upon the ideas of Isaac Newton, describing gravity as the warping of space-time.
Einstein came to the USA in 1933 when Adolf Hitler was coming to power in Germany. He didn’t return to Germany, as he feared for his life due to his Jewish heritage. After the start of the second world war, Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt warning him about the dangers of the German project to create nuclear weapons. This led to the start of the Manhattan Project, ultimately creating the first nuclear weapon ever used on humans. Einstein apparently lived to regret signing the letter.
Einstein gained US citizenship in 1940 and became a vocal and committed anti-racist and supported the American Civil Rights Movement. Einstein died on April 18, 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey.
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”