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AlbertEinsteinBiographyPhysicist,ScientistBiography.com

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AlbertEinstein
Physicist,Scientist (18791955)

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Albert Einstein was a German-born physicist who developed the


theory of relativity. He is considered the most influential physicist
of the 20th century.

Synopsis
NAME
AlbertEinstein
OCCUPATION

Physicist,Scientist
BIRTH DATE

March14,1879
DEATH DATE

April18,1955
EDUCATION

LuitpoldGymnasium,
Eidgenssische
Polytechnische
Schule(Swiss
FederalPolytechnic
School)

BorninUlm,Wrttemberg,Germanyin1879,AlbertEinsteindevelopedthespecial
andgeneraltheoriesofrelativity.In1921,hewontheNobelPrizeforphysicsfor
hisexplanationofthephotoelectriceffect.Einsteinisgenerallyconsideredthemost
influentialphysicistofthe20thcentury.HediedonApril18,1955,inPrinceton,
NewJersey.

Early Life
BornonMarch14,1879inUlm,Wrttemberg,Germany,AlbertEinsteingrewupin
asecular,middleclassJewishfamily.Hisfather,HermannEinstein,wasa
salesmanandengineerwho,withhisbrother,foundedElektrotechnischeFabrikJ.
Einstein&Cie,acompanythatmanufacturedelectricalequipmentinMunich,
Germany.Hismother,theformerPaulineKoch,ranthefamilyhousehold.Einstein
hadonesister,Maja,borntwoyearsafterhim.
EinsteinattendedelementaryschoolattheLuitpoldGymnasiuminMunich.He
enjoyedclassicalmusicandplayedtheviolin.However,hefeltalienatedand
struggledwiththerigidPrussianeducationhereceivedthere.Healsoexperienced
aspeechdifficulty,aslowcadenceinhisspeakingwherehedpausetoconsider
whattosaynext.Inlateryears,Einsteinwouldwriteabouttwoeventsthathada
markedeffectonhischildhood.Onewasanencounterwithacompassatagefive,
wherehemarveledattheinvisibleforcesthatturnedtheneedle.Theotherwasat
age12,whenhediscoveredabookofgeometrywhichhereadoverandover.

In1889,theEinsteinfamilyinvitedapoorPolishmedicalstudent,MaxTalmudto
cometotheirhouseforThursdayeveningmeals.Talmudbecameaninformaltutor
Ulm,Wrttemberg,
toyoungAlbert,introducinghimtohighermathematicsandphilosophy.Oneofthe
booksTalmudsharedwithAlbertwasachildrenssciencebookinwhichtheauthor
Germany
imaginedridingalongsideelectricitythatwastravelinginsideatelegraphwire.
PLACE OF DEATH
Einsteinbegantowonderwhatalightbeamwouldlooklikeifyoucouldrun
Princeton,NewJersey alongsideitatthesamespeed.Iflightwereawave,thenthelightbeamshould
appearstationary,likeafrozenwave.Yet,inreality,thelightbeamismoving.This
paradoxledhimtowritehisfirst"scientificpaper"atage16,"TheInvestigationof
theStateofAetherinMagneticFields."Thisquestionoftherelativespeedtothestationaryobserverandthe
observermovingwiththelightwasaquestionthatwoulddominatehisthinkingforthenext10years.
PLACE OF BIRTH

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In1894,HermannEinsteinscompanyfailedtogetanimportantcontracttoelectrifythecityofMunichandhewas
forcedtomovehisfamilytoMilan,Italy.Albertwasleftatarelative'sboardinghouseinMunichtofinishhis
educationattheLuitpoldGymnasium.Facedwithmilitarydutywhenheturnedofage,Albertallegedlywithdrew
fromschool,usingadoctorsnotetoexcusehimselfandclaimnervousexhaustion,makinghiswaytoMilantojoin
hisparents.Hisparentssympathizedwithhisfeelings,butwereconcernedabouttheenormousproblemsthathe
wouldfaceasaschooldropoutanddraftdodgerwithnoemployableskills.
Fortunately,EinsteinwasabletoapplydirectlytotheEidgenssischePolytechnischeSchule(SwissFederal
PolytechnicSchool)inZrich,Switzerland.Lackingtheequivalentofahighschooldiploma,hefailedmuchofthe
entranceexambutgotexceptionalmarksinmathematicsandphysics.Becauseofthis,hewasadmittedtothe
schoolprovidedhecompletehisformalschoolingfirst.HewenttoaspecialhighschoolrunbyJostWintelerin
Aarau,Switzerland,andgraduatedin1896atage17.HebecamelifelongfriendswiththeWintelerfamily,with
whomhehadbeenboarding,andfellinlovewithWintelers'daughter,Marie.Atthistime,Einsteinrenouncedhis
GermancitizenshiptoavoidmilitaryserviceandenrolledattheZurichschool.

Marriage and Family


SEARCH

EinsteinwouldrecallthathisyearsinZurichweresomeofthehappiestofhislife.Hemetmanystudentswho
wouldbecomeloyalfriends,suchasMarcelGrossmann,amathematician,andMicheleBesso,withwhomhe
enjoyedlengthyconversationsaboutspaceandtime.Healsomethisfuturewife,MilevaMaric,afellowphysics

studentfromSerbia.
AftergraduatingfromthePolytechnicInstitute,AlbertEinsteinfacedaseriesoflifecrisesoverthenextfewyears.
Becausehelikedtostudyonhisown,hecutclassesandearnedtheanimosityofsomeofhisprofessors.Onein
particular,HeinrichWeber,wrotealetterofrecommendationatEinsteinsrequestthatledtohimbeingturned
downforeveryacademicpositionthatheappliedtoaftergraduation.Meanwhile,Einstein'srelationshipwithMaric
deepened,buthisparentsvehementlyopposedtherelationshipcitingherSerbianbackgroundandEastern
OrthodoxChristianreligion.EinsteindefiedhisparentsandcontinuedtoseeMaric.InJanuary,1902,thecouple
hadadaughter,Lieserl,whoeitherdiedofsicknessorwasgivenupforadoptionthefactsareunknown.
Atthispoint,AlbertEinsteinprobablyreachedthelowestpointinhislife.HecouldnotmarryMaricandsupporta
familywithoutajob,andhisfather'sbusinesshadgonebankrupt.Desperateandunemployed,Einsteintooklowly
jobstutoringchildren,buthewasunabletoholdontoanyofthem.Aturningpointcamelaterin1902,whenthe
fatherofhislifelongfriend,MarcelGrossman,recommendedhimforapositionasaclerkintheSwisspatentoffice
inBern,Switzerland.Aboutthistime,Einsteinsfatherbecameseriouslyillandjustbeforehedied,gavehis
blessingforhimtomarry.Withasmallbutsteadyincome,EinsteinmarriedMariconJan.6,1903.InMay,1904
theyhadtheirfirstson,HansAlbert.Theirsecondson,Eduard,werebornin1910.

Miracle Year
Atthepatentoffice,AlbertEinsteinevaluatedpatentapplicationsforelectromagneticdevices.Hequicklymastered
thejob,leavinghimtimetoponderonthetransmissionofelectricalsignalsandelectricalmechanical
synchronization,aninteresthehadbeencultivatingforseveralyears.Whileatthepolytechnicschoolhehad
studiedScottishphysicistJamesMaxwell'selectromagnetictheorieswhichdescribethenatureoflight,and
discoveredafactunknowntoMaxwellhimself,thatthespeedoflightremainedconstant.However,thisviolated
IsaacNewton'slawsofmotionbecausethereisnoabsolutevelocityinNewton'stheory.ThisinsightledEinsteinto
formulatetheprincipleofrelativity.
In1905oftencalledEinstein's"miracleyear"hesubmittedapaperforhisdoctorateandhadfourpapers
publishedintheAnnalenderPhysik,oneofthebestknownphysicsjournals.Thefourpapersthephotoelectric
effect,Brownianmotion,specialrelativity,andtheequivalenceofmatterandenergywouldalterthecourseof
modernphysicsandbringhimtotheattentionoftheacademicworld.Inhispaperonmatterandenergy,Einstein
deducedthewellknownequationE=mc2,suggestingthattinyparticlesofmattercouldbeconvertedintohuge
amountsofenergy,foreshadowingthedevelopmentofnuclearpower.TherehavebeenclaimsthatEinsteinand
hiswife,Maric,collaboratedonhiscelebrated1905papers,buthistoriansofphysicswhohavestudiedtheissue
findnoevidencethatshemadeanysubstantivecontributions.Infact,inthepapers,Einsteinonlycreditshis
conversationswithMicheleBessoindevelopingrelativity.

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Atfirst,Einstein's1905paperswereignoredbythephysicscommunity.Thisbegantochangewhenhereceived
theattentionofMaxPlanck,perhapsthemostinfluentialphysicistofhisgenerationandfounderofquantumtheory.
WithPlanckscomplimentarycommentsandhisexperimentsthatconfirmedhistheories,Einsteinwasinvitedto
lectureatinternationalmeetingsandheroserapidlyintheacademicworld.Hewasofferedaseriesofpositionsat
increasinglyprestigiousinstitutions,includingtheUniversityofZrich,theUniversityofPrague,theSwissFederal
InstituteofTechnology,andfinallytheUniversityofBerlin,whereheservedasdirectoroftheKaiserWilhelm
InstituteforPhysicsfrom1913to1933.
Ashisfamespread,Einstein'smarriagefellapart.Hisconstanttravelandintensestudyofhiswork,thearguments
abouttheirchildrenandthefamilysmeagerfinancesledEinsteintotheconclusionthathismarriagewasover.
Einsteinbegananaffairwithacousin,ElsaLwenthal,whomhelatermarried.HefinallydivorcedMilevain1919
andasasettlementagreedtogiveherthemoneyhemightreceiveifheeverwonaNobelPrize.

Theory of Relativity
InNovember,1915,Einsteincompletedthegeneraltheoryofrelativity,whichheconsideredhismasterpiece.He
wasconvincedthatgeneralrelativitywascorrectbecauseofitsmathematicalbeautyandbecauseitaccurately
predictedtheperihelionofMercury'sorbitaroundthesun,whichfellshortinNewtonstheory.Generalrelativity
theoryalsopredictedameasurabledeflectionoflightaroundthesunwhenaplanetoranothersunoribitednear
thesun.ThatpredictionwasconfirmedinobservationsbyBritishastronomerSirArthurEddingtonduringthesolar
eclipseof1919.In1921,AlbertEinsteinreceivedwordthathehadreceivedtheNobelPrizeforPhysics.Because
relativitywasstillconsideredcontroversial,Einsteinreceivedtheawardforhisexplanationofthephotoelectric
effect.
Inthe1920s,Einsteinlaunchedthenewscienceofcosmology.Hisequationspredictedthattheuniverseis
dynamic,everexpandingorcontracting.Thiscontradictedtheprevailingviewthattheuniversewasstatic,aview
thatEinsteinheldearlierandwasaguidingfactorinhisdevelopmentofthegeneraltheoryofrelativity.Buthislater
calculationsinthegeneraltheoryindicatedthattheuniversecouldbeexpandingorcontracting.In1929,
astronomerEdwinHubblefoundthattheuniversewasindeedexpanding,therebyconfirmingEinstein'swork.In
1930,duringavisittotheMountWilsonObservatorynearLosAngeles,EinsteinmetwithHubbleanddeclaredthe
cosmologicalconstant,hisoriginaltheoryofthestaticsizeandshapeoftheuniverse,tobehis"greatestblunder."
WhileEinsteinwastouringmuchoftheworldspeakingonhistheoriesinthe1920s,theNaziswererisingtopower
undertheleadershipofAdolphHitler.EinsteinstheoriesonrelativitybecameaconvenienttargetforNazi
propaganda.In1931,theNazisenlistedotherphysiciststodenounceEinsteinandhistheoriesas"Jewish
physics."Atthistime,EinsteinlearnedthatthenewGermangovernment,nowinfullcontrolbytheNaziparty,had
passedalawbarringJewsfromholdinganyofficialposition,includingteachingatuniversities.Einsteinalso
learnedthathisnamewasonalistofassassinationtargets,andaNaziorganizationpublishedamagazinewith
Einstein'spictureandthecaption"NotYetHanged"onthecover.

Move to the United States


InDecember,1932,EinsteindecidedtoleaveGermanyforever.HetookapositionathenewlyformedInstitutefor
AdvancedStudyatPrinceton,NewJersey,whichsoonbecameaMeccaforphysicistsfromaroundtheworld.It
washerethathewouldspendtherestofhiscareertryingtodevelopaunifiedfieldtheoryanallembracing
theorythatwouldunifytheforcesoftheuniverse,andtherebythelawsofphysics,intooneframeworkandrefute
theacceptedinterpretationofquantumphysics.OtherEuropeanscientistsalsofledvariouscountriesthreatened
byNazitakeoverandcametotheUnitedStates.SomeofthesescientistsknewofNaziplanstodevelopanatomic
weapon.Foratime,theirwarningstoWashington,D.C.wentunheeded.
Inthesummerof1939,Einstein,alongwithanotherscientist,LeoSzilard,waspersuadedtowritealetterto
PresidentFranklinD.RoosevelttoalerthimofthepossibilityofaNazibomb.PresidentRooseveltcouldnotrisk
thepossibilitythatGermanymightdevelopanatomicbombfirst.Theletterisbelievedtobethekeyfactorthat
motivatedtheUnitedStatestoinvestigatethedevelopmentofnuclearweapons.RooseveltinvitedEinsteintomeet
withhimandsoonaftertheUnitedStatesinitiatedtheManhattanProject.

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NotlongafterhebeganhiscareerattheInstituteinNewJersey,AlbertEinsteinexpressedanappreciationforthe
"meritocracy"oftheUnitedStatesandtherightpeoplehadtothinkwhattheypleasedsomethinghedidntenjoy
asayoungmaninEurope.In1935,AlbertEinsteinwasgrantedpermanentresidencyintheUnitedStatesand
becameanAmericancitizenin1940.AstheManhattanProjectmovedfromdrawingboardtotestingand
developmentatLosAlamos,NewMexico,manyofhiscolleagueswereaskedtodevelopthefirstatomicbomb,but
Einsteinwasnotoneofthem.AccordingtoseveralresearcherswhoexaminedFBIfilesovertheyears,thereason
wastheU.S.governmentdidn'ttrustEinstein'slifelongassociationwithpeaceandsocialistorganizations.FBI
directorJ.EdgarHooverwentsofarastorecommendthatEinsteinbekeptoutofAmericabytheAlienExclusion
Act,buthewasoverruledbytheU.S.StateDepartment.Instead,duringthewar,EinsteinhelpedtheU.S.Navy
evaluatedesignsforfutureweaponssystemsandcontributedtothewareffortbyauctioningoffpricelesspersonal
manuscripts.Oneexamplewasahandwrittencopyofhis1905paperonspecialrelativitywhichsoldfor$6.5
million,andisnowlocatedintheLibraryofCongress.
OnAugust6,1945,whileonvacation,Einsteinheardthenewsthatanatomicbombhadbeendroppedon
Hiroshima,Japan.Hesoonbecameinvolvedinaninternationalefforttotrytobringtheatomicbombundercontrol,
andin1946,heformedtheEmergencyCommitteeofAtomicScientistswithphysicistLeoSzilard.In1947,inan
articlethathewroteforTheAtlanticMonthly,EinsteinarguedthattheUnitedStatesshouldnottrytomonopolize
theatomicbomb,butinsteadshouldsupplytheUnitedNationswithnuclearweaponsforthesolepurposeof
maintainingadeterrent.Atthistime,EinsteinalsobecameamemberoftheNationalAssociationforthe
AdvancementofColoredPeople.HecorrespondedwithcivilrightsactivistW.E.B.DuBoisandactively
campaignedfortherightsofAfricanAmericans.
Afterthewar,Einsteincontinuedtoworkonmanykeyaspectsofthetheoryofgeneralrelativity,suchas
wormholes,thepossibilityoftimetravel,theexistenceofblackholes,andthecreationoftheuniverse.However,he
becameincreasinglyisolatedfromtherestofthephysicscommunity.Withthehugedevelopmentsinunraveling
thesecretsofatomsandmolecules,spurredonbythedevelopmenttotheatomicbomb,themajorityofscientists
wereworkingonthequantumtheory,notrelativity.AnotherreasonforEinstein'sdetachmentfromhiscolleagues
washisobsessionwithdiscoveringhisunifiedfieldtheory.Inthe1930s,Einsteinengagedinaseriesofhistoric
privatedebateswithNielsBohr,theoriginatoroftheBohratomicmodel.Inaseriesof"thoughtexperiments,"
Einsteintriedtofindlogicalinconsistenciesinthequantumtheory,butwasunsuccessful.However,inhislater
years,hestoppedopposingquantumtheoryandtriedtoincorporateit,alongwithlightandgravity,intothelarger
unifiedfieldtheoryhewasdeveloping.
Inthelastdecadeofhislife,Einsteinwithdrewfrompubliclife,rarelytravelingfarandconfininghimselftolong
walksaroundPrincetonwithcloseassociates,whomheengagedindeepconversationsaboutpolitics,religion,
physicsandhisunifiedfieldtheory.

Final Years
OnApril17,1955,whileworkingonaspeechhewaspreparingtocommemorateIsrael'sseventhanniversary,
Einsteinsufferedanabdominalaorticaneurysmandexperiencedinternalbleeding.HewastakentotheUniversity
MedicalCenteratPrincetonfortreatment,butrefusedsurgery,believingthathehadlivedhislifeandwascontent
toaccepthisfate."IwanttogowhenIwant,"hestatedatthetime."Itistastelesstoprolonglifeartificially.Ihave
donemyshare,itistimetogo.Iwilldoitelegantly."Einsteindiedattheuniversitymedicalcenterearlythenext
morningApril18,1955attheageof76.
Duringtheautopsy,ThomasStoltzHarveyremovedEinstein'sbrain,seeminglywithoutthepermissionofhis
family,forpreservationandfuturestudybydoctorsofneuroscience.Hisremainswerecrematedandhisashes
werescatteredinanundisclosedlocation.Afterdecadesofstudy,Einstein'sbrainisnowlocatedatthePrinceton
UniversityMedicalCenter.
APAStyle

AlbertEinstein.(2015).TheBiography.comwebsite.Retrieved05:48,Jul03,2015,from
http://www.biography.com/people/alberteinstein9285408.
HarvardStyle

AlbertEinstein.[Internet].2015.TheBiography.comwebsite.Availablefrom:
http://www.biography.com/people/alberteinstein9285408[Accessed03Jul2015].
MLAStyle

"AlbertEinstein."Bio.A&ETelevisionNetworks,2015.Web.03July2015.
MHRAStyle

"AlbertEinstein,"TheBiography.comwebsite,2015,http://www.biography.com/people/alberteinstein9285408
http://www.biography.com/people/alberteinstein9285408

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[accessedJul032015].
ChicagoStyle

"AlbertEinstein,"TheBiography.comwebsite,http://www.biography.com/people/alberteinstein9285408
(accessedJul032015).
CBE/CSEStyle

AlbertEinstein[Internet].TheBiography.comwebsite2015[cited2015Jul03]Availablefrom:
http://www.biography.com/people/alberteinstein9285408.
BluebookStyle

AlbertEinstein,http://www.biography.com/people/alberteinstein9285408(lastvisitedJul032015).
AMAStyle

AlbertEinstein.TheBiography.comwebsite.2015.Availableat:http://www.biography.com/people/alberteinstein
9285408.AccessedJul032015.

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