Albert EinsteinEinstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1874. Before his first birthday,his family had moved to Munich where young Albert’s father, Hermann Einstein,and uncle set up a small electro-chemical business. He was fortunate to have anexcellent family with which he held a strong relationship. Albert’s mother,Pauline Einstein, had an intense passion for music and literature, and it wasshe that first introduced her son to the violin in which he found much joy andrelaxation.
Also, he was very close with his younger sister, Maja, and theycould often be found in the lakes that were scattered about the countryside nearMunich. As a child, Einstein’s sense of curiosity had already begun to stir. A favoritetoy of his was his father’s compass, and he often marvelled at his uncle’sexplanations of algebra. Although young Albert was intrigued by certainmysteries of science, he was considered a slow learner.
His failure to becomefluent in German until the age of nine even led some teachers to believe he wasdisabled. Einstein’s post-basic education began at the Luitpold Gymnasium when he was ten. It was here that he first encountered the German spirit through the school’sstrict disciplinary policy. His disapproval of this method of teaching led tohis reputation as a rebel.
It was probably these differences that causedEinstein to search for knowledge at home. He began not with science, but withreligion. He avidly studied the Bible seeking truth, but this religious fervorsoon died down when he discovered the intrigue of science and math. To him,these seemed much more realistic than ancient stories.
With this new knowledgehe disliked class even more, and was eventually expelled from Luitpold Gymnasiumbeing considered a disruptive influence. Feeling that he could no longer deal with the German mentality, Einstein movedto Switzerland where he continued his education. At sixteen he attempted toenroll at the Federal Institute of Technology but failed the entrance exam. Thisforced him to study locally for one year until he finally passed the school’sevaluation. The Institute allowed Einstein to meet many other students thatshared his curiosity, and It was here that his studies turned mainly to Physics.
He quickly learned that while physicists had generally agreed on majorprincipals in the past, there were modern scientists who were attempting todisprove outdated theories. Since most of Einstein’s teachers ignored these newideas, he was again forced to explore on his own. In 1900 he graduated from theInstitute and then achieved citizenship to Switzerland. Einstein became a clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in 1902. This job had littleto do with physics, but he was able to satiate his curiosity by figuring out hownew inventions worked. The most important part of Einstein’s occupation was thatit allowed him enough time to pursue his own line of research.
As his ideasbegan to develop, he published them in specialist journals. Though he was stillunknown to the scientific world, he began to attract a large circle of friendsand admirers. A group of students that he tutored quickly transformed into asocial club that shared a love of nature, music, and of course, science. In 1903he married Mileva Meric, a mathematician friend. In 1905, Einstein published five separate papers in a journal, the Annals ofPhysics. The first was immediately acknowledged, and the University of Zurichawarded Einstein an additional degree.
The other papers helped to develop modernphysics and earned him the reputation of an artist. Many scientists have saidthat Einstein’s work contained an imaginative spirit that was seen in mostpoetry. His work at this time dealt with molecules, and how their motionaffected temperature, but he is most well known for his Special Theory ofRelativity which tackled motion and the speed of light. Perhaps the mostimportant part of his discoveries was the equation: E= mc2. After publishing these theories Einstein was promoted at his office. He remainedat the Patents Office for another two years, but his name was becoming too bigamong the scientific community.
In 1908, Einstein began teaching party time atthe University of Berne, and the following year, at the age of thirty, he becameemployed full time by Zurich University. Einstein was now able to move to Praguewith his wife and two sons, Hans Albert and Eduard. Finally, after beingpromoted to a professor, Einstein and his family were able to enjoy a goodstandard of living, but the job’s main advantage was that it allowed Einstein toaccess an enormous library. It was here that he extended his theory anddiscussed it with the leading scientists of Europe. In 1912 he chose to accept ajob placing him in high authority at the Federal Institute of Technology, wherehe had originally studied. It was not until 1914 that Einstein was tempted toreturn to Germany to become research director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutefor Physics.
World War I had a strong effect on Einstein. While the rest of Germany supportedthe army, he felt the war was unnecessary, and disgusting. The new weapons ofwar which attempted to mass slaughter people caused him to devote much of hislife toward creating peace. Toward the end of the war Einstein joined apolitical party that worked to end the war, and return peace to Europe. In 1916this party was outlawed by the government, and Einstein was seen as a traitor. In that same year, Einstein published his General Theory of relativity, Thisresult of ten years work revolutionized physics.
It basically stated that theuniverse had to be thought of as curved, and told how light was affected by this. The next year, Einstein published another paper that added that the universe hadno boundary, but actually twisted back on its self. After the war, many aspects of Einstein’s life changed. He divorced his wife,who had been living in Zurich with the children throughout the war, and marriedhis cousin Elsa Lowenthal. This led to a renewed interest in his Jewish roots,and he became an active supporter of Zionism.
Since anti-Semitism was growing inGermany, he quickly became the target of prejudice. There were many rumors aboutgroups who were trying to kill Einstein, and he began to travel extensively. Thebiggest change, though, was in 1919 when scientist who studied an eclipseconfirmed that his theories were correct. In 1921, he traveled through Britain and the United States raising funds forZionism and lecturing about his theories.
He also visited the battle sites ofthe war, and urged that Europe renew scientific and cultural links. He promotednon-patriotic, non-competitive education, believing that it would prevent warfrom happening in the future. He also believed that socialism would help theworld achieve peace. Einstein received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922. He gave all the money tohis ex-wife and children to help with their lives and education.
After anotherlecture tour, he visited Palestine for the opening the Hebrew University inJerusalem. He also talked about the possibilities that Palestine held for theJewish people. Upon his return he began to enjoy a calmer life in which hereturned to his original curiosity, religion. While Einstein was visiting America in 1933 the Nazi party came to power inGermany. Again he was subject to anti-Semitic attacks, but this time his housewas broken into, and he was publicly considered an enemy of the nation. It wasobvious that he could not return to Germany, and for the second time herenounced his German citizenship.
During these early years in America he didsome research at Princeton, but did not accomplish much of significance. In 1939 the second World War began to take form. There was heated argumentduring this time over whether the United States should explore the idea of anatomic bomb. Einstein wrote to President Roosevelt warning him of the disasterthat could occur if the Nazi’s developed it first. Einstein did not participatein the development of the bomb, but the idea did stem from his equation E=mc2. Just as he knew that the bomb was under development, he also knew when it wasgoing to be used.
Just before the bomb was dropped on Japan Einstein wrote aletter to the President begging him not to use this terrible weapon. The rest of Einstein’s life was dedicated to promoting peace. After the warended, he declared, “The war is won, but the peace is not. ” He wrote manyarticles and made many speeches calling for a world government. His fame, atthis point, was legendary.
People from all over would write to him for advice,and he would often answer them. He also continued his scientific research untilthe day he died. This was on April 18, 1955. There is no doubt that he wasdissatisfied that he never was able to find the true meaning of existence thathe strove for all his life. BibliographyClark, Ronald W. , Einstein – The Life and Times, New York: World Publishing,1971.
Dank, Milton, Albert Einstein, New York: An Impact Biography, 1920. Dukas, Helen and Banesh Hoffman, eds. , Albert Einstein: The Human Side,Princeton: University Press, 1979. Einstein, Albert, Carl Seelig, ed.
, Ideas and Opinions, New York: Bonanza Books,1954. “Einstein, Albert. ” Random House Encyclopedia, Random House Press, 1990 edition. Hunter, Nigel, Einstein, New York: Bookwright Press, 1987. Nourse, Dr.
Alan E., Universe, Earth, and Atom: The Story of Physics, New Yorkand Evanston: Harper ; Row, Publishers, 1969.