Albert Einstein, the man who would later be known as the most influential physicist of the 20th century was born in 1879 to his mother Pauline and father Hermann Einstein in Ulm, Wurttemberg, Germany. Young Einstein attended elementary school at luitpold gymnasium in Munich. At the age of five Albert received a compass and became fascinated that no matter what, the needle always pointed the same direction. Later in life Einstein noted “that experience made a deep and lasting impression on me, something deeper had to be hidden behind things.
Little did he know at the time but his fascination of the compass would later contribute to his initial thoughts leading up to his first scientific paper entitled “Concerning the Investigation of the State of Magnetic Fields” at the age of 16. At the age of 12 Einstein picked up a geometry book he referred to as his “holy booklet” and used it to teach himself geometry as well as become familiar with the current scientific discoveries of his time. At the age of 15 the Einstein family moved to Milan, Italy after Albert’s father lost a major business contract leaving Albert behind in Munich to finish his last year of high school.
Einstein had his own opinion of the education system, once stating “school failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved as feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam. ” Germany had a very ridged education system based upon rote learning, meaning memorization through repetition, thus leading Einstein to believe that “it’s a true miracle that modern education hasn’t yet completely smothered the curiosity necessary for scientific study.
At age 16, if still living in Germany, young Albert Einstein would have been forced into military services in which he was unwilling to join considering his pacifist nature. This plus his views of the education system in Germany, Einstein dropped out of high school and moved to Milan joining the rest of his family. After finally finishing high school at Aargau Cantonal School in Aargau Switzerland, Einstein enrolled at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich in which he graduated from in 1900.
Two years went by taking teaching and tutoring jobs when Einstein then accepted a position at the Swiss patent office in Bern. The job did not require much skill level but it was a steady income which allowed him to start his marvelous career as a physicist. The 1905 Miracle Year The year 1905 is often considered to be Einstein’s miracle year forever changing the understanding of the universe along with revolutionizing the field of physics.
From March through June 1905, Einstein produced a series of papers in which he created the base of quantum physics, an idea that won him a Nobel prize in 1921, presented the theory of special relativity, made developments concerning Brownian motion, as well as creating the origin of nuclear energy also known as the most renowned mathematical equation in history E=mc2. The collection of these papers entitled Annus Mirabilis, a Latin phrase meaning “wonderful year”, were published in Annalen Der Physik, one of the oldest scientific journals on physics.
The most famous of these papers is “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. ” In this paper Einstein investigated the contradicting theories of absolute space and time by Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell’s theory of a constant speed of light. This article displays Einstein’s special theory of relativity in which he explains how to interpret motion between different inertial frames of reference in special occasions where the motion is uniform. Special relativity explains motion in a straight line at a constant speed.
However, Einstein goes on to explain that if acceleration or change in direction occurs resulting in a change in the nature of the motion special relativity will not apply and Einstein’s general theory of relativity will then be used to explain the general case of all other types of motion. Unfortunately Einstein did not figure out the math to demonstrate general relativity until 1915. The paper entitled “On a Heuristic Point Of View about the Creation and Conversion of Light” won Einstein his Nobel Prize.
In this paper Einstein reported that under specific circumstances light behaves not as continuous waves, which was the current theory at the time, but as individual particles called quanta. In doing so Einstein showed that the ideas of lames clerk Maxwell involving constant waves of light could only be used as averages of all light quanta emitted or absorbed. It was this hypothesis Einstein then applied ultimately using it to explain the photoelectric effect.
It is due to this photoelectric effect alongside with Einstein’s ideas of quantum theory that inventors were able to produce devices including television and movies. In his article “Investigations on the Theory of Brownian Movement” Einstein describes his studies of a phenomena where a quantity is constantly undergoing small, random fluctuations refeed to as Brownian movement. These fluctuations were named after Scottish botanist Robert Brown who first studied this occurrence in 1827.
Einstein’s main goal in this research was to find evidence proving the existence of atoms of a definite size. In doing so, he realized that the random, infinite motion of these tiny particles would produce statistical fluctuations. Using these statistical fluctuations as well as probability Einstein was able to determine the size of these invisible atoms. This study also confirmed that heat was the resulting product of the motion of atoms. Lastly, this paper additionally proved the importance of statistics and probability as well as the use of them in the field of physics.
This alone revolutionized the study of complex systems such as stock markets, climate, and evolution, in due course entirely changing our understanding of how the world works. Einstein’s other article “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend on Its Energy Content” is based upon the investigations of Maxwell-Hertz equation for empty space along with the Maxwellian expression for the electromagnetic energy of space and lastly, the principle of relativity.
Through his study, Einstein discovered a relationship between energy and mass that would help create the mass-energy equivalence formula, energy equals mass times the velocity of light squared, or, E=mc2. In this paper Einstein was the first to interpret mass-energy as a fundamental principle derived from the relativistic symmetries of time and space. Later Life In July of 1909 Einstein resigned from the patent office and became a theoretical professor at the University of Zurich.
Although, the same year Einstein was offered a position the same year by the University of Prague in which he gladly accepted due to less of a work load allowing him to devote more time to his theories. In 1915 Einstein formulated the principle of general covariance, forming the basis of his general theory of relativity. Einstein, with is general covariance principle, then applied the equivalence principle to special relativity considering that the laws of physics are the same in all inertial reference frames and that inertial as well as gravitational masses are equivalent.
This principle has its down falls however, one of which being that space-time in the presence of matter is curved. Thus, with the help of his mathematician friends, Einstein was able to then quantify the extent to which a body warps its surrounding space-time. After arriving at the final form of his theory of general relativity in November of 1915, Einstein began perfecting the presentation of it, intending on making it clear and understandable. Almost all of his earlier articles were publications of his provisional report on the state of his research nly comprehensible to those physicists who had followed the work of Einstein from the beginning. In 1916 Einstein had perfected and finally published “Foundations of the General Theory of Relativity” in which he presented the terminology of both “special” and “general” relativity along with a formal presentation of his theory.
At the end of 1916 Einstein then published a short book entitled “on the Special and General Theory of Relativity, Generally Comprehensible. Einstein’s ideas behind this book was to explain his theory with as little mathematics as possible to improve comprehension in order to appeal to an even broader readership, requiring only basic education in mathematics and physics. In 1933 the Nazis seized and Einstein moved to the United States accepting an offer to go to Princeton University dedicating himself to strict academic study. In 1939 Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt describing the potential destructive power of the atomic bomb and warned Roosevelt that the Germans were in the process of creating one.
Upon reading Einstein’s letter, President Roosevelt activated the Manhattan project. Einstein often wrote in favor of socialism, criticizing capitalism as well as the arms race noting, “I do not know how the third world war will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the fourth – rocks! ” as a consequence of Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt regarding the creation and implication of the atomic bomb Einstein was largely scrutinized by the public eye for his potential communist links.
Due to Einstein’s pacifist nature he claimed, “Had I known the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would not have lifted a finger. ” In 1952 Einstein was offered the position as President of Israel. Einstein declined the position however, stating that he had “neither the natural ability nor experience to deal with human beings… I am deeply moved by the offer from our state of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. ” On April 17th, 1955 Albert Einstein suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
He was taken to the medical center at the University of Princeton but he refused surgery claiming “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly. ” The morning of April 18th, 1955 Einstein died at the age of 76. During autopsy Thomas Stoltz Harvey removed Einstein’s brain and it is still located at Princeton University’s medical center after decades of study. The rest of Einstein’s remains were cremated and ashes were scattered following the wishes of mastermind Albert Einstein.