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Study Material

Albert Einstein

Personal information
Birth March 14, 1879
Ulm ( Germany )
Death April 18, 1955 (age 76)
Princeton, New Jersey ( United States )
Death cause Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Nationality American (since 1940)
German (1918-1933)
Austro-Hungarian (1911-1912)
Swiss (since 1901)
Without nationality (1896-1901)
German (until 1896)
Religion Agnostic
Parents Hermann Einstein Pauline Koch
Spouse Elsa Einstein (since 1919)
Mileva Marić (1903-1919)
Sons Hans Albert Einstein
Eduard Einstein
Lieserl Einstein
Education PhD in Physics and PhD in Philosophy
Educated in Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich
Doctoral supervisor Alfred Kleiner, Heinrich Burkhardt and Heinrich Friedrich Weber
Occupation Theoretical physicist , mathematician , pedagogue , diplomat and teacher
Area Quantum physics
Known for Theory of relativity and photoelectric effect
Notable works See works
Member of
Honors Nobel Prize in Physics (1921)

Albert Einstein ( German:  / albɛɐ̯t ʔaɪnʃtaɪn / ; Ulm , German Empire , 14 of March of 1879 – Princeton , United States , 18 of April of 1955 ) was a physicist German origin Jew , nationalized after Swiss , Austrian and American . He is considered the most important, well-known and popular scientist of the 20th century .

In 1905, when he was an unknown young physicist, employed at the Bern Patent Office , he published his theory of special relativity . In it, he incorporated, in a simple theoretical framework based on simple physical postulates, concepts and phenomena previously studied by Henri Poincaré and Hendrik Lorentz . As a logical consequence of this theory, he deduced the most popular equation of physics : the mass-energy equivalence, E = mc² . That year he published other works that would lay some of the foundations of statistical physics and quantum mechanics .

In 1915, he introduced the theory of general relativity , in which he completely reformulated the concept of gravity . One of the consequences was the emergence of the scientific study of the origin and evolution of the Universe by the branch of physics called cosmology . In 1919, when British observations of a solar eclipse confirmed his predictions about the curvature of light, he was idolized by the press. Einstein became a world-famous popular icon of science, a privilege available to very few scientists.

For his explanations about the photoelectric effect and his numerous contributions to theoretical physics , in 1921 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics and not for the Theory of Relativity, since the scientist who was entrusted with the task of evaluating it did not understand it, and they feared run the risk of later being proven wrong. At that time it was still considered somewhat controversial.

Faced with the rise of Nazism , Einstein left Germany in December 1932 for the United States , where he devoted himself to teaching at the Institute for Advanced Study . He became a US citizen in 1940. During his last years he worked to integrate the gravitational and electromagnetic forces into the same theory .

Although considered by some to be the “father of the atomic bomb ,” he advocated world federalism , internationalism , pacifism , Zionism, and democratic socialism , with a strong devotion to individual freedom and freedom of expression .  He was proclaimed “character of the twentieth century ‘and the most preeminent scientist by the magazine Time .



He was born in the German city of Ulm , a hundred kilometers east of Stuttgart , into a Jewish family. His parents were Hermann Einstein and Pauline Koch. Hermann and Pauline had married in 1876, when Hermann was nearly twenty-nine and she was eighteen. Pauline’s family lived near Stuttgart , specifically in the city of Cannstatt ; there his father, Julius Koch, operated a very prosperous grain trade with his brother Heinrich . Pauline played the piano and passed on to her son her love for music , among other qualities such as her “perseverance and patience.” From his father, Hermann, he also inherited certain characters such as generosity and kindness that characterized Albert.

A young boy with short hair and a round face, wearing a white collar and large bow, with vest, coat, skirt and high boots.  He is leaning against an ornate chair.

Einstein at the age of 3, in 1882.

In 1880 the family moved to Munich , where he would grow up for fourteen years, and his father and his brother, Jakob, who influenced Albert intellectually, founded a company dedicated to the installation of water and gas in October . As the business was going well, with the support of the whole family they decided to open their own workshop for electrical appliances ( Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie. ), Which they supplied to power plants in Munich-Schwabing, Varese and Susa in Italy., which would fail after putting the whole family in debt. This caused trauma not only to Albert but also to the rest of the family. In order to pay off debts and finance the move, the beloved garden of the Munich house was sold to a property developer.

From the beginning, he showed some difficulty in expressing himself, since he did not begin to speak until the age of three, so he appeared to have some delay that would cause him some problems. Unlike his younger sister Maya, who was more lively and cheerful, Albert was patient and methodical and did not like to show off. She used to avoid the company of other infants her age and despite the fact that, as children, they also had differences from time to time, she only admitted her sister in their solitudes. He attended his primary studies in a Catholic school; from 1888 it attended the institute of secondary education Luitpold (that in 1965 would receive the name of Gymasium Albert Einstein ). He got good marks in general, not so much in the language subjects, but excellent in the natural sciencesAaron Bernstein’s popular science books marked his interest and his future career. It was a difficult period that he would endure thanks to the violin lessons (starting in 1884) that his mother gave him (an instrument that he was passionate about and which he continued to play for the rest of his days) and the introduction to algebra that his uncle would discover for him. Jacob. His time at the Gymnasium (high school), however, was not very rewarding: the rigidity and military discipline of the secondary schools of the time of Otto von BismarckThey earned him a lot of controversy with the teachers: at the Luitpold Gymnasium things came to a head in 1894, when Einstein was fifteen years old. A new professor, Dr. Joseph Degenhart, told him that “he would never achieve anything in life.” When Einstein replied that “I had not committed any crime,” the teacher replied: “your mere presence here undermines the respect the class owes me.”

Einstein in 1893 , at age 14.

His uncle, Jacob Einstein, an engineer with great inventiveness and ideas, convinced Albert’s father to build a house with a workshop , where they would carry out new projects and technological experiments of the time in order to make a profit, but, Because the gadgets and gadgets they tuned and manufactured were products for the future, they currently lacked buyers and the deal failed. Little Albert grew up motivated by the investigations that were carried out in the workshop and all the devices that were there. In addition, his uncle encouraged his scientific concerns by providing him with science books.. According to Einstein himself in his autobiography, reading these popular science books would give rise to a constant questioning of the claims of religion ; a determined free thought that was associated with other forms of rejection of the state and authority. A rare skepticism at that time, according to Einstein himself. School did not motivate him, and although he was excellent in mathematics and physics , he was not interested in the other subjects. At the age of fifteen, without a tutor or guide, he undertook the study of the infinitesimal calculus. The clearly unfounded idea that he was a bad student comes from the first biographers to write about Einstein, who confused the Swiss school grading system (6 in Switzerland is the best grade) with German (6 is the worst note). In this « Erziehungsrat » it appears with a grade of 6 in all the subjects: Algebra , Physics , Geometry , Analytical Geometry and Trigonometry .

In 1894, the Hermann company was experiencing major financial difficulties and the Einsteins moved from Munich to Pavia , in Italy , near Milan.. Albert remained in Munich to finish his courses before reuniting with his family in Pavia, but the separation was short-lived: before obtaining his bachelor’s degree, he decided to leave the Gymnasium. Without consulting his parents, Albert contacted a doctor (Max Talmud’s older brother, a medical student who came to Einstein’s parents’ house for lunch every Friday) to certify that he was suffering from exhaustion and he needed time out of school, and he convinced a teacher to certify his excellence in the field of mathematics. The school authorities let him go. Just after Christmas 1894, Albert left Munich for Milan to join his parents.


Thus, the Einstein family tried to enroll Albert in the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich, but, not having a bachelor’s degree, he had to take an entrance exam, which he failed because of a poor grade in an arts subject. This meant that he was initially rejected, but the director of the center, impressed by his results in science, advised him to continue his high school studies and obtain the title that would give him direct access to the Polytechnic. His family sent him to Aarau to finish his secondary studies at the Aargau cantonal school., about 50 km west of Zurich, where Einstein obtained a German bachelor’s degree in 1896, at the age of sixteen. That same year he renounced his German citizenship, presumably to avoid military service, becoming stateless. He started the procedures to become a Swiss citizen. At the end of 1896, at the age of seventeen, Einstein entered the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich (Switzerland), probably the most important center in Central Europe for studying science outside of Germany, enrolling in the School of mathematical and scientific orientation , with the idea of ​​studying physics.

Three young men in suits with high white collars and bow ties, sitting.

Conrad Habicht, Maurice Solovine and Einstein, the founders of the short-lived Olympia Academy.

During his years in the politically vibrant Zurich , he discovered the work of various philosophers: Henri Poincaré , Baruch Spinoza , David Hume , Immanuel Kant , Karl Marx citation needed ] and Ernst Mach . He also made contact with the socialist movement through Friedrich Adler and with a certain nonconformist and revolutionary thought in which his longtime friend Michele Besso had a lot to do with it . In October 1896, he met Mileva Marić, a Serbian classmate, feminist and radical, with whom he fell in love. In 1900, Albert and Mileva graduated from the Zürich Polytechnic and in 1901, at the age of twenty-two, they obtained Swiss citizenship. During this period he discussed his scientific ideas with a group of close friends, including Mileva, with whom he secretly had a daughter in January 1902, named Lieserl.. To this day, no one knows what happened to the girl, assuming that she was adopted in Mileva’s native Serbia, after they were both married on January 6, 1903, in the city of Bern. However, this theory can hardly be proven, as only circumstantial evidence is available. Einstein’s parents always opposed the marriage, until in 1902 his father fell mortally ill and consented. But his mother never resigned herself to it.

Albert Einstein’s house in Switzerland.

He graduated in 1900 , obtaining the diploma of professor of mathematics and physics, but could not find work at the University, so he worked as a tutor in Winterthur, Schaffhausen and Bern . His classmate Marcel Grossmann , a man who would later play a pivotal role in the mathematics of general relativity, offered him a steady job at the Swiss Federal Intellectual Property Office in Bern, a patent office, where he worked. from 1902 to 1909. His personality also caused him problems with the director of the Office, who taught him to “express himself correctly.”

At this time, Einstein lovingly referred to his wife Mileva as “a person who is my equal and as strong and independent as I am.” Abram Joffe, in his biography of Einstein, argues that during this period he was assisted in his research by Mileva. This is contradicted by other biographers such as Ronald W. Clark, who affirms that Einstein and Mileva had a distant relationship that gave him the solitude necessary to concentrate on his work. 

In May 1904, Einstein and Mileva had a son, whom they named Hans Albert Einstein . That same year he got a permanent job at the Patent Office. Shortly after, he finished his doctorate presenting a thesis entitled A new determination of molecular dimensions , consisting of a 17-page paper that emerged from a conversation with Michele Besso, while they had a cup of tea; As Einstein sweetened his, he asked Besso:

Do you think that calculating the dimensions of sugar molecules could be a good PhD thesis?

Albert Einstein in 1904 (age: 25)

In 1905, he wrote several fundamental works on small and large-scale physics. In the first one he explained the Brownian motion , in the second the photoelectric effect and the remaining two developed special relativity and mass-energy equivalence . The first of them earned him a doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1906, and his work on the photoelectric effect would earn him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, for his work on Brownian motion and his interpretation of the photoelectric effect. . These articles were submitted to the journal Annalen der Physik and are generally known as the articles of theannus mirabilis (“miraculous year”).


Albert Einstein in 1920.

In 1908, at the age of twenty-nine, he was hired at the University of Bern , Switzerland , as a professor and lecturer ( privatdozent ). Einstein and Mileva had a new son, Eduard , born on July 28, 1910. Shortly afterwards the family moved to Prague , where Einstein obtained the position of professor of theoretical physics, the equivalent of professor, at the German University of Prague. having to adopt Austrian nationality to be able to access the position. At this time he worked closely with Marcel Grossmann and Otto Stern . He also began to call the fourth dimension mathematical time”. In 1913, just before World War I , he was elected to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. He established his residence in Berlin , where he stayed for seventeen years. Emperor Wilhelm invited him to head the Physics section of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics .

On February 14, 1919, at the age of thirty-nine, he divorced Mileva, after a marriage of sixteen years, and a few months later, on June 2, 1919, he married a cousin of hers, Elsa Loewenthal. , whose maiden name was Einstein; Loewenthal was the last name of her first husband, Max Loewenthal. Elsa was three years older than him and had been taking care of him after suffering a severe state of exhaustion. Einstein and Elsa had no children.

The fate of Albert and Mileva’s daughter, Lieserl , born before her parents married or found work, is unknown. Of his two sons, the first, Hans Albert, moved to California , where he became a university professor, although with little interaction with his father; the second, Eduard, suffered from schizophrenia and was admitted in 1932 to an institution for the treatment of mental illness in Zurich. It was the first of many entries. Einstein wanted to bring his sick son to Princeton, but the US embassy would not admit him because of his poor record. Eduard died in the psychiatric center in 1965.

In Berlin in the 1920s, Einstein’s fame sparked heated discussions. Editorials attacking his theory could be read in conservative newspapers. Spectacle conferences were called trying to argue how crazy the special theory of relativity was. He was even attacked, in a veiled way, not openly, as a Jew. His name appeared, along with other German intellectuals, on the lists of people considered “a danger to the country” by the Nazi party . In the rest of the world, the theory of relativity was passionately debated in popular lectures and texts.

In Germany, expressions of hatred towards Jews reached very high levels. Several Nazi- ideological physicists , some as notable as Nobel laureates in Physics Johannes Stark and Philipp Lenard , tried to discredit his theories. Other physicists who taught the theory of relativity, such as Werner Heisenberg , were vetoed in their attempts to access teaching positions. 

In 1923 he visited Spain , establishing a relationship with José Ortega y Gasset . Upon landing in Barcelona , and given the socialist ideas he professed, He accepted an invitation to give a conference at the headquarters of the CNT , where he became friends with Ángel Pestaña . He asked what the acronym CNT (National Confederation of Labor) meant, and when he understood it, and given the anarchist ideas of the union, he proposed to eliminate the word “National”, which in Germany had violent connotations. During his visit he also briefly met Santiago Ramón y Cajal and additionally received a tribute from King Alfonso XIII of Spain, who appoints him a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences

Before the rise of Nazism – Adolf Hitler came to power as chancellor on January 30, 1933 – he had left Germany in December 1932 to sail uncertainly for the United States , where he taught at the Institute for Advanced Study , adding to his Swiss nationality the American in 1940, at the age of sixty-one. 

For the Nazi clique, the Jews are not just a means that deflects the resentment that the people experience against their oppressors; They also see in the Jews an unadaptable element that cannot be led to accept a dogma without criticism, and that consequently threatens their authority – for as long as such a dogma exists – because of their determination to enlighten the masses.
Proof that this problem is at the heart of the matter is provided by the solemn book-burning ceremony, performed as a spectacle by the Nazi regime shortly after seizing power.
Einstein. New York. 1938. 

Before deciding on US exile, in 1933 the government of the Second Spanish Republic offered Einstein to join the Central University of Madrid as a researcher. These efforts were mediated by the then ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ramón Pérez de Ayala , at the initiative of Minister Fernando de los Ríos . Finally, given the situation of political instability in Europe and the rise to power of the CEDA in Spain, Einstein declined the offer. Faced with the possibility that the German scientist accepted the position, sectors of the Spanish right showed their discomfort and there were some anti-Semitic reactions. The Catholic newspaper El Debate(linked to CEDA) published an editorial on April 12 (titled Everything is relative ) where he referred to Einstein as “the Jew”; in another article in the same newspaper he denied that he was a victim of Hitler persecution and that his exile was forced: “The socialist minister has rushed to offer him protection. Judaism and Marxism are identified and confused, “he added. 

Einstein, in 1939 decides to exert his influence by participating in political issues that affect the world. He wrote the famous letter to Roosevelt , to promote the atomic project and prevent the “enemies of humanity” from doing it earlier:

… Since given the mentality of the Nazis , they would have consummated the destruction and enslavement of the rest of the world. 

During his last years, Einstein worked to integrate the four fundamental interactions into a single theory , a task that is still unfinished. 


On April 16, 1955, Albert Einstein experienced internal bleeding caused by a ruptured aneurysm of the aorta abdominal, which had previously been reinforced surgically by Dr. Rudolph Nissen in 1948. Einstein refused surgery, saying: “I want to leave when I want. It is bad taste to artificially prolong life. I’ve done my part, it’s time to go. I will do it with elegance. He died in Princeton Hospital early on April 18, 1955 at the age of seventy-six.  On the table was the draft of the speech for the seventh anniversary of Israel’s independence, which he would never pronounce, and which began like this: “Today I speak to you not as an American citizen, nor as a Jew, but as a human being.”

Einstein did not want to have a glittering funeral, attended by dignitaries from around the world. In accordance with his wish, his body was cremated on the same afternoon, before most of the world found out about the news. In the crematorium there were only twelve people, among whom was his eldest son. His ashes were scattered in the Delaware River so that the place of his remains would not become an object of morbid veneration. But there was a part of his body that did not burn.

During the autopsy , Einstein’s brain was removed by hospital pathologist Thomas Stoltz Harvey to keep it, without his family’s permission, in the hope that future neuroscience would be able to discover what made Einstein so smart. He kept it for several decades, until he finally returned it to the Princeton laboratories when he was in his eighties. He thought that Einstein’s brain “would reveal the secrets of his genius to him and that would make him famous.” So far, the only moderately interesting scientific data obtained from the study of the brain is that a part of it – the part that, among other things, is related to mathematical ability – is larger than in other brains.

Detailed studies of Einstein’s brain are recent and scarce. In 1985, for example, Professor Marian Diamond , from the University of California at Berkeley , reported a number of glial cells (which nourish neurons) of superior quality in areas of the left hemisphere, responsible for the control of mathematical abilities. In 1999, neuroscientist Sandra Witelson reported that Einstein’s lower parietal lobe, an area related to mathematical reasoning, was 15% wider than normal. In addition, he found that his Silvio fissure , a groove that normally runs from the front of the brain to the back, did not go all the way.

Scientific trajectory

In 1901 Einstein’s first scientific work appeared: it dealt with capillary attraction . He published two works in 1902 and 1903, on the statistical foundations of thermodynamics , experimentally corroborating that the temperature of a body is due to the agitation of its molecules, a theory still debated at that time.

Articles of 1905

In 1905 he finished his doctorate presenting a thesis entitled A new determination of molecular dimensions . That same year he wrote four seminal articles on small and large-scale physics. In them he explained the Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect and developed special relativity and mass-energy equivalence. Einstein’s work on the photoelectric effect would earn him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921. These articles were submitted to the journal Annalen der Physik and are generally known as the annus mirabilis articles (from Latin : “miracle year”). The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, together with UNESCO , commemorated 2005 as theWorld Physics Year celebrating the centenary of publication of these works.

Photoelectric effect

A diagram illustrating the emission of electrons from a metal plate, requiring the energy to be absorbed from a photon

The first of his 1905 articles was titled A Heuristic Point of View on the Production and Transformation of Light . In it, Einstein proposed the idea of ​​”quanta” of light (now called photons ) and showed how this concept could be used to explain the photoelectric effect .

The quantum theory of light was a strong indication of wave-corpuscle duality and that physical systems can display both wave and corpuscular properties. This article was one of the basic pillars of quantum mechanics . A full explanation of the photoelectric effect could only be worked out when quantum theory was more advanced. For this work, and for his contributions to theoretical physics, Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics .

Brownian movement

His second article, entitled On the Motion Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid , covered his studies on Brownian motion .

The article on Brownian motion, the fourth in importance, is closely related to the article on molecular theory. It is a very elaborate piece of statistical mechanics, notable for the fact that Einstein had not heard of Robert Brown’s measurements of the 1820s until the end of that same year (1905); So he wrote this article, titled On The Theory of Brownian Motion .

The article explained the phenomenon using the statistics of the thermal movement of the individual atoms that make up a fluid. The Brownian motion had puzzled the scientific community since its discovery a few decades ago. Einstein’s explanation provided incontestable experimental evidence for the actual existence of atoms. The article also provided a strong impetus to statistical mechanics and kinetic fluid theory , two fields that remained controversial at the time.

Before this work, atoms were considered a useful concept in physics and chemistry , but contrary to legend, most contemporary physicists already believed in atomic theory and statistical mechanics developed by Boltzmann , Maxwell, and Gibbs. ; moreover, fairly good estimates of the radii of the nucleus and Avogadro’s number had already been made . Einstein’s article on atomic motion gave experimentalists a simple method for counting atoms by looking through an ordinary microscope .

Wilhelm Ostwald , one of the leaders of the anti-atomic school, communicated to Arnold Sommerfeld that he had been transformed into a believer in atoms by Einstein’s explanation of Brownian motion.

Special relativity

One of the photographs taken of the 1919 eclipse during Arthur Eddington’s expedition , in which Einstein’s predictions about the curvature of light in the presence of a gravitational field could be confirmed

Einstein’s third article of that year was titled Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper (“On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”). In this article Einstein introduced the theory of special relativity by studying the motion of bodies and electromagnetism in the absence of the force of gravitational interaction .

Special relativity solved the problems opened by the Michelson and Morley experiment in which it had been shown that the electromagnetic waves that make up light moved in the absence of a medium. The speed of light is therefore constant and not relative to motion. As early as 1894, George Fitzgerald had studied this question by showing that the Michelson and Morley experiment could be explained if bodies contract in the direction of their motion. In fact, some of the fundamental equations in Einstein’s paper had been introduced earlier (1903) by Hendrik LorentzDutch physicist, giving Fitzgerald’s conjecture mathematical form.

This famous publication is questioned as Einstein’s original work, because in it he omitted to cite any reference to the ideas or concepts developed by these authors as well as the works of Poincaré . In reality Einstein developed his theory in a totally different way than these authors deducing experimental facts from fundamental principles and not giving a phenomenological explanation to puzzling observations. Einstein’s merit was therefore in explaining what happened in the Michelson and Morley experiment as the final consequence of a complete and elegant theory based on fundamental principles and not as an ad-hoc or phenomenological explanation of an observed phenomenon. 

His reasoning was based on two simple axioms: In the first, he reformulated the principle of simultaneity, introduced by Galileo Galilei centuries before, by which the laws of physicsmust be invariant for all observers moving at constant speeds between them, and the second, that the speed of light is constant for any observer. This second, revolutionary axiom goes beyond the consequences foreseen by Lorentz or Poincaré, who simply related a mechanism to explain the shortening of one of the arms of the Michelson and Morley experiment. This postulate implies that if a flash of light is launched when two observers in relative motion cross, both will see the light move away, producing a perfect circle with each of them in the center. If a detector were placed on both sides of the observers, neither observer would agree on which detector was activated first (the concepts of absolute time and simultaneity are lost). The theory was called the “special theory of relativity” or “restricted theory of relativity” to distinguish it from the general theory of relativity , which was introduced by Einstein in 1915 and in which the effects of gravity are considered. and acceleration

Mass-energy equivalence

The famous formula E = mc 2 is displayed using the lighting on the Taipei 101 skyscraper during the World Year of Physics event in 2005.

The fourth article of that year was entitled Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig and showed a deduction of the formula of relativity that relates mass and energy. In this article it was stated that the change in mass of an object that emits an energy L is:

{\ displaystyle {\ frac {L} {V ^ {2}}}}

where V was the notation for the speed of light used by Einstein in 1905.

This formula implies that the energy E of a body at rest is equal to its mass m times the speed of light squared:

{\ displaystyle E = mc ^ {2} \,}

It shows how a particle with mass possesses a type of energy, “energy at rest”, different from the classical kinetic energy and potential energy. The mass-energy relationship is commonly used to explain how nuclear energy is produced; By measuring the mass of atomic nuclei and dividing by the atomic number, the binding energy trapped in the atomic nuclei can be calculated. In parallel, the amount of energy produced in the fission of an atomic nucleus is calculated as the difference in mass between the initial nucleus and the products of its decay, multiplied by the speed of light squared.

General relativity

In November 1915, Einstein delivered a series of lectures at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in which he described the theory of general relativity. The last of these talks concluded with the presentation of the equation that replaces Isaac Newton’s law of gravity . In this theory all observers are considered equivalent and not only those that move with a uniform speed. Gravity is no longer a force or action at a distance , as it was in Newtonian gravity, but a consequence of the curvature of space-time . The theory provided the basis for the study of cosmology and made it possible to understand the essential characteristics of the Universe., many of which would not be discovered until after Einstein’s death.

General relativity was obtained by Einstein from mathematical reasoning, hypothetical experiments ( gedanken experiment ) and rigorous mathematical deduction without actually having an experimental basis. The fundamental principle of the theory was the so-called equivalence principle . Despite the mathematical abstraction of the theory, the equations made it possible to deduce verifiable phenomena. On May 29, 1919, Arthur Eddington was able to measure, during an eclipse , the deflection of light from a star as it passed near the Sun., one of the predictions of general relativity. When this confirmation was made public, Einstein’s fame increased enormously and he was considered a revolutionary step in physics . Since then the theory has been verified in each and every one of the experiments and verifications carried out so far. 

Despite its popularity, or perhaps precisely because of it, the theory had significant detractors among the scientific community who could not accept a physics without an absolute reference system.

Bose-Einstein statistics

In 1924 Einstein received an article from a young Indian physicist , Satyendranath Bose , called Plank’s Law and the Light Quantum Hypothesis , describing light as a photon gas and requesting Einstein’s help for its publication. Einstein realized that the same kinds of statistics could be applied to groups of atoms and published the article, together with Bose, in German, the most important language in physics at the time. Bose-Einstein statistics explain the behavior of basic types of elementary particles called bosons .

Bohr-Einstein debate

Niels Bohr with Albert Einstein at the home of Paul Ehrenfesten Leiden (December 1925). The photo is a study of characters: the empirical and the theoretical.

The Bohr-Einstein debate was a popular name given to a series of friendly public discussions between Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr about quantum physics . His discussions are highly remembered due to their importance in the philosophy of science . The meaning and significance of these debates are poorly understood, but their great importance was taken into account by Bohr himself and written in his article Discussions with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics published in a volume dedicated to Einstein.

Einstein’s position regarding quantum mechanics is significantly more subtle and more open-minded than what has sometimes been presented in technical manuals and popular scientific articles. His powerful and constant criticisms of quantum mechanics forced its defenders to sharpen and refine their understanding of the philosophical and scientific implications of their own theories.

The unified field theory

Einstein spent his last years searching for one of the most important theories in physics, the so-called unified field theory . This search, after his general theory of relativity, consisted of a series of attempts to generalize his theory of gravitation in order to unify and summarize the fundamental laws of physics, specifically gravitation and electromagnetism. In 1950, he presented his unified field theory in an article entitled ” On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation” in Scientific American .

Although Albert Einstein was world famous for his work in theoretical physics, he gradually became isolated in his research, and his attempts were unsuccessful. Pursuing the unification of the fundamental forces, Albert ignored some important developments in physics, being notably visible on the subject of the strong nuclear and weak nuclear forces , which were not well understood until fifteen years after Einstein’s death (about the 1970), through numerous experiments in high-energy physics. The attempts proposed by string theory or M theory , show that their impetus still lasts to prove the great theory of the unification of the laws of physics.

Political activity

The Zionist cause

Einstein and Elsa arriving in New York together with the Zionist leaders of the World Zionist Organization in 1921

The events of the First World War pushed Einstein to compromise himself politically, taking sides. He had contempt for violence, bravado, aggression, and injustice. 

Originally from an assimilated Jewish family, Einstein saw the rise of anti – Semitism during World War I and partially advocated for the Zionist cause .  Einstein was one of the best known members of the German Democratic Party (DDP). Between 1921 and 1932 he gave various speeches, with the purpose of helping to raise funds for the Jewish community and support the Hebrew University of Jerusalem , founded in 1918, and as proof of his growing commitment to the Zionist cause. However, although he was in favor of Palestine being a “home” for the Jews, as stated in the Balfour Declaration, was against the creation of a Jewish state. Thus, in January 1946, in a statement before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry that questioned various personalities about the creation of a Jewish state, Einstein said:

The idea of ​​a (Jewish) state does not coincide with what I feel, I cannot understand why it is necessary. It is linked to a lot of difficulties and is typical of closed minds. I think it’s bad. 

Einstein advocated for a binational state where Jews and Palestinians have the same rights:  “We, that is, Jews and Arabs, must come together and reach a reciprocal understanding regarding the needs of the two peoples, as regards the satisfactory directives for a profitable coexistence ».

With the rise of Nazism in Germany , Einstein left his country and decided to reside in the United States . A group of enemies of his theories in Nazi Germany created an association against him, and a man was even accused of promoting his murder. In addition, a book entitled One Hundred Authors Against Einstein was published to which Einstein simply said: “Why a hundred? If I was wrong, just one would suffice. ‘ 

The State of Israel was created in 1948. When Chaim Weizmann , Israel’s first president and longtime friend of Einstein, died in 1952, Abba Eban , the Israeli ambassador to the United States , offered him the presidency.. Einstein rejected the offer saying: “I am deeply moved by the offer of the State of Israel and at the same time ashamed and ashamed that I could not accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, so I lack the natural aptitude and experience to deal properly with people and to perform official functions. I am the most distressed by these circumstances, because my relationship with the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond, since I became fully aware of our precarious situation among the nations of the world.

The socialist cause

In May 1949, the Monthly Review published (in New York) an article of his entitled ” Why Socialism?  in which he reflects on the history, conquests and consequences of the” economic anarchy of capitalist society “, an article that is still valid today. A much-cited part of it speaks of the role of private media in relation to the democratic possibilities of countries:

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the true source of evil. (…)
Private capital tends to be concentrated in a few hands, partly because of competition among capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increased division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. . The result of this process is an oligarchy of private capital whose enormous power cannot be effectively controlled even in a democratically politically organized society. This is so because members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely funded or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people in fact do not sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged groups of the population. (…)
I am convinced that there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system oriented towards social goals.
Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? 

The pacifist cause

Albert Einstein with Robert Oppenheimer in 1947.

Albert Einstein was a convinced pacifist . In 1914 , 93 prominent German intellectuals signed the Manifesto for the Civilized World to support the Kaiser and challenge the “hordes of Russians allied with Mongols and blacks who seek to attack the white race”, justifying the German invasion of Belgium ; but Einstein refused to sign along with three other intellectuals, who wanted to promote a countermanifesto, exclaiming later: 

It is incredible what Europe has unleashed with this madness. (…)
In these moments one realizes how absurd the animal species to which it belongs is.
Albert Einstein.

During World War II , Einstein partially renounced pacifism by proposing to the United States that they make a nuclear bomb before Nazi Germany, but he publicly warned of the dangers of nuclear war and proposed international control of such weapons. 

In 1939 his most important participation in world affairs took place. The Smyth Report, albeit with subtle cuts and omissions, tells the story of how physicists tried, unsuccessfully, to interest the Navy and Army in the atomic project. But it was Einstein’s famous letter to Roosevelt written on August 2 that broke the rigidity of the military mentality. However, Einstein, who has contempt for violence and war, is considered the “father of the atomic bomb .”  At the height of World War II, he supported an initiative by Robert Oppenheimer to start the nuclear weapons development programknown as the Manhattan Project . In his speech in New York in December of 1945 , he stated:

Today, the physicists who participated in the construction of the most tremendous and dangerous weapon of all time are overwhelmed by a similar sense of responsibility, not to mention guilt. (…)
We help to build the new weapon to prevent the enemies of humanity from doing it before, since given the mentality of the Nazis they would have consummated the destruction and slavery of the rest of the world. (…) We
must hope that the spirit that drove Alfred Nobel when he created his great institution, the spirit of solidarity and trust, of generosity and brotherhood among men, prevail in the minds of those who depend on the decisions that will determine our destiny. Otherwise, civilization would be doomed.
Einstein: You have to win the peace (1945). 

Einstein promoted the well – known Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955 , an appeal to scientists to unite in favor of the disappearance of nuclear weapons. This document served as inspiration for the subsequent founding of the Pugwash Conferences , which in 1995 were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize .

Ethic and religion

Albert Einstein statue at the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Einstein declared himself an agnostic , and on occasions he also declared himself an atheist, although some historians deny this point. On one occasion, in a meeting, Einstein was asked whether or not he believed in a god to which he replied: “I believe in Spinoza’s god , who is identical to the mathematical order of the Universe.” He said that he believed in Baruch Spinoza’s ” pantheistic ” God , but not in a personal god , a belief that he criticized. Einstein distinguishes three styles that tend to intermingle in the practice of religion. The former is motivated by fear and misunderstanding of causality and therefore tends to invent supernatural beings. The second is social and moral, motivated by the desire for support and love. They both have an anthropomorphic concept of God. The third – which Einstein considers the most mature – is motivated by a sense of wonder at Nature. 

In a letter to the Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith, in 1920, he wrote:

I am not a German citizen, nor is there anything in me that can be defined as “Jewish faith.” But I am Jewish and I am proud to belong to the Jewish community, although I do not consider them the chosen of God at all. 

Statue of Einstein in the Science Park of Granada , the work of Miguel Barranco

A longer quote from Einstein appears in Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A Symposium , published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion in Relation to the Democratic Way of Life:

The more imbued a man is in the orderly regularity of events, the stronger will be his conviction that there is no place — on the side of this orderly regularity — for a cause of a different nature. For that man, neither human rules nor “divine rules” will exist as independent causes of natural events. For sure, science can never refute the doctrine of a god who interferes in natural events, because that doctrine can always take refuge in the fact that scientific knowledge cannot set foot on that issue. But I am convinced that such behavior on the part of religious people is not only inappropriate but also fatal. A doctrine that is held not in bright light but in darkness, which has already done incalculable damage to human progress, will necessarily lose its effect on humanity. In their struggle for ethical good, religious people should renounce the doctrine of the existence of God, that is, renounce the source of fear and hope, which in the past put great power in the hands of priests. In their work, they must rely on those forces that are capable of cultivating good, truth and beauty in humanity itself. This is surely a more difficult but incomparably more worthy and admirable task.

In a letter dated March 1954, which was included in the book Albert Einstein: His Human Side (in English), edited by his faithful secretary Helen Dukas and his collaborator Banesh Hoffman and published by Princeton University Press, Einstein says:

Of course, what has been read about my religious convictions was a lie; a lie that is systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied it but have expressed it clearly. If there is something in me that can be called religious, it is the unlimited admiration for the structure of the world, as far as our science can reveal it.

The letter to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, dated January 3 of that same year, auctioned in May 2008, apparently makes things clearer. Einstein says:

The word god for me is nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible, a collection of honorable but still primitive legends that are nevertheless quite childish. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change this …

There is also a little-known letter from Einstein, sent to Guy H. Raner Jr, on July 2, 1945, in response to a rumor that a Jesuit priest had converted him to Christianity, in which Einstein directly declares himself an atheist (cited by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic Magazine , v. 5, No.2) 

I have received your letter of June 10th. I have never spoken to a Jesuit priest in my life and am amazed at the audacity of such lies about me. From the point of view of a Jesuit priest, I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.

William Hermanns , a surviving veteran from Verdun , professor of German literature, interviewed Einstein several times, the first in Berlin in 1930. On that occasion he raised the idea of ​​a cosmic religion, an idea he had referenced in the conversation about the reality that he had had with Rabindranath Tagore and later developed and titled “Religion and Science,” published in the New York Times in 1930. Einstein continued to develop this idea and Herrmanns, who considered it compatible with traditional beliefs, set out to found a movement that integrate Jewish, Christian, Vedist , Buddhist and Islamic traditions. He was willing to get concise and accurate statements about God. Einstein could not be more so:

With regard to God, I cannot accept any concept based on the authority of the Church. For as long as I can remember, the indoctrination of the masses has bothered me. I do not believe in the fear of life, in the fear of death, in blind faith. I can’t prove there isn’t a personal god, but if I spoke about him, I’d be lying. I do not believe in the god of theology, in the god who rewards good and punishes evil. My god created the laws that take care of that. His universe is not governed by chimeras, but by immutable laws. 

For Einstein, his cosmic religion and his Jewishness were unrelated to each other. When asked if there was a Jewish point of view, he replied:

In the philosophical sense there is, in my opinion, no specifically Jewish point of view. For me, Judaism has to do almost exclusively with the moral attitude in life and towards life […] Judaism is not, therefore, a transcendental religion; it has to do with how we live life and, to a certain extent, with how we understand it […], and nothing else. I have doubts whether it can be called religion in the accepted sense of the word, or considered not as a “faith”, but as the sanctification of life in the suprapersonal sense required of Jews. 

Einstein said that the moral was not dictated by God, but by mankind: 

I do not believe in the immorality of the individual, and I consider ethics an exclusively human concern over which there is no superhuman authority.

Some publications

  • Einstein, Albert (1901) [manuscript received December 16, 1900], “Folgerungen aus den Capillaritätserscheinungen” [Conclusions Drawn from the Phenomena of Capillarity] (PDF) , written in Zurich, Switzerland, Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German) (Hoboken, NJ, published Mar 14, 2006) 309 (3): 513-523, Bibcode : 1901AnP … 309..513E , doi : 10.1002 / andp.19013090306 – via Wiley Online Library .
  • Einstein, Albert (1905a) [manuscript received March 18, 1905], “Über einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtspunkt” [On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light] (PDF) , written in Bern, Switzerland , Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German) (Hoboken, NJ, published March 10, 2006) 322 (6): 132-148, Bibcode : 1905AnP … 322..132E , doi : 10.1002 / andp. 19053220607 – via Wiley Online Library .
  • Einstein, Albert (1905b) [manuscript completed April 30 and received July 20, 1905]. “Eine neue Bestimmung der Moleküldimensionen” [A new determination of molecular dimensions] (PDF) . Written in Berne, Switzerland, published by Wyss Buchdruckerei. Dissertationen Universität Zürich (PhD Thesis) (in German) (Zurich, Switzerland: ETH Zurich, published 2008). doi : 10.3929 / ethz-a-000565688 – via ETH Bibliothek.
  • Einstein, Albert (1905c) [manuscript received May 11, 1905], “Über die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen” [On the Motion – Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat – of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid] (PDF) , written in Bern, Switzerland, Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German) (Hoboken, NJ, published March 10, 2006) 322 (8): 549-560, Bibcode : 1905AnP … 322..549E , doi : 10.1002 / andp.19053220806 – via Wiley Online Library .
  • Einstein, Albert (1905d) [manuscript received June 30, 1905], “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” [On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies] (PDF) , written in Bern, Switzerland, Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German) ( Hoboken, NJ, published Mar 10, 2006) 322 (10): 891-921, Bibcode : 1905AnP … 322..891E , doi : 10.1002 / andp.19053221004 – via Wiley Online Library .
  • Einstein, Albert (1905e) [manuscript received September 27, 1905], “Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig?” [Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?] (PDF) , written in Bern, Switzerland, Annalen der Physik (Berlin) (in German) (Hoboken, NJ, published March 10, 2006) 323 (13 ): 639-641, Bibcode : 1905AnP … 323..639E , doi : 10.1002 / andp.19053231314 – via Wiley Online Library .
  • Einstein, Albert (1915) [manuscript published November 25, 1915], “Die Feldgleichungen der Gravitation” [The Field Equations of Gravitation] (Online page images) , Königlich Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften (in German) (Berlin): 844-847 – via ECHO, Cultural Heritage Online, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science .
  • Einstein, Albert (1917a), “Kosmologische Betrachtungen zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie” [Cosmological Considerations in the General Theory of Relativity], Königlich Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften , Berlin (in German) .
  • Einstein, Albert (1917b), “Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung” [On the Quantum Mechanics of Radiation], Physikalische Zeitschrift (in German) 18 : 121-128, Bibcode : 1917PhyZ … 18..121E .
  • Einstein, Albert (1923) [manuscript published 1923, in English 1967]. Grundgedanken und Probleme der Relativitätstheorie [ Fundamental Ideas and Problems of the Theory of Relativity ] (PDF) (in German (1923) English (1967)) . Nobel Lectures, Physics 1901-1921. Stockholm: (published February 3, 2015) – via Nobel Media AB 2014.
  • Einstein, Albert (1924) [manuscript published July 10, 1924], “Quantentheorie des einatomigen idealen Gases” [Quantum theory of monatomic ideal gases] (Online page images) , Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Physikalisch-Mathematische Klasse (in German ) (Munich: Königlich Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften , Berlin): 261-267 – via ECHO, Cultural Heritage Online, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science .. First of a series of papers on this topic.
  • Einstein, Albert (March 12, 1926) [manuscript published March 1, 1926], “Die Ursache der Mäanderbildung der Flußläufe und des sogenannten Baerschen Gesetzes” [On Baer’s law and meanders in the courses of rivers], written in Berlin, Die Naturwissenschaften (in German) (Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag) 14 (11): 223-224, Bibcode : 1926NW ….. 14..223E , ISSN  1432-1904 , doi : 10.1007 / BF01510300 – via SpringerLink .
  • Einstein, Albert (1926b), written in Berne, Switzerland, R. Fürth, ed., Investigations on the Theory of the Brownian Movement (PDF) , Translated by AD Cowper, USA: Dover Publications (published 1956), ISBN  978- 1-60796-285-4 , accessed January 4, 2015 .
  • Einstein, Albert; Podolsky, Boris; Rosen, Nathan (May 15, 1935) [manuscript received March 25, 1935], “Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?” (PDF) , Physical Review (American Physical Society) 47 (10): 777-780, Bibcode : 1935PhRv … 47..777E , doi : 10.1103 / PhysRev.47.777 – via APS Journals .
  • Einstein, Albert (November 9, 1940), “On Science and Religion”, Nature (Edinburgh: Macmillan Publishers Group) 146 (3706): 605-607, Bibcode : 1940Natur.146..605E , ISBN  0-7073-0453 -9 , doi : 10.1038 / 146605a0 .
  • Einstein, Albert (4 December 1948), “To the editors of the New York Times” , New York Times (Melville, New York. AIP, American Inst of Physics), ISBN  0-7354-0359-7 , archiving from the original on December 17, 2007 , accessed on March 31, 2016 .
  • Einstein, Albert (May 1949), “Why Socialism? (Reprise) » , Monthly Review (New York: Monthly Review Foundation, published May 2009) 61 (01 (May)), archived from original on January 11, 2006 , accessed January 16, 2006 – via MonthlyReview .org .
  • Einstein, Albert (1950), “On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation”, Scientific American CLXXXII (4): 13-17, doi : 10.1038 / scientificamerican0450-13 .
  • Einstein, Albert (1954), Ideas and Opinions , New York: Random House, ISBN  0-517-00393-7 .
  • Einstein, Albert (1969), Albert Einstein, Hedwig und Max Born: Briefwechsel 1916-1955 (in German) , Munich: Nymphenburger Verlagshandlung, ISBN  3-88682-005-X .
  • Einstein, Albert (1979), Autobiographical Notes , Paul Arthur Schilpp (Centennial edition), Chicago: Open Court, ISBN  0-87548-352-6 .. The chasing a light beam thought experiment is described on pages 48–51.
  • Collected Papers: Stachel, John ; Martin J. Klein; AJ Kox; Michel Janssen; R. Schulmann; Diana Komos Buchwald, eds. (July 21, 2008) [manuscript published between 1987-2006], “The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein ‘ , Einstein’s Writings ( Princeton University Press ), 1-10 Archived from the original on February 17, 2013 , accessed March 31, 2016 .. More information about the published volumes can be found on the Einstein Papers Project website and on the Princeton University Press Einstein Page


Romanian stamp from 2005 with the image of Albert Einstein

Einstein Tower ( Potsdam )

In addition to numerous streets, squares and cities in various countries of the world, as well as different academic institutions, a wide list of elements related to science bear Einstein’s name in his memory:


  • The element Einsteinium was named in his honor.
  • Einstein’s summation convention , abbreviated notation used in tensor algebra.
  • Einstein ring , gravitational effect on starlight.
  • Einstein’s field equations, 10 equations from the theory of general relativity .
  • Bose-Einstein statistics, type of statistical mechanics applicable to bosons in thermal equilibrium.
  • Bose-Einstein condensate , state of aggregation of matter that occurs in certain materials at temperatures close to absolute zero.
  • Einstein (unit of measurement) , unit of measurement for the amount of radiation.
  • Einstein relationship (kinetic theory) , related to Brownian motion .
  • Einstein’s model , used in solid physics of quantum mechanics.
  • Einstein Observatory , an astronomical X-ray space detector.
  • Albert Einstein (spacecraft) , European cargo spacecraft launched in 2013.
  • Einstein Tower , an observatory erected in 1924 located in Potsdam .
  • Einstein , lunar impact crater.
  • Einstein , asteroid number 2001 in the Minor Planet Center catalog.
  • Einstein’s cross , quasar affected by gravitational phenomena that affect its light.
  • Einsteinhaus , house-museum located in Bern, dedicated to the German physicist.
  • Albert Einstein Medal , annually recognizing since 1979 works related to the work of Einstein.
  • UNESCO Albert Einstein Medal .

In popular culture

File: Mouna2.jpeg

Famous photograph of Einstein sticking out his tongue

Albert Einstein has been the subject and inspiration for many works of popular culture.

On Einstein’s 72nd birthday, March 14, 1951, United Press photographer Arthur Sasse tried to persuade him not to smile at the camera, but on that day, having smiled at photographers many times, Einstein took it out of him. tongue. This photograph became one of the most popular ever taken. Einstein enjoyed this photo and asked UPI to give him nine copies for personal use, one of which he signed for a reporter. On June 19, 2009, the original signed photograph sold at auction for $ 74,324, a record for a photo of Einstein.

Einstein is a favorite model for representations of geniuses or mad scientists ; Her expressive face and distinctive hairstyles have been widely copied and exaggerated. Frederic Golden of Time magazine wrote that Einstein was “a cartoonist’s dream come true.” 

The name “Einstein” has become synonymous with an extremely intelligent person. It can also be used sarcastically when someone says the obvious or shows a lack of wisdom or intelligence.

Einstein has also been the subject of many quotes that have become especially popular on the Internet and have been falsely attributed to him, including “the definition of insanity.” 


He is especially known for his theory of relativity, which he first expounded in 1905, when he was just 26 years old. His contributions to science were many.

Relativity: Einstein’s theory of relativity revolutionized scientific thinking, with its new conceptions of time, space, mass, motion, and gravitation. He conceived of matter and energy as equivalent and not distinct. In asserting this, he laid the foundation for controlling the release of energy contained in the atom.

Albert_Einstein in 1947
Albert_Einstein in 1947

Thus, Einstein was one of the creators of the atomic age. His famous equation E = mc², where c is the speed of light, became the cornerstone of the development of atomic energy. In elaborating his theory, he relied on deep philosophical thinking and complex mathematical reasoning.

Albert, son of Hermann Einstein and Paulina Koch Einstein, was born on March 14, 1879, in the city of Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. When he was five years old, his father showed him a pocket compass. The boy was deeply impressed by the mysterious behavior of the magnetic needle that kept facing the same direction no matter how much you rotated the compass. Later, they say, he explained that he felt that “behind things, something must have been hidden.”

After completing his course at the public schools in Munich (Germany) and Aarau (Switzerland), Einstein studied mathematics and physics at the Swiss Polytechnic Institute in the city of Zurich. In 1900, he finished his degree, going to work as an expert at the Berne Patent Office, a position he held from 1902 until 1909. Working in that department left him a lot of free time, time which he spent on scientific experimentation. In 1905, he acquired Swiss citizenship.

During this year, Einstein made three of his greatest contributions to scientific knowledge. The year 1905 marked an epoch in the history of physical science, as it was then that he wrote three works, published in a German scientific journal, entitled Annalen der Physik (Annals of Physics), each of which became the basis of a new branch of physics.

In one of these works, Einstein suggested that light could be conceived as a stream made up of tiny particles, which he named quanta. This idea became an important part of quantum theory. Before Einstein, scientists had already discovered that a bright light beam, falling on a metal, caused it to emit electrons, which could then be transformed into an electrical current. But scientists could not explain the phenomenon, which they had called the photoelectric effect. Einstein, however, explained this effect based on his quantum theory. He showed that when quanta of light energy hit atoms of a metal, they force it to release electrons.

Einstein’s work helped prove the quantum theory. At the same time, it gave the photoelectric effect an explanation impossible to conceive, as long as scientists continued to claim that light propagated exclusively through waves. The photoelectric cell or electronic eye that is a result of Einstein’s work made sound cinema, television and many other inventions possible. For his work on quanta, Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

In a second paper, entitled The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, Einstein presented the theory of special relativity. Due to this theory, which shows the relativity of time – an idea never conceived before – Einstein’s name became widely known. In 1944, a copy of Einstein’s famous manuscript on electrodynamics served as the basis for an investment of 6.5 million dollars in war bonds at an auction held in Kansas City, USA. Congress in Washington. In another study, published in 1905, Einstein demonstrated the equivalence between mass and energy, expressed in his famous equation E = mc².

Einstein’s third important work, in 1905, concerned Brownian motion, a zigzag motion of microscopic particles suspended in a liquid or gas. This movement confirmed the atomic theory of matter.

Einstein presented these works before assuming an academic post. But in 1909 he was appointed professor of theoretical physics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. In 1911 and 1912, he held an equivalent post at the German University in Prague, in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1912, he took on a similar role at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland.

In 1913, Einstein was elected a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, based in Berlin. A year later, on accepting the post of professor of physics at the University of Berlin, he regained German citizenship. In the same year, he was appointed director of the Kaiser Guilherme Institute of Physics, also in the German capital, positions he held until 1933.

In 1915, Einstein announced that he had developed the theory of general relativity, based on his theory of special relativity. In his generalized theory, he tried to express all the laws of physics through covariant equations, that is, equations that have the same mathematical form, regardless of the frame of reference to which they are applied. The general theory, announced in 1915, was made public in 1916.

The Unitary Field Theory. Einstein was not entirely satisfied with the theory of general relativity, as it did not include electromagnetism. Toward the end of the 1920s, he tried to incorporate both electromagnetic and gravitational phenomena into a single theory, a theory called unitary field theory. But he was unable to form a unitary theory of the field, although he spent 25 years of his life trying to elaborate it. Feeling the end of his life approaching, Einstein pointed out the advisability of making it clear that such a theory did not exist. He was worried about the idea that, having neither developed a theory nor shown the impossibility of its existence, perhaps no one ever did.

Einstein married twice. He separated from his first wife shortly after his arrival in Berlin. During World War I, he married his cousin-sister, Elsa, who died at Princeton in 1936 after faithfully sharing her life with him. From his first marriage, he had two children; with the second, he gained two stepdaughters.

Einstein was, by nature, deeply religious. However, he never joined any orthodox religion. While finding belief in a personal god too specific a concept to be applicable to Being at work in this world, Einstein never admitted to a universe characterized by chance and chaos. In the universe, he thought, absolute law and order should reign. He once said, “God may be very sophisticated, but he is not malicious.”

Einstein was named the greatest personality of the 20th century by Time magazine.

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