Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientists of all time. Best known as a physicist for developing his famous theory of relativity, Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. When he was five years old, his father showed him a pocket compass. Young Einstein was deeply impressed by the mysterious behavior of the compass needle, which kept pointing the same direction no matter which way the compass was turned. He later said he felt then that “something deeply hidden had to be behind such things.
” Einstein attended public school in Munich and in Aarau, Switzerland. He then studied mathematics and physics at the Swiss Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, graduating in 1900. From 1902 until 1909 he worked as an examiner at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. While this job had little to do with physics or math, it gave him two things. First, he got to see some of the important inventions of the day; second, he had an abundance of free time, which he spent in scientific investigations.
During this time Einstein made three of his greatest contributions to scientific knowledge. In 1905, Einstein contributed three separate papers to Annalen der Physik (Annals of Physics), a German scientific periodical. Each of the three became the basis for a new branch of physics. One, for example, suggested that light could be thought of as a stream of tiny particles. This idea would become an important part of the quantum theory. Another concerned Brownian motion, an irregular motion of microscopic particles suspended in liquid of gas, which confirmed the atomic theory of matter. The last paper, titled “The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” discussed one of Einstein’s most famous brainchildren: relativity, more specifically the special theory of relativity. The paper demonstrated the relativity of time, a previously unimaginable idea. Einstein once explained relativity very simply as, “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” Later, in 1915, Einstein announced that he had developed a general theory of relativity based on his special theory. This general theory attempted to express all laws of physics by equations that have the same mathematical form regardless of the system of reference to which they are applied. In yet another study published in 1905, Einstein put forth his most famous equation of all, the equivalence of mass and energy, E=MC2, in which Energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared. (Kevles, Biography.com, Quoteland.com)
Einstein was a brilliant physicist. He used mathematical properties to explain things that happen throughout the universe. His theories of relativity, which were essentially mathematical formulas, revolutionized the modern world of physics. His energy mass conversion, the basis of nuclear physics and perhaps the most famous equation ever, has brought humanity as a whole into an entirely new era – the nuclear age. Through his mathematical genius, Einstein forever changed how humans live their lives and understand the universe. After living such a brilliant life, Einstein died on April 18, 1955 in America.
- (Biography.com, Kelves)
- Einstein, Albert; by Kelves, Daniel J. Pp. 144-145, The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 6, 1994 edition, ©1991 by World Book, Inc. Published by World Book, Inc., a Scott Feltzer company, in Chicago.
- Einstein, Albert; author unknown. Taken from http://www.biography.com/cgi-bin/biomain.cgi*, on October 10, 2000.
- Quotations by Author: Einstein, Albert, author unknown. Taken from http://quoteland.com/qldb/author/89 on October 11, 2000.
- Copyright (c) 1997-2000 Quoteland.com, Inc., all rights reserved unless otherwise noted
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