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Albert Einstein

Updated on March 14, 2017

A Genius Ahead Of His Time

Albert Einstein was a German born theoretical physicist of Jewish descent, best known for his revolutionary theories of the Special and General Theories of Relativity (the nature of time and space), the most important contribution to theoretical physics since Newton.

His work greatly advanced Man's knowledge of the universe.

His Work

Einstein's Equation

Einstein equation was an equation expressing the relation of mass and energy; E = MC2.

E = the energy in ergs

M = the mass in grams

C = the velocity of light in centimeters per secondIn the annals of science, Einstein now ranks alongside such names as Galileo and Newton because of his achievements in widening Man's view of the universe. His most important theories were propounded at the age of 26 when he published three scientific papers.

The first paper advanced a possible explanation of the photoelectric effect, as utilized in the photoelectric cell, stating that packets of light energy falling on certain metals cause them to release electrons, which constitute an electric current. This idea neatly correlated with Max Planck's quantum theory, and the research that followed resulted in the development of television cameras and receivers, automatic devices, 'electric eyes' and photographic exposure meters.

Einstein's second paper dealt with Brownian movement, the vibrating motion of particles in liquid. He analyzed this phenomenon mathematically, leading to the possible measurement of the dimensions of molecules.

The third paper was devoted to Einstein's 'special theory of relativity', in which he postulated a space-time continuum in which the velocity of light remains constant, but the concepts of space and time are always relative to the observer. This theory was extended to describe the relationship between mass and energy, whereby energy (E) is equivalent to the product of mass (m) and the square of the speed of light (c); so E = mc2. The consequences of this theory were profound. The development if nuclear reactions provided proof of the E=mc2 relationship, just as later observations during an eclipse were to substantiate his 'general theory of relativity', published in 1915; in this theory, he held that gravity and inertia are equivalent.

Einstein spent the last three years of his life trying to develop a 'unified field theory', in which he could combine the concepts of electromagnetic and gravitational fields, interrelating all the forces in the universe. When his final formula were published in 1956, it was found that they could not be verified. However, he had gone a long way towards uncovering the universal laws that many scientists believe order the existence of nature.

There were many other avenues that Einstein explored during his life. He was a confirmed pacifist, an advocate of social justice and a campaigner for changes in systems of education. Throughout his life, he supported efforts by the Jews to establish their own nation; in 1952, he declined an invitation to become president of Israel after Chaim Weizmann. Having warned the United States of Germany's nuclear aspirations in 1939, he campaigned from then onwards for total world disarmament.

By 1909, while he was still employed as a patent examiner, his work had achieved such recognition in scientific circles that he was offered posts at several universities. After teaching successively at the University of Zurich, the German University of Prague, the Technische Hochscule in Zurich and the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, he was appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics in Berlin in 1913, and the next year was elected a member of the Prussian Academy of Science and provided with a yearly stipend so the he might devote himself exclusively to research.

He refused, however, to resume German citizenship at the time and retained his Swiss nationality until after the establishment of the Weimar Republic in 1919.

In 1921 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the photoelectric effect and he received a number of other awards including the Copley Medal of the Royal Society (1925), the Gold Medal of of the Royal Astronomical Society (1926) and the Franklin Institute Gold Medal (1935).

When the German dictator Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Einstein was in Belgium on a lecture tour. Because he was Jewish and because of his outspoken stand against National Socialism, the German government instituted many reprisals against him in his absence.

He was expelled from the Prussian Academy of Science, his citizenship revoked, his property confiscated, and a price was set upon his head.

Many nations offered Einstein refuge. After spending a few months in seclusion in England, he went to the United States.

He became a naturalized American citizen in 1940.

He was appointed a life member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, N.J. He served as a professor of theoretical physics and head of the mathematics department until 1945, when he became professor emeritus.

Einstein was an ardent supporter of the effort to establish a homeland for the Jewish people and in 1952 was invited by the Israeli government to succeed the Russian born chemist and Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann as president of Israel, but he declined.

What do you think of Einstein?

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    • UdeyJohnson profile image

      UdeyJohnson 

      6 years ago

      To those who would truly like to understand E=mc2 I suggest the book "E=MC2; the biography of the world's most famous equation" by David Bodanis. After finishing it (the 2nd time ( ; ) I can now actually explain how an Atomic bomb works. It's pretty awesome actually.Interesting lens. Danka.

    • profile image

      Edutopia 

      6 years ago

      Einstein was a genius of the highest order. Unfortunately since he lived so close to modern times we have detailed records of his lectures and postulations throughout his career and his mind succumbed to the trappings of aging minds the world over: resolute resistance to change and dogged determination that he was right and damn the evidence. This should no way diminish his accomplishments however.

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 

      7 years ago from Benson, IL

      Those Nazis would've killed one of the best minds of the 20th century. Good on America for accepting him.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      While some of his findings continue to be challenged, he made such a splash in mathematics and physics that he continues to be one of the most well-known scientists of all time. I give gratitude for using his influence to promote peace. Did you know he admired Marilyn Monroe?

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 

      7 years ago

      He was definitely one of the finest minds of the 20th century.

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