Albert Einstein- The 20th Century Science Hero
Albert Einstein is considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century. He is known for developing the theories of relativity. He is also noted for his mathematical formula of E = mc² (David Bodanis). Although he was not directly involved in the Manhattan Project, which was responsible for creating the atomic bomb, but he is still considered the mastermind because of his breakthrough formula. In 1921, he won the Nobel Prize for physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect (A. Calaprice & T. Lipscombe).
The Einstein’s were a secular, middle class Jewish family. Albert’s father Hermann Einstein was a salesman and an engineer who owned a company that manufactured electrical equipment and his mother Pauline Koch was a house wife. They were living in Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, when Albert was born on March 14, 1879 (Whittaker). In 1894, Hermann Einstein’s company failed to get an important contract to electrify the city of Munich and he was forced to move his family to Milan, Italy. Albert was left at a boarding house in Munich to finish his education (A. Calaprice & T. Lipscombe). It was at this location, that Albert began elementary school at the Luitpold Gymnasium, where he excelled in his studies. He enjoyed classical music and played the violin. However, he was not fond of formal education and made it his business to teach himself math and science (Whittaker). One of the books Albert was intrigued with was a children’s science book in which the author imagined riding alongside electricity that was traveling inside a telegraph wire. Einstein began to wonder what a light beam would look like if you could run alongside it at the same speed. If light were a wave, then the light beam should appear stationary, like a frozen wave. Yet, in reality, the light beam is moving. This paradox led him to write his first "scientific paper" at age 16, (Whittaker). "The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields." This question of the relative speed to the stationary observer and the observer moving with the light was a question that would dominate his thinking for the next 10 years (A. Calaprice & T. Lipscombe).
While his parent remained in Italy, Albert continued his education at Aarau, Switzerland. In 1896 Einstein attended the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics (Whittaker). Five years later, he earned his diploma, and acquired Swiss citizenship. Also at this time he was unable to find a teaching post, so he accepted a technical assistant position in the Swiss Patent Office. In 1905 he obtained his doctor's degree (A. Calaprice & T. Lipscombe).
During his stay at the Patent Office, Einstein had a lot of down time. This is noteworthy because it was in this spare time, that he produced much of his remarkable work. Some of these great accomplishments included being appointed Privatdozent in Berne, becoming Professor Extraordinaire at Zurich, also Professor of Theoretical Physics in Prague, and returning to Zurich in the following year to fill a similar post (Whittaker). In 1914 he was appointed Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute and Professor in the University of Berlin. Einstein's accomplishments were on the rise and became very important works which include the Special Theory of Relativity (1905), Relativity (English translations, 1920 and 1950), General Theory of Relativity (1916), Investigations on Theory of Brownian Movement (1926), and The Evolution of Physics (1938). Among his non-scientific works, About Zionism (1930), Why War? (1933), My Philosophy (1934), and Out of My Later Years (1950) are perhaps the most important (A. Calaprice & T. Lipscombe).
Albert Einstein received honorary doctorate degrees in science, medicine and philosophy from many European and American universities. During the 1920's he lectured in Europe, America and the Far East...
Bibliography: • Nobelprize.org. 15 May 2013 http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1921/einstein-bio.html
• Whittaker, E. (1955). "Albert Einstein. 1879-1955". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 1: 37–67. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1955.0005. JSTOR 769242
• David Bodanis, E = mc² : A Biography of the World 's Most Famous Equation (New York: Walker, 2000).
• M. Talmey, The Relativity Theory Simplified and the Formative Period of its Inventor. Falcon Press, 1932, pp. 161–164.
• A. Calaprice & T. Lipscombe, Albert Einstein: A Biography, 2005, pp. 22–23.
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