Sir Issac Newton
Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientists of all time. He was born in Germany but obtained American citizenship. He is best known for his theory of relativity and his hypothesis about the particle nature of light. His major works include 3 papers he published in 1905 that were extremely important to the development of physics and Western thought. He eventually became the most well-known scientist of the 20th century.
Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879. He spent most of his youth in Munich at his families small electric machinery shop. He could not talk until he was three years old but that did not hinder his learning, by the age of 12 he had taught himself Euclidean geometry.
Einstein at first hated school in Munich, he thought it was dull. When the family business went bankrupt they moved from Germany to Milan Italy. It was there that he gave up school at the age of 15. He spent a year with his parents but soon tired of that and decided to finish school in Arrau, Switzerland. After his graduation he enrolled in the Swiss National Polytechnic in Zürich, Switzerland. He did not like how the classes were taught so he would often skip class. He wasn't lazy though, during the times that he wasn't in class he would study physics on his own or play his violin. He was so bright that he passed his examinations to graduate in 1900 by studying the notes of one of his friends.
The two years after school he worked as a tutor and substitute teacher at various places. In 1902 he went to work at the Swiss patent office in Bern. In 1903 he married Mileva Maric. They had two sons but eventually divorced. Einstein later remarried.
|"Imagination is more
important than knowledge."
- Albert Einstein
By 1919, Einstein had become famous internationally. He received many awards and honors, including the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921. Whenever he went anywhere it became an almost national event. He was followed everywhere by photographers and reporters. Instead of withdrawing from society completely like so many he used his popularity to promote his social views.
Einstein promoted both pacifism and zionism. During World War I he condoned Germany's involvement in the war. In Germany he was publicly rejected and his scientific theories were discounted by many simply because of his pacifism.
After Hitler came to power Einstein left for the United States and took a position teaching at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. During the interim between the 1st and 2nd World Wars Einstein decided to reject his ideas of pacifism because of what he called "the awesome threat to humankind posed by the Nazi regime". After his conversion from pacifism Einstein worked with several other physicists to write a letter to President Roosevelt telling him of the possibilities of an atomic bomb. The letter was signed only by Einstein but Einstein himself did not work to build or design the atomic bomb and for a long time didn't know that a project to build one was under way.
After the war Einstein supported international disarmament and one world government causes. He continued to support Zionism though he declined the offer made by Israel's leaders of the state to become president of that country. Many people thought that Einstein should stick to science and that his social causes and views were unrealistic. People never really believed in Einstein's social causes even after his death.
Einstein died in Princeton on April 18, 1955.
©Copyright 1998 Elizabeth
Beckett, Holly Bernitt, and Vishwa Chandra.