Albert Einstein passed away on April 18, 1955, at the age of 76 years. He was the most influential physicist of all time. To remember him adequately, well talk about his life in this article, from just a little boy & clerk to the time he changed physics as we know it and his eventual death.
Albert Einstein, son of Hermann Einstein (His father), a salesman and engineer, and Pauline Einstein (His mother), was born on March 14th in Ulm, Germany. Not long after his birth, his family moved to Munich, where young Albert Einstein, learned how to play the violin and the piano (due to his mother’s background). Music was so important to him he once said “If I were not a physicist, I would be a musician. I often think in music, I live my daydreams in music, I see my life in terms of music… I get the most joy in life out of music”.
Albert Einstein spent his teenage years in Munich, having decent grades, but by no means outstanding. He did have, however, remarkable success in mathematics. He enjoyed it so much his father got him a tutor to teach him. In less than a year, though, “his genius was so high I could not follow”, as was later said by the tutor. It’s thought that by the age of 14 Albert Einstein had already mastered integral and differential calculus.
Italy and University
His devotion to the sciences was noted in his admission tests at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic, in Zurich, Switzerland (his family had moved to Milan, Italy, a city relatively close to Zurich, due to financial problems).
He had the highest grades in math and physics but failed in everything else. He spent the following year learning his lacking knowledge in these disciplines, under the guard of Jost Winteler, a professor at the University, and his family. During this year he also met with his first love, Marie Winteler (his professor’s daughter), and renounce German citizenship, to skip compulsory military training.
In the next year, he passed his university exams, although barely passing in Greek and Latin. Here he meets his future first wife, Mileva Maric, the only girl in his class, and one of its top students. Also, in university Einstein rarely frequented classes, preferring to learn the subjects alone in his room. This caused his teachers to alienate him, and it made it very difficult for Einstein to find a job as a professor when he got out of University.
Due to this difficulty caused by his teachers he went on working as a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office for Intellectual Property in 1901. It was common for Einstein to work on physics, such as writing his thesis for his doctorate, while working at the desk.
In 1905 he finished his thesis and received his PhD. from the Zurich University. During this year he also published 4 articles. The subjects of each article were –
- Photoelectric effect (He would later receive a Nobel Prize in 1921 for this)
- Brownian motion
- Special Relativity
- Equivalence of mass and energy (In this article/research paper, he would first write E=mc2, which laid the groundwork for nuclear physics)
It was the 4th article that made him famous, and he was recognized by Max Planck, known as the father of quantum physics, as a pioneer. From this point on Einstein started receiving dozens of lecture requests, along with teaching positions. During the following years, he worked at various places, such as Austria, Zurich, his alma mater, and Berlin, staying in Berlin from 1914 to 1933.
- 7 Greatest Life Lessons From Albert Einstein
- The Sad Story of Former ISRO Scientist – Nambi Narayanan
Time in Berlin
During his time in Berlin, though, lots of things happened. Einstein started an extra-marital relationship with his first cousin, Elsa Lowenthal, which would result in family problems with his current wife, Mileva. Albert Einstein wasn’t already a family man (he rarely spent time with any of his 3 kids, or his wife, for that matter) and these problems culminated in their divorce in 1919. In the same year, Einstein married his cousin, Elsa.
The year 1919 brought even more news though. Einstein’s general relativity (This theory explained that gravity between masses results from their warping of space-time), which Einstein finished in 1916, proved this year during a solar eclipse. You see, according to GR, the light would also be affected by gravity (because of E=mc2), meaning you would be able to see objects that were behind the sun, during a solar eclipse. Two years later he received a Nobel Prize for the photoelectric effect because GR and SR weren’t still completely recognized by the scientific community.
In 1933, when Hitler won the elections in Germany, Albert Einstein went to the USA, bringing along the way a thousand new scientists, to avoid their persecution by the Nazis.
USA and WWII
In the USA, Albert Einstein was appointed as professor of physics at Princeton University, one of the most regarded schools in the world. Here Einstein worked on finding a way to conciliate GR with quantum mechanics, creating a theory of everything, but his quest reached a dead end.
In 1939 he was key for the creation of Project Manhattan, which resulted in the creation of atomic bombs. When two small scientists found what they thought could be a way of constructing an atomic bomb, Albert Einstein signed a petition to call President Roosevelt’s attention. Einstein wasn’t appointed for the project because of public opinion (he was German you see).
In his last months, Albert Einstein deeply regrets this action, saying “I made one great mistake in my life (…) when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made.”
Einstein eventually passed away in 1955 due to a kidney problem. When the option of operation was recommended, he said “I want to go when I want (…) I have done my share; It’s time to go. I’ll do it elegantly”. His last words aren’t known, because they were in German, and the nurse that was present at the time was American.
A cool series about Einstein’s life: Genius (By National Geographic) – Watch