Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was a German-born American physicist best known for being the creator of the special and general theories of relativity and for this hypothesis concerning the particle nature of light. He is probably the most well known scientist of the 20th century.

Einstein was born in Ulm on March 14, 1879 and spent his youth in Munich, Germany. Einstein was an amazing child and didn't speak till the age of three. Despite this he even showed brilliancy as a child and understood difficult mathematical concepts. Around the age of 12, he taught himself geometry. This was an amazement to those around him.

Einstein hated school in Munich and when his family left Germany for Milan, Italy dropped out. At this time he was only 15 years old and thought this suited him the best. He spent one year in Milan with is family, and when he decided he wanted to do something on his own, he finished secondary school in Arrau, Switzerland. After this he entered the Swiss National Polytechnic in Zurich. He didn't like how they taught class there and cut class to study his own physics and play his violin. He graduated in 1900 by passing the final exam only because he studied classmates' notes. None of his teachers like him very much and would not recommend him for a position at the university.

For two year Albert Einstein worked as a tutor and substitute teacher. In 1902 he was offered and took a position as an examiner in the Swiss patent office in Bern. In 1903 he married Mileva Maric who had been a classmate of his. They had two sons and eventually divorced.

In 1905 Albert Einstein received his doctorate from the University of Zurich for a theoretical dissertation on the dimensions of molecules. That year he also published articles on the same martial, these lead to an importance in the development in 20th century physics. The first of the papers was on Brownian motion. The predictions he made were later proved true by his experiments.

The second paper that Einstein wrote was on the photoelectric effect. This contained a "revolutionary hypothesis" concerning the nature of light. Einstein not only proposed that under certain circumstances light can be considered as consisting of particles, be he also hypothesized that the energy carried by any light partical, called a photon, is proportional to the frequency of the radiation. The formula created by Einstein for this is E=hu, where E is energy of the radiation and h is the universal constant known as Planck's constant. In this case u is the frequency of the radiation. This proposal contradicted a hundred-year-old tradition of considering light energy a continuing process. Almost no one accepted Einstein's proposal. When the American physics Robert Andrews Millikan experimentally confirmed the theory almost a decade later, he was surprised by the outcome.

Einstein, whose prime concern to understand the nature of the electromagnetic radiation, subsequently urged the development of the theory that would be a fusion of the wave and the partical models light. Again, very few physicist understood or were sympathetic to these ideas.

Another one of Albert Einstein's major papers was published in 1905. It was on "The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies." This contained what would later become known as his special theory of relativity. For hundreds of years physicists were trying understand the nature of matter and radiation. They were trying to understand how these two things interacted together. The position that mechanical laws are fundamental has become known as the electromagnetic world view. This, however, doesn't have the information to explain how matter and radiation interacted.

In the springtime of 1905, after working on these problems for almost 10 years, Einstein realized that the real problem wasn't in the theory of matter, but the in a theory of measurement. At the heart of his new and special theory of relativity was the news that all measurements of time and space depended on the judgments as to weather two distant events could happen at the same time. This led him to base a theory based on two ideas: that physical laws are the same in all inertial reference systems. And the other is that the speed of light in a vacuum is a universal constant. This made him able to provide a correct description of physical events in different frames of reference without making special assumptions about matter or radiation. Not many people understood what Einstein was trying to get accross.

The reason not many people could understood what he was saying was because it had to much equations and math work in it. Also it was scientifically obscure. He believed that scientific theories are free creations of a finely tuned physical intuitions and that the basis on which they are based can't be connected with experiments. He thought that a "good theory" then was one with the least number of postulates. This, in one way, was what made it hard for others to understand his work.

Some people did believe in Einstein's work. One of the main people that supported him was a German physicist named Max Planck. Einstein kept his job at the patent office for years after he was discovering these things. In 1911 he moved to a German speaking university at Prague, and in 1912 he returned to the Swiss National Polytechnic in Zurich. Then in 1913 he was appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for physics in Berlin, Germany.

Even before left the patent office in 1907, his work was continuing on his general relativity theory to all coordinate systems. He began to think of this theory with reference points. For an example, people in a moving elevator can't decide whether the force that acts on them is caused by a gravitation or the constant acting on the elevator.

Albert Einstein's full general theory of relativity wasn't publish till late in 1916. In this theory the interaction of bodies (stars or solar systems), which had been given to gravitational forces, are explained as the influences of the bodies on space-time.

On the basis of the general theory of relativity, Einstein accounted for the variations in the orbital motion of the planets and the predicted the bending of the starlight in the vicinity of the massive body as the sun. The confirmation of this latter phenomenon during an eclipse of the sun in 1919 became a media event, and Einstein's fame spread worldwide.

For the rest of Einstein's life, he devoted a considerable time generalizing his theory even more. His last effort, the unified field theory, which was not extremely entirely successful, was an attempt to understand all physical interactions including electromagnetic interactions and weak and strong interactions. This intern, modified the geometry of space-time between interacting entities.

Most of Einstein's colleagues thought that these new efforts were misguided. Between 1915 and 1930 the mainstream of physics was in developing a new conception of the fundamental charter matter, known as quantum theory. This theory contained the feature of wave-particle duality that Einstein had earlier urged as necessary, as well as the uncertainty principle, which says that the precision in measuring process is limited. Additionally, it contained a novel rejection at a fundamental level, of the notion of strict causality. Einstein, however, would not accepted such notions and remained a critic of these developments until the end of his life. "God," Einstein once said, "does not play dice with the world."

After 1919, Einstein became internationally renewed. He accrued honors and awards, included the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921, from various world scientific societies. His visit to any part of the world became a national event; photographers and reporters followed him everywhere. While regretting his loss of privacy, Einstein capitalized on his fame to future his own political and social views.

The two social movements that received his full support were pacifism and Zionism. During World War I he was one of a handful of German academic willing to publicly decry Germany's involvement in the war. After the war his continued public support of pacifist and Zionist goals made him the target of vicious attacks by anti-Semitic and right-wing elements in Germany. Even his scientific theories were publicly ridiculed, especially the theory of relative.

When Hitler came to power, Einstein immediately decided to leave Germany for the United States. He took a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. While continuing his efforts on behalf of world Zionism, Einstein renounced his former pacifist stand in the face of the awesome threat to humankind posed by Nazis in Germany.

In 1913 Einstein collaborated with several other physicists in writing a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt, pointing out the possibility of making an atomic bomb and the likelihood that the German government was embarking on such a course. The letter, which bore only Einstein's signature, help lend urgency to efforts in the U. S. to build the atomic bomb, but Einstein himself played no role in the work and knew nothing about it at the time.

After the war, Einstein was active in the cause of international disarmament and world government. He continued his support of Zionism but declined the offer to made by leaders of the state of Israel to become president of the country. In the U. S. during the late 1940's and the early part of the 1950's he spoke out on the need for the nations intellectuals to make any sacrifice necessary to preserve political freedom. Einstein died in Princeton on April 18, 1955.

Einstein was a great man, let alone an awesome scientist. Not only did he have a major impact on the world of Physics, but on many other fields as well. He made part of the world as we know it. Without him we can not wonder what the world would be like, for we would not know.

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