Albert Einstein’s Life and Contributions to Science
Albert Einstein is one of the most well known scientists, physicists,
and thinkers of all time. Many people regard him as a genius. His
intelligence can be explained by his childhood, but can be proved by his
contributions to the field of physics.
Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Wrttemberg, Germany. He
was raised by his father, Hermann, and his mother, Paulina Koch, as a
Jewish child. His good family background is what many people believe to be
the main reason for Einstein’s intellectual gigantism.
His family was not perfect, however. His family moved many times due
to his father’s failed business adventures. As a child, Einstein was slow
to learn to speak; this worried his parents a great deal. These fears were
diminished when his parents noticed their child’s success in solving many
puzzles. He also built many things with blocks at that young age, and when
he got older, he was building enormous mansions out of playing cards.
When Einstein was asked what first impressed and stimulated his mind,
he told them that his father had showed him a compass at the age of five.
Young Albert was intrigued by how the needle always pointed in the same
direction, no matter how the compass was turned. Einstein later said he
felt “something deeply hidden had to be behind things.”
When Albert was old enough, he attended an elementary school in
Aarau, and later moved on to a secondary school in Munich. He absolutely
hated the high school he later went to in Munich. He felt that the
mindless drilling in academic high schools was useless, so he quit at age
fifteen nearing the end of the mid-term. He much preferred to study at
home, especially geometry and books on popular science. Later on, these
studies came into conflict with his deep religious feelings when he
realized that the Bible could not be literally true. To that shocking
revelation, he created his lifelong distrust of authority. This led to the
ease with which he was able to discard long-standing scientific prejudices.
He also did this so he could join his parents who were living in Italy at
Einstein didn’t attend college. Instead, he went to the Swiss
Polytechnic Institute in Zurich in order to study mathematics and physics.
After graduation in 1900, he became an examiner at the Swiss Patent Office.
This job gave Einstein a lot of free time, during which he performed
scientific experiments. These experiments led to the Papers of 1905. The
Papers of 1905 were three papers written by Einstein to a German scientific
periodical called Annals of Physics.
The first paper was the Quantum Theory, which was basically about
quanta and the flow of light. This explained how intense light could
release electrons from metal. For this paper, Einstein received the Nobel
Prize in Physics in 1921. The second paper was Einstein’s Special Theory
of Relativity. This is the most famous of Albert Einstein’s works. The
theory of relativity revolutionized scientific thought with new ideas of
time, space, mass, motion, and gravitation. It treated matter and energy
as exchangeable, not distinct and also laid the basis of nuclear energy
(E=mc). The third of these papers was about Brownian Motion. This paper
confirmed the Atomic Theory of matter. In 1915, Einstein announced the
development of the General Theory of Relativity, called the Unified Field
Theory, which was based on his special theory. Einstein failed to establish
this theory, though he spent the last 25 years of his life working on it.
As previously stated, Einstein’s paper on relativity was the basis of
nuclear energy. This led to the creation of atomic weapons. On August 2,
1929, Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that
explained the possibility of an atomic bomb and that Nazi Germany was
already trying to create one. This letter brought about the Manhattan
Project, which created the first nuclear weapon.
From this point on, Einstein made few contributions to the fields of
math, science, and physics; and when he did, they weren’t as big or
important as the others were. Information on these is hard to find, since
most biographies and articles about Einstein focus on the Papers of 1905.
However, in 1952, Einstein was actually offered the Presidency of Israel.
He declined this position though, saying that he wasn’t “fitted” for the
role. He then died nearly three years later on April 15, 1955.