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Albert Einstein
Einstein 1921 by F Schmutzer - restoration.jpg
Einstein in 1921
Born (1879-03-14)March 14, 1879
Died April 18, 1955(1955-04-18) (aged 76)
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Known for
(m. 1903; div. 1919)

(m. 1919; died 1936)
Children "Lieserl" Einstein
Hans Albert Einstein
Eduard "Tete" Einstein
Scientific career
Fields Physics, philosophy
Thesis Eine neue Bestimmung der Moleküldimensionen (A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions) (1905)
Doctoral advisor Alfred Kleiner
Other academic advisors Heinrich Friedrich Weber
Albert Einstein signature 1934.svg

Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a German-born scientist. He developed the theory of relativity. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for theoretical physics. His famous equation is E = mc^2 (E = energy, m = mass, c = speed of light).

At the beginning of his career, Einstein did not think that Newtonian mechanics was enough to bring together the laws of classical mechanics and the laws of the electromagnetic field. Between 1902 and 1909, he developed the theory of special relativity to correct that.

Einstein also thought that Isaac Newton's idea of gravity was not completely correct. So, he added gravity to his ideas about special relativity. In 1916, he published a paper on general relativity with his theory of gravitation.

Most scientists think that Einstein's theories of special and general relativity work very well, and they use those ideas and formulas in their work.

Early life

Albert Einstein at the age of three (1882)
Einstein as a child in 1882

Einstein was born in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. His family was Jewish, but was not very religious. However, later in life, Einstein became very interested in his Judaism.

Einstein did not begin speaking until he was 2 years old. According to his younger sister, Maja, "He had such difficulty with language that those around him feared he would never learn."

When Einstein was around 4 years old, his father gave him a magnetic compass. He tried hard to understand how the needle could seem to move itself so that it always pointed north. The needle was in a closed case, so clearly nothing like wind could be pushing the needle around, and yet it moved. This mystery caused Einstein to become interested in studying science and mathematics.

When he became older, he went to a school in Switzerland. After he graduated, he got a job in the patent office there. While he was working there, he wrote the papers that first made him famous as a great scientist.

Einstein married a 20-year-old Serbian woman Mileva Marić in January 1903.

In 1917, Einstein became very ill. His cousin Elsa Löwenthal nursed him back to health. After this happened, Einstein divorced Mileva on February 14, 1919, and married Elsa on June 2, 1919.


Einstein's first daughter was "Lieserl" (her real name may have been Marta). She was born in Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Austria-Hungary, on January 27, 1902. She spent her first years with her Serbian grandparents because Einstein did not want to bring her to Switzerland, where he had a job offer at the patent office. Some historians believe she died from scarlet fever.

Einstein's two sons were Hans Albert Einstein and Eduard "Tete" Einstein. Hans Albert was born in Bern, Switzerland, in May 1904. He became a professor in Berkeley (California). Eduard was born in Zürich, Switzerland, in July 1910. He died at 55 years old of a stroke in the Psychiatric University Hospital, "Burghölzli," in Zurich.

Later life

Einstein tongue
The famous image of Einstein taken by United Press photographer Arthur Sasse in 1951

In the spring of 1914, Einstein moved back to Germany and became a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and the director of a newly established Institute for Physics of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (Kaiser Wilhelm Society).

He lived in Berlin and finished the paper on the theory of general relativity in November 1915.

In 1922, he received the Nobel prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905.

He had doubts about the quantum mechanics invented by Heisenberg (1925) and Schrödinger (1926).

Einstein's landing card (5706142737)
Landing card for Einstein's 26 May 1933 arrival in Dover, England from Ostend, Belgium, enroute to Oxford

In spring 1933, Einstein and Elsa were traveling in the USA when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came to power. The new German government was violently antisemitic and passed laws barring Jews from holding any official positions, including teaching at universities. Thousands of Jewish scientists were suddenly forced to give up their university positions and their names were removed from the rolls of institutions where they were employed. A month later, Einstein's works were among those targeted by the German Student Union in the Nazi book burnings. One German magazine included him in a list of enemies of the German regime, offering a $5,000 bounty on his head.

Einstein was now without a permanent home, unsure where he would live and work, and equally worried about the fate of countless other scientists still in Germany. Aided by the Academic Assistance Council, founded in 1933 to help academics escape Nazi persecution, Einstein was able to leave Germany. He rented a house in De Haan, Belgium, where he lived for a few months. In late July 1933, he visited England for about six weeks at the invitation of the British Member of Parliament Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson, who had become friends with him in the preceding years. Locker-Lampson invited him to stay near his Cromer home in a secluded wooden cabin on Roughton Heath in the Parish of Roughton, Norfolk. To protect Einstein, Locker-Lampson had two bodyguards watch over him.

Churchill and Einstein in 1933
Winston Churchill and Einstein at Chartwell House, 31 May 1933

Locker-Lampson took Einstein to meet Winston Churchill at his home, and later, Austen Chamberlain and former Prime Minister Lloyd George. Einstein asked them to help bring Jewish scientists out of Germany. British historian Martin Gilbert notes that Churchill responded immediately, and sent his friend, physicist Frederick Lindemann, to Germany to seek out Jewish scientists and place them in British universities.

Locker-Lampson also submitted a bill to parliament to extend British citizenship to Einstein. The bill failed, however, and Einstein then accepted an earlier offer from the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey, US, to become a resident scholar. He became a United States citizen in 1940.

Before World War II, in August 1939, Einstein, at the suggestion of Leó Szilárd, sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt explaining to him that Germany was in the process of making a nuclear weapon; so Einstein recommended that the U.S. should also make one. This led to the Manhattan Project, and the U.S. became the first nation in history to create and use the atomic bomb (not on Germany but Japan). Einstein and other physicists like Richard Feynman who worked on the Manhattan project later regretted that the bomb was used on Japan.

Einstein, a Jew but not an Israeli citizen, was offered the Israeli presidency in 1952 but turned it down. He said, "I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it."

He spent much of his later life trying to find a "unified field theory" that would include his general relativity theory, Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, and perhaps a better quantum theory. He did not succeed in his lifetime. He did his research on gravitation at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey until his death on April 18, 1955, of a burst aortic aneurysm. He was still writing about quantum physics hours before he died.

Theory of special relativity

The theory of special relativity was published by Einstein in 1905, in a paper called "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies." It says that both distance measurements and time measurements change near the speed of light. This means that as you get closer to the speed of light, lengths appear to get shorter, and clocks tick more slowly.

Special relativity also relates energy with mass in Albert Einstein's E=mc2 formula.

Mass-energy equivalence

E=mc2, also called the mass-energy equivalence, is one of the things for which Einstein is most famous. It is a famous equation in physics and math that shows what happens when mass changes to energy or energy changes to mass.

The "E" in the equation stands for energy. "E" is a number that you give to objects depending on how much they can change other things. For instance, a brick hanging over an egg can put enough energy onto the egg to break it. A feather hanging over an egg does not have enough energy to hurt the egg.

Theory of general relativity

General relativity
General relativity illustrates how gravity is bending space.

The theory of general relativity was published in 1915, ten years after the theory of special relativity was created.

General relativity is a theory of space and time.

The main idea of general relativity is that space and time are two aspects of spacetime.

Spacetime is curved when there is matter, energy, and momentum resulting in what we perceive as gravity. The links between these forces are shown in the Einstein field equations.

According to the theory of general relativity, any mass causes spacetime to curve, and any other mass follows these curves. A bigger mass causes more curving. This was a new way to explain gravitation (gravity).

General relativity explains that light bends when it comes near a massive object such as the sun.


Albert Einstein Head
Albert Einstein in 1947

Many scientists only care about their work, but Einstein also spoke and wrote often about politics and world peace. He liked the ideas of socialism and of having only one government for the world.

He also worked for Zionism, the effort to try to create the new country of Israel. Einstein's family was Jewish, but Einstein never practiced this religion seriously. He liked the ideas of the Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza and also thought that Buddhism was a good religion.

Even though Einstein thought of many ideas that helped scientists understand the world much better, he disagreed with some scientific theories that other scientists liked. Einstein did not like some parts of quantum theory which he called “spooky action at a distance." He believed that all natural phenomena have explanations that do not include pure chance.


Einstein is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential scientists of all time. Best known for developing the theory of relativity, Einstein also made important contributions to quantum mechanics. His mass–energy equivalence formula has been called "the world's most famous equation". In the 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the British journal Physics World, Einstein was ranked the greatest physicist of all time.

Throughout his life, Einstein published hundreds of books and articles. He published more than 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific ones. On 5 December 2014, universities and archives announced the release of Einstein's papers, comprising more than 30,000 unique documents.

In 1916, Einstein predicted gravitational waves. Einstein's prediction was confirmed on 11 February 2016, when researchers at LIGO published the first observation of gravitational waves, detected on Earth on 14 September 2015, nearly one hundred years after the prediction.

In 1926, Einstein and his former student Leó Szilárd co-invented (and in 1930, patented) the Einstein refrigerator. This absorption refrigerator was then revolutionary for having no moving parts and using only heat as an input. On 11 November 1930, US patent 1781541 was awarded to Einstein and Leó Szilárd for the refrigerator. Their invention was not immediately put into commercial production, but the most promising of their patents were acquired by the Swedish company Electrolux.

Einstein also invented an electromagnetic pump, sound reproduction device, and several other household devices.


A unit used in photochemistry was named after Einstein. It is equal to Avogadro's number multiplied by the energy of one photon of light.

The chemical element Einsteinium is named after the scientist as well. In slang, we sometimes call a very smart person an "Einstein."

Einstein-Oslofjord (cropped)
Left-right: Heinrich Goldschmidt, Einstein, Ole Colbjørnsen, Jørgen Vogt, and Ilse Einstein at a picnic in Oslo in 1920.

Mount Einstein in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska was named in 1955.

Mount Einstein in New Zealand's Paparoa Range was named after the scientist in 1970 by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Awards and honors

Einstein received many awards and honors, and in 1922, he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect."

Albert Einstein quotes

  • "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
  • "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
  • "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious."
  • “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
  • “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
  • “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
  • “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
  • “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence."

Interesting facts about Albert Einstein

  • Albert dropped out of school at age 15, after he had mastered differential and integral calculus.
  • He renounced his German citizenship at age 16.
  • He played the violin and owned one that he named Lina.
  • Albert never learned to swim but liked to sail. He owned a boat named Tinef, which is Yiddish for “worthless.”
  • Albert married Mileva Marić, the only female student in his physics class.
  • He promised his Nobel Prize money to Mileva if she would grant him a divorce.
  • Albert’s second wife was his first cousin.
  • Albert’s son, Eduard, was institutionalized for most of his adult life after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • Albert had a habit of not wearing socks.
  • The make-up supervisor responsible for Yoda designed his eyes and wrinkles based on Einstein’s features.
  • He smoked a pipe.
  • The FBI spied on him for 22 years.
  • Albert Einstein’s brain was taken for study after his death.

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See also

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