Albert Einstein


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Albert Einstein (1879 Germany -1955 USA)

Einstein was a notorious underachiever as a child. At the age of 16 he failed the entrance examination which would have allowed him to study for a diploma as an electrical engineer at the Technische Hochschule in Zurich. Following this setback, he continued his studies at the secondary school in Aarau. Things were not going all that well, and the teachers were not impressed by young Einstein; he himself knew of his limitations, but was also sure of his interests. Here is what he wrote in an essay which he submitted during this period:

I imagine myself becoming a teacher in those branches of the natural sciences, choosing the theoretical part of them. Here are the reasons which lead me to this plan. Above all, it is my disposition for abstract and mathematical thought, and my lack of imagination and practical ability.

In 1900 Einstein succeeded in his plan, and graduated as a teacher of mathematics and physics. He had few jobs as a teacher, and then in 1902 got a job in a patent office in Bern, a position that he was to keep until 1909. It was there, that Einstein first got ideas about his theory of relativity, and there that he wrote a first paper on it. While at Bern, Einstein also completed his doctoral thesis. In 1905 he wrote a paper on, what is now called, The Special Theory of Relativity. Two main things were the basis of this paper:

  1. he reinterpreted the classical principle of relativity - an assumption that the laws of physics have the same form in any frame of reference
  2. he posed a hypothesis that the speed of light remained constant in all frames of reference.

By the end of his stay in Bern, Einstein was a renowned scientist and was lecturing at Zurich and Bern. In 1911 he was appointed a full professor at the Karl-Ferdinand University of Prague. During this very same time he was making preliminary predictions about how a ray of light from a distant star, passing near the Sun, would appear to be slightly bent in Sun's direction.

In the same decade Einstein returned to Germany, and was holding a research position at the Prussian Academy of Sciences, a chair at the University of Berlin, and a directorship of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics in Berlin. In 1915 he published the definitive version of his General Theory of Relativity.

Later in life he went to USA, and worked at the Princeton University until his death. In 1952 he was even offered a job of a prime minister of Israel, which he refused. He died in 1955.  



Want to see Einstein when he was a boy? Click here.

Some famous mathematicians when they were children appear in an on-line gallery here.

Find more about Einstein's good friend Gödel here.


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