20th Century Genius - Albert Einstein

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Albert Einstein is an icon in the field of science and regarded as the most important and influential scientist of the twentieth century. Einstein gained notoriety for his Annus Mirabilis papers, his theory of relativity and receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics. His brilliant discoveries affected the way the world and the universe are perceived. Furthermore, he won over the common people even though he spoke the complicated language of mathematics. Synopsis of Einstein’s life and times

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Wurttemberg, Germany (Belanger, 2006). The family moved to Munich shortly after Albert’s birth. Einstein was surrounded by a family of intellectuals. Hermann Einstein, his father, was an electrician. Hermann and his brother Jakob established Einstein and Cie., an electrical engineering company. Hermann showed his son a magnetic compass which fascinated the four or five year old Einstein. At an early age, Einstein was convinced that there had to be “something behind things, something deeply hidden” (Bellis, 2007). Einstein’s uncle, Caesar Koch, also an engineer, had a profound influence upon the young Einstein. Koch revealed the fascinating side of mathematics to Einstein.

Controversy lies in whether Einstein was developmentally disabled; however, it is more likely that Einstein may have suffered from dyslexia or Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism (Berlanger, 2006). Einstein learned to speak late and was a slow talker; however, he was anything but a slow learner. Einstein excelled far above his classmates at mathematics, but struggled in other subjects. He wrote his first scientific paper when he was a teenager.

In 1894, Einstein applied for admission to the Swiss Federal Institute Technology (Eidgenoessische Polytechnische Schule or ETH) in Zurich, but failed the entrance examination. The rector recommended Einstein attend the Kantonsschule in the town of Aarau to further his education. In 1897, he was accepted to the Swiss Federal Institute Technology and earned his teaching certificate in mathematics and physics in 1900. Einstein applied for a post at ETH and other universities. Every request was denied. He obtained temporary employment as a technical expert at the Bern patent office. Einstein also gave private lessons in physics and mathematics.

In 1903, Einstein married a fellow student, Mileva Maric. Together, Einstein and Mileva pontificated about a plethora of theorems. It has been noted that she was helpful to him while he worked on his theories. The couple had three children. Lieserl, their oldest child, was born out of wedlock, which was discovered when private letters mentioning the child were published. Lieserl was put up for adoption in Hungary. Mileva and Einstein divorced in 1919. Four months after the divorce Einstein married Elsa Loewenthal who was a cousin to Einstein. The couple was together until her death in 1951. A survey of Einstein’s ideas

In 1905 Einstein submitted a series of articles titled Annus Mirabilis meaning “Extraordinary year” or “Miracle Year” (Kuppler, 2007). These works gained him recognition as readers marveled at Einstein’s brilliance. The first, On a Heuristic point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light, Einstein discussed the photoelectric effect that states electromagnetic radio must consist of quantums. This article was the foundation of the quantum theory for which Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. The second article, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, discussed the concept of space and time and the principle of relativity. In September of that same year, he added to the article, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon its Energy Content? which explained the famous formula E = mc². This formula introduced the equivalence between energy and matter. The formula explains that a given mass (m) is associated with a quantity of energy (E) that equals the product of the mass and the square of the...
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