Of all the scientists to emerge from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there is one whose name is known by almost all living people. While most of these do not understand this man's work, everyone knows that its impact on the world of science is astonishing. Yes, many have heard of Albert Einstein's General Theory of relativity, but few know about the intriguing life that led this scientist to discover what some have called, "The greatest single achievement of human thought."
Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1874. Before his first birthday, his family had moved to Munich where young Albert's father, Hermann Einstein, and uncle set up a small electro-chemical business. He was fortunate to have an excellent family with which he held a strong relationship. Albert's mother, Pauline Einstein, had an intense passion for music and literature, and it was she that first introduced her son to the violin in which he found much joy and relaxation. Also, he was very close with his younger sister, Maja, and they could often be found in the lakes that were scattered about the countryside near Munich.
As a child, Einstein's sense of curiosity had already begun to stir. A favorite toy of his was his father's compass, and he often marvelled at his uncle's explanations of algebra. Although young Albert was intrigued by certain mysteries of science, he was considered a slow learner. His failure to become fluent in German until the age of nine even led some teachers to believe he was disabled.
Einstein's post-basic education began at the Luitpold Gymnasium when he was ten. It was here that he first encountered the German spirit through the school's strict disciplinary policy. His disapproval of this method of teaching led to his reputation as a rebel. It was probably these differences that caused Einstein to search for knowledge at home. He began not with science, but with religion. He avidly studied the Bible seeking truth, but this religious fervor soon died down when he discovered the intrigue of science and math. To him, these seemed much more realistic than ancient stories. With this new knowledge he disliked class even more, and was eventually expelled from Luitpold Gymnasium being considered a disruptive influence.
Feeling that he could no longer deal with the German mentality, Einstein moved to Switzerland where he continued his education. At sixteen he attempted to enroll at the Federal Institute of Technology but failed the entrance exam. This forced him to study locally for one year until he finally passed the school's evaluation. The Institute allowed Einstein to meet many other students that shared his curiosity, and It was here that his studies turned mainly to Physics. He quickly learned that while physicists had generally agreed on major principals in the past, there were modern scientists who were attempting to disprove outdated theories. Since most of Einstein's teachers ignored these new ideas, he was again forced to explore on his own. In 1900 he graduated from the Institute and then achieved citizenship to Switzerland.
Einstein became a clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in 1902. This job had little to do with physics, but he was able to satiate his curiosity by figuring out how new inventions worked. The most important part of Einstein's occupation was that it allowed him enough time to pursue his own line of research. As his ideas began to develop, he published them in specialist journals. Though he was still unknown to the scientific world, he began to attract a large circle of friends and admirers. A group of students that he tutored quickly transformed into a social club that shared a love of nature, music, and of course, science. In 1903 he married Mileva Meric, a mathematician friend.
In 1905, Einstein published five separate papers in a journal, the Annals of Physics. The first was immediately acknowledged, and the University...