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Albert Einstein (Альберт Ейнштейн)

Albert Einstein photographed by Oren J. Turner in 1947.

























Albert Einstein (, –, ) was a -born , who is widely regarded as the greatest of the 20th century. He proposed the and also made major contributions to the development of , , and . He was awarded the 1921 for his explanation of the in 1905 (his "") and "for his services to Theoretical Physics."

After his was formulated in November 1915, Einstein became world-famous, an unusual achievement for a scientist. In his later years, his fame exceeded that of any other scientist in . In , his name has become synonymous with great and even .

Einstein himself was deeply concerned with the social impact of scientific discoveries. His reverence for all creation, his belief in an "ultimate principle" and the grandeur, beauty, and sublimity of the universe (the primary source of inspiration in science), his awe for the scheme that is manifested in the material universe—all of these show through in his work and philosophy.


Young Einstein before the Einsteins moved from to .

Youth and college

Einstein was born on , at in , , about 100 km east of . His parents were Hermann Einstein, a featherbed salesman who later ran an works, and Pauline, whose maiden name was Koch. They were married in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. The family was (non-observant); Albert attended a and, at the insistence of his mother, was given lessons.

When Albert was five, his father showed him a pocket , and Einstein realized that something in "empty" space acted upon the needle; he would later describe the experience as one of the most revelatory of his life. Though he built and for fun, he was considered a slow learner, possibly due to , simple , or the significantly rare and unusual structure of his (examined after his death). He later credited his development of the theory of relativity to this slowness, saying that by pondering space and time later than most children, he was able to apply a more developed intellect. Some researchers have speculated that Einstein may have exhibited some traits of mild forms of , although they concede that a reliable posthumous diagnosis is impossible.

Einstein attended the where he received a relatively progressive education. He began to learn around age twelve. There is a recurring that he failed mathematics later in his education, but this is untrue; a change in the way grades were assigned caused confusion years later. Two of his uncles fostered his intellectual interests during his late childhood and early adolescence by suggesting and providing books on science, mathematics and .

In 1894, following the failure of Hermann's electrochemical business, the Einsteins moved from to (near ). During this year, Einstein's first scientific work was written (called "The Investigation of the State of in "). Albert remained behind in Munich lodgings to finish school, completing only one term before leaving the in spring 1895 to rejoin his family in Pavia. He quit without telling his parents and a year and a half prior to final examinations, Einstein convinced the school to let him go with a medical note from a friendly doctor, but this meant he had no secondary-school certificate.

Despite excelling in the mathematics and science portion, his failure of the liberal arts portion of the (ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in ) entrance exam the following year was a setback; his family sent him to , , to finish secondary school, where he received his diploma in September 1896. During this time he lodged with Professor Jost Winteler's family and became enamoured with Marie, their daughter, his first sweetheart. Albert's sister Maja was to later marry their son Paul, and his friend married their other daughter Anna. Einstein subsequently enrolled at the Eidgenцssische Technische Hochschule in October and moved to Zurich, while Marie moved to for a teaching post. The same year, he renounced his citizenship and became .

In the spring of 1896, the started initially as a medical student at the , but after a term switched to the same section as Einstein as the only woman that year to study for the same diploma. Einstein's relationship with Mileva developed into romance over the next few years.

In 1900, he was granted a teaching diploma by the Eidgenцssische Technische Hochschule () and was accepted as a Swiss citizen in 1901. He kept his Swiss passport for his whole life. During this time Einstein discussed his scientific interests with a group of close friends, including Mileva. He and Mileva had an illegitimate daughter , born in January 1902.

Work and doctorate

Einstein in 1905, when he wrote the ""

Upon graduation, Einstein could not find a teaching post, mostly because his brashness as a young man had apparently irritated most of his professors. The father of a classmate helped him obtain employment as a technical assistant at the Swiss Patent Office in 1902. There, Einstein judged the worth of ' applications for devices that required a knowledge of physics to understand — in particular he was chiefly charged to evaluate patents relating to electromagnetic devices. He also learned how to discern the essence of applications despite sometimes poor descriptions, and was taught by the director how "to express [him]self correctly". He occasionally rectified their design errors while evaluating the practicality of their work.

Einstein married on , . Einstein's marriage to Mariж, who was a mathematician, was both a personal and intellectual partnership: Einstein referred to Mileva as "a creature who is my equal and who is as strong and independent as I am". , a biographer of Einstein, claimed that Einstein depended on the distance that existed in his and Mileva's marriage in order to have the solitude necessary to accomplish his work; he required intellectual isolation. , a Soviet physicist who knew Einstein, in an obituary of Einstein, wrote, "The author of [the papers of 1905] was ... a bureaucrat at the Patent Office in Bern, Einstein-Mariж" and this has recently been taken as evidence of a collaborative relationship. However, according to Alberto A. Martнnez of the Center for Einstein Studies at Boston University, Joffe only ascribed authorship to Einstein, as he believed that it was a Swiss custom at the time to append the spouse's last name to the husband's name. Whatever the truth, the extent of her influence on Einstein's work is a highly controversial and debated question.

On , , the couple's first son, , was born. In 1903, Einstein's position at the Swiss Patent Office had been made permanent, though he was passed over for promotion until he had "fully mastered machine technology". He obtained his after submitting his thesis "A new determination of molecular dimensions" ("Eine neue Bestimmung der Molekьldimensionen") in 1905.

That same year, he wrote four articles that provided the foundation of modern physics, without much to which he could refer or many scientific colleagues with whom he could discuss the theories. Most physicists agree that three of those papers (on , the , and ) deserved . Only the paper on the photoelectric effect would be mentioned by the Nobel committee in the award. This is ironic, not only because Einstein is far better-known for relativity, but also because the photoelectric effect is a quantum phenomenon, and Einstein became somewhat disenchanted with the path would take. What makes these papers remarkable is that, in each case, Einstein boldly took an idea from theoretical physics to its logical consequences and managed to explain experimental results that had baffled scientists for decades.

and Einstein

Annus Mirabilis Papers

For more details on this topic, see .

Einstein submitted the series of papers to the "Annalen der Physik". They are commonly referred to as the "" (from , for 'year of wonders'). The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics () is commemorating the 100th year of the publication of Einstein's extensive work in 1905 as the ''.

The first paper, named "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light", ("Ьber einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtspunkt") proposed that "energy quanta" (which are essentially what we now call ) were real, and showed how they could be used to explain such phenomena as the . This paper was specifically cited for his Nobel Prize. had made the formal assumption that energy was quantized in deriving his black-body radiation law, published in 1901, but had considered this to be no more than a mathematical trick.

His second article in 1905, named "On the Motion—Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat—of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid", ("") covered his study of , and provided empirical evidence for the existence of atoms. Before this paper, were recognized as a useful concept, but and hotly debated whether atoms were real entities. Einstein's statistical discussion of atomic behavior gave a way to count atoms by looking through an ordinary . , one of the leaders of the anti-atom school, later told that he had been converted to a belief in atoms by Einstein's complete explanation of Brownian motion.

Einstein's third paper that year, "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" ("Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Kцrper"), was published in September 1905. This paper introduced the , a theory of time, distance, mass and energy which was consistent with , but omitted the force of . While developing this paper, Einstein wrote to Mileva about "our work on relative motion", and this has led some to ask whether Mileva played a part in its development.

A fourth paper, "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?", ("Ist die Trдgheit eines Kцrpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhдngig?") published late in 1905, showed one further deduction from relativity's , the famous equation that the of a body at rest (E) equals its mass (m) times the speed of light (c) squared: .

Middle years

Einstein at the 1911 .

In 1906, Einstein was promoted to technical examiner second class. In 1908, Einstein was licensed in , Switzerland, as a (unsalaried teacher at a university). Einstein's second son, , was born on , . In 1911, Einstein became first associate at the , and shortly afterwards full professor at the (German) , only to return the following year to in order to become full professor at the . At that time, he worked closely with the . In 1912, Einstein started to refer to as the (although had done this earlier, in 1895 in ).

In 1914, just before the start of , Einstein settled in as professor at the local and became a member of the . He took German citizenship. His and origins irritated German nationalists. After he became world-famous, nationalistic hatred of him grew and for the first time he was the subject of an organized campaign to discredit his theories. From 1914 to 1933, he served as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin, and it was during this time that he was awarded his and made his most groundbreaking discoveries. He was also an extraordinary professor at the from 1920 until officially 1946, where he regularly gave guest lectures.

Einstein divorced Mileva on , , and married his cousin (born Einstein: Lцwenthal was the surname of her first husband, Max) on , . Elsa was Albert's first cousin (maternally) and his second cousin (paternally). She was three years older than Albert, and had nursed him to health after he had suffered a partial nervous breakdown combined with a severe stomach ailment; there were no children from this marriage. The fate of Albert and Mileva's first child, Lieserl, is unknown. Some believe she died in infancy, while others believe she was given out for adoption. They later had two sons: Eduard and Hans Albert. Eduard intended to practice as a but was institutionalized for and died in an asylum. , his older brother, became a professor of at the , having little interaction with his father.

"Einstein theory triumphs," declared the on November 10, 1919.

General relativity

In November 1915, Einstein presented a series of lectures before the Prussian Academy of Sciences in which he described his theory of . The final lecture climaxed with his introduction of an equation that replaced Newton's law of gravity. This theory considered all observers to be equivalent, not only those moving at a uniform speed. In general relativity, gravity is no longer a force (as it is in Newton's law of gravity) but is a consequence of the curvature of .

The theory provided the foundation for the study of and gave scientists the tools for understanding many features of the universe that were discovered well after Einstein's death. A truly revolutionary theory, general relativity has so far passed every test posed to it and has become a powerful tool used in the analysis of many subjects in physics.

Initially, scientists were skeptical because the theory was derived by mathematical reasoning and rational analysis, not by experiment or observation. But in 1919, predictions made using the theory were confirmed by 's measurements (during a ), of how much the light emanating from a star was by the 's gravity when it passed close to the Sun, an effect called gravitational lensing. The observations were carried out on , , at two locations, one in , , and another in the island of , in the west coast of . On , reported the confirmation, cementing Einstein's fame.

Many scientists were still unconvinced for various reasons ranging from disagreement with Einstein's interpretation of the experiments, to not being able to tolerate the absence of an absolute frame of reference. In Einstein's view, many of them simply could not understand the mathematics involved. Einstein's public fame which followed the 1919 article created resentment among these scientists some of which lasted well into the 1930s.

In the early 1920s Einstein was the lead figure in a famous weekly physics colloquium at the University of Berlin. On , , Einstein went to to give a lecture on his new Theory of Relativity, the same year he was awarded the Nobel Prize. Though he is now most famous for his work on relativity, it was for his earlier work on the that he was given the Prize, as his work on general relativity was still disputed. The Nobel committee decided that citing his less-contested theory in the Prize would gain more acceptance from the scientific community.

The "Copenhagen" interpretation

Einstein and sparred over during the 1920s.

Einstein's relationship with was quite remarkable. He was the first to say that quantum theory was revolutionary. His postulation that light can be described not only as a wave with no kinetic energy, but also as massless discrete packets of energy called quanta with measurable kinetic energy (now known as photons) marked a landmark break with the classical physics. In 1909 Einstein presented his first paper on the quantification of light to a gathering of physicists and told them that they must find some way to understand waves and particles together.

In the mid-1920s, as the original quantum theory was replaced with a new theory of , Einstein balked at the of the new equations because it settled for a probabilistic, non-visualizable account of physical behaviour. Einstein agreed that the theory was the best available, but he looked for a more "complete" explanation, i.e., more . He could not abandon the belief that physics described the laws that govern "real things", the belief which had led to his successes with atoms, photons, and gravity.

In a 1926 letter to , Einstein made a remark that is now famous:

Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.

To this, , who sparred with Einstein on quantum theory, retorted, "Stop telling God what He must do!" The on foundational aspects of quantum mechanics happened during the .

Einstein was not rejecting probabilistic theories per se. Einstein himself was a great statistician, using statistical analysis in his works on Brownian motion and photoelectricity and in papers published before the miraculous year 1905; Einstein had even discovered . He believed, however, that at the core reality behaved . Many physicists argue that experimental evidence contradicting this belief was found much later with the discovery of and . Nonetheless, there is still space for lively discussions about the .

Bose-Einstein statistics

In 1924, Einstein received a short paper from a young physicist named describing light as a gas of photons and asking for Einstein's assistance in publication. Einstein realized that the same statistics could be applied to atoms, and published an article in (then the of physics) which described Bose's model and explained its implications. now describe any assembly of these known as . The phenomenon was predicted in the 1920s by Bose and Einstein, based on Bose's work on the statistical mechanics of photons, which was then formalized and generalized by Einstein. The first such condensate was produced by and in 1995 at the . Einstein's original sketches on this theory were recovered in August 2005 in the library of (see website with original manuscript: ).

Einstein also assisted in the development of the , a mixed classical and quantum mechanical gas model although he realized that this was less significant than the Bose-Einstein model and declined to have his name included on the paper.

The Einstein refrigerator

Einstein and 's refrigerator patent diagram.

Einstein and former student co-invented a unique type of (usually called the ) in 1926. On , , was awarded to Albert Einstein and Leу Szilбrd. The patent covered a thermodynamic refrigeration cycle providing cooling with no moving parts, at a constant , with only as an input. The refrigeration cycle used , , and .

World War II

After came to power in 1933, expressions of hatred for Einstein reached new levels. He was accused by the regime of creating "Jewish physics" in contrast with —"German" or "Aryan physics". Nazi physicists (notably including the Nobel laureates and ) continued the attempts to discredit his theories and to blacklist politically those German physicists who taught them (such as ). Einstein renounced his German citizenship and fled to the , where he was given permanent residency. He accepted a position at the newly founded in , . He became an American citizen in 1940, though he still retained Swiss citizenship.

In 1939, under the encouragement of Szilбrd, Einstein to President urging the study of for military purposes, under fears that the Nazi government would be first to develop . Roosevelt started a small investigation into the matter which eventually became the massive .

ed. For more information, see the section below on Einstein's .

Institute for Advanced Study

His work at the Institute for Advanced Study focused on the unification of the , which he referred to as the . He attempted to construct a model which would describe all of the as different manifestations of a single force. His attempt was hindered because the and were not understood independently until around 1970, fifteen years after Einstein's death. Einstein's goal of unifying the laws of physics under a single model survives in the current drive for unification of the forces, embodied most notably by .

Generalized theory

Einstein began to form a with the Universal Law of Gravitation and the electromagnetic force in his first attempt to demonstrate the unification and simplification of the fundamental forces. In 1950 he described his work in a article. Einstein was guided by a belief in a single statistical measure of variance for the entire set of physical laws.

Einstein's Generalized Theory of Gravitation is a universal mathematical approach to field theory. He investigated reducing the different phenomena by the process of logic to something already known or evident. Einstein tried to unify gravity and electromagnetism in a way that also led to a new subtle understanding of quantum mechanics.

Einstein postulated a four-dimensional space-time continuum expressed in axioms represented by five component vectors. Particles appear in his research as a limited region in space in which the field strength or the energy density are particularly high. Einstein treated subatomic particles as objects embedded in the unified field, influencing it and existing as an essential constituent of the unified field but not of it. Einstein also investigated a natural generalization of symmetrical tensor fields, treating the combination of two parts of the field as being a natural procedure of the total field and not the symmetrical and antisymmetrical parts separately. He researched a way to delineate the equations and systems to be derived from a .

Einstein became increasingly isolated in his research on a generalised theory of gravitation and was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempts.

Einstein's two-story house, white frame with front porch in style, in (112 Mercer Street).

Final years

In 1948, Einstein served on the original committee which resulted in the founding of . A portrait of Einstein was taken by on of that same year. In 1952, the government proposed to Einstein that he take the post of second president. He declined the offer, and remains the only United States citizen ever to be offered a position as a foreign head of state. On , , Einstein released a revised unified .

He died at 1:15 AM in Princeton hospital in , on , , leaving the Generalized Theory of Gravitation unsolved. The only person present at his deathbed, a hospital nurse, said that just before his death he mumbled several words in that she did not understand. He was without ceremony on the same day he died at , in accordance with his wishes. His ashes were scattered at an undisclosed location.

His was preserved by Dr. , the pathologist who performed the on Einstein. Harvey found nothing unusual with his brain, but in 1999 further analysis by a team at revealed that his parietal region was missing and, to compensate, his inferior was 15% wider than normal . The inferior parietal region is responsible for mathematical thought, visuospatial cognition, and imagery of movement. Einstein's brain also contained 73% more than the average brain.


Albert Einstein was much respected for his kind and friendly demeanor rooted in his . He was modest about his abilities, and had distinctive attitudes and fashions—for example, he minimized his wardrobe so that he would not need to waste time in deciding on what to wear. He occasionally had a playful sense of humor, and enjoyed and playing the . He was also the stereotypical ""; he was often forgetful of everyday items, such as keys, and would focus so intently on solving physics problems that he would often become oblivious to his surroundings. In his later years, his appearance inadvertently created (or reflected) another stereotype of scientist in the process: the researcher with unruly white hair.

Religious views

Although he was raised , he was not a believer in the religious aspect of , though he still considered himself a Jew. He simply admired the beauty of nature and the universe. From a letter written in , dated , , Einstein wrote, "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

He also said (in an essay reprinted in Living Philosophies, vol. 13 (1931)): "A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and this [sense] alone, I am a deeply religious man."

The following is a response made to of the in which read, "I believe in who reveals himself in the

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