Albert Einstein Page By: Madilyn Elder

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Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist, best known for his Special and General Theory of Relativity and the concept of mass-energy equivalence expressed by the famous equation, E = mc2. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the "photoelectric effect” and he made some essential contributions to the early development of quantum theory. He was named "Person of the Century" by Time magazine in 1999, the fourth most admired person of the 20th Century according to a 1999 Gallup poll, and “the greatest scientist of the twentieth century and one of the supreme intellects of all time” according to “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” in 1978.

During this time he continued to publish papers, but it was only on moving back to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich in 1912 that he began working in earnest on a generalization of his theory of relativity. He benefited from the mathematical assistance of his old friend Marcel Grossman, who was one of the only people in Zurich with whom Einstein could discuss his new ideas. He moved on to Berlin in 1914 (at the personal request of Max Planck), where he became a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, a director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics and a professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin, as well as maintaining an ongoing relationship with Leiden University in the Netherlands (through his contacts there with the physicists Hendrik Lorentz and Willem de Sitter). He became actively involved in anti-war demonstrations during World War I, publicly advocating civil disobedience and the refusal of conscription.

Albert Einstein

Take the Lead!

He is still regarded as the scientist who changed physics forever. The scale of his achievements can be seen in the names of those whose work Einstein completed or further developed: Riemann, Maxwell and Planck, to give just three.

Each of Einstein's triple crown of mathematical physics papers published in 1905 - on the reality of atoms, the photoelectric effect, and on special relativity - remains central to the discipline. His later work, especially the general theory of relativity, made him even more important. But above the brilliance of his discoveries, it is the human details of Einstein's life that makes him so attractive. Working as a humble patent office clerk as he did much of his early research, his flight from Germany as Hitler was coming to power entwines Einstein's life with the central events of the 20th century, including the development of the atom bomb.

Picture of an atom bomb.

Albert's Invetions

Albert Einstein, a man whose name is practically synonymous with genius, is one of history's greatest thinkers. As a physicist and mathematician, Einstein wasn't an inventor in the vein of Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell, but his theories of relativity led to new ways of looking at time, space, matter, energy and gravity. His work led to important advances such as the control of atomic energy, space exploration, and applications of light.After Einstein presented a series of ground-breaking ideas in 1905, Einstein continued to research and expand these concepts and other ideas in physics and mathematics. In 1916, Einstein presented his general theory of relativity, proposing that gravity is a curved field in the space-time continuum created by the existence of mass.

The case, "Why is the sky blue?", was finally settled by Einstein in 1911, who calculated the detailed formula for the scattering of light from molecules; and this was found to be in agreement with experiment. As well, Einstein expanded the special theory of relativity into the general theory of relativity that applies to systems in nonuniform (accelerated) motion as well as to systems in uniform motion (like in the special theory of relativity). The general theory is principally concerned with the large-scale effects of gravitation and therefore is an essential ingredient in theories of the universe as a whole, or cosmology.

How did Einstein Think?

"If you want to find out anything from the theoretical physicist about the methods they use, I advise you to stick closely to one principle: don't listen to their words, fix your attention on their deeds." "On the Methods of Theoretical Physics," Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford, June 10, 1933.

Citations - resources

"Leader: Einstein's Legacy." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 24 Jan. 2005. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

"Was Albert Einstein a Thought Leader?" Was Albert Einstein a Thought Leader? N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

"Albert Einstein - Important Scientists - The Physics of the Universe." Albert Einstein - Important Scientists - The Physics of the Universe. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

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Madilyn Elder
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