Albert Einstein- Scientific Research Findings and Awards By a curious student

In this article you will find important information on Albert Einstein's most notable scientific findings and also a brief showcase of various awards he won. All sources are linked at the end of the article.
  • Hint: Only the information provided on this page is relevant for the quiz, but linked info and videos may help you further understand the info.

Albert Einstein truly was a scientific genius. His countless scientific theories, formulas and discoveries have changed the way we understand the universe today, Below is one of Einstein's thought experiments that helped him work out his theory of special relativity.

Einstein’s theory of special relativity

Imagine 2 parallel mirrors with a light beam bouncing in between them. Now imagine a second pair of mirrors also with light bouncing around but this time the mirrors are moving sideways. The light from the second pair of mirrors must a greater distance in the same time but as the speed is always the same, time must slow down to compensate for this difference. At its core, the theory of special relativity says that the speed never changes, but time does. It slows down the more you approach the speed of light. This is called time dilation but we don’t notice it on earth since the changes in time are too insignificant. This means time changes depending on the speed you are moving at. Thus, at light speed, time must come to a full stop and beyond the speed of light time must go backwards!

In Einstein's special theory of relativity, there is no such thing as "time" in the singular. Time passes differently for different observers, depending on the observers' motion. The prime example is that of the two hypothetical twins: One of them stays at home, on Earth. The other journeys into space in an ultra-fast rocket, nearly as fast as the speed of light, before returning home: Afterwards, when the twins are reunited on Earth, the travelling twin is markedly younger, compared to her planetary sibling. The exact age difference depends on the details of the journey. For example, it could be that, aboard the space-ship, two years of flight-time have passed - on-board clocks and calendars show that two years have elapsed, and both spaceship and travelling twin have aged by exactly that amount of time. On Earth, however, a whopping 30 years have passed between the spaceship's departure and its return!

Which twin will have aged more?

Scientists have been able to prove that time does indeed speed up and slow down by comparing times on moving and stationary super-accurate atomic clocks. Einstein’s theory of special relativity (as we now refer to it) was revolutionary but did not account for accelerated movements. Einstein then proceeded to create the general theory of relativity, which accounted for accelerated movements.

Einstein's theory of general relativity

Part 1: Gravity and forces being relative to the observer

The theory of general relativity (also general theory of gravitation) is Einstein's revolutionary new way of thinking of gravity. As previously thought by Newton, who himself was not satisfied with his own laws, gravity was described as some unknown force pulling the objects down. But in physics forces push objects and don't pull them. So, what was pushing objects down? Newton didn't know.

Einstein thought of gravity differently. He even thought of space and time differently, describing both as one 4-dimensional space (time being the fourth dimension) called space-time. He realized, that objects warp the space-time around them and space-time pushes objects inward. Additionally, where space pushes matter is relative to the observer, from earths view it is standing still and people get pushed onto the ground but from the suns view the earth is getting pushed towards it at great speed and it is standing still which is also a different view from the galaxies view. Not only that, warped space-time also warps lights path through space. Nearby planets or other objects can warp light coming in from behind them, resulting in distorted or displaced light. Black holes distort light a lot; the earth passing through behind a black hole would look something like this:

Simulation of earth passing behind a black hole
Light distortion in space

Part 2: The universal speed limit (c=300’000 km/s)

The more you approach the speed of light the more mass you gain, (the shorter you get) and therefore more and more energy is needed for acceleration. For example: If we accelerate a particle close to the speed of light, instead of going faster the particle would gain mass and only a fraction of the energy used would make it faster. Thus, infinite energy is required to accelerate a particle to the speed of light, which is currently simply impossible. Further information about this phenomenon is explained in my text on E=mc^2.

E = mc² : Mass-energy equivalance

E=mc^2 is probably the most famous equation in physics but even though most people have heard of it, few know what it actually means. You might have heard people say things like: “Mass is compressed energy” or that energy can be converted into mass. Unfortunately, both statements are wrong and while it is true that this equation greatly impacted the creation of atomic bombs which might make you think this equation means mass holds huge amounts of energy, that is not the actual fundamental idea of this equivalence. This is because, at its core, Einstein’s equation implies a way of understanding mass, not energy.

Explanation: Any particle's mass depends on the distance and arrangement between it's individual "ingredients" because different distances between those parts result in different internal energies that in turn influence the total mass of a particle. The distance between an electron and a proton in a particle can partially determine the mass of a particle because of the internal energies directly changing it's mass.

Incredibly, 2 particles made of identical "ingredients" don't necessarily have the same mass! Why? Because kinetic, potential and other energies have tiny effects on the rest mass of something, unnoticeable in normal life. This means that a ticking watch has more mass than an identical idle watch because the ticking watch has more potential and kinetic energy resulting in greater mass.

The photoelectric effect

The photoelectric effect is the production of electrons or other free carriers(a particle that is free to move carrying an electric charge) when light is shone onto a material. The electrons emitted can be called photoelectrons. But the electrons are only dislodged after the photons (light source) exceed a certain frequency(energy). To make sense of the fact that light can eject electrons even if its intensity is low, Albert Einstein proposed that a beam of light is not a wave propagating through space, but rather a collection of discrete wave packets (photons), each with energy hf;

Unlike in other experiments with light, to undertsand the photoelectric effect it is best to think of light as a particle and not a wave. So what is the photoelectric effect. It's actually pretty simple: Sometimes when light is shone onto a metal, electrons can be released from the metal. Suprisingly, not all frequencies of light can do this. For example blue light, regardless of it's intensisty, can release electrons from the surface of a metal. Red light, if we were to shine to shine it onto a metal would never release electrons from the metal, even if we turned the brightness of the light up, Previous classic theory proposed that the frequency of light shone onto a metal would have a direct im,pact on the electrons would have a direct impact on the electrons released, but in reality a minimum threshold frequency for electron emmsion could be observed. At the time, this was a huge contradiction and a mystery for science.

Einstein proposed that light must come in distinct wave packets called photons, each of which's energy would determine the release of energy. At different light frequencies the individual photons would have different energies, which would determine whether electrons were released and even when the light intensity (brightness) was increased, electrons would not get emmited.

Light at different frequencies shone onto a metal

Einstein had created a new way of understanding light, a new theory to how the world works for which he won the nobel prize of physics in 1921.

Other notable achievements and awards include:

Barnard-Medal, honoris causa, Copley-Medal in 1925, Max-Planck-Medal 1929, Benjamin Franklin Medal 1935, Gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society 1926, Matteucci-Medal 1921

Albert Einstein was truly an incredible scientist, changing our way of understanding the world we know forever. His way of thinking was unmatched and his research will probably be the fundament of science for a long time to come. He unmistakably is one the most iconic figures in science for good reason.

Thank you for reading! These are my sources:

  • Googgle images > Keywords: A. Einstein, Theory of..., twin paradox, nobel prize, e=mc^2...
  • Wikipedia articles: Theory of general and special relativity, space-time, photoelectric effect, time dialtion, speed of light...
  • http://www.einstein-website.de/z_biography/biography.html
  • Youtube videos: The ones above and: <https://youtu.be/puT36rd9dkQ>


Created with images by NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "Quantum Gravity Photon Race"

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