albert einstein


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 of Zurich
awarded Einstein an additional degree. The other
papers helped to develop modern physics and
earned him the reputation of an artist. Many
scientists have said that Einstein’s work contained
an imaginative spirit that was seen in most poetry.
His work at this time dealt with molecules, and
how their motion affected temperature, but he is
most well known for his Special Theory of
Relativity which tackled motion and the speed of
light. Perhaps the most important part of his
discoveries was the equation: E= mc2. After
publishing these theories Einstein was promoted at
his office. He remained at the Patents Office for
another two years, but his name was becoming
too big among the scientific community. In 1908,
Einstein began teaching party time at the University
of Berne, and the following year, at the age of
thirty, he became employed full time by Zurich
University. Einstein was now able to move to
Prague