Albert Einstein (1489 words)

Albert EinsteinAlbert 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 hey
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 teachersto
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 with his wife and two
sons, Hans Albert and Eduard. Finally, after being promoted to a professor,
Einstein and his family were able to enjoy a good standard of living, but the
job’s main advantage was that it allowed Einstein to access an enormous
library. It was here that he extended his theory and discussed it with the
leading scientists of Europe. In 1912 he chose to accept a job placing him in
high authority at the Federal Institute of Technology, where he had originally
studied. It was not until 1914 that Einstein was tempted to return to Germany
to become research director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics.

World War I had a strong effect on Einstein. While the rest of Germany
supported the army, he felt the war was unnecessary, and disgusting. The
new weapons of war which attempted to mass slaughter people caused him
to devote much of his life toward creating peace. Toward the end of the war
Einstein joined a political party that worked to end the war, and return peace
to Europe. In 1916 this party was outlawed by the government, and Einstein
was seen as a traitor. In that same year, Einstein published his General
Theory of relativity, This result of ten years work revolutionized physics. It
basically stated that the universe had to be thought of as curved, and told
how light was affected by this. The next year, Einstein published another
paper that added that the universe had no boundary, but actually twisted
back on its self. After the war, many aspects of Einstein’s life changed. He
divorced his wife, who had been living in Zurich with the children throughout
the war, and married his cousin Elsa Lowenthal. This led to a renewed
interest in his Jewish roots, and he became an active supporter of Zionism.

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Since anti-Semitism was growing in Germany, he quickly became the target
of prejudice. There were many rumors about groups who were trying to kill
Einstein, and he began to travel extensively. The biggest change, though, was
in 1919 when scientist who studied an eclipse confirmed that his theories
were correct. In 1921, he traveled through Britain and the United States
raising funds for Zionism and lecturing about his theories. He also visited the
battle sites of the war, and urged that Europe renew scientific and cultural
links. He promoted non-patriotic, non-competitive education, believing that it
would prevent war from happening in the future. He also believed that
socialism would help the world achieve peace. Einstein received the Nobel
Prize for Physics in 1922. He gave all the money to his ex-wife and children
to help with their lives and education. After another lecture tour, he visited
Palestine for the opening the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He also talked
about the possibilities that Palestine held for the Jewish people. Upon his
return he began to enjoy a calmer life in which he returned to his original
curiosity, religion. While Einstein was visiting America in 1933 the Nazi party
came to power in Germany. Again he was subject to anti-Semitic attacks, but
this time his house was broken into, and he was publicly considered an
enemy of the nation. It was obvious that he could not return to Germany, and
for the second time he renounced his German citizenship. During these early
years in America he did some research at Princeton, but did not accomplish
much of significance. In 1939 the second World War began to take form.

There was heated argument during this time over whether the United States
should explore the idea of an atomic bomb. Einstein wrote to President
Roosevelt warning him of the disaster that could occur if the Nazi’s
developed it first. Einstein did not participate in the development of the bomb,
but the idea did stem from his equation E=mc2. Just as he knew that the
bomb was under development, he also knew when it was going to be used.

Just before the bomb was dropped on Japan. Einstein wrote a letter to the
President begging him not to use this terrible weapon. The rest of Einstein’s
life was dedicated to promoting peace. After the war ended, he declared,
The war is won, but the peace is not. He wrote many articles and made
many speeches calling for a world government. His fame, at this point, was
legendary. People from all over would write to him for advice, and he would
often answer them. He also continued his scientific research until the day he
died. This was on April 18, 1955. There is no doubt that he was dissatisfied
that he never was able to find the true meaning of existence that he strove for
all his life.
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