Einstein. The name itself seems to bring a vision, in modern times, of a little man carelessly clad in baggy pants with disordered halo of white hair and soulful brown eyes. Though the physical description of Einstein might not seem genius material, Einstein was a modern Merlin. Albert Einstein conjured and revolutionized ideas of space, time and motion. Scientists idolize Albert Einstein for he is most eminent among them, at least in this century. In person he was childlike. But as a man of scientific thought, he was in league with such masterminds as Newton, and Galieo.
He was the typical absent-minded genius. One time, he walked into the salon of an ocean liner in his pajamas. Another instance is when he used a $1,500 check for a bookmark, then lost the book. Such cases seem to make Einstein come to life. To give some background on this profound prophet of the mind one must look back to March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany. The pudgy first child of a bourgeois Jewish couple from southern Germany, where he was strongly influenced by his domineering musically inclined mother, who encouraged his passion for the violin.
In his earliest years, Albert Einstein never expressed his genius in any way. Actually he didnt speak till the age of three. During his teenage years he went through a deep religious period. This phase eventually subsided when he started questioning math, science, and philosophy of the time. At the age of 16, Albert devised one of his first thought experiments. These involved no lab and no materials only a mind. This specific thought experiment consisted of Albert trying to imagine a light wave in motion to an observer riding along with it.
When his family moved to Italy, Einstein dropped out of school. A year later he applied at the famed Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and was denied admission because of his scores on the entrance examinations. After a year he was excepted in to the University based on further study. Einstein did not enjoy the methods of instruction there. He often cut classes and used the time to study physics on his own or play his beloved violin. The funny thing is that Einstein passed his final examinations. He did so by studying some of the notes of a friend.
He wasnt recommended for a teaching position and became a substitute teacher for a few years. At the age of 23 Albert Einstein settled for a job as examiner with the Swiss Patent Office. His title was technical expert, third class. Though his pay was just $675 he was able to marry a fellow student, Mileva Maric. Mileva Maric shared Einsteins interest in physics and music. Through later stresses including a child loss, she became unhappy with her life. Einstein and Mileva were divorced on 1919. In this agreement Einstein promised to give her the money from the Nobel Prize he felt sure he would win.
Most of their later contact would have to with their two sons. The elder, Hans Albert, would become a distinguished professor of hydraulics at the University of California, Berkeley. The younger, Eduard, gifted in music and literature, would die in a Swiss psychiatric hospital. Mileva, after the divorce, supported herself by tutoring in mathematics and physics. Many people, to this day, believe that Mileva had some unacknowledged contribution to special relativity, though she herself never made any such claims.
Einstein, meanwhile, had married divorced cousin, Elsa, who cooked and cared for him during the emotionally draining months when he made intellectual leaps that finally resulted in general relativity. Elsa gave him personal room and a sense of comfort. She became used to the fame of Einstein but took it very sensibly. With the rise of Nazi power in Germany, Einstein had to leave his position. He immediately got an offer for a teaching job at the new Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. In 1939 Einsteins fellow refugees Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner learned that German scientists had managed to split the atom.
Together they tried to seek his help. He agreed to write a letter to President Roosevelt alerting him to the possibility that Nazis might try to make the atom bomb. OAAAH! Einstein in his late life tried to bring all of his equations under one master big picture equation. He failed at this goal and died in Princeton on April 18, 1955. Note: Einsteinium was name after Einstein to credit his greatness! Time Great People of the 20th Century, Time, copyright 1996 This area will focus on the masters thought and reflections on the universe and how they apply to today world applications.
Relativity extends the human art of seeing the other fellows point of view in to the realm of physics and astronomy. In ones social behavior, each person is conscious of how his actions look to other people, and large pieces of his brain seem to be involved in this task. Similarly in the world of matter and energy, one can ask how the Sun would appear to an astronomer in the vicinity of a distant star, and come quickly to the conclusion that it will itself look like an undistinguished star. This might make one think that speed will alter physics itself. That would confine our galaxy to no laws whatsoever.
Therefore it must be defined from all points of view. Albert Einsteins project was to define relatively how anything would seem to be no matter where, when, and how it would be viewed. You can see how one of the difficulties would be overcome with the simple exercise of trains. 1. Passengers on a rail train noticed that even at the speed of sixty miles an hour they couldnt feel the forward motion. 2. On a train one passenger couldnt tell if his train was moving or the one that was going the opposite direction. The Doppler effect may help us understand how to view these points.