Albert Einstein

Physicist, Scientist

  • Ulm, Württemberg, Germany

Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 to April 18, 1955) was a German mathematician and physicist who developed the special and general theories of relativity. In 1921, he won the Nobel Prize for physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. In the following decade, he immigrated to the U.S. after being targeted by the Nazis. His work also had a major impact on the development of atomic energy. In his later years, Einstein focused on unified field theory. With his passion for inquiry, Einstein is generally considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century.

Birth
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. 

Family
Albert Einstein grew up in a secular Jewish family. His father, Hermann Einstein, was a salesman and engineer who, with his brother, founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a Munich-based company that manufactured electrical equipment. Albert’s mother, the former Pauline Koch, ran the family household. Einstein had one sister, Maja, born two years after him.

Einstein’s Wives and Children
Albert Einstein married Milena Maric on Jan. 6, 1903. 

The couple had a daughter, Lieserl, who might have been later raised by Maric's relatives or given up for adoption. The couple went on to have two sons, Hans and Eduard. The marriage would not be a happy one, with the two divorcing in 1919 and Maric having an emotional breakdown in connection to the split. Einstein, as part of a settlement, agreed to give Maric any funds he might receive from possibly winning the Nobel Prize in the future. 

During his marriage to Maric, Einstein had also begun an affair some time earlier with a cousin, Elsa Löwenthal. The couple wed in 1919, the same year of Einstein’s divorce. He would continue to see other women throughout his second marriage, which ended with Löwenthal's death in 1936.

Early Life and Education
Einstein attended elementary school at the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich.

Hermann Einstein relocated the family to Milan, Italy, in the mid-1890s after his business lost out on a major contract. Albert was left at a relative's boarding house in Munich to complete his schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium. Faced with military duty when he turned of age, Albert allegedly withdrew from classes, using a doctor’s note to excuse himself and claim nervous exhaustion. With their son rejoining them in Italy, his parents understood Einstein's perspective but were concerned about his future prospects as a school dropout and draft dodger.

Einstein was eventually able to gain admission into the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich, specifically due to his superb mathematics and physics scores on the entrance exam. He was still required to complete his pre-university education first, and thus attended a high school in Aarau, Switzerland helmed by Jost Winteler. Einstein lived with the schoolmaster's family and fell in love with Winteler's daughter, Marie. Einstein later renounced his German citizenship and became a Swiss citizen at the dawn of the new century.

After graduating, Einstein faced major challenges in terms of finding academic positions, having alienated some professors over not attending class more regularly in lieu of studying independently. Einstein eventually found steady work in 1902 after receiving a referral for a clerk position in a Swiss patent office. While working at the patent office, Einstein had the time to further explore ideas that had taken hold during his studies at Polytechnic and thus cemented his theorems on what would be known as the principle of relativity.

In 1905—seen by many as a "miracle year" for the theorist—Einstein had four papers published in the Annalen der Physik, one of the best known physics journals of the era. Two focused on photoelectric effect and Brownian motion. The two others, which outlined E=MC2 and the special theory of relativity, were defining for Einstein’s career and the course of the study of physics.

Nobel Prize for Physics
In 1921, Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, since his ideas on relativity were still considered questionable. He wasn't actually given the award until the following year due to a bureaucratic ruling, and during his acceptance speech he still opted to speak about relativity.

Brain
During Albert Einstein’s autopsy, Thomas Stoltz Harvey removed his brain, reportedly without the permission of his family, for preservation and future study by doctors of neuroscience. However during his life Einstein participated in brain studies, and at least one biography says he hoped researchers would study his brain after he died. Einstein's brain is now located at the Princeton University Medical Center, and his remains were cremated and his ashes scattered in an undisclosed location, following his wishes. 


Physicist

Scientist

Quotes

  • Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.

  • There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

  • I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

  • If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.

  • If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.

  • Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.

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