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Albert Einstein
Head and shoulders photo of  Einstein with moustache and graying, curly hair, smiling slightly
Albert Einstein, 1921
Born (1879-03-14)14 March 1879
Ulm, Kingdom of Württemberg, German Empire
Died 18 April 1955(1955-04-18) (aged 76)
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Resting place Grounds of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.
Residence Germany, Italy, Switzerland, USA
Ethnicity German Jewish
Alma mater
Known for
Albert Einstein signature.svg

Albert Einstein (pronounced /ˈælbərt ˈaɪnstaɪn/ (deprecated template); German: [ˈalbɐt ˈaɪnʃtaɪn]; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a theoretical physicist, philosopher and author who is widely regarded as one of the most influential and best known scientists and intellectuals of all time. He is often regarded as the father of modern physics.[3] He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect."[4]

His many contributions to physics include the special and general theories of relativity, the founding of relativistic cosmology, the first post-Newtonian expansion, explaining the perihelion precession of Mercury, prediction of the deflection of light by gravity (gravitational lensing), the first fluctuation dissipation theorem which explained the Brownian motion of molecules, the photon theory and wave-particle duality, the quantum theory of atomic motion in solids, the zero-point energy concept, the semiclassical version of the Schrödinger equation, and the quantum theory of a monatomic gas which predicted Bose–Einstein condensation.

Einstein published more than 300 scientific and over 150 non-scientific works; he additionally wrote and commentated prolifically on various philosophical and political subjects.[5] His great intelligence and originality has made the word "Einstein" synonymous with genius.[6]


Early life and education[edit]

A young boy with short hair and a round face, wearing a white collar and large bow, with vest,  coat,  skirt and high boots. He is leaning against an ornate chair.
Einstein at the age of 4. His father showed him a pocket compass, and Einstein realized that there must be something causing the needle to move, despite the apparent “empty space.”[7]

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire on 14 March 1879.[8] His father was Hermann Einstein, a salesman and engineer. His mother was Pauline Einstein (née Koch). In 1880, the family moved to Munich, where his father and his uncle founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a company that manufactured electrical equipment based on direct current.[8]

Studio photo of a boy seated in a relaxed posture and wearing a suit, posed in front of a backdrop of scenery.
Albert Einstein in 1893 (age 14).

The Einsteins were non-observant Jews. Their son attended a Catholic elementary school from the age of five until ten.[9] Although Einstein had early speech difficulties, he was a top student in elementary school.[10][11] As he grew, Einstein built models and mechanical devices for fun and began to show a talent for mathematics.[8] In 1889 Max Talmud (later changed to Max Talmey) introduced the ten-year old Einstein to key texts in science, mathematics and philosophy, including Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and Euclid’s Elements (which Einstein called the "holy little geometry book").[12] Talmud was a poor Jewish medical student from Poland. The Jewish community arranged for Talmud to take meals with the Einsteins each week on Thursdays for six years. During this time Talmud wholeheartedly guided Einstein through many secular educational interests.[13][14]

In 1894, his father’s company failed: Direct current (DC) lost the War of Currents to alternating current (AC). In search of business, the Einstein family moved to Italy, first to Milan and then, a few months later, to Pavia. When the family moved to Pavia, Einstein stayed in Munich to finish his studies at the Luitpold Gymnasium. His father intended for him to pursue electrical engineering, but Einstein clashed with authorities and resented the school’s regimen and teaching method. He later wrote that the spirit of learning and creative thought were lost in strict rote learning. In the spring of 1895, he withdrew to join his family in Pavia, convincing the school to let him go by using a doctor’s note.[8] During this time, Einstein wrote his first scientific work, "The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields".[15]

Einstein applied directly to the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland. Lacking the requisite Matura certificate, he took an entrance examination, which he failed, although he got exceptional marks in mathematics and physics.[16] The Einsteins sent Albert to Aarau, in northern Switzerland to finish secondary school.[8] While lodging with the family of Professor Jost Winteler, he fell in love with the family’s daughter, Marie. (His sister Maja later married the Winteler son, Paul.)[17] In Aarau, Einstein studied Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory. At age 17, he graduated, and, with his father’s approval, renounced his citizenship in the German Kingdom of Württemberg to avoid military service, and enrolled in 1896 in the mathematics and physics program at the Polytechnic in Zurich. Marie Winteler moved to Olsberg, Switzerland for a teaching post.

In the same year, Einstein’s future wife, Mileva Marić, also entered the Polytechnic to study mathematics and physics, the only woman in the academic cohort. Over the next few years, Einstein and Marić’s friendship developed into romance. In a letter to her, Einstein called Marić “a creature who is my equal and who is as strong and independent as I am.”[18] Einstein graduated in 1900 from the Polytechnic with a diploma in mathematics and physics;[19] Although historians have debated whether Marić influenced Einstein’s work, the majority of academic historians of science agree that she did not.[20][21][22]

Marriages and children[edit]

Patent office[edit]

Academic career[edit]

Emigration to the United States[edit]


Scientific career[edit]

Physics in 1900[edit]

Thermodynamic fluctuations and statistical physics[edit]

Thought experiments and a-priori physical principles[edit]

Special relativity[edit]


Quantized atomic vibrations[edit]

Adiabatic principle and action-angle variables[edit]

Wave-particle duality[edit]

Theory of critical opalescence[edit]

Zero-point energy[edit]

Principle of equivalence[edit]

Hole argument and Entwurf theory[edit]

General relativity[edit]


Modern quantum theory[edit]

Bose–Einstein statistics[edit]

Energy momentum pseudotensor[edit]

Unified field theory[edit]


Einstein–Cartan theory[edit]

Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen paradox[edit]

Equations of motion[edit]

Einstein’s controversial beliefs in physics[edit]

Collaboration with other scientists[edit]

Einstein-de Haas experiment[edit]

Schrödinger gas model[edit]

Einstein refrigerator[edit]

Bohr versus Einstein[edit]

Religious views[edit]

Political views[edit]

Non-scientific legacy[edit]

In popular culture[edit]



See also[edit]



Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ Hans-Josef, Küpper (2000), Various things about Albert Einstein,, retrieved 18 July 2009 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Zahar, Élie (2001), Poincaré's Philosophy. From Conventionalism to Phenomenology, Carus Publishing Company, p. 41, ISBN 0-8126-9435-X , Chapter 2, p. 41
  4. ^ The Nobel Prize in Physics 1921, Nobel Foundation, archived from the original on 5 October 2008, retrieved 6 March 2007 
  5. ^ Paul Arthur Schilpp, editor (1951), Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, Volume II, New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers (Harper Torchbook edition), pp. 730–746  His non-scientific works include: About Zionism: Speeches and Lectures by Professor Albert Einstein (1930), “Why War?” (1933, co-authored by Sigmund Freud), The World As I See It (1934), Out of My Later Years (1950), and a book on science for the general reader, The Evolution of Physics (1938, co-authored by Leopold Infeld).
  6. ^ WordNet for Einstein
  7. ^ Schilpp (Ed.), P. A. (1979), Albert Einstein – Autobiographical Notes, Open Court Publishing Company, pp. 8–9 
  8. ^ a b c d e Albert Einstein – Biography, Nobel Foundation, retrieved 7 March 2007 
  9. ^ Einstein: the life and times, By Ronald William Clark
  10. ^ Rosenkranz, Ze’ev (2005), Albert Einstein – Derrière l’image, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, p. 29, ISBN 3-03823-182-7 
  11. ^ Sowell, Thomas (2001), The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late, Basic Books, pp. 89–150, ISBN 0-465-08140-1 
  12. ^ Dudley Herschbach, "Einstein as a Student," Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, page 3, web: HarvardChem-Einstein-PDF: Max Talmud visited on Thursdays for six years.
  13. ^ Albert’s intellectual growth was strongly fostered at home. His mother, a talented pianist, ensured the children’s musical education. His father regularly read Schiller and Heine aloud to the family. Uncle Jakob challenged Albert with mathematical problems, which he solved with "a deep feeling of happiness."Most remarkable was Max Talmud, a poor Jewish medical student from Poland, "for whom the Jewish community had obtained free meals with the Einstein family." Talmud came on Thursday nights for about six years, and "invested his whole person in examining everything that engaged [Albert’s] interest." Talmud had Albert read and discuss many books with him. These included a series of twenty popular science books that convinced Albert "a lot in the Bible stories could not be true," and a textbook of plane geometry that launched Albert on avid self-study of mathematics, years ahead of the school curriculum. Talmud even had Albert read Kant; as a result Einstein began preaching to his schoolmates about Kant, with "forcefulness"
  14. ^ Einstein’s greatest intellectual stimulation came from a poor student who dined with his family once a week. It was an old Jewish custom to take in a needy religious scholar to share the Sabbath meal; the Einsteins modified the tradition by hosting instead a medical student on Thursdays. His name was Max Talmud, and he began his weekly visits when he was 21 and Einstein was 10.
  15. ^ Mehra, Jagdish (2001), "Albert Einstein's first paper", The Golden Age of Physics (PDF), World Scientific, ISBN 9810249853, retrieved 4 March 2007 
  16. ^ Highfield, Roger; Carter, Paul (1993), The Private Lives of Albert Einstein, London: Faber and Faber, p. 21, ISBN 0-571-17170-2 
  17. ^ Highfield & Carter (1993, pp. 21,31,56–57)
  18. ^ Letter Einstein to Marić on 3 October 1900 (Collected Papers Vol. 1, document 79).
  19. ^ A Brief Biography of Albert Einstein, 2005, ISBN 0595003656, retrieved 11 June 2007  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  20. ^ Alberto A Martínez (April 2004), Arguing about Einstein’s wife, Physics World, retrieved 21 November 2005 
  21. ^ Allen Esterson, Mileva Marić: Einstein’s Wife, retrieved 23 February 2007 
  22. ^ John Stachel, “Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric. A Collaboration That Failed to Develop.” In: Creative Couples in the Sciences, H. M. Pycior et al. (ed) (PDF), retrieved 23 February 2007