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Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany, on March 14, 1879. He had a speech problem and often paused to think about what to say next. Einstein wrote about two events he thought were important in his childhood. He remembered how he marveled at the invisible forces that turned the needle of a compass when he was five and a geometry book that he found when he was twelve. He read the book over and over. He enjoyed classical music and played the violin.
Brilliant Mind; Poor Student
Einstein renounced his German citizenship to avoid military service and enrolled at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zürich, Switzerland. Because he liked to study on his own, he cut classes, which made some of his professors angry. Heinrich Weber wrote a letter of “recommendation” that led to Einstein being turned down for every teaching job he applied for after graduation. In 1902, the father of a friend recommended him for a job as a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Bern, Switzerland.
Theory of Relativity
In 1905, Einstein obtained his doctorate degree and published four papers describing his research, including the Special Theory of Relativity. This theory has his famous equation e = mc2, which means that when matter is converted to energy, the amount of energy is equal to the mass of an object times the square of the speed of light in a vacuum. It also means that the speed of light is fixed and independent of the observer’s motion. In 1921, he won the Nobel Prize for physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.
Against the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Einstein moved to Princeton, New Jersey, in 1933 to become a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. In 1939, World War II broke out. Einstein was afraid that Germany was working on atomic bombs and wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to explain his position. Although Einstein never actually worked on an American atomic bomb, his theories helped to make its construction possible. After the war, Einstein worked with others who wanted to see nuclear weapons abolished. From 1901 to 1954, Albert Einstein published more than 300 scientific works. In later years, he worked on a new theory, the Unified Field Theory. Scientists recently discovered a new particle using the Large Hadron Collider, which may help prove his theory.
Here are two Einstein quotes:
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I do know that I get most joy in life out of my violin.”
“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.”