Albert Einstein was born in Germany in 1879. He enjoyed classical music and played the violin. One story Einstein liked to tell about his childhood was of a wonder he saw when hewas four or five years old: a magnetic compass. The needle's invariable northward swing, guided by an invisible force, profoundly impressed the child. The compass convinced him that there had to be"something behind things, something deeply hidden." Even as a small boy Albert Einstein was self-sufficient and thoughtful. According to family legend he was a slow talker, pausing to consider what hewould say. His sister remembered the concentration and perseverance with which he would build houses of cards.
Albert Einstein's first job was that of patent clerk.
In 1933, he joined the staff of thenewly created Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He accepted this position for life, living there until his death. Einstein is probably familiar to most people for his mathematicalequation about the nature of energy, E = MC2.
Albert Einstein wrote a paper with a new understanding of the structure of light. He argued that light can act as though it consists of discrete,independent particles of energy, in some ways like the particles of a gas. A few years before, Max Planck's work had contained the first suggestion of a discreteness in energy, but Einstein went far beyondthis. His revolutionary proposal seemed to contradict the universally accepted theory that light consists of smoothly oscillating electromagnetic waves. But Einstein showed that light quanta, as hecalled the particles of energy, could help to explain phenomena being studied by experimental physicists. For example, he made clear how light ejects electrons from metals.
There was a well-knownkinetic energy theory that explained heat as an effect of the ceaseless motion of atoms; Einstein proposed a way to put the theory to a new and crucial experimental test. If tiny but visible particles...