Born: March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany
Died: April 18, 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey, United States
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Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientific intellects of all time, formulated thetheory of relativity. He won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921.
Albert Einstein ranks as one of the most remarkable theoreticians in the history of science. During a single year, 1905, he produced three papers that are among the most important in twentieth-century physics, and perhaps in all of the recorded history of science, for they revolutionized the way scientists looked at the nature ofspace, time, and matter. These papers dealt with the nature of particle movement known as Brownian motion, the quantum nature of electromagnetic radiation as demonstrated by the photoelectric effect, and the special theory of relativity . Although Einstein is probably best known for the last of these works, it was for his quantum explanation of the photoelectric effect that he was awarded the 1921Nobel Prize in physics. In 1915, Einstein extended his special theory of relativity to include certain cases of accelerated motion, resulting in the more general theory of relativity.
Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany, on March 14, 1879, the only son of Hermann and Pauline Koch Einstein. Both sides of his family had long-established roots in southern Germany, and, at the time of Einstein'sbirth, his father and uncle Jakob owned a small electrical equipment plant. When that business failed around 1880, Hermann Einstein moved his family to Munich to make a new beginning. A year after their arrival in Munich, Einstein's only sister, Maja, was born.
Although his family was Jewish, Einstein was sent to a Catholic elementary school from 1884 to 1889. He was then enrolled at the LuitpoldGymnasium in Munich. During these years, Einstein began to develop some of his earliest interests in science and mathematics, but he gave little outward indication of any special aptitude in these fields. Indeed, he did not begin to talk until the age of three and, by the age of nine, was still not fluent in his native language. His parents were actually concerned that he might be somewhat mentallyretarded.
Leaves School Early and Moves to Italy
In 1894, Hermann Einstein's business failed again, and the family moved once more, this time to Pavia, near Milan, Italy. Einstein was left behind in Munich to allow him to finish school. Such was not to be the case, however, since he left the gymnasium after only six more months. Einstein's biographer, Philipp Frank, explains that Einstein sothoroughly despised formal schooling that he devised a scheme by which he received a medical excuse from school on the basis of a potential nervous breakdown. He then convinced a mathematics teacher to certify that he was adequately prepared to begin his college studies without a high school diploma. Other biographies, however, say that Einstein was expelled from the gymnasium on the grounds thathe was a disruptive influence at the school.
In any case, Einstein then rejoined his family in Italy. One of his first acts upon reaching Pavia was to give up his German citizenship. He was so unhappy with his native land that he wanted to sever all formal connections with it; in addition, by renouncing his citizenship, he could later return to Germany without being arrested as a draft dodger.As a result, Einstein remained without an official citizenship until he became a Swiss citizen at the age of 21. For most of his first year in Italy, Einstein spent his time traveling, relaxing, and teaching himself calculus and higher mathematics. In 1895, he thought himself ready to take the entrance examination for the Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule (the ETH, Swiss Federal Polytechnic...