Albert Einstein

1879 - 1955

 

 

 By  Frauke De Landtsheer,   Sarah De Meyer,  Elke Drieghe  and  Eva Moens

 

LIFE

Biography

Anecdotes and pronouncements

 

WORK

His early scientific publications

Theory of Relativity

 

PERSONALITY

A scientist, a philosopher, a world citizen

 

INFORMATION

Other sites on the Internet

Questions?

BACK  TO   OLVP  PAGE

Biography

Albert Einstein, a German-American physicist, was born in Ulm (Württemberg, Germany) on March 14, 1879, and spent his youth in Munich, where his family owned a small electric machinery shop. He didn't talk until the age of 3, but even as a youth he showed a briljant curiosity about nature and a great understandinf of difficult mathematical concepts. At the age of 12 he taught himself Euclidean geometry.

Around 1886 Einstein began his school career in Munich. Einstein hated the dull regimentation and unimaginative spirit of the school there. As well as his violin lessons, which he had from age six to thirteen, he also had religious education at home where he was taught Judaism. Two years later, he entered the Luitpold Gymnasium and after this, his religious education was given at school. He studied mathematics, in particular calculus,  around 1891.

  • In 1894, repeated business failure led the family to leave Germany for Milan (Italy). Einstein used the opportunity to withdraw from the school. He spent a year with his parents in Milan, but it became clear to him that he would have to make his own way in the world. In 1895, Einstein failed an examination that would have allowed him to study for a diploma as an electric engineer at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich. Einstein renounced German citizenship in 1896 and was to be stateless for a number of years. He didn't even apply for Swiss citizenship until 1899, citizenship being granted in 1901.

    Following the failing of the entrance exam to the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Einstein attended secondary school at Aarau planning to use this route to enter the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich. While at Aarau he wrote an essay (for which was  given only a little above everage marks!) in which he wrote of his plans for the future:

    "If I were to have the good fortune to pass my examinations, I would go to Zurich. I would stay there for four years in order to study mathematics and physics. I imagine myself becoming a teacher in those branches of the natural sciences, choosing the theoretical part of them. Here are the reasons, which lead me to this plan. Above all, this is my disposition for abstract and mathematical thought, and my lack of imagination and practical ability."

    Einstein was a very choosy and lazy student: he often cut classes and used his time to study physics on his own or play violin. And indeed, he graduated in 1900 as a teacher of mathematics and physics. One of his friends at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, was Marcel Grossmann who was in the same class as Einstein. Einstein tried to obtain a post, writing to Hurwitz who held out some hope of a position but nothing came of it. Three of Einstein's fellow students, including Grossmann, were appointed assistants at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich but clearly Einstein hadn't impressed enough and still in 1901 he was writing round universities in the hope of securing a job, but without success.

    He did manage to avoid Swiss military service on the grounds that he had flat feed and varicose veins. By mid 1901 he had a temporary job as a mathematics teacher at the Technical High School in Winterthur. Around this time he wrote:

    "I have given up the ambition to get to an university..."

    Another temporary position teaching in a private school in Schaffhausen followed. Then Grossmann's father tried to help Einstein to get a job by recommending to the director of the patent office in Bern. Einstein was appointed as a technical expert third class.

    Einstein worked in his patent office from 1902 to 1909, holding a temporary post when he was first appointed, but by 1904 the position was made permanent and in 1906 he was promoted to technical expert second class. While in the Bern patent office he completed an astonishing range of theoretical physics publications, written in his spare time without the benefit of close contact with scientific literature or colleagues.

    In spite of his busy activities at the patent office, he married one of his classmates at the polytechnic, Mileva Mariç in 1903. They had two sons, (one of them you see on the picture) before they divorced. Later, Einstein remarried with another wife, called Elsa.

    Einstein earned a doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1905 for a thesis on a new determination of molecular dimensions. He dedicated the thesis to Grossmann.

    In the first three papers, all written in 1905, Einstein examined the phenomenon discovered by Max Planck, according to which electromagnetic energy seemed to be emitted from radiating objects in discrete quantities. The energy of these quanta was directly proportional to the frequency of the radiation. This seemed to contradict classical electromagnetic theory, based on Maxwell's equations and the laws of thermodynamics, which assumed that electromagnetic energy consisted of waves which could contain any small amount of energy. Einstein used Planck's quantum hypothesis to describe the electromagnetic radiation of light.

    Einstein second 1905 paper proposed what is today called the special theory of relativity. He based his new theory on a reinterpretation of the classical principle of relativity, namely that the laws of physics had to have the same form in any frame of reference, as required by Maxwell's theory. Einstein's third major paper, finished in 1905, "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", contained what became known as the special theory of relativity. For so long philosophers had been trying to understand the nature of matter and radiation, and how they interacted together. Neither the mechanical world view or the electromagnetic world view was capable of providing a consistent explanation for the way radiation and matter interact when viewed by an observer at rest and an observer moving at uniform speed.

    Later in 1905 Einstein showed how mass and energy were equivalent. Einstein was not the first to propose all the components of special theory of relativity. His contribution is unifying important parts of classical mechanics and Maxwell's electrodynamics. The third of Einstein's papers of 1905 concerned statistical mechanics, a field of that have been studied by Ludwig Boltzmann and Josiah Gibbs.

    He also published three theoretical papers, important to the development of 20th-century physics. In the spring of 1905, after considering these problems for ten years, Einstein realised that the problem lay in a theory of measurement, not in a theory of matter. At the centre of this special theory of relativity was the realisation that all measurements of time and space depend on judgements as to whether two distant events occur simultaneously. This led him to develop a theory based on the principle of relativity, that says physical laws are the same in all inertial reference systems, and the principle of the invariance of the speed of light, which states the speed of light in a vacuum is a universal constant. He was then able to provide a correct description of physical events in different inertial frames of reference. Again, no one understood Einstein's argument.

    The first of these, on Brownian motion, made significant predictions about the motion of particles that are randomly distributed in a fluid, which were later proved by an experiment.

    The second paper, on the photoelectric effect, presented a hypothesis on the nature of light. Einstein not only proposed that under certain circumstances light can be considered as consisting of particles, but he also hypothesised that the energy carried by a photon is proportional to the frequency of the radiation. The formula for this hypothesis is stated, E being the energy of the radiation, h being a universal constant known as Planck's constant, an u being the frequentation of the radiation; E = hu. The proposal that the energy contained within a light beam is transferred in individual units, called quanta, contradicted the hundred-year-old belief that light energy was a manifestation of continuous processes. Virtually no one accepted Einstein's proposal, even Robert Andrews Millikan when he proved the theory correct.

    After 1905, Einstein continued working in the areas described above. He made important contributions to quantum theory, but he sought to extend the special theory of relativity to phenomena involving acceleration. The key appeared in 1907 with the principle of equivalence, in which gravitational acceleration was held to be indistinguishable from acceleration caused by mechanical forces. Gravitational mass was therefore identical with inertial mass.

    In 1908 Einstein became a lecturer at the University of Bern after submitting his Habilitation thesis "Consequences for the constitution of radiation following from the energy distribution law of black bodies". The following year, he became professor of physics at the University of Zurich, having resigned his lectureship at Bern and his job in the patent office in Bern.

    By 1909, Einstein was recognised as a leading scientific thinker and in that year he resigned from the patent office. He was appointed a full professor at the Karl-Ferdinand University in Prague in 1911. In fact 1911 was a very significant year for Einstein since he was able to make preliminary predictions about how a ray of light from a distant star, passing near the sun, would appear to be bent slightly, in the direction of the sun. This would be highly significant as it would lead to the first experimental evidence in favour of Einstein's theory.

    Einstein believed that a good theory is one in which a minimum number of postulates is required to account for the physical evidence. This sparseness of postulates was what made his work so difficult for colleagues to comprehend, let alone support. However, Einstein did have important supporters. His chief patron was the German physicist Max Planck. After staying at the patent office for four years he moved rapidly upward in the German-speaking academic world. His first academic appointment was in 1909 at the University of Zurich, then in 1911 he moved to the German-speaking university at Prague, and in 1912 he returned to the Swiss National Polytechnic in Zurich. Finally he was appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes for Physics in Berlin in 1913.

    About 1912, Einstein began a new phase of his gravitational research, with the help of his mathematician friend Marcel Grossmann, by expressing his work in terms of the tensor calculus of Tullio Levi-Civita and Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro. Einstein called his new work the general theory of relativity. He moved from Prague to Zurich in 1912 to take up a chair at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich.

    Einstein returned to Germany in 1914 but didn't reapply for German citizenship. What he accepted was an impressive offer. It was a research position in the Prussian academy of Sciences together with a chair (but no teaching duties) at the University of Berlin. He was also offered the directorship of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics in Berlin, which was about to be established.

    After a number of false starts Einstein published, late in 1915, the definitive version of general theory. Just before publishing this work he lectured on general relativity at Göttingen and he wrote:

    "To my great joy, I completely succeeded in convincing Hilbert and Klein."

    In fact, Hilbert submitted for publication, a week before Einstein completed his work, a paper that contains the correct field equations of general relativity.

    After 1919, Einstein became internationally renowned. He accrued honours and awards, including the Nobel Prize in physics in 1922, from various world scientific societies. The two social movements that received his full support were pacifism and Zionism. During World War I he was one of a handful German academics willing to publicly decry Germany's involvement in the war. After the war his continued public support of pacifist and Zionist goals made him the target of vicious attacks. Even his scientific theories were published ridiculed, especially the theory of relativity. When Hitler came to power, Einstein immediately decided to leave Germany and move to the United States. He took a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. While continuing his efforts on behalf of world Zionism, Einstein renounced his former pacifist stand in the face of the huge threat to humankind posed by the Nazis in Germany.

    When British eclipse expeditions in 1919 confirmed his predictions, Einstein was idolised by the popular press.

    The London Times ran the headline on the 7th of November in 1919 :
    "Revolution in science -New Theory of the Universe- Newtonian ideas overthrown."

    In 1920 Einstein's lectures in Berlin were disrupted by demonstrations which, although officially denied, were almost certainly anti-Jewish. Certainly there were strong feelings expressed against his works during this period which Einstein replied to in the press quoting Lorentz, Planck and Eddington as supporting his theories and stating that certain Germans would have attacked them if he had been: "...a German national with or without swastika instead of a Jew with liberal international convictions..."

    During 1921 Einstein made his first visit to the United States. His main reason was to raise funds for the planned Hebrew University of Jerusalem. However he received the Barnard Medal during his visit and lectured several times on relativity. He is reported to have commented to the chairman at the lecture he gave in a large hall at Princeton which was overflowing with people:

    "I never realised that so many Americans were interesred in tensor analysis."

    Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1921 but not for relativity rather for his 1905 work on the photoelectric effect. In fact he was not present in December 1922 to receive the prize being on a voyage to Japan. Around this time he made many international visits. He had visited Paris earlier in 1922 and during 1923 he visited Palestine. After making his last major scientific discovery on the association of waves with matter in 1924 he made further visits in 1925, this time to South America.

    Among further honours which Einstein received were the Copley Medal of the Royal Society in 1925 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1926.

    Niels Bohr and Einstein were to carry on a debate on quantum theory which began at the Solvay Conference in 1927. Planck, Niels Bohr, de Broglie , Heisenberg, Schrödinger and Dirac were at this conference, in addition to Einstein. Einstein had declined to give a paper at the conference and:

    "... said hardly anything beyond presenting a very simple objection to the probability interpretation .... Then he fell back into silence ... "

    Indeed Einstein's life had been hectic and he was to pay the price in 1928 with a physical collapse brought on through overwork. However he made a full recovery despite having to take things easy throughout 1928.

    By 1930 he was making international visits again, back to the United States. A third visit to the United States in 1932 was followed by the offer of a post at Princeton. The idea was that Einstein would spend seven months a year in Berlin, five months at Princeton. Einstein accepted and left Germany in December 1932 for the United States. The following month the Nazis came to power in Germany and Einstein was never to return there.

    During 1933 Einstein travelled in Europe visiting Oxford, Glasgow, Brussels and Zurich. Offers of academic posts which he had found it so hard to get in 1901, were plentiful. He received offers from Jerusalem, Leiden, Oxford, Madrid and Paris.

    What was intended only as a visit became a permanent arrangement by 1935 when he applied and was granted permanent residency in the United States. At Princeton his work attempted to unify the laws of physics. However he was attempting problems of great depth and he wrote:

    "I have locked myself into quite hopeless scientific problems - the more so since, as an elderly man, I have remained estranged from the society here... "

    In 1939 Einstein collaborated with several other physicists in writing a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, pointing out the possibility of making an atomic bomb and the likelihood that the German government was embarking on such a course. The letter, which bore only Einstein's signature, helped lend urgency to efforts in the United States to build the atomic bomb, even though Einstein himself played no role in the work and knew nothing about it.

    In 1940 Einstein became a citizen of the United States, but chose to retain his Swiss citizenship. He made many contributions to peace during his life. In 1944 he made a contribution to the war effort by hand writing his 1905 paper on special relativity and putting it up for auction. It raised six million dollars, the manuscript today being in the Library of Congress.

    After the war, Einstein was active in the cause of international disarmament and world of government. He continued his active support of Zionism but declined the offer made by leaders of the state of Israel to become president of that country. In the United States he spoke out on the need for the nation's leaders to make any sacrifice necessary to preserve political freedom.

    By 1949 Einstein was unwell. A spell in hospital helped him recover but he began to prepare for death by drawing up his will in 1950. He left his scientific papers to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a university which he had raised funds for on his first visit to the USA, served as a governor of the university from 1925 to 1928 but he had turned down the offer of a post in 1933 as he was very critical of its administration.

    One more major event was to take place in his life. After the death of the first president of Israel in 1952, the Israeli government decided to offer the post of second president to Einstein. He refused but found the offer an embarrassment since it was hard for him to refuse without causing offence.

    One week before his death Einstein signed his last letter. It was a letter to Bertrand Russell in which he agreed that his name should go on a manifesto urging all nations to give up nuclear weapons. It is fitting that one of his last acts was to argue, as he had done all his life, for international peace.

    Einstein died in Princeton (New Jersey, USA) on April 18, 1955.  His brains, removed from his body, are still the object of ample research for a physical peculiarity bringing about his genius. Einstein's efforts in behalf of social causes have sometimes been viewed as unrealistic. In fact, his proposals were always carefully thought out. Like his scientific theories, they were motivated by sound intuition based on a careful assessment of evidence and observation. Einstein gave much of himself to political and social causes, but science came always first, because he often said, only the discovery of the nature of the universe would have lasting meaning.


    Back to start

     

    Anecdotes

    The many anecdotes about his life, combined with his image of tousled hair and the complexity of his theory of relativity, produce a figure that both familiar and awe-inspiring looks. One such anecdote concerns Einstein's tour of the United States shortly after the publication of his paper on relativity.
    The tour was a long one and took its toll on the young mathematician. One afternoon, as Einstein and his driver were headed to yet another lecture in yet another college lecture hall, Einstein had an idea. Speaking to his driver, Einstein said, "I really don't feel up to giving my lecture tonight. Why don't you deliver it? "Me?" gasped the shocked driver.

    "Yes," replied Einstein. "You have heard me give it scores of time. I'm sure you must have it memorised by now." "What if there are questions?" asked the driver. "There are never any questions, are there? There is nothing to worry about," returned Einstein. And so the ruse was planned. They would change cloths and switch roles. On arriving at campus, the driver was accorded the welcome appropriate for a famous mathematician, and Einstein tagged along behind, as was suitable for a man of his status. The lecture went beautifully, as Einstein knew it would. The driver was actually better than Einstein, growing into the talk as it progressed.

    At the end of the lecture the driver dutifully asked for questions. To the horror of both the driver and Einstein, a man stood up in the audience and asked a detailed question about an obscure point of the theory of relativity. The driver looked at Einstein with fear in his eyes but then regained his composure, began to smile and looking directly at the gentlemen replied, "That question is a very simple one to answer." Then gesturing to Einstein, who was at the back of the hall dressed in his driver's garb, the driver continued. "In fact that is such an easy question that I would like to invite my driver to the stage to answer it."

    Pronouncements:

    "Gravitation can not be held resposible for people falling in love"

    "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."

    "Anyone who had never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

    "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

    "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

    "I don't know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones."

    "Three ideals have given me constantly the courage to defeat the difficulties of life with optimism: goodness, beauty and truth."

    "The human must live totally different, if he wants to survive."

    "God does not play dice with the universe."

    "It's easier to split an atom, than remove a prejudice."

    "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

    "The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there is no risk of accident for someone who's dead."

    "Not everything that counts can be counted,
    and not everything that can be counted counts."

    "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it's comprehensible."

    "The faster you go, the shorter you are."

    "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour.
    Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."

    "Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgements of all kinds remain necessary."

    "I never think on the future. It comes soon enough."

    "Things would be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler."

    "Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people."

    "If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor."

    "Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It's the measles of the human race."

    "Relativity teaches us the connection between the different descriptions of one and the same reality".

     

    Back to start

     


    His early scientific publications.

    In 1905 Einstein received his doctorate from the University of Zürich for a theoretical dissertation on the dimensions of molecules, and he also published three theoretical papers of central importance to the development of 20th-century
    physics. In the first of these papers, on
    Brownian motion, he made significant predictions about the motion of particles that are randomly distributed in a fluid. These predictions were later confirmed by experiment.

    The second paper, on photoelectric effect, contained a revolutionary hypothesis concerning the nature of light. Einstein not only proposed that under certain circumstances light can be considered as consisting of particles, but he also hypothesized that the energy carried by any light particle, called a photon, is proportional to the frequency of the radiation. The formula for this is E = hu, where E is the energy of the radation, h is a universital constant known as Planck’s constant, and u is the frequency of the radation. Tthis proposal –that the energy contained within a light beam is transferred in individual units, or quanta –contradicted a hundred-year-old tradition of considering light energy a manifestation of continuous processes. Virtually no one accepted Einstein’s proposal. In fact, when the American physist Robert Andrews Millikan experimentally confirmed the theory almost a decade later, he was surprised and somewhat disquieted by the outcome.

    Einstein, whose prime  concern was to understand the nature of electromagnetic radation, subsequently urged the development of a theory that would be a fusion of the wave and particle models for light. Again, very few physicists understood or were sympathetic to these ideas.


    Back to start



    Theory of Relativity

    The classical laws of physics were formulated by Newton in the Principia in 1687. According to this theory the motion of a particle has to be described relative to an inertial frame in which the particle, not subjected to external forces, will move at a constant velocity in a straight line. Two inertial frames are related in that they move in a fixed direction at a constant speed with respect to each other. Time in frames differs by a constant and all times can be described relative to an absolute time. This 17th century theory was not challenged until the 19th century when electric and magnetic phenomena were studied theoretically.

    It had long been known that sound required a medium to travel through and it was quite natural to postulate a medium for the transmission of light. Such a medium was called the ether and many 19th century scientists postulated an ether with various properties. Cauchy, Stokes, Thomson and Planck all postulated ethers with differing properties and by the end of the 19th century light, heat, electricity and magnetism all had their respective ethers.

    A knowledge that the electromagnetic field was spread with a velocity essentially the same as the speed of light caused Maxwell to postulate that light itself was a electromagnetic phenomenon.

    Prompted by Maxwell’s ideas, Michelson began his own terrestrial experiments and in 1881 he reported :
    The result of the hypothesis of a stationary ether is shown to be incorrect, and the necessary conclusion follows that the hypothesis is erroneous.
    It appeared that the velocity of light was independent of the velocity of the observer.

    In 1889 a short paper, The ether and the earth’s atmosphere, was published by the Irish physicist George Fitzgerald in Science. Fitzgerald pointed out that the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment could be explained only if
    …the length of material bodies changes, according as they are moving through the ether or across it, by an amount depending on the square of the ratio of their velocities to that of light.

    In 1898 Lamor published an article Ether and matter in which he wrote down the Lorentz transformations and showed that the Fitzgerald-Lorentz contraction was a consequence.

    The most amazing article relating to special relativity to be published before 1900 was a paper of Poincaré La mesure du temps which appeared in 1898. In this paper Poincaré says :
    ...we have no direct intuition about the equality of two time intervals. The simultaneity of two events or the order of their succession, as well as the equality of two time intervals , must be defined in such a way that the statements of the natural laws are described as simple as possible.

    By 1900 the concept of the ether was being questioned.
    Poincaré asked in his opening address to the Paris Congress in 1900
    Does the ether really exist?  In 1904 he pointed out, very close to the theory of special relativity, that observers in different frames will have clocks which will
    …mark what you may call the local time. … as demanded by the relativity principle the observer cannot know whether he is at rest or in absolute motion.

    The year that special relativity finally came into existence was 1905. On 30th of June Einstein’s first paper in relativity was received. Einstein’s paper is remarkable for the different approach it takes. It is not presented as an attempt to explain experimental results, it is presented because of its beauty and simplicity. In the introduction Einstein says
    …the introduction of a light-ether will prove to be a superfluous since, according to the view to be developed here, neither will a space in absolute rest endowed with special properties be introduced nor will a velocity vector be associated with a point of empty space in which electromagnetic processes take place.

    Inertial frames are introduced which, by definition, are in uniform motion with respect to each other. The whole theory is based on two postulates:-

    1. The laws of physics take the same form in all inertial frames

    2. In any inertial frame, the velocity of light c is the same whether the light is emitted by a body at rest or by a body
       in uniform motion.

    Einstein now deduced the Lorentz transformations from his two postulates and proves the group property. Then the Fitzgerald-Lorentz contraction is deduced. Also in the paper Einstein mentions the clock paradox. Einstein called it a theorem that if two synchronous clocks C1 and C2 start at a point A and C2 leaves A moving along a closed curve to return to A the C2 will run slow compared with C1. He notes that no paradox results since C2 experiences acceleration while C1 does not.

    In September 1905 Einstein published a short but important paper in which he proved the famous formula

    E=mc²

    The first paper on special relativity, other than by Einstein, was written in 1908 by Planck. It was largely due to the fact that relativity was taken up by someone important as Planck that it became so rapidly accepted. At the time Einstein wrote the 1905 paper he was still a technical expert third class at the Bern patent office. Also in 1908 Minkowski published an important paper on relativity, presenting the Maxwell-Lorentz equations in tensor form. He also showed that the Newtonian theory of gravitation was not consistent with relativity.

    In 1912 Lorentz and Einstein were jointly proposed for a Nobel Prize for their work on special relativity. The recommendation is by Wien, the 1911 winner. He states :
    …While Lorentz must be considered as the first to have found the mathematical content of the relativity principle, Einstein succeeded in reducing it to a simple principle. One should therefore assess the merits of both investigators as being comparable…

    Einstein never received a Nobel prize for special relativity. The committee was at first cautious and waited for experimental confirmation. By the time such confirmation was available Einstein had moved on to further momentous work, namely the general theory of relativity.

    On the basis of the general theory of relativity , Einstein accounted for the previously unexplained variations in the orbital motion of the planets and predicted the bending of starlight in the vicinity of a massive body such as the son.The confirmation of this latter phenomen during an eclipse of the sun in 1919 became a media event, and Einstein’s fame spread worldwide. For the rest of his live Einstein devoted considerable time to generalizing his theory even more.

    His last effort , the unified field theory , which was not entirely succesful , was an attempt to understand all physical interactions – including electromagnetic interactions and weak and strong interactions – in terms of the modification of the geometry of space – time between interacting entities.

    Most of Einstein’s colleagues felt that these efforts were misguided. Between 1915 and 1930 the mainstream of physics was in developing a new conception of the fundamental character of matter , known as quantum theory. This theory contained the feature of wave-particle duality ( light exhibits the properties of a particle , as well as of a wave) that Einstein had earlier urged as necessary , as well as the uncertainty principle , which states that precision in measuring processes is limited. Additionally it contained a rejection, at a fundamental level , of the notion of strict causality. Einstein, however, would not accept such notions and remained a critic of these developments until the end of his life. ‘God,’ Einstein once said, ‘does not play dice with the world.’

    Some people claim that Einstein may not have come up with the theory of relativity if he didn't play the violin.

    The violin has a universe within a small space... as anyone who has ever tried to play one of those incredible instruments can tell you. What with a ruler, is milimeters in physical distance, is meters in practice. And yet with more practice, becomes no distance at all. Another point in relativity...

    > In this photo, is he holding the bow upside down !? Was it done for the art or humor of the photograph? Or, is it an optical illusion? The possibilities are very fascinating. Free your mind and think about the possibilities. Play with some ideas.
    The more you look at this image, the more it will impress you. If there's a citation on how the bow is held, and why, or any other discussions on "Einstein, the violin and relativity", we love to hear it.

  •  

    Back to start

     


    A scientist, a philosopher and a world citizen.

    After 1919, Einstein became internationally renowned. He accrued honors and awards, including the Nobel prize in physics in 1921, from various scientific societies. His visit to any part of the world became a national event ; photographers and reporters followed him everywhere. While regretting his loss of privacy, Einstein capitalized on his fame to further his own political and social views.

    The two social movements that received his full support were pacifism and Zionism. During World War I he was one of a handful of German academics willing to publicly decry Germany’s involvement in the war. After the war his continued public support of pacifist and Zionist goals made him the target of vicious attacks by anti-Semitic and right-wing elements in Germany. Even his scientific theories were publicly ridiculed, especially the theory of relativity.

    When Hitler came to power, Einstein immediately decided to leave Germany for the United States. He took a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. While continuing his efforts on behalf of world Zionism , Einstein renounced his former pacifist stand in the face of the awesome threat to humankind posed by the Nazi regime in Germany.

    In 1939 Einstein collaborated with several other physicists in writing a letter to President Franklin D.Roosevelt, pointing out the possibility of making an atomic bomb and the likelihood that the German government was embarking on such a course. The letter, wich bore only Einstein’s signature, helped lend urgency to efforts in the U.S. to build the atomic bomb, but Einstein himself played no role in the work and knew nothing about it at the time

    After the war, Einstein was active in the cause of international disarmament and world government. He continued his active support of Zionism but declined the offer made by the leaders of the state of Israel to become president of that country. In the U.S. during the late 1940s and early ‘50’s he spoke out on the need for the nation’s intellectuals to make any sacrifice necessary to preserve political freedom. Einstein died in Princeton on April 18, 1955.

    Einstein’s efforts in behalf of social causes have sometimes been viewed as unrealistic. In fact, his proposals were always carefully thought out. Like his scientific theories, they were motivated by sound intuition based on a shrewd and careful assessment of evidence and observation. Although Einstein gave much of himself to political and social causes, science always came first, because, he often said, only the discovery of the nature of the universe would have lasting meaning. The difficulty that others had with Einstein’s work was not because it was too mathematically complex or technically obscure; the problem resulted, rather, from Einstein’s beliefs about the nature of good theories and relationship between experiment and theory. Einstein did not accept the famous principle of indeterminacy because this dethronement of causality offended all his scientific instincts. ‘God,’ Einstein once said, ‘does not play dice with the world.’

    Although he maintained that the only source of knowledge is experience, he also believed that scientific theories are the free creations of a finely tuned physical intuition and that the premises on which theories are based cannot be connected logically to experiment. A good theory, therefore, is one in which a minimum number of postulates is required to account for the physical evidence. This sparseness of postulates, a feature of all Einstein’s work, was what made his work so difficult for colleagues to comprehend, let alone support.

    His writings include Relativity :The Special and General Theory (1916) ;About Zionism (1934) ;Builders of the Universe (1932) ; Why War ? (1933), with Sigmund Freud ; The World as I see it (1934) ; The Evolution of physics (1938), with the Polish physicist Leopold Infeld ; and Out of My Later Years (1950). Einstein’s collected papers, including the pre-relativity papers of 1905 printed in the Annalen der Physik, are being published in a multivolume work, beginning in 1987.

     

    Back to start

     

    Other sites on the Internet

    http://aleph0.clarku.edu/~djoyce/matthist.einstein.html

    http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Mathematicians/Einstein.html

    http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~smfriedm/einstein.html

    http://sci.hkbu.edu.hk/math/einstein.html

    http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/3555/einwho3.html


    Back to start

     

    Questions?

    Fraukenstein007@hotmail.com

    Sdmpje@hotmail.com

    elkedrieghe@hotmail.com

    Drolleke@hotmail.com 

    Back to start