Person: Einstein, Albert
Einstein contributed more than any other scientist to the modern vision of physical reality. His special and general theories of relativity are still regarded as the most satisfactory model of the large-scale universe that we have.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- In 1895 Einstein failed an examination that would have allowed him to study for a diploma as an electrical engineer at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zürich.
- Einstein renounced German citizenship in 1896 and was to be stateless for a number of years.
- Following the failing of the entrance exam to the ETH, Einstein attended secondary school at Aarau planning to use this route to enter the ETH in Zürich.
- Indeed Einstein succeeded with his plan graduating in 1900 as a teacher of mathematics and physics.
- One of his friends at ETH 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 ETH in Zürich but clearly Einstein had not impressed enough and still in 1901 he was writing round universities in the hope of obtaining a job, but without success.
- Einstein was appointed as a technical expert third class.
- Einstein worked in this 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.
- Einstein earned a doctorate from the University of Zürich in 1905 for a thesis On a new determination of molecular dimensions.
- In the first of 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.
- Einstein used Planck's quantum hypothesis to describe the electromagnetic radiation of light.
- Einstein's second 1905 paper proposed what is today called the special theory of relativity.
- As a second fundamental hypothesis, Einstein assumed that the speed of light remained constant in all frames of reference, as required by Maxwell's theory.
- 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.
- The third of Einstein's papers of 1905 concerned statistical mechanics, a field of that had been studied by Ludwig Boltzmann and Josiah Gibbs.
- After 1905 Einstein continued working in the areas described above.
- 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.
- By 1909 Einstein was recognised as a leading scientific thinker and in that year he resigned from the patent office.
- 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.
- 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.
- Einstein returned to Germany in 1914 but did not reapply for German citizenship.
- After a number of false starts Einstein published, late in 1915, the definitive version of general theory.
- Hilbert submitted for publication, a week before Einstein completed his work, a paper which contains the correct field equations of general relativity.
- When British eclipse expeditions in 1919 confirmed his predictions, Einstein was idolised by the popular press.
- In 1920 Einstein's lectures in Berlin were disrupted by demonstrations which, although officially denied, were almost certainly anti-Jewish.
- During 1921 Einstein made his first visit to the United States.
- Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1921 but not for relativity rather for his 1905 work on the photoelectric effect.
- 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.
- Indeed Einstein's life had been hectic and he was to pay the price in 1928 with a physical collapse brought on through overwork.
- 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 Zürich.
- In 1940 Einstein became a citizen of the United States, but chose to retain his Swiss citizenship.
- By 1949 Einstein was unwell.
- After the death of the first president of Israel in 1952, the Israeli government decided to offer the post of second president to Einstein.
- One week before his death Einstein signed his last letter.
- Einstein was cremated at Trenton, New Jersey at 4 pm on 18 April 1955 (the day of his death).
Born 14 March 1879, Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. Died 18 April 1955, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
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Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Greek, Astronomy, Origin Germany, Prize Nobel, Physics
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive