Albert Einstein was a physicist who was born in Ulm, Wurttemberg, Germany on March 4, 1879. His father, Hermann Einstein ran an electrical business while his mother, Pauline Koch ran a family household. His sister, Maya, was born two years after him. Einstein possessed qualities which made him stand out from other children. His head was comparatively larger than normal and was considered a retard because he rarely spoke when he was a young boy. At the age of five, his father found a compass in his pocket which changed his outlook on life. Einstein was dumbfounded when he realized the consistent northward swing of the needle and got to know at such tender age that there are forces in nature that one cannot see.
He attended a Catholic school in Munich where he developed a passion for classical music and played the violin. Despite disliking the school for the strict memorization policy, he evidently showed ability in mathematics especially calculus and geometry. He individually learned mathematics and philosophy outside the school with assistance from Max Talmud, a Polish medical student, and Jacob, his uncle (Mih, 2000).
He did not move with his parent to Pavia, Italy immediately because the German government wanted young men to complete military training before leaving the country. Cwiklik (1987) notes that his parents rented a house for him but soon missed his parents, got bored about the military training, and was expelled from school when he became a trouble maker and performed poorly academically. He was cleared to leave the country when a doctor recommended that he was on the brink of a nervous breakdown and successfully dodged the compulsory military training in Germany to join his parents in Italy where he did up to half a year of self-study.
Einstein then moved to Aarau, Switzerland where he eventually finished high school and wanted admission in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, unfortunately, he failed the entry exam. This was a renowned college which did not require a high school diploma, but students were to take an entrance examination. Despite failing the exam at the age of 16, he performed well in mathematics and physics but failed in botany, zoology, and foreign languages. The college administration was impressed by Einsteins abilities in mathematics and was encouraged to reapply the following year and had him join a high school near Zurich. The school principal invited him to stay in his house until he graduated a year later. He enrolled at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology where he studied was trained as a teacher of physics and mathematics. He worked hard and earned a bachelors degree in 1990, acquired Swiss citizenship but could not find a permanent job.
When he was a student at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Gribbin (2016) posits that he was fascinated by electromagnetism and the behavior of light in particular. This idea marked the start of his contribution to the study of the universe. He was 16 years when he envisioned an experiment that would later lead to his theory of special relativity. He visualized how it could be to chase a beam of light, whether he could run as fast as the beam or overtake it. Einstein made use of the laboratory at the Institute to conduct his experiments. He built an apparatus which used mirrors so that light from one direction could be reflected in two different directions, with one beaming towards the earths movement while the other perpendicular to it. Relativity came to exist as Einstein split a beam, reflect it to see if there was a difference in energy relying on whether or not the earth motion was through the ether. He realized that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light. This experiment helped him later.
McPherson (2008) cites that though Einstein could not find a job after finishing his studies, but his quest for his research continued. His professional life took a turn in 1902 when he was offered a position to evaluate patent applications for electromagnetic devices at Swiss Patent office in Bern where he met Michele Besso whom he worked with to develop the theory of relativity. His research multiplied while he was at the Patent office, one of them being his doctoral dissertation. Einstein published the special relativity theory in his paper On The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies in 1905.
The theory of relativity is one of the major contributions Albert Einstein made to modern day physics about the study of the universe. This approach changed astronomy and theoretical physics and superseded Isaac Newtons theory of mechanics which had stood for over 200 years. This theory was the refined version of the special relativity theory and Isaac Newtons law of universal gravitation. It posts that acceleration and gravity cannot be distinguished, and describe gravity as a property of geometry of space and time. The theory predicted the presence of black holes, length contraction, gravitational light, time dilation and that the space-time is curved. Despite the differed predictions between this theory and the classical physics, observations and experiments have confirmed it and are accepted in physics today.
British scientists led by astronomer Arthur Eddington carried out tests to prove the bending of starlight near the sun during a total eclipse. In May 1919, the scientists took photographs of the total eclipse in two different positions which were necessitated by the presence of bright stars near the sun. After five months of careful analysis and examinations, the results proved right Einsteins prediction that stars are positioned slightly differently from what Isaac Newtons law had postulated. This realization verified Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, and he became famous in the world. He received invitations in Europe and the United States to give public and university lectures and was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921 for his hand in theoretical physics and discovering the law of photoelectric effect. The theory of relativity has become significant in astronomy and cosmology today in explaining the problems in physics and astrology. For instance, astronomers are using the approach to understanding cosmology and are showing interest in the use of Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and other detectors in observing gravitational waves predicted by Einstein in his theory. This will have an impact on the way people seen the universe today.
Other significant works of Albert Einstein include the discovery of his famous equation E=mc2 which he wanted to know if the mass of a body depended on its energy content (Bohn, 2012). This equation changed the world and became part of his theory of special relativity. This was published in 1905 alongside Brownian motion which showed that individual atoms make up liquid.
Einstein renounced his German citizenship when Adolf Hitler confiscated his personal possession when he was out of the country. The government of Belgium protected him until he left for the United States where he became a citizen in 1940. He sent correspondence to President Franklin Roosevelt about the potentiality of Adolf Hitler developing an atomic bomb. Roosevelt accepted the idea and the United States developed a nuclear bomb in Manhattan.
After the Second World War, Einstein continued his quest for the general relativity theory focusing on wormholes, the creation of the universe and the existence of black holes. In his last days of his life, he was always alone and withdrew from the limelight. He suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm and was admitted to University Medical center at Princeton where he died on April 18, 1955.
Bohm, D. (2012). Special theory of relativity. Routledge.
Cwiklik, R. (1987). Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity. Barron's Educational Series.
Gribbin, J. (2016). Einstein's Masterwork: 1915 and the General Theory of Relativity. Pegasus Books.
McPherson, S. S. (2008). Albert Einstein. Lerner Books [UK].
Mih, W. C. (2000). The fascinating life and theory of Albert Einstein. Nova Publishers.
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