A Bit of History: Albert Einstein

in #esteem4 years ago



Albert Einstein is one if not the most well-known scientific figure of the 20th century. He is so well-known that even the most ordinary person have heard his name. Just ask a random person the equation E = mc2 and they would instantly name Albert Einstein as the person responsible for the said equation. His paper on the theory of general relativity (arguably his greatest work) have profound effect on the world---even to this day.

His Early Life

Einstein was born in Ulm, in the German state of Württemberg, on March 14, 1879. But six weeks after his birth, Einstein's family moved to Munich. Einstein started his education when he was just 6 years old, attending Petersschule, a Catholic elementary school in 1885.

It was popularly known that Einstein was a bad student and did poorly on his studies when he was young but contrary to this popular belief, Einstein was actually a good student. This was proven by a letter written by his mother to her sister, telling her that young Einstein was once again number in class. And only after Einstein attended Luitpold grammar school did his grade worsened primarily because young Einstein could not adopt to the schools authoritarian attitude.

In 1896, Einstein entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics at the age of 17. A few years later, Einstein received his diploma and acquired Swiss citizenship. After graduation, Einstein applied for a teaching post but was unable to find one. Left with no choice, he accepted a position as a technical assistant in the Swiss patent office.

Family and Personal Relationships

Albert Einstein's personal relationships was colorful to say the least. He had been married twice and had a few children. His first wife was Mileva Maric, his longtime love and former student. In 1903, the couple got married, though it was implied that the two had a child out of wedlock which was only discovered by scholars in the 1980s through private letters. The daughter, which was named Lieserl in the letters, was either mentally challenged and died young, or was adopted when she was just one year old. Either way, Lieserl's fate was unclear.

Einstein and Maric had two other children: Hans Albert and Eduard, born in 1904 and 1910 respectively. After many years of being married, the couple's union soon came to an end, in 1919, Einstein divorced Maric, and soon married his cousin Elsa Löwenthal, with whom he had been in a relationship since 1912.



Albert Einstein's Genius

In 1905, Albert Einstein obtained his Ph.D. in physics. The same year, he submitted four groundbreaking paper of great significance to physics---dubbing it his "year of miracles" or "annus mirabilis" in Latin.

The first paper incorporated the newly conceived idea that light could come in discreet particles called photons---a theory describing photoelectric effect which underpins the modern solar system we use today. Einstein's second paper explained Brownian motion. In this paper, Einstein explained why small bit of dust can seen to move randomly on the surface of water; he then pointed out that water is made up of tiny, vibrating molecules that kick the dust back and forth.

Einstein's final two paper outlined his theory of general relativity. In these papers, he explained why observers that moves at different speed would disagree with the measurement, but would agree about the speed of light, which is constant. As mentioned earlier the two papers also introduced his famous equation: E = mc2. The said equation shows the equivalence between mass and energy. The said finding was also considered the most widely-known aspects of Einstein's work.

In 1915, Einstein once again published four papers but this time the focus of the papers was about his famous theory of general relativity. The papers also updated Isaac Newton's law of gravity---explaining that the force of gravity arose due to the distortion of the fabric of space-time caused by massive objects. A few years later, this theory was given a major validating boost in 1919 by the British astronomer, Arthur Eddington. Eddington observed this phenomena during a solar eclipse. By observing the edge of the sun during the eclipse, he noticed that the light of the stars were bent by the sun's gravitational well, causing shifts in their perceived positions.

The Nobel Peace Prize and the Rise of Anti-Semitism in Germany

In 1921, Albert Einstein won the Nobel Peace Price in physics for his work on the photoelectric effect. But because of his beliefs (the brilliant physicist being a Jew and a pacifist), his being awarded the prize became controversial because at that time, Anti-Semitism was on the rise and relativity was not yet seen as a proven theory. Some members of the awarding committee even went far by leaving scathing comments and mentioning his "services to Theoretical Physics" when presenting the award.

The rising Anti-Semitism sentiments in Germany greatly affected Einstein, knowing that his identity as a Jew could lead to trouble, Einstein (along with Löwenthal) fled to the United States during the rise of Adolf Hitler. There he renounced his German citizenship, and became a professor of theoretical physics at Princeton. In 1940, Einstein officially became as US citizen.

The Laws of Quantum Mechanics and His Clash with Niels Bohr

During that era, a group of physicist led by Danish physicist Niels Bohr worked out the law of quantum mechanics, and even Albert Einstein became intimately involved with the said research.

Though Bohr and Einstein were involved in the research, the two did not share the same beliefs. Bohr and his cohorts believed that quantum particles behaved according to probabilistic laws which Einstein found unacceptable. According to Einstein, God does not play dice with the universe, believing that quantum particles do not behaved according to probability but by design.

The two men's clash became famous in the scientific community but at the end, Bohr's theory became the widely accepted one---dominating the contemporary thinking about quantum mechanics.

Einstein's Death

Einstein retired as a professor in 1945, but despite this, he did not stop his scientific research. Instead spent most of his life in finding a method to unify gravity and electromagnetism---which later became known as a unified field theory.

Though he gave his all in this research, the complexity of the field greatly stumped the aging physicist, and in April 18,1955, the world-famous died of a burst blood vessel near the heart.

Einstein's body was cremated and his ash scattered in an undisclosed location. But before his cremation, a certain doctor performed an unauthorized craniotomy on Einstein---removing and saving his brain to study and discover the secrets to the great physicist's brilliance. In decades to come, his brain was subjected to countless experiments and research but none gave substantial result that would explained his genius.

His Legacy

Besides his incredible legacy in the theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics, Einstein also delved into lesser know research like refrigeration using motor, and moving parts or coolant. The great physicist was also a tireless anti-war advocate, helping build the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist whose purpose was to warn the world---specifically the public of the dangers of nuclear weapons.

So far, Einstein’s theory of general relativity spectacularly held up as a predictive model. it is said that the great physicist anticipated the light of distant object is lensed by massive, closer entities. The said phenomena is known as gravitational lensing, and it greatly helped pur understanding of the universe's evolution. The most recent even that proved this was in 2016, where the Advanced LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory), discovered and announced the first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves. The waves were created after massive neuron stars and blackholes merge and generate ripples in the fabric of space.



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