Albert Einstein’s birthday

“Imagine for a moment what the general opinion will be fifty years from now if the name Einstein does not appear on the list of Nobel laureates.”
M. Brillouin, in a letter to the Swedish Academy of Sciences, 1921.

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany. He studied at the Institute of Technology in Zurich, graduated with an undistinguished record, tried and failed to get a university job. A recommendation from a father of a friend helped Einstein to get a position at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. 1905 was Einstein’s magic year. In that year (while working at the patent office), Einstein produced six papers:

  • A paper on the light-quantum and the photoelectric effect.
  • A paper with a new determination of molecular dimensions.
  • Two papers on Brownian motion.
  • Two papers on special relativity. The second paper contained the relation: E=mc2

Late in 1906, Einstein became the founder of the quantum theory of the solid state, by giving the essentially correct explanation of the anomalous behavior of hard solids (such as diamonds) at low temperatures.
Between 1907 and 1911, Einstein focused his attention on the quantum theory. From 1911 to 1915 his main focus was formulating the general theory of relativity (which he published in November 1915).
(Summarized from Subtle is the Lord, the science and the life of Albert Einstein, by Abraham Pais).

American Institute of Physics has a brief Einstein’s Chronology. and also a more detailed account.

“ Einstein’s new general theory of relativity predicted a remarkable effect: when a ray of light passes near a massive body, the ray should be bent. For example, starlight passing near the sun should be slightly deflected by gravity. This deflection could be measured when the sun’s own light was blocked during an eclipse. Einstein predicted a specific amount of deflection, and the prediction spurred British astronomers to try to observe a total eclipse in May 1919 … The starlight had been deflected just as Einstein had predicted…

Announcement of the eclipse results caused a sensation, and not only among scientists. It brought home to the public a transformation of physics, by Einstein and others, that was overturning established views of time, space, matter, and energy. Einstein became the world’s symbol of the new physics. Some journalists took a perverse delight in exaggerating the incomprehensibility of his theory, claiming that only a genius could understand it. More serious thinkers — philosophers, artists, ordinary educated and curious people — took the trouble to study the new concepts. These people too chose Einstein as a symbol for thought at its highest. ”

Ready to check how much you know about Einstein?
Here are three statements. Only one is correct:
1. The celebrated relation E=mc2 is called Einstein’s equation.
2. Einstein received the Nobel prize for E=mc2.
3. Einstein called the “cosmological constant” he introduced, his largest blunder.



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One Response to Albert Einstein’s birthday

  1. Pingback: Another reason to celebrate Albert Einstein’s birthday | T. K. Flor's Blog

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