Legendary history – Albert Einstein
born March 14, 1879, in Ulm Germany
Albert Einstein, born March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany, to non-practicing Jewish parents.
A year after his birth the family moved to Munich, where his father Hermann opened a small electrical workshop with his brother Jacob.
Einstein’s childhood takes place in Bismarck’s Germany, a country undergoing massive industrialization, but also with forms of despotism that are felt at various levels and in various environments of the social structure.
Little Albert is a loner by instinct and learns to talk very late.
The encounter with the school is immediately difficult: Albert, in fact, finds his consolations at home, where his mother starts him to study the violin and his uncle Jacob to that of algebra.
As a child, he reads science books with what he calls “breathless attention”. He hates the strict systems that make the school of his time similar to a barracks.
The first studies
In 1894 the family moved to Italy to seek better luck with a factory in Pavia, near Milan. Albert remains alone in Monaco so that he can finish the school year at the gymnasium; he then reaches the family.
The factory’s business is starting to go wrong and Hermann Einstein urges his son Albert to join the famous Federal Institute of Technology, known as the Zurich Polytechnic.
However, not having obtained a secondary school diploma, in 1895 he had to take an entrance exam: he failed because of a lack of literature.
But there was more: the director of the Polytechnic, impressed by the uncommon skills shown in scientific subjects, urges the boy not to give up hope and to obtain a qualifying diploma for enrollment in the Polytechnic in the progressive Swiss cantonal school of Aargau.
Here Albert Einstein finds a very different atmosphere from that of the Munich high school.
In 1896 he can finally enroll in the Polytechnic, where he makes the first decision: he will not be the engineer but the teacher.
In a statement of his time, he will say, “If I get lucky in passing the exam, I will go to Zurich.
There I will be for four years studying mathematics and physics. I imagine becoming a teacher in those branches of natural sciences, choosing the theoretical part of them.
These are the reasons that led me to make this plan. Above all, it is my disposition to abstraction and mathematical thought, and my lack of imagination and practical skill. “
During his studies in Zurich, he matures his choice: he will devote himself to physics rather than mathematics.
From graduation to the first job, up to the first theoretical studies
Albert Einstein graduated in 1900. He, therefore, takes Swiss citizenship to take up a job at the Berne Patent Office.
The modest work allows him to devote much of his time to the study of physics.
In 1905 he published three theoretical studies. The first and most important study contains the first complete exposition of the special theory of relativity.
The second study, on the interpretation of the photoelectric effect, contains a revolutionary hypothesis on the nature of light; Einstein states that in certain circumstances electromagnetic radiation has a corpuscular nature, assuming that the energy carried by each particle that constitutes the light ray, called the photon, is proportional to the frequency of the radiation.
This statement, according to which the energy contained in a light beam is transferred to individual units or how many, ten years later it will be confirmed experimentally by Robert Andrews Millikan.
The third and most important study is from 1905, and bears the title “Electrodynamics of moving bodies”: it contains the first complete exposition of the theory of special relativity, the result of a long and careful study of the classical mechanics of Isaac Newton, of the modalities of the interaction between radiation and matter, and of the characteristics of the physical phenomena observed in systems in relative motion with respect to one another.
The Nobel Prize
It is this latter study that will lead Albert Einstein to achieve the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.
In 1916 he published the memoir: “The foundations of the theory of general relativity”, the result of over ten years of study. This work is considered by the physicist to be his greatest scientific contribution: it is part of his research aimed at the geometrization of physics.
The historical context: the First World War
Meanwhile, in the world, the conflicts between nations had caught fire, enough to trigger the first world war. During this time Einstein is among the few German academics to publicly criticize Germany’s involvement in the war.
This position makes him the victim of serious attacks by right-wing groups, so much so that his scientific theories undergo an action aimed at ridiculing them; particular fury is the theory of relativity.
Nazism and the atomic bomb
With Hitler’s coming to power, Einstein was forced to emigrate to the United States, where he was offered a professorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
Faced with the threat posed by the Nazi regime, the German Nobel renounced pacifist positions and in 1939 wrote with many other physicists a famous letter addressed to President Roosevelt, in which the possibility of creating an atomic bomb was underlined. The letter marks the beginning of plans for the construction of nuclear weapons.
The commitment to peace
Einstein obviously despises violence profoundly and, having concluded these terrible years of conflict, he actively engages against the war and against racist persecutions, drawing up a pacifist declaration against nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, he repeatedly stresses the need for intellectuals in every country to be willing to make all the sacrifices necessary to preserve political freedom and to use scientific knowledge for peaceful purposes.
Albert Einstein died at the age of 76 in the United States, at Princeton, on April 18, 1955, surrounded by the greatest honors.
He expressed verbally the desire to put his body at the disposal of science and Thomas Stoltz Harvey, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, on his own initiative removed the brain and kept it at home in a vacuum-packed jar for about 30 years.
The rest of the body was cremated and the ashes were dispersed in a secret place. When Einstein’s relatives were informed, they agreed to have the brain cut into 240 parts to be delivered to as many researchers; the biggest part is kept in the Princeton hospital.
The grandeur and immortal genius of Einstein
Einstein’s greatness consists in having radically changed the methodologies of interpretation of the world of physics.
His fame grew enormously and in an ever-increasing manner after the Nobel prize was awarded, but above all thanks to the high degree of originality of his Theory of relativity, capable of striking the collective imagination in a fascinating and astonishing way.
Einstein’s contribution to the world of science, but also to that of philosophy (a field in which Einstein nourished and showed profound interest) has produced a revolution that in history is only compared to that produced by the work of Isaac Newton.
The success and popularity acquired by Einstein was a completely unusual event for a scientist: they did not even stop during the last years of his life, so much so that in many popular cultures his name became – even then and still is today – synonymous with genius and great intelligence.
Many phrases of Einstein have remained famous, such as “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure of the first”.
Even his face and features (long white hair and thick white mustache) have become a stereotype symbolizing the figure of the brilliant scientist; an example above all is the character of Dr.
Emmett Brown of the saga of “Back to the Future”, a film where, among other things, the dog of the inventor of the most famous time machine in the cinema is called Einstein.
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