"Not all that counts can be counted, and not all that can be counted, counts"-Einstein
Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879 in Ulm Württemberg to parents Hermann Einstein and Pauline Koch. After he was born, his family moved to Munich, where he started school at the Luitpold Gymnasium. His teachers considered him a slow learner when he was a child, but it is unsure why. Some people believe that he had dyslexia, while others believe that he was just shy. He continued his education in Switzerland in 1896. He entered the Polytechnic Academy in Zürich with the hopes of becoming a physics and mathematics teacher. After he graduated, he found there were no positions available, so he returned to the Academy and received his doctor's degree in 1905. Einstein married Mileva Maric in 1903. They had a daughter and two sons, but their marriage ended in 1919, in which year Einstein married his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal.
In the same year that he earned his degree, he published four research papers, all of which were revolutionary. Each contained a great discovery in physics: The special theory of relativity; The equivalence of mass and energy; The theory of Brownian motion; and The photon theory of light. Many scientists believed that he should have won a Nobel Prize for his research papers, but it wasn't until later that he did.
Einstein was studying and testing Newton's laws of motions, when he started to notice that they didn't work in all cases. For example, his laws were unable to correctly calculate values at extremely high speeds. Einstein developed his own theories for what would happen at these high speeds, which became known as the theory of relativity. He also did work on the movement of molecules, which became known as the Brownian Movement, and cosmetology, statistical mechanics, and interpretation of the quantum theory.
Einstein became extremely well known in 1919 with the announcement that a prediction of general theory of relativity was verified. Two years later he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric law and his work in theoretical physics. He soon became known as one of the smartest people of the twentieth century. His name became associated with the word "genius" and was known all over the world.
In 1933, while Einstein was living in Germany, he had everything he owned taken away from him by the Nazis because he was Jewish. He fled to the United States of America and took up a job at the institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey where he continued his research toward unifying the laws of physics. His final experiments were left unfinished when he died at Princeton on April 18, 1955. He was cremated that day, and his ashes were scattered.
Einstein's Theory of Relativity
Einstein's theory of relativity is really complicated. We know that on earth, if something is moving at a constant speed, the reference points can be changed so that the moving object is at rest and everything else is moving. Also, if it is moving toward an object that is also moving, the other object appears to be going at both the speeds combined. For example, If two cars were moving toward each other at 100 km/hr, both cars could consider themselves at rest and the other one as moving 200km/hr. We can change reference points relative to many different objects. Every situation would look different to different people. This all changes when you're talking about something moving at the speed of light. Einstein's special theory of relativity says that the speed of light is fixed, and "not relative to the movement of the observer." Therefore, the speed of light appears the same to every viewer, no matter what their speed is.
The theory of relativity doesn't have to be used unless there are speeds that are almost as fast as the speed of light or if there is a lot of energy all in one place (for example, neutron stars). Among the assertions and consequences of the theory of relativity are "the propositions that the maximum velocity attainable in the universe is the speed of light; that mass and energy are equivalent and interchangeable properties (this is spectacularly confirmed by nuclear fission, on which the atomic bomb is based); that objects appear to contract in the direction of motion; that the rate of a moving clock seems to decrease as its velocity increases; that events that appear simultaneous to an observer in one system may not appear simultaneous to an observer in another system; and that, since absolute time is excluded from physical reasoning because it cannot be measured, the results of observers in different systems are equally correct."¹ It is from this theory that the belief of time travel comes. A paradox tells of two twins. One leaves home and travels around space at the speed of light. He returns not long after he left to find that his brother has aged a great amount. Scientists believe that if they had a vehicle that would travel the speed of light, they would be able to slow time.
We call this theory the "Special" theory of relativity because it does not include gravity. Einstein later came up with another theory to include gravity, and accelerated objects, instead of just objects with uniform motion. He called this the theory of general relativity. This theory was very different from any of its time because instead of using space and time as two separate things, it combined them into a 4-dimensional continuum, called the "space-time continuum." According to Einstein, every object make space-time curve around them, forming a gravitational field. This means that the path of objects that are within this field, is determined by the curve. Many objects around this field would be pulled in because of gravity.
Einstein's ideas led him to discover that mass and energy were related. This led to one of the most famous equations ever known: E=mc² where the E is energy, the m is mass and the c is the speed of light. This equation can be expanded into the form where v is the object's velocity. As an object's velocity reaches the speed of light (300,000 km/sec) the energy required to accelerate any more reaches infinity, so reaching the speed of light is impossible. Only particles with no mass, such as photons, can reach this speed. Particles that can move faster than the speed of light are nonexistent at this time, but have been given the name "tachyons."
- last visited on January 13, 2004
Einstein's theories are extremely complex and hard to understand. I
know that my descriptions aren't enough to fully understand all about his
ideas, so I've included some very helpful websites which I found during
This site has hundreds of links to other pages all about Albert Einstein.
This site has everything from pictures of Einstein to all about his life to his work in physics.
This site includes information about Einstein and his theories along with a timeline of his life and a time travel game.
This site has copies of Einstein's manuscripts along with general information on Einstein and a Gallery of the original manuscripts.
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