Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April
1955) was a German-born theoretical
physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (along side quantum mechanics). While best known for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation") he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect". The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.
Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the development of his special theory of relativity. He realized, however, that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields, and with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a paper on the general theory of relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the large-scale structure of the universe
He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and did not go back to Germany, where he had been a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He settled in the U.S., becoming an American citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he endorsed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the potential developing of "extremely powerful bombs of a new type" and recommending that the U.S. begin similar research. This eventually led to what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein was in support of defending the Allied forces, but largely denounced using the new discovery of nuclear fission as a weapon. Later, with the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.
Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works. His great intellectual achievements and originality have made the word "Einstein" synonymous with genius.
For Einstein, "war was a disease … [and] he called for resistance to war." By signing the letter to Roosevelt he went against his pacifist principles. In 1954, a year before his death, Einstein said , "I made one great mistake in my life — when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some justification — the danger that the Germans would make them …"
Einstein became an American citizen in 1940. Not long after settling into his career at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, he expressed his appreciation of the "meritocracy" in American culture when compared to Europe. According to Isaacson, he recognized the "right of individuals to say and think what they pleased", without social barriers, and as result, the individual was "encouraged" to be more creative, a trait he valued from his own early education. In 1946 Einstein called racism America's "worst disease". He later stated, "Race prejudice has unfortunately become an American tradition which is uncritically handed down from one generation to the next. The only remedies are enlightenment and education".
After the death of Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, in 1952, Einstein was offered the position of President of Israel, a mostly ceremonial post. However, Einstein declined, and wrote in his response that he was "deeply moved", and "at once saddened and ashamed" that he could not accept it .
Einstein's political view was in favour of socialism and critical of capitalism, which he detailed in essays like "Why Socialism?"; his political views emerged publicly in the middle of the 20th century due to his fame and reputation for genius. Einstein offered to and was called on to give judgments and opinions on matters often unrelated to theoretical physics or mathematics.
He called himself an agnostic, while disassociating himself from the label atheist. Toward the end of his life, he said he believed in the "pantheistic" God of Baruch Spinoza, but not in a personal god, a belief he criticized.
In the period before World War II, Einstein was so well known in America that he would be stopped on the street by people wanting him to explain "that theory". He finally figured out a way to handle the incessant inquiries. He told his inquirers "Pardon me, sorry! Always I am mistaken for Professor Einstein."
Einstein has been the subject of or inspiration for many novels, films, plays, and works of music. He is a favourite model for depictions of mad scientists and absent-minded professors; his expressive face and distinctive hairstyle have been widely copied and exaggerated. Time magazine's Frederic Golden wrote that Einstein was "a cartoonist's dream come true".
Compiled : nietzsche