- NAME: Albert Einstein
- OCCUPATION: Physicist
- BIRTH DATE: March 14, 1879
- DEATH DATE: April 18, 1955
- Did You Know?: Einstein was asked to be the president of Israel, but he declined: After Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president, died in 1952, the country's prime minister offered the job to Einstein.
- Did You Know?: Einstein died after refusing surgery, saying, "I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly."
- EDUCATION: Luitpold Gymnasium, Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule (Swiss Federal Polytechnic School)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Ulm, Württemberg, Germany
- PLACE OF DEATH: Princeton, New Jersey
Best Known For
Albert Einstein was a German-born physicist who developed the theory of relativity. He is considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century.
Albert Einstein's vision and innovation created a lasting impact on both the world of science and our society. Click "buy Now" to learn more about the authorized Albert Einstein Archives. Video courtesy of Open Road Media.
Albert Einstein's vision and innovation created a lasting impact on both the world of science and our society. Click "Buy Now" to learn more about the authorized Albert Einstein Archives. Video courtesy of Open Road Media.
In 1919, a Solar Eclipse occurred, giving Einstein the ability to prove his Theory of Relativity correct.
The rising threat of the Nazi party forced Einstein to abandon his pacifist principles and write a letter to President Roosevelt that triggered the the Manhattan Project.
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In the 1920s, Einstein launched the new science of cosmology. His equations predicted that the universe is dynamic, ever expanding or contracting. This contradicted the prevailing view that the universe was static, a view that Einstein held earlier and was a guiding factor in his development of the general theory of relativity. But his later calculations in the general theory indicated that the universe could be expanding or contracting. In 1929,
astronomer Edwin Hubble found that the universe was indeed expanding, thereby confirming Einstein's work. In 1930, during a visit to the Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles, Einstein met with Hubble and declared the cosmological constant, his original theory of the static size and shape of the universe, to be his "greatest blunder."
While Einstein was touring much of the world speaking on his theories in the 1920s, the Nazis were rising to power under the leadership of Adolph Hitler. Einstein’s theories on relativity became a convenient target for Nazi propaganda. In 1931, the Nazi’s enlisted other physicists to denounce Einstein and his theories as "Jewish physics." At this time, Einstein learned that the new German government, now in full control by the Nazi party, had passed a law barring Jews from holding any official position, including teaching at universities. Einstein also learned that his name was on a list of assassination targets, and a Nazi organization published a magazine with Einstein's picture and the caption "Not Yet Hanged" on the cover.
In December, 1932, Einstein decided to leave Germany forever. He took a position a the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, which soon became a Mecca for physicists from around the world. It was here that he would spend the rest of his career trying to develop a unified field theory—an all-embracing theory that would unify the forces of the universe, and thereby the laws of physics, into one framework—and refute the accepted interpretation of quantum physics. Other European scientists also fled various countries threatened by Nazi takeover and came to the United States. Some of these scientists knew of Nazi plans to develop an atomic weapon. For a time, their warnings to Washington, D.C. went unheeded.
In the summer of 1939, Einstein, along with another scientist, Leo Szilard, was persuaded to write a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to alert him of the possibility of a Nazi bomb. President Roosevelt could not risk the possibility that Germany might develop an atomic bomb first. The letter is believed to be the key factor that motivated the United States to investigate the development of nuclear weapons. Roosevelt invited Einstein to meet with him and soon after the United States initiated the Manhattan Project.
Not long after he began his career at the Institute in New Jersey, Albert Einstein expressed an appreciation for the "meritocracy" of the United States and the right people had to think what they pleased—something he didn’t enjoy as a young man in Europe.
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