How Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Changed the Way We See the Universe,” by Franklin and Betty J. Parker, firstname.lastname@example.org Review of Walter Isaacson’s Einstein, His Life and Universe, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007, and related sources, given March 17, 2008, Uplands Retirement Village. Pleasant Hill, TN.
This is the true story of an independent loner, largely self-taught, a high school dropout who failed his technical college entrance exam, entered that technical college by the skin of his teeth, irritated his professors, barely graduated, and—by not bowing to authority—had to live hand-to-mouth on low pay substitute teaching for 18 months. In 1905, while a lowly Swiss Patent Office clerk, he published 5 papers which changed the way we see the universe. How did he do it?
We are not scientists. What follows is our laypersons’ understanding of journalist-author Walter Isaacson’s 2007 bestseller Einstein, His Life and Universe.1 Author Isaacson, Time magazine’s managing editor when his staff voted Einstein the most important person of the 20th century,2 now heads the Aspen Institute, a think tank for executives, Washington, D.C.3
Recently opened Albert Einstein archives account for Isaacson’s Einstein biography, plus another biography by German science writer Jürgen Neffe.4 Over 500 Einstein biographies exist. An Einstein film based on Isaacson’s book is planned plus other Einstein film projects.5
This interest in Einstein, we think, comes from his newly opened papers. While known as a scientific genius, few people know of his troubled early life; fewer know how he changed the way we see the universe.
Albert’s father Hermann Einstein (1847-1902), at age 29 in Bavaria, Germany, married Pauline Koch (1858-1920), age 18 in 1876, both non-observing Jews. Pauline, his mother, a prosperous grain dealer’s daughter, was cultured, well read, a pianist and music lover. Hermann, whom she dominated, was generous, thoughtful, a devoted husband and father who failed in business.6
Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879, in Ulm, near Stuttgart, Germany; born into a world where Isaac Newton’s (1642-1727) laws of motion and gravity had satisfactorily explained earth’s place in the universe over 200 years earlier. No one then dreamed that anyone, let alone Albert Einstein, would add significantly to Newton’s laws.
Albert grew up among electric generators and motors. His uncle, engineer-inventor Jakob Einstein (1850-1912), introduced electricity into southern German towns, as Thomas Edison (1847-1931) did in New York City.7 Pauline Einstein, with a Koch family loan, encouraged husband Hermann’s partnership with Jakob. After Albert’s birth, the Einsteins moved (1880) from Ulm to Munich for better business opportunity.
Albert’s big head at birth and his being a late talker evoked fear that he was abnormal. Albert later told a biographer, “My parents were worried because I started to talk comparatively late, and they consulted a doctor….”8
When Albert was 2 his only sibling sister was born, Marie, called “Maja” Einstein (1881-1951). She later described him as quiet and introspective.9
When Albert was 4 and ill, his father gave him a compass to play with. Albert later wrote: “When I saw…[its needle always point north, no matter how I turned it], the fact that it behaved in such a fixed way changed my understanding of the world. Until then, I thought that one thing had to touch another to make it move…. I realized that something deeply hidden had to lie behind things.” 10 These thoughts were an early hint of his lifelong search for unity in nature.
Albert was kept at home until age 7, taught the 3 Rs by a tutor, then enrolled in a nearby Catholic primary school, ages 7 to 9, 1885-88. He did well academically, received Catholic religious instruction in school plus state-required private Jewish instruction from a relative at home.
Taken as a little boy to watch a Prussian military parade, he cried out in horror: “I don’t want to be [regimented like]…those poor people.”11 He disliked school discipline and rote learning, especially in secondary school at Munich’s Luitpold Gymnasium, 6 years, ages 9 to 15 (1888-94).
Good in science and math, less interested in other subjects, he irritated some teachers by questioning their knowledge. Asked about Albert’s potential, his headmaster said: “…he’ll never make a success.” Told by a teacher that he was not welcome in class, Albert said he had done nothing wrong. His teacher said: “Yes, …but you sit there in the back row and smile and your mere presence here spoils the respect of the class for me.” Albert later called his primary teachers sergeants, his gymnasium teachers lieutenants.12
Uncle Jakob taught him algebra. Albert mastered calculus by age 12. Reading math and science books reinforced his appreciation of orderliness in nature. He later said: “As a boy of 12, I was thrilled to see that it was possible to find out truth by reasoning alone, without the help of any outside experience.”13
Piano and violin lessons, urged by his mother, made him a lifelong violinist. He saw harmony and unity in music, science, and nature.
Max Talmey (1867-1941), age 21, a poor Polish Jewish medical student, invited to Thursday night dinners from 1889 for a few years, shared with Albert, from the age of 10, table talk on science, math, and philosophy.14
Talmey gave Albert a popular natural science book series describing current scientific experiments.15 The books were full of imaginative, creative what-ifs, leading Albert at 16 to ask: “What if I could ride alongside a beam of light?” This question eventually led to his 1905 and 1915 theories of relativity.
Asked years later (1921) what he thought of those science books, Albert said: very good books, “[They] exerted a great influence on my whole development.”16
Talmey, spurring Albert’s curiosity at an impressionable age, remarked in his 1932 book about young Albert’s “exceptional intelligence [which enabled him to discuss with me, a college graduate,] subjects far beyond the comprehension of so young a child.”17
Albert, religious before age 10, became a doubter from age 12. He read with Talmey philosopher Immanuel Kant’s (1724-1804) Critique of Pure Reason, discussed Kant’s belief that the universe can be understood by thought alone. Albert read and agreed with philosopher Benedict Spinoza (1632-77) that God works through nature’s orderliness.
Business failure caused the Einsteins to move to Italy near their northern Italy partner firm in Milan, then to nearby Pavia. Albert at 15 needed 3 more years to complete secondary school. His parents decided he should remain in Munich where an Einstein relative would look after him until he graduated.
Lonely, unhappy, Albert looked for a way out of the Munich Gymnasium, which he disliked, knowing some teachers disliked him. He also dreaded German compulsory military service at age 17, two years ahead.
Albert, alone, age 15, asked the family physician for a letter stating that because of isolation from his family he was suffering from nervous exhaustion and needed the bracing air of northern Italy. From his math teacher he got a letter listing his high math scores.
This high school dropout took a train to Pavia, Italy,18 arrived unexpectedly at his parents’ home, and told them why he had dropped out of school and how he planned to continue his education.
He would study on his own, take the entrance exam in autumn 1895 to enter the highly regarded Polytechnic College in Zurich, Switzerland,19 which did not require secondary school graduation if an applicant passed its high entrance exams. He also said: I want to renounce my German citizenship.
His concerned father prudently delayed submitting renunciation of German citizenship forms until Albert in Switzerland had applied for Swiss citizenship. Albert was stateless from 1896 until granted Swiss citizenship in 1901.
Helping in the family’s Pavia shop with its electric lighting equipment, Albert impressed Uncle Jakob by quickly solving electrical problems. Uncle Jakob assured everyone: “You will hear from him yet.”
In spring and summer 1895 Albert hiked the Alps and Apennines from Pavia to Genoa to see his maternal Uncle Julius Koch. He visited art and other culture centers, delighted at Italian friendliness, so unlike the stern Germans.
Reading physics textbooks helped him prepare for the Zurich Polytechnic entrance exams. He would be 16 when he took the Polytechnic entrance test intended for age 18 and older. A family friend got him a waiver of the age requirement.20
Albert passed the Zurich Polytechnic test in math and science but failed other subjects. Polytechnic Director Albin Herzog (1852-1909) suggested that Albert take a final secondary school year of guided study at nearby Aarau high school, whose graduates were automatically admitted to the Zurich Polytechnic.21
Aarau Cantonal High School, 25 miles west of Zurich, influenced by progressive Swiss educator Johann Pestalozzi (1746-1827),22 was teacher-friendly, student-centered, perfect for Albert.
He later told a friend: “In Aarau I made my first rather childish experiments in thinking that had a direct bearing on the Special [Relativity] Theory. If a person could run after a light wave with the same speed as light, you would have a wave arrangement which could be completely independent of time….”23
He boarded with principal Jost and Rosa Winteler. Marie, one of their 7 children, was Albert’s first girl friend; she 18, he 16.24
With the Wintelers, Albert developed a quick wit and debonair jesting manner. When not in class or studying or hiking or playing violin duets or flirting with Marie Winteler, he joined the Winteler family’s liberal conversation.25
Graduating from the Aarau Cantonal High School with the second highest grades except in French, he wrote of his future plans as follows:
“…I will enroll in the Zurich Polytechnic….stay…four years [1896-1900] to study mathematics and physics…. I will be a teacher …of these sciences…. ¶[I have a] talent for abstract…thinking…. I am attracted by…the profession of science.”26
Albert enrolled, Oct. 29, 1896, in Zurich Polytechnic’s department preparing secondary school math and physics teachers, headed by Prof. Heinrich Weber (1842-1913).27
Romance came at Zurich Polytechnic with Mileva Maric (1875-1948), the only woman student in this department, from Novi Sad, Serbia, daughter of a wealthy landowner and judge. 28
Mileva, bright in math and physics, determined to succeed, had won top honors in an all-male Serbian scientific school. She at 21, Albert at 17, casual friends, hiked together in the summer of 1897. Albert admired Mileva for her science interest and for being, like himself, a rebel, outsider, survivor.29
Friendship ripened into love. Mileva Maric became, in Walter Isaacson’s words: “Einstein’s muse, partner, lover, wife [16 years, 1903-19]…and [finally] antagonist.”30
In his last two years at Zurich Polytechnic Albert skipped Prof. Heinrich Weber’s physics lectures, disappointed at Weber’s neglecting contemporary physics. Albert was enthralled with James Clerk Maxwell’s (1831-79) books on Electricity and Magnetism, 1873; and Matter and Motion, 1876.
Albert irritated his major professor by addressing him as “Herr Weber” instead of the more respectful “Herr Professor.” Prof. Weber gave Albert a dressing down (1898-99): “You’re a clever boy. But you have one great fault: you’ll never let yourself be told anything.”31
Albert’s other physics professor, Jean Pernet (1845-1902) asked his assistant: “What do you make of Einstein? He always does something different from what I have ordered.” The assistant replied, “He does indeed, Herr Professor, but his solutions are right and the methods he uses are of great interest.”32
Albert focused on physics, less on math. He later regretted skipping math Prof. Hermann Minkowski’s (1864-1909) advanced math lectures.33
Studying what interested him, Albert risked failing final exams. Friends tutored him: Mileva Maric, engineering student Micheleangelo Besso,34 and math major Marcel Grossmann’s (1878-1936) who shared his detailed lecture notes. Grossmann understood Albert’s independent spirit, recognized Albert’s talents, and told his parents, “This Einstein will one day be a great man.”35
Albert barely passed his final exams. Mileva Maric failed but planned to try again.36 Financial aid from Albert’s family stopped on graduation. His fellow graduates all received coveted teaching jobs or research assistantships. Albert sent out many applications. No one answered.
Albert complained that Prof. Heinrich Weber’s bad references prevented his getting a job. Mileva attributed his joblessness to anti-Semitism and to his rebel attitude: “You know my sweetheart has a sharp tongue.”37
Today we are shocked that Einstein, an acknowledged genius, could not find an academic job after college graduation. For 18 months his only income was from short term low pay substitute teaching.
Isaacson described Einstein in this jobless period as: “Einstein the Nobody.” His father Hermann, knowing Albert had twice applied unsuccessfully to one professor for an assistantship, wrote that professor, without telling Albert:
“My son Albert, …22…, unhappy with his present lack of position,…[feels] …that he is a burden on us, people of modest means….¶I have taken the liberty of [asking you] to…write him… a few words of encouragement, so that he might recover his joy in living and working. ¶If…you could secure him an Assistant’s position…my gratitude would know no bounds…. Hermann Einstein.” No reply ever came.38
Opposed to Albert’s romance with Mileva Maric, Albert’s mother thought Mileva unsuitable, older, unhealthy, non-Jewish, a foreigner. During summer 1900 family vacation his mother asked Albert, “What will become of your Dollie now?”39
Albert replied: engagement and marriage. His mother wept. Still worse, she and Albert’s father sent a jointly signed letter to Mileva Maric’s parents listing reasons against the marriage.
At last came a job possibility. Albert’s friend Marcel Grossmann told his father of Albert’s joblessness. Grossmann’s father spoke to his friend, Swiss Patent Office Director Friedrich Haller (1844-1936). Haller told Albert to apply when a Patent Office job was posted. On this possibility, Albert moved to Bern, the Swiss capital, where the Patent Office was located.
Albert and Mileva had a romantic interlude at Lake Como on the Swiss-Italian border, spring 1901. Mileva wrote Albert she was pregnant. Albert promised to find a job “no matter how humble…[and despite] my scientific goals and my personal vanity.”40
Albert was with his family the summer of 1901 when Mileva retook her failed Zurich Polytechnic final exams. Three months pregnant, sick, her pregnancy a secret, with Albert’s parents opposed to their marriage, Mileva failed again. Nor was Albert with her when, home in Serbia, she gave birth to a baby girl Lieserl, early Feb. 1902.41
Albert never saw, his parents never knew, the world never knew about Lieserl until 1986 from newly found Einstein family letters. Why the secrecy? Speculating from Albert’s then troubled situation–he was the jobless, unconventional, near-bohemian father of an illegitimate child, unable to support a family, whose parents opposed his love mate. If he became publicly tarred as immoral he might not get the Swiss Patent Office job.
Mileva, in Serbia, her family helping, cared for the baby, exchanged anxious love letters with Albert, patiently awaited his hoped for job, his promised marriage. Historians speculate that Mileva’s close friend in Serbia took custody of Lieserl, that Lieserl died of scarlet fever.42
Needing money, awaiting the Patent Office job, Albert in a Bern newspaper advertised: “Private lessons in Mathematics and Physics….. Trial lessons free.” Several local students responded.43
Albert’s lectures to the jokingly named “Olympia Academy” students gave way to freewheeling discussions on physics, philosophy, classic books, over food and drink, on country walks, and on mountain hikes.44
Albert was finally appointed Swiss Patent Office Technical Expert Class 3 Provisional (on trial), June 16, 1902. Director Friedrich Haller told him: “When you pick up an application think that everything the inventor says is wrong.” Be critical, vigilant, question every premise, challenge everything–an approach Albert liked. 45
Soon expert in judging patent applications, Albert rushed through the day’s work, did his own thought experiments, hid his notes when visitors or Director Haller approached. The Patent Office job, Albert later wrote: “…enforced my many-sided thinking and also provided important stimuli to…[my] thought[s on physics].”46
Hermann Einstein, 55, dying in Milan, Italy, Oct. 10, 1902, finally gave Albert permission to marry Mileva Maric. He and Mileva were married Jan. 6, 1903, in a civil ceremony attended only by two “Olympia Academy” friends.
With a steady job, income, marriage, regularity, Albert and Mileva had a son, Hans Albert Einstein, born May 14, 1904.47 Albert also had from 1904 as Patent Office co-worker his close friend Michelangelo Besso. They shared scientific ideas and constantly discussed how mass (or matter), light, space, and time were related. Between 1901-04 Albert wrote and published reviews of new physics writings and several so called “practice papers.”
Then, in 1905—about ideas he’d puzzled over for years–Albert published four papers plus his doctoral dissertation in the German physics journal, Annalen der Physik. In time physicists recognized the originality and importance of these papers.
Of this 1905 “Miracle Year” he later wrote: “A storm broke out in my mind.”
First of Albert’s four 1905 papers was on the photo-electric effect of light, long thought to be a wave. Light, Albert wrote, is both a wave and fast-moving particles. When light particles hit certain metals they cause a mysterious release of electrons from the metals.
This photo-electric effect of light is the basis of many light operated devices: some automatic door openers, compact disks, CAT scans using x-ray imaging for cancer, etc.
Albert’s photo-electric effect paper also helped establish Quantum Physics, the study of the strange behavior of electrons circling protons inside atoms. This photo-electric effect paper, because it was verifiable and practical, won Albert the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.48
Albert’s second 1905 paper explained “Brownian Movement,” named after Scottish botanist Robert Brown (1773-1858), who found in 1827 under a microscope that tiny grains of pollen placed in water moved about irregularly.
Seventy-eight years after Robert Brown’s discovery, Albert proved that water molecules randomly hitting the pollen grains caused this jittery motion. His paper convinced doubting scientists that molecules and atoms exist, are active, and can be mathematically quantified.49
His third 1905 paper on Special Theory of Relativity, more important, was less understood. Albert built on the Copernican-Kepler-Galileo finding that everything moves: our earth turns on its axis, revolves around our sun, which revolves with other suns in our Milky Way galaxy, which revolves among a spiral of other galaxies, etc.
Albert built his Special Theory of Relativity on two certainties: 1-the laws of physics are the same everywhere; 2-nothing travels faster than light at 186,000 miles per second.
Albert’s insight was that a movement takes place, an event occurs, each in its own frame of reference, relative to, in relation to, an observer’s place and rate of movement, which is the observer’s frame of reference. In short: movements, events are relative to an observer.
On Albert’s daily streetcar ride home from work, looking back, he saw Bern’s famous Clock Tower receding. He thought: if his streetcar heading away from the Clock Tower approached the speed of light, its clock hands would seem to slow down while his own pocket watch ticked normally.
On earth, Albert knew, where the fastest moving thing is a tiny fraction the speed of light’s 186,000 miles per second, Newton’s laws hold firm. Time and space, as Newton believed, do seem separate and fixed. But on a fast moving spaceship, approaching the speed of light, a clock aboard the spaceship (time) slows down.
The faster the spaceship, the more its clock slows down, called Time Dilation. Time Dilation has been proved. In 1971 two identically set atomic clocks, one stationary on the ground, the other jet-flown around the world, when compared, showed that the jet flown clock had slowed down.
To humans inside a speeding spaceship all seems normal. But as it passes a stationary observer, because of the observer’s frame of reference, the observer sees the oncoming spaceship shorter in front and longer in back.
Albert’s findings–startling, revolutionary, strange even to him–took time to be absorbed, argued about, understood, tested, and ultimately accepted by scientists.
Albert’s genius was to think differently, outside common thought, “outside the box.” His younger questioning rebellious skepticism led to these 1905 intuitive grand discoveries.
Albert worked out mathematical proof that Time and Space are not fixed, not separate, but are interwoven as spacetime. To our 3 dimensions of length, width, and height he added a fourth dimension–spacetime.50 The only fixed factor is the speed of light.
Albert’s fourth 1905 paper, a footnote to his third Special Theory of Relativity paper, held that matter and energy are similar and can be converted one into the other. Marie Curie (1867-1934), for example, found in 1902 that uranium from pitch-blend (matter), gave off electronic radiation energy. Albert independently conceived of this matter-to-energy conversion in his famous formula: E=mc2.
E for Energy equals mass (which is, matter), multiplied by c (c for celeritus, Latin for speed of light), squared. 186,000 miles per second, squared, is so huge a number that if atoms on a pinhead could be split apart, their energy would explode like an atom bomb.51
Biographer Walter Isaacson wrote: “Einstein’s 1905 burst of creativity was astonishing. He had devised a revolutionary quantum theory of light, helped prove the existence of atoms, explained Brownian motion, upended the concept of space and time, and produced what would become science’s best known equation.”52
Albert’s Special Theory of Relativity covered only bodies moving parallel in straight lines at constant speeds.
It would take him 10 more years to find a General Theory of Relativity, backed by math, that explained how and why bodies in space move at varying speeds in curved motion around other bodies.53
Albert, waiting to be recognized, still needing Patent Office income, wrote other scholarly papers and also completed his Ph.D. dissertation for the University of Zurich, summer 1905.54
His application to be a University of Bern lecturer required submitting another original physics paper. This he did allowing him to lecture, unpaid except for student fees, 1908-1909, early mornings, before Patent Office hours, thus to only a few students. 55
The first scholar to inquire about Relativity was the world renowned University of Berlin physicist Max Planck (1858-1947,) who soon added Relativity to his own lectures.56
Planck’s assistant, Max von Laue (1879-1960), sent to Bern to consult Albert, was surprised to find him working as a lowly Patent Office clerk.
Noticed, at last, Albert received job offers. He resigned from the Patent Office July 6, 1909, where his best thinking had been done for 7 years. He became associate professor of physics, University of Zurich, 1909-10. He moved with Mileva, and 5-year old Hans Einstein to Zurich, Oct. 15, 1909, where their second son Eduard was born, July 28, 1910.57
He was full professor at German Speaking Karl-Ferdinand University, Prague, 1911-12. While in Prague he attended a science conference in Brussels, Belgium, October 1911. At 32, the youngest physicist present, he met for the first time the greatest living physicists of the time, including Marie Curie.58
Albert next was physics professor at Zurich Polytechnic, 1912-1914, his alma mater, then granting Ph.D’s. Here, luckily, his friend Marcel Grossmann, head of the Polytechnic’s math department, taught Albert tensor calculus for curved space he needed to prove his 1915 General Theory of Relativity.
Albert’s last European position was at the prestigious University of Berlin, 1914-1933, 19 years, through World War I, Germany’s defeat and economic collapse, and Hitler’s rise to power, which forced Albert’s move to the U.S. in 1933.59
Raising two boys, the younger one, Eduard, a schizophrenic, Mileva’s science interest had waned. She resented Albert’s several extra-marital affairs, was bitter that he took the prestigious Berlin position partly to be near his divorced cousin Elsa Einstein (1876-1936), with whom he had an affair.
Marital friction deepened. Albert wrote out conditions under which he would live with Mileva: “You make sure . . . that I receive my three meals regularly in my room. You are neither to expect intimacy nor to reproach me in any way.”60 They separated. Mileva and the two boys left Berlin July 1914 for Zurich a month before WW I began (Aug. 1, 1914).
To get Mileva to agree to a divorce, Albert promised her and the boys the money from the Nobel Prize in Physics he expected, having been nominated annually since 1910. The long divorce proceedings ended on Feb. 14, l919. Albert admitted adultery.
Elsa, Albert’s cousin, divorced,61 lived with her two daughters Lisa and Margot in Berlin, where Albert visited her in 1912, before taking the Berlin job.
Separation and divorce from Mileva, overwork, carelessness about his health, caused Albert to become seriously ill during 1917-19. Elsa restored his health. They married June 2, 1919. Elsa gave him regularity, protection, and freedom to think and write.
Albert’s first insight into his 1915 General Theory of Relativity came in a thought experiment in 1907 while still at the Patent Office. His thought was: if a workman fell from a roof, until he hit the ground, he and everything on him would be weightless in free fall. So too would be people in a falling elevator atop a tall building whose holding cable had snapped.
His surprising insight was that moving heavenly bodies, like people and objects in free fall, carry spacetime with them.
His insights, greatly simplified, were: 1-The larger a moving heavenly body is, the more curved spacetime it carries around with it. 2-Newton’s gravity is really curved spacetime. 3-When starlight reaches a large mass like the sun that starlight will be slightly bent by the curved spacetime around the sun’s enormous mass. 4-If he figured the precise arc of light bent around an eclipsed sun, then a photograph of that eclipse would prove the correctness of his General Theory of Relativity.
Helped by tensor calculus taught him by his math friend Marcel Grossmann, Albert published his General Relativity paper, March 20, 1915, revised in 1916.62
In 1917 with WW I raging, Britain’s Royal Astronomer Frank Watson Dyson (1868-1939) planned for Cambridge University astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) to head a British team to photograph the sun’s eclipse predicted two years later, on May 29, 1919.63
Two photo team were sent to photograph the eclipse: one went to Principe, a Portuguese island off West Africa; another photo team went to Sobral, northern Brazil, the two best viewing sites. These photos confirmed Einstein’s predicted arc of light deflection. Einstein’s General Relativity Theory was thus proved true.
England’s greatest scientists flocked to the Great Room, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, Nov. 6, 1919. Dyson reported. Eddington reported. Others commented. Royal Society Pres. J. J. Thomson, concluding, proclaimed: …”[this] is…one of the highest achievements of human thought.”64
London Times, Nov. 7, 1919, headline: “Revolution in Science. New Theory of the Universe. Newton’s Ideas Overthrown.” Similar headlines, with Einstein’s photo, emblazoned newspapers worldwide and helped make Einstein an instant hero.65
Did this hero worship come from public relief that long, bloody, devastating WW I was over? that God, morality, good will, peace on earth—which many thought had died in the trenches–were restored?
With peace came news that Einstein, an anti-war German-born Swiss citizen, had discovered something new about the universe. His discovery was confirmed by photos taken by an English Quaker pacifist scientist. WW I hatred was replaced by peaceful international scientific cooperation–temporarily.
Albert, amazed at the adulation, called the newspaper accounts “amusing feats of imagination.” The war-weary public, wanting someone to idolize and lionize, embraced this stunned, sad-eyed, long-haired, absent-minded professor. What Relativity meant did not matter. His opinion was asked about everything under the sun. His disarming, witty replies, widely reported, brought smiles. Elsa Einstein loved the attention.
The Nobel Prize in Physics committee, embarrassed for by-passing Einstein since 1910, awarded Albert its 1921 prize, not for controversial Relativity, but for his practical 1905 photo-electric effect paper. The prize money, $32,000, went as promised to his ex-wife Mileva Maric and their sons.66
Albert never understood the public adulation but he used it as a platform for his pacifist views. He publicly criticized fellow scientists who worked for Germany’s war effort in making poison gas and flame throwers.
He stated publicly that if even 2% of military draftees refused to serve, all war machines would grind to a halt. Anti-Semitism, his own pacifism, and his public opposition to the early Nazis made him a marked man.
His books were burned as “Jewish science.” A price was put on his head dead or alive. His Berlin bank funds were blocked. His country home at Carputh near Berlin was ransacked. He fled to the U.S., worked at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., 22 years, from 1933 to his death.
Hitler’s atrocities modified Einstein’s pacifism. Other refugee European physicists told Einstein that Nazi scientists were close to splitting the uranium atom to make a devastating bomb. His Aug. 2, 1939, letter warning Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt of the catastrophic danger, along with pressure from British intelligence, led to the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb.67
Learning of the atom bombs dropped on Japan to end WWII, Einstein regretted having been involved. Still seeking a unified theory to explain everything, still searching to know the mind of God, still scribbling formulas on paper, he died of a burst stomach aneurysm in Princeton Hospital, N.J., April 18, 1955, age 76.68
Why Einstein? What spurred his early efforts to 1905 to explain the mysteries of the universe, nearly alone, without academic connections, or collegues’ help, or library access?
Curiosity was his spur: stick-to-itiveness, self-confidence, an insatiable drive to discover how God works through nature. Life’s hurts faded in comparison: teachers who said he would never amount to much; Zurich Polytechnic professors who put him down; prejudice which kept him jobless, illegitimate child, failed marriage, his own shortcomings as husband and father.
Galileo taught him that all planets and objects move, every event occurs, relative to an observer’s frame of reference.
Isaac Newton’s law of gravity taught him that stars and planets, according to size/mass, exert a gravitational “pull” on each other.
Michael Faraday’s (1791-1867) electromagnetism, on which his father and uncle’s electric business was based, led Albert to Scottish James Clerk Maxwell.
Maxwell’s mathematical proof that light at 186,000 miles per second is the visible form of Faraday’s electromagnetism, sparked his probing thought experiments.
A workman falling off a roof, a falling elevator full of people, all weightless in free fall, like heavenly planets, carry spacetime with them. Spacetime is Newton’s gravity. Spacetime bends light around a large mass.
Einstein’s E=mc2 founded modern cosmology. It encouraged scientists to search for the origin of the universe, the beginning of spacetime in the Big Bang 13.7 billion year ago, filling our expanding universe, bursting constantly from our sun and other suns in other galaxies.
Einstein’s E=mc2 gave us nuclear energy for industry and electricity. Nuclear power lights 80% of France, including its Eiffel Tower.
Einstein’s genius, Walter Isaacson concluded, was his imagination guided by faith in nature’s unity.
Young Einstein rebelled against the status quo to give us a new view of the universe. Old Einstein resisted Quantum Physics, which he helped found, because its followers denied certainty in nature, believed probabilities are all we can rely on. Einstein said, Nature’s God, ” does not play dice.”
How did he do it—usher in our modern age; this rare, bright, nonconformist rebel? He was the right person at the right place at the right time. Will we ever see his like again?
We enjoyed doing this review. Thank you for being here.
References Below Include: 1-Books Read by Authors, 2-Footnotes (with added material omitted above due to time limitation) , 3-Best Albert Einstein Internet Sources, 4-About the Authors:
Books Examine by Authors
1. Aczel, Amir D. S. God’s Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe. NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1999.
2. Bodanis, David. E=mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation. NY: Walker & Co., 2000.
3. Caliprice, Alice, Editor. Dear Professor Einstein. Foreword by Evelyn Einstein. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2002. Children’s letters to and from Einstein.
4. Clark, Ronald W. Einstein: The Life and Times. NY: World Publishing Co., 1956.
5. Cwiklik, Robert. Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series. Profiles in science for young people, ages 12-13.
6. Hoffman, Banesh, with Collaboration of Helen Dukas. Albert Einstein, Creator and Rebel. NY: Viking Press, 1972.
7. Ireland, Karin. Albert Einstein. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Silver Burdett Press, 1989.
8. Isaacson, Walter. Einstein, His Life and Universe. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007.
9. Lakin, Patricia. Albert Einstein, Genius of the Twentieth Century. NY: Aladdin, 2005.
10. Overbye, Dennis. Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance. NY: Penguin Books, 2000.
11. Parker, Barry. Einstein’s Brainchild, Relativity Made Easy. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000.
12. Schwartz, Joseph and Michael McGinness. E=MC2: Einstein for Beginners. NY: Pantheon Books, 1979.
13. White, Michael and John Gribbin. Einstein, A Life in Science. NY: Penguin, 1993.
14. Zackheim, Michele. Einstein’s Daughter, The Search for Lieserl. NY: Penguin Putnam, 1999.
1. Authors Franklin and Betty J. Parker wanted to review this Einstein biography because Einstein’s theories were central in Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time, 2005, which we reviewed, April 18, 2007. In that review we realized that although Einstein is an acknowledged science genius, few know of his troubled life, even fewer know how he changed our view of the universe. Our aim is to clarify his life and his enormous contributions. Our Hawking review can be accessed at:
or: http://bfparker.blog.co.uk/2007/01/15/universe_big_bang_black_holes_dialogue_o~1556047 or:http://bfparker.blog.co.uk/2007/01/15/universe_big_bang_black_holes_dialogue_o%7E1556047
Isaacson’s Acknowledgement credits experts who checked his book’s accuracy, including several editors of Einstein’s papers and some 10 prominent physicists and science historians. See Isaacson, pp. xv-xviii,
2. Interviewed on Dec. 7, 1999, Isaacson told why the then editors, previous editors, and consulting historians chose Albert Einstein as Person of the 20th Century. For Isaacson’s discussion of Einstein’s importance and Einstein’s views on God, see:
3. For description of Aspen Institute, Washington, D.C., leadership discussion group with world-wide connections, see:
4. For book reviews of Jürgen Neffe, Einstein: A Biography. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007 (with some comparisons to Walter Isaacson’s 2007 Einstein biography), see:
5. For 2008 Albert Einstein film projects, see: http://search.curryguide.com/execute/search/nph-web.cgi?query=Albert+Einstein%2C+film+rights&x=20&y=7&ac=pandia&adbg=ffffff&intprom=s&where=
6. For Albert Einstein’s parents, see Isaacson, Chap. Two,
7. For Thomas Edison’s (1847-1931) Pearl Street generator station, lower Manhattan, New York City, which first electrified a square mile of NYC buildings on Sept. 4, 1882,
8. For “Einstein, deformed as baby” and as a late talker,
One account has little Albert saying for the first time at a meal, “The soup is too hot.” His relieved parents asked, “Why haven’t you spoken like this before?” His alleged reply was, “So far everything has been in order.”
9. Marie (called Maja) Einstein (1881-1951) and Albert were close all their lives. She later earned a doctorate in Romance Languages, University of Bern, Switzerland, 1909; married Paul Winteler, 1910; moved with him near Florence, Italy; fled to the U.S. in 1939 to escape persecution of Jews in Italy (husband Paul Winteler could not enter the U.S. for health reasons); and lived with her brother Albert Einstein on 112 Mercer Street, Princeton, NJ, until her death at age 70, June 25, 1951. For her writing on her brother Albert’s boyhood,
For more on sister Maja and Albert’s younger years, see:
and many entries under “Maja Winteler-Einstein—Einstein, Albert” at:
10. For Einstein age 4, ill, “Einstein, compass”…hidden behind things,” see:
11. For “Einstein as a boy disliking a Prussian-style military parade,” see: Isaacson, p. 21, and:
12. For “…he’ll never make a success,” see Clark, p. 10. For “primary teachers as sergeants” see Isaacson, p. 21. On the later scientific value of his slowness as a boy, Einstein wrote: …”that his slow development and backwardness aided him in developing his theories. The normal adult never thinks about space and time. These are thoughts that he has thought about when he was a child. But since my intellectual development was retarded, as a result of which I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up. Naturally, I could go deeper into the problem than a child with normal abilities.”
13. Isaacson, pp. 17-18.
14. On Talmey: It was an old Jewish custom to invite a poor student to family meals, as depicted in Sholem Aleichim’s (1859-1916) Fiddler on the Roof (film) when milkman Teyve invites the traveling university student to a Friday evening meal. See: Isaacson, pp. 18, 19-20, 23, 82, 294-295; and
15. Aaron Bernstein (1812-84), People’s Books on Natural Science. Born Max Talmud (Talmud means instruction or the authoritative body of Jewish tradition), his name was changed to Max Talmey when he immigrated to the U.S.
16. Max Talmey, Relativity Theory Simplified and the Formative Period of its Inventor, With an Introduction by George B. Pegram, 1932. Talmud gave Albert a book titled Force and Matter, never imagining that years later Einstein would publish theories of relativity, show that matter could be turned into energy, give the world the famous formula, E =mc2, connect spacetime as one entity, and show that Newton’s gravity was really curved spacetime.
17. For many entries on “Einstein, Talmey,”
18. Albert left Munich for Pavia, Italy, Dec. 29, 1894.
19. Called Zurich Polytechnic College in this paper for clarity it was founded in 1854, opened in 1855 as Swiss Federation of Technology, known familiarly as ETH, its German abbreviation. It has always been highly ranked academically with 21 Nobel Laureates associated with it as students or faculty. Albert’s first born son Hans Albert Einstein (1904-73) also attended ETH and received his Ph.D. in technical sciences there in 1936. See: Fox & Keck, pp. 49-52;
20. Gustav Maier was the family friend who got Einstein the age waiver to take his first Zurich Polytechnic entrance exam. Maier’s banking firm in Ulm, Germany, had been located on the same street as Einstein’s grandfather’s featherbed factory.
21. Einstein’s first (failed) entrance exam dates were Oct. 8-14, 1895.
22. Pestalozzi’s world wide influence included John Dewey’s (1859-1952) U.S. child-centered progressive school movement.
23. Einstein added to this thought question (at age 16): …”Of course, such a thing is impossible.” Isaacson, p. 26.
24. Jost Winteler (1846-1929) was school principal and history and Greek professor. Another Winteler daughter Anna later married Albert’s close friend Micheleangelo Besso. The Winteler son, Paul, later married Albert’s sister Maja, forming a life-long Einstein-Winteler connection.
25. For many entries on “Einstein, Winteler,”
26. Einstein’s essay on his future plans was written in faulty French. See: Isaacson, p. 31.
27. For entries on Prof. Heinrich Weber, see
28. For “Einstein, Marie Winteler,” her despondency, breakdown, and recovery after Einstein broke off their romance, and on her later marriage and life,
29. Albert called Mileva “Dollie”; she called him “Johnnie.” See Isaacson index for many entries under Maric, Mileva. For other entries under “Einstein, Mileva Maric:”
For New York Times articles on Mileva Maric:
(3) Also from New York Times on Mileva Maric:
30. Isaacson, p. 42.
31. Ibid., p. 34.
32. Ibid., p. 35. Einstein ignored Prof. Jean Pernet’s lab instructions, caused a lab explosion, which injured Einstein’s right hand.
33. Ibid., p. 35. Math Prof. Minkowski later remarked that Einstein was: Q “…a lazy dog [who] never bothers about mathematics at all.” Ironically in 1907, 7 years after Albert graduated from Zurich Polytechnic, Prof. Minkowski developed the mathematical framework that made Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity more acceptable to scientists. Prof Minkowski said sometime after 1905: “For me [Einstein’s work] came as a tremendous surprise… for in his student days Einstein had been a lazy sluggard [Faulpelz]. He never bothered about mathematics at all.”
34. Micheleangelo Besso (1873-1955), a mechanical engineer, 6 years older than Einstein, was Einstein’s lifelong friend, a sounding board for Einstein’s ideas, and acted as an elder brother in Einstein’s troubled marriage to and divorce from Mileva Maric. Besso and his wife Anna née Winteler Besso also helped care for the Einstein’s two sons.
Einstein and Besso both played the violin and had similar science interests. They met while Einstein boarded with Aarau Cantonal high school’s principal Jost Winteler whose older daughter Anna Lee married Besso in 1898. The Bessos moved to Milan, Italy, where he was an electrical society’s consultant until Einstein, then working at the Bern Swiss Patent Office, knowing of a vacancy, urged Besso to successfully apply.
Reflecting on Besso’s death shortly before Einstein’s own death (April 18, 1955), he wrote to Besso’s son and wife, marveling that Besso had lived so long and happily in harmony with his wife, “an undertaking in which I twice failed rather miserably.” Isaacson, p. 540.
35. Marcel Grossmann, whose father owned a factory near Zurich, later helped Einstein in two turning points of his life; first, by persuading his father to speak to the Swiss Patent Office director about Einstein’s abilities and need for a job. This led to Einstein’s Patent Office job during1902-09. Secondly, then math Prof. Marcel Grossman taught Einstein during 1911-12 (both then taught at Zurich Polytechnic) the special math for curved space Einstein needed for his 1915 General Theory of Relativity. For many entries on “Einstein, Marcel Grossmann,
36. Albert Einstein’s final exam score at Zurich Polytechnic was 4.9 out of 6, allowing him to graduate with a Diploma on July 28, 1900. Mileva’s Maric’s failing score was 4 out of 6. Source: White & Gribble pp. 40, 49.
37. Isaacson, p. 61 and:
38. Shortened letter from full versions in: Overbye, p. 72, and
39. Neither Marie Winteler nor Mileva Maric were Jewish.
40. For scholarly investigation of Albert Einstein-Mileva Mirac’s love child, see: Michele Zackheim. Einstein’s Daughter, The Search for Lieserl. NY: Penguin Putnam, 1999. See also Isaacson, p. 66.
41. Isaacson, Chap. 4, “The Lovers, ” especially p. 66.
42. Ibid. Mileva Maric’s close friend in Serbia was Helene Kaufler Savic. See: Zackheim’s book.
43. Isaacson, Chap 4. For a photo of Einstein and two “Olympia Academy” students, Conrad Habicht (1876-1958) and Maurice Solovine (1875-1958),
44. These self-named Olympia Academy avant garde rebels read and discussed classics, including philosophers Spinoza on God in nature and David Hume (1711-76) on skepticism. They discussed scientists Austrian physicist Ernst Mach (1838-1916), French mathematician Henri Poincaré (1854-1912), both of whose works influenced Albert’s relativity theories of 1905 and 1915. Isaacson, pp. 79-84, lists other authors and books read by Olympia Academy students.
45. Marcel Grossman first told Einstein of the possible Swiss Patent Office position at Bern in April 1901. Einstein applied for the post in Dec. 1901, was offered the post on June 16, 1902, and started work there on June 23, 1902. His job was confirmed as permanent on Sept. 1904. He was promoted to Technical Expert Second Class on April 1, 1906. He resigned July 6, 1909, to become University of Zurich physics professor. For many entries on “Einstein, Patent Office, Bern, Switzerland,”
46. For entries on “Einstein, Patent Office, Bern,”
47. Albert Einstein’s first son, Hans Albert Einstein, born May 14, 1904, who died in 1973, is mentioned in Footnote 19 above.
48. First 1905 photo electric effect paper: Albert Einstein, “On a Heuristic [i.e., Hypothetical] Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light,” Annalen der Physik, Vol. 17 (June 9, 1905), pp. 132-148. For details of all Einstein 1905 “Miracle Year” published writings,
49. Second 1905 “Brownian Movement” paper: Albert Einstein, “On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in Stationary Liquids Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat,” Annalen der Physik, Vol. 17 (July 18, 1905), pp. 549-560.
50. Third 1905 Special Relativity paper: Albert Einstein, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” Annalen der Physik (Annals of Physics, Vol. 17 (Sept. 26, 1905), pp. 891-921.
When Einstein finished his Special Relativity paper he gave his 31 scribbled pages to wife Mileva Maric to check for math errors and fell exhausted into bed. The background and Einstein’s thought processes on this third Special Relativity paper are explained in Overbye, Chap. 10; in Isaacson, Chapters 5 and 6;
51. For many entries on “Einstein, E=MC2,”
52. Isaacson, p. 140.
53. Few before Einstein made such imaginative leaps. The mystery is how–mostly alone by reading, study, and thought experiment–during 10 hectic troubled years ages 16 to 26, Einstein took insights from earlier scientists’ findings and put them together in remarkable ways in his 1905 papers.
We may never know the sources of Einstein’s rare intelligence, genius, boldness to be, do, and think differently. His father had a markedly careful way of looking at things from every possible angle. His mother was independent and determined. His Jewish heritage may account for his reverence for an all-knowing God who works through nature’s wonders. His early troubled life, the temper of his time, his minority status as a Jew among Christians may all have spurred his drive for thinking about and determination to account for nature’s wonders.
54. Einstein’s University of Zurich Ph.D. Dissertation (1905): “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions,” 1905, Annalen der Physik, 19 (1906), pp. 289-305, is his least impressive but most cited Einstein publication because of its usefulness. It deals simply with how sugar particles are suspended in a fluid, but has been surprisingly applicable to the way sand particles get stirred up in cement mixers, the properties of cow’s milk, and the way fine particles of dust and droplets of liquid (aerosols) are suspended in clouds.
55. The “few” students attending Einstein’s early morning University of Bern lectures included his friend Michele Besso and his sister Maja, then studying for the University of Zurich Ph.D. in Romance Languages. White & Gribble, p. 75.
56. University of Berlin physicist Max Planck, 21 years older, was Einstein’s father figure. Planck’s assistant Max von Lau became Einstein’s helpful friend. Planck was the first leading physicist to accept and soon lecture on Einstein’s relativity theory. As Annalen der Physik editor Planck published Einstein’s 1905 papers (also earlier and later papers).
University of Berlin Profs. Planck and Walther Nernst (1864-1941), both went in person to persuade Einstein to work in Berlin (1914-33). Unlike Newton and James C. Maxwell, who saw light as a wave, Planck was the first to consider light as rapidly moving discrete particles, an idea which Einstein incorporated in his 1905 photo-electric effect paper. Planck met with Hitler to argue, unsuccessfully, that the Nazi campaign against the Jews hurt German science. Planck’s son was killed by the Gestapo in 1944 for being involved in an unsuccessful Hitler assassination plot. Source: Fox & Keck, pp. 216-219.
57. Einstein’s sickly second son Eduard Einstein (1910-65) was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1930 and died at age 55 in a Zurich mental asylum. As caretaker, his mother Mileva Maric Einstein bore most of the emotional burden, often helped by the Bessos, while Einstein paid the financial cost.
58. Einstein first met at the First Solvay Science Conference, Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 1911, such world renown scientists as France’s Marie Curie, French mathematician Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912), Germany’s Max Planck, New Zealand born Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), and Dutch physicist Henrik A. Lorentz (1853-1928).
Of Einstein’s relativity theory Planck wrote: “If Einstein’s theory should prove to be correct, as I expect it will, he will be considered the Copernicus of the twentieth century.” Source: Aczel, p. 27.
Asked to evaluate Einstein as possible Zurich Polytechnic physics professor, Marie Curie wrote: “I much admire the work which Einstein has published…and think…his work as being in the first rank.”
In this same connection J.H. Poincaré wrote of Albert: “The future will show more and more, the worth of Einstein, and the university which is able to capture this young master is certain of gaining much honour from the operation.” White & Gribble, p. 109 and Isaacson, pp.168-171.
59. In Berlin during 1914-33 Einstein was also a member of the Prussian Academy of Science and directed research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. For many entries on “Einstein, University of Berlin,”
60. For Einstein’s “living conditions” instructions to his first wife Mileva Maric and of his affairs with other women,
61. Elsa Einstein married textile trader Max Lowenthal (1864-1914) in 1896 and divorced him in 1908. For Elsa Einstein biography, see: http://www.einstein-website.de/biographies/einsteinelsa.html
62. An abortive attempt was made to photo-test a summer 1914 eclipse for Einstein best seen in the Crimea, Russia by Berlin’s Royal Prussian Observatory assistant Erwin Freundlich (1885-1964). Freundlich got to the Crimea with photo equipment just as World War I erupted, was captured as a spy, and was luckily released in an exchange of prisoners. This failed attempt strangely helped Albert for he had made a mistake in math so that his degrees of arc of bent-light was slightly off. Had this abortive photo expedition been successful his General Relativity Theory might have been discredited. See: Isaacson, index under Freundlich, Erwin Finlay.
63. Because of WW I communications disruption Einstein sent his 1915 General Relativity paper to University of Leyden (Netherlands) astronomy Prof. Willem de Sitter (1872-1935), who forwarded it via Finland to England’s Cambridge University astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944). Eddington, soon a convinced relativity believer, helped prove Einstein’s General Relativity theory true in a 1919 eclipse, resulting in Einstein’s near-instant world fame. Source: Clark, pp. 208-09f. For “Einstein, Eddington” entries,
64. For entries on the startling results of “Einstein, 1919 eclipse,”
see: Bodanis interview in:
65. Ibid., for headline news coverage of “Einstein, 1919 eclipse.”
66. Nominated annually since 1910 for the Nobel Prize for Physics, Einstein’s selection was bypassed because the selection committee thought his relativity theories might be wrong and by anti-Jewish prejudice, led by former (1905) Nobel Physics Prize winner Philipp A. Lenard (1862-1947), a virulent anti-Semite and later dedicated Nazi.
Einstein’s Nobel Prize selection was also delayed after 1919 photo eclipse proof of his relativity theory because it contradicted over 200 years of Newtonian physics. No physics prize was given in 1921, allowing the committee to compromise, giving the 1922 prize to Danish physicist Niels H.D. Bohr (1885-1962) and the 1921 prize to Einstein, not for his still controversial relativity theories, but for his practical 1905 photoelectric effect theory.
knowing that Einstein planned a lecture tour in Japan, University of Berlin friend Max von Laue alerted Einstein about a special honor in December 1922 but Einstein, annoyed at the long delay and showing indifference, went on to Japan.
Diplomats had to sort out the protocol problem: German ambassador to Sweden Rudolf Nadolny accepted the Nobel Prize for Einstein, the Swedish ambassador to Germany handed Einstein the Nobel medal on his return to Japan, and Einstein, ignoring the fact that he had been awarded the prize for his photo electric effect theory, instead gave his Nobel speech, July 1923 on relativity. Sources: White & Gribbin, pp. 100, 125, 165-166, 179-180. Fox &Keck, pp. 190-195.
For entries on “Einstein, Nobel Prize for Physics for 1921” and for “Einstein, Rudolf Nadolny,”
67. For entries on “Einstein, Atom Bomb,
68. For key Einstein events in the U.S., 1933-55, 22 years:
(1) Einstein’s first U.S. visit, April 2-May 30, 1921, with Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952, Russian-born, British subject) to raise funds for what is now Hebrew University of Jerusalem (which still benefits from owning his papers and has commercial copyright use of his name). Einstein was given a hero’s welcome in NYC and lectured in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, Ohio.
(2) He returned to the U.S. briefly in 1931 to lecture at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), visited Hollywood, CA, where he was cheered as a rock star when he appeared with Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) at the opening of Chaplin’s City Lights film. When Einstein asked what the cheering meant, Chaplin replied: they cheer me because they all understand me; they cheer you because no one understands you. For entries for “Einstein, Millikan, Caltech,
(3) Why Einstein worked at the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, 1933 to his death in 1955, 22 years: About 1929 wealthy Newark, NJ, department store owner Louis Bamberger (1855-1944) and his sister Caroline née Bamberger Fuld asked educator and philanthropic foundation executive Abraham Flexner’s (1866-1959) advice on the best use of a $5 million philanthropic gift.
Flexner urged them to create an Institute for Advanced Study where eminent scholars free from lecturing and other duties could explore new knowledge. The idea was modeled on Kaiser Wilhelm II Institutes some 20 years earlier (Einstein headed the one in Berlin during 1917-33). Practical results from these research institutes helped make Germany a world leader in industries related to chemistry and science.
Flexner, who would later site his Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, NJ (near but independent of Princeton University), was in Pasadena, CA, early 1932, to confer with California Institute of California (Caltech) chief scientist Robert Millikan (1868-1953) about recruiting European and U.S. scientists. Millikan told Flexner to speak to Einstein then at Caltech.
Einstein, then on his second annual short term Caltech lecturing visit (during 1931, 1932, 1933), became interested in Flexner’s Institute for Advanced Study. They talked again in Oxford, England, late spring, 1932; and again two months later at Einstein’s summer home in Carputh near Berlin. Einstein agreed to join the Institute for Advanced Study initially for 6 months.
In December 1932, to escape Hitler’s holocaust (Hitler became Chancellor of Germany Jan. 30 1933), Einstein fled Germany to work at the Institute for Advance Study, Princeton, NJ. He lived nearby at 112 Mercer Street, became a U.S. citizen (while retaining Swiss citizenship) on Oct. 30, 1940, and died in 1955.
For entries on “Einstein, Flexner,”see:
For Franklin & Betty Parker, “Abraham and Simon Flexner, Medical Education Reformers,” access any one of the following 3 blogs:
(4) Einstein’s Aug. 2, 1939 letter to Pres. F.D. Roosevelt warning of Nazi’s atom bomb progress: Einstein in Princeton, N.J., first heard in late 1938 from Danish physicist Niels Bohr (1885-1962) that German scientists were nearing success in splitting the uranium atom and making a bomb of unimaginable destruction.
This information was confirmed to Einstein in mid July 1939 while on vacation in long Island, NY, by visiting Jewish physicist Leo Szilard (1898-1964), who had also fled Nazi Germany to the U.S. Szilard and another physicist drafted and prevailed on Einstein to sign a letter to Pres. Roosevelt, Aug. 2, 1939, warning him of the danger
The letter and attending reports on it languished in U.S. bureaucratic files until Pearl Harbor when British intelligence, which knew of the danger, pressured the U.S. military to create the secret Manhattan Project leading to the U.S. atom bombs dropped on Japan that ended WW II.
See footnote 67 for entries on “Einstein, Atom Bomb.” See indexes under “Roosevelt, Franklin” in Overbye, Fox & Keck (especially pp. 9-14), White & Gribbon, Clark, Hoffmann, Isaacson. For entries on “Einstein, Roosevelt,”
Best Albert Einstein Internet Sources
1. “Albert Einstein, 1879-1955.” Library of Congress, many entries on 10 pp.:
2. Albert Einstein, 1879-1955.” 39 clips of film stock footage libraries:
3. World Year of Physics 2005: Einstein in the 21st Century:
Physics groups world-wide designated 2005 the “World Year of Physics, honoring the centennial of Einstein’s 1905 “Year of Miracles” and the 50th year since his death in 1955. Over 400 world wide celebratory events were held including conferences, museum exhibits, webcasts, plays, poetry reading, and other events.
4. Albert Einstein Quotes/Articles on God, Religion, Ethics and Science
5. Albert Einstein Quotes (general): http://quotations.about.com/od/stillmorefamouspeople/a/AlbertEinstein2.htm
6. Albert Albert Quotes with sources and links to his life and contributions):
7. Albert Einstein photographs:
8. For Einstein books, articles, photos, and archival finding aids: http://www.aip.org/servlet/plainHistory?collection=HISTORY&queryText=Albert+Einstein&SEARCH+BUTTON.x=18&SEARCH+BUTTON.y=7
9. PBS (Public Broadcasting System, TV) entries on “Albert Einstein”: http://www.pbs.org/search/search_results.html?q=Albert+Einstein&btnG.x=10&btnG.y=7
10. Science writers on Albert Einstein:
(1): John Horgan, science writing program, Stevens Institute of Technology, NJ, articles on Einstein:
(2): Books on Albert Einstein by Don Howard, History of Science, Notre Dame University:
(3): Lee Smolin, Theoretical Physics, Pennsylvania State University, articles, books on Einstein:
(4): livescience.com <http://livescience.com has entries on Einstein, including “Will There Ever be Another Einstein?”:
11. For “Einstein, Federal Bureau of Investigation” massive report, see:
12. For “Albert Einstein Timelines and Chronology,” see:
13. For About.com <http://About.com> search on “Albert Einstein,” see:
14. For entries on “Albert Einstein death,”
END OF REFERENCES. Email corrections, questions to: email@example.com
About the Authors
1. For biographical account: “Betty & Franklin Parker Looking Back Since 1946,”
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3. To access free E-Book full contents of Franklin Parker, George Peabody, A Biography. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995 rev. edn., go to:
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