Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics. He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.
The man who ranks above all others as an intellectual Columbus is Albert Einstein. He took such expeditions far beyond "the safe anchorage of established doctrine" into treacherous, uncharted seas. Not only was he a pioneer in the quantum realm; he discovered and explored much of the territory of modern physics.
His slow development was combined with a cheeky rebelliousness toward authority, which led one schoolmaster to send him packing and another to amuse history by declaring that he would never amount to much. These traits made Albert Einstein the patron saint of distracted school kids everywhere. But they also helped to make him, or so he later surmised, the most creative scientific genius of modern times.
In 1935, a rabbi in Princeton showed him a clipping of the Ripley's column with the headline "Greatest Living Mathematician Failed in Mathematics." Einstein laughed. "I never failed in mathematics," he replied, correctly. "Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus." ... Years later, when Einstein celebrated his fiftieth birthday and there were stories about how poorly the great genius had fared at the gymnasium, the school's current principal made a point of publishing a letter revealing how good his grades actually were.
... Einstein was appointed technical expert third class at the Bern Patent Office in 1902. Now that he had steady employment, Einstein thought of marriage, and a year later he and Mileva Maric, a classmate at the Zurich Poly, were married.
But this year, 1905, would be the year of his big breakthroughs. As he told a friend, "A storm broke loose in my mind." After countless hours of thought and analysis, some of the answers to his scientific questions came to him. That year, Albert carefully described his findings in five scientific papers and sent them off for publication.
However important the papers on light quanta and Brownian motion were for the world of science, it was his last two papers of 1905 that made Einstein the towering figure he is for everyone today.
It is impossible to overstate the significance of "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies," perhaps the most important paper in all physics. Unlike almost all other theories of physics, relativity is not a theory about particular forces and particles. Rather it is a theory about time and space - the stage on which all forces and particles play out their parts. ... Every theory since has incorporated it.
There would be one more astounding insight, which he presented in a three-page paper that he published in the Annalen in November as a "mathematical footnote" to his paper on relativity. ... Energy, he proclaimed, equals mass times the square of the speed of light. Or to put it more famously: E = mc^2
His theory of relativity has two main parts, the special theory and the general. Not till just after World War I, when eclipse observations lent confirmation to a prediction of the general theory of relativity, did word leak out to the public that something momentous had happened in the world of science.
His departure from Europe in 1933 for the Institute for Advanced Study, and the relative isolation that he deliberately sought in Princeton, increased his remoteness from the mainstream of physics. Yet even as his influence among physicists dwindled, he remained for the public the supreme symbol and oracle of science.
There had to be a great law, a scheme that explained everything. Einstein was sure of it, and he was hoping to find it in the unified field theory. Again and again he told friends that he didn't believe God played dice with the world, until it became one of his most famous statements.