A retrospective: Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the German Empire in 1879, and at the age of one year old the family moved to Munich. He was born into a secular middle-class Jewish family, and his father and uncle set up the electrical business ‘Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie’. He was the oldest of two children, and at the age of five years old he acquired a compass, and this was the beginning of his obsession with invisible forces.

Several years later at the mere age of twelve years old, Albert found God, and became extremely religious, and constantly engaged in religious recital, but as his interest in science grew, he realised that physics contradicted much of the Bible. He developed a friendship with Max Talmud, who was a medical student, and they frequently discussed mathematics and philosophy.

Despite Albert being an academic with science, he was an average student in most subjects, and he failed his entrance exam into the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich. He had no option but to further study until he was finally accepted, and in 1901 he left being able to teach physics and mathematics. He was unable to find a teaching job, and had to settle for working in a patent office, and this is where he began to study relativity.

As Albert’s career began to develop, he gained a doctorate and began travelling and gaining knowledge. He had several professor positions in Zurich (1909), Prague (1911) and Zurich (1912). In 1921 he won the Nobel Peace Prize in Physics, when he explained that emission, or ejection of electrons upon light hitting a surface was known as the Photoelectric Effect, which essentially proves the existence of photons which are quantum electromagnetic radiation particles of light – basic unit of light.

He returned to Germany and worked there until Adolf Hitler rose to power, when he left for America to become a physics lecturer in Princeton, as he was targeted by the Nazi party to help them develop weapons.

Albert made many discoveries throughout his life, but the one that remains synonymous with him is E=MC2 (the theory of relativity) which means (energy = mass x the speed of light squared, or E = m x c x c) which led to the development of the atomic bomb, in which tiny particles of matter could be converted into huge amounts of energy in the form of nuclear fusion.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

In 1935 he was granted permanent residency in the United States, and he along with Leo Szilard proposed to President Roosevelt that Germany was likely in possession of a weapon of mass destruction, and this was the birth of the Manhattan Project where the Unites States began work on two types of atomic weapons:

uranium design called “the Little Boy

plutonium design called “the Fat Man”

After World War II concluded, Albert’s theories began to become more radical, and he toyed with the idea of time travel, wormholes and black holes, but his peers were now focusing on quantum mechanics and this isolated him. His focus shifted towards race equality and the civil rights of African Americans, as he knew what persecution felt like being a Jew. He actually described racism as the worst disease America had.

He, like Karl Marx, believed that Capitalism was the reason poverty had become like modern slavery, and agreed that Socialism was the only logical and fair way for humanity to go forward. Despite Albert finding God at an early age, he rejected the idea of a personal God as an adult, as he described it as being naive, yet he was in two minds about Pantheism, but always described himself as an agnostic. He was heavily involved with several Humanist and ethical organisations, and sat on the board of the Humanist Society of New York.

Einstein was considered as one of the most important, if not the most important scientific brain to have ever graced humanity. He wrote countless books and over 300 scientific papers. At aged 76, Albert Einstein died 18 April 1955, at Princeton Medical Center, United States, and will remain perhaps the most iconic scientist to have ever lived.

On God

“If this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?” – Albert Einstein,

On religion

A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant. At the least, he is to feel pity for the adherent of another religion but usually it does not stop there. The faithful adherent of a religion will try first of all to convince those that believe in another religion and usually he goes on to hatred if he is not successful. However, hatred then leads to persecution when the might of the majority is behind it. In the case of a Christian clergyman, the tragic-comical is found in this..” – Albert Einstein