Who was Albert Einstein? - Theory, Facts & Quotes

Instructor: Kelly Robson

Kelly has taught High School Science and Applied Communications. She holds an Education Specialist Degree in Ed. Leadership.

Albert Einstein was Time Magazine's Person of the Century in 1999 for many good reasons. This lesson takes a quick look at Einstein's life, works, and his influence on the world.

Quick Bio

'My life is a simple thing that would interest no one. It is a known fact that I was born, and that is all that is necessary.'-Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany on March 14, 1879. His family was a middle class Jewish family who soon moved to Munich, Germany. Einstein continued his studies in Germany but dropped out before completing high school due to loneliness (his family moved to Italy for business reasons) and to avoid being drafted.

Albert Einstein at the age of 3. This is the oldest known picture of Albert Einstein.
Age 3

Einstein made his way back to school in Zurich at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School. Here he studied to become a physics and mathematics teacher. After graduating Einstein was unable to find a job as a professor. This was mainly because when he went to school he liked to study on his own and his professors did not like him cutting their classes.

Miracle Year

1905 was a very special year for Einstein. It is actually referred to as his 'Miracle Year'. During this year, Einstein worked as a clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern, Switzerland. Here he evaluated applications for electromagnetic devices. He quickly mastered the job and had some thinking time on his hands.

His extra time was not just spent thinking, but it was also spent writing. Einstein was able to publish four papers. These papers were extremely influential on the world of physics. One of the papers was the Special Theory of Relativity. In this particular paper, Einstein gave us the famous formula e = mc2. It was these four published writings that allowed this special year to be called the Miracle Year.

Special Theory of Relativity

His most famous formula, e = mc2, is both simple (on paper) and super complex (in thought). The formula measures an object's energy content. E is the energy of the object. M is for the mass of the object. C is the speed of light, which is a constant 299,792,458 meters per second.

Bio Continued

Einstein met many of his lifelong friends when he attended college in Switzerland. He even met his first bride, Mileva Maric Grossmann a mathematician. He would marry her in 1903. They had two sons; Hans Albert was born in 1904, and Eduard was born in 1910. Due to his many studies, travel, and fame, they were divorced in 1919. It was then that Einstein promised Mileva his monetary reward if he ever won the Nobel Prize.

Einstein with his wife Mileva.
Einstein & Maric

Einstein did proceed to win the Nobel Prize in 1921. He won the Nobel Prize in physics for his explanation of photoelectric effect. Einstein was most proud of his General Theory of Relativity which he published in 1915. This writing was a revision of his Special Theory of Relativity. This theory did not win the Nobel Prize because at the time its main idea was too controversial.

Nobel Prize Portrait of Einstein.
Nobel Prize

Einstein did remarry to one of his cousins, Elsa Löwenthal.

Einstein Politics

In 1914, Einstein remained in Berlin and became a German citizen. It was not until 1933 that he renounced his citizenship to Germany for political reason. Einstein had some pretty good reasons to leave Germany. One good reason in particular was the fact that his name was on the Nazi assassination list.

'I believe the most important mission of the state is to protect the individual and make it possible for him to develop into a creative personality….'-Albert Einstein

Einstein left Germany and came to the United States. He became a professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton University. In 1940, he became an official citizen of America. Einstein worked on many different projects with various government departments.

Albert Einstein became an American Citizen in 1940.
American Citizenship

Einstein believed in peace for all. He was highly involved with many peace and civil rights organizations. He helped to design weapons and spoke about how to use them to keep the peace.

'I never worry about the future. It comes soon enough.'-Albert Einstein

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