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An overview of the science by albert einstein a german born austrian physicist

The Year Of Albert Einstein

One explained how to measure the size of molecules in a liquid, a second posited how to determine their movement, and a third described how light comes in packets called photons—the foundation of quantum physics and the idea that eventually won him the Nobel Prize. A fourth paper introduced special relativity, leading physicists to reconsider notions of space and time that had sufficed since the dawn of civilization.

International physics organizations have proclaimed this centenary as the World Year of Physics, and thousands of scientific and educational institutions have followed their lead. Images of Einstein have become even more common than usual, discussions of his impact a cultural drumbeat. But the time, generally, was one of great cultural and social upheaval.

James Joyce completed his first book, Dubliners. An overview of the science by albert einstein a german born austrian physicist for that reason, Einstein today is more myth than man, and the essence of that myth is that the workings of his mind are beyond the reach not only of most mortals but even of most physicists. In a 1632 treatise, Galileo Galilei set forth what would become the classic version of relativity.

He invited you, his reader, to imagine yourself on a dock, observing a ship moving at a steady rate. At the base of the mast? Or some small distance back, corresponding to the distance that the ship had covered while the rock was falling? The intuitive answer is some small distance back. The correct answer is the base of the mast. From the point of view of the sailor who dropped the rock, the rock falls straight down. But for you on the dock, the rock would appear to fall at an angle.

Both you and the sailor would have equal claim to being right—the motion of the rock is relative to whoever is observing it. Einstein, however, had a question. It had bothered him for ten years, from the time he was a 16-year-old student in Aarau, Switzerland, until one fateful evening in May 1905.

Walking home from work, Einstein fell into conversation with Michele Besso, a fellow physicist and his best friend at the patent office in Bern, Switzerland, where they were both clerks. Forty years earlier, the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell had demonstrated that the speed of light is constant. If the person at the top of the mast sends a light signal straight down while the ship is moving, where will it land?

For Einstein as well as Galileo, it lands at the base of the mast. From your point of view on the dock, the base of the mast will have moved out from under the top of the mast during the descent, as it did when the rock was falling. This means that the distance the light has traveled, from your point of view, has lengthened.

The speed of light is always 186,282 miles per second. In the case of a beam of light, the speed is always 186,282 miles per second, so if you change the distance that the beam of light travels, you also have to change the time.

You have to change the time. That means the time on board the ship appeared to be passing more slowly than on the dock.

  • It was revolutionary because previously people had thought time and distance are absolutes;
  • They were all larger than life, and so therefore, the thinking went, must he be, too.

The reverse, Einstein knew, would also have to be true. To the sailor, the time onshore would appear to be passing more slowly.

And there we have it: The difference between the two is in the math, and the math is the world. Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Photographic History Collection "I do know that kind fate allowed me to find a couple of nice ideas after many years of feverish labor," Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1940 once wrote to a fellow physicist.

This was pretty heady stuff for a 26-year-old clerk who only a couple of weeks earlier had submitted his doctoral thesis to the University of Zurich. Einstein would keep his day job at the patent office until 1909, but his obscurity was over, at least among physicists. Within a year of completing his relativity paper, his ideas were being debated by some of the most prominent scientists in Germany. What about bodies moving at changing velocities? Unlike the beam of light, which moves at a constant velocity, the falling man would be accelerating.

But in another sense, he would also be at rest. Throughout the universe, every scrap of matter would be exerting its exquisitely predictable influence on the man, through gravity. Space and time, energy and mass, and acceleration and gravitation: Einstein told friends that when he finally figured out the math to demonstrate general relativity in 1915, something burst inside him.

Einstein carried his writings on general relativity to the Netherlands, and from there a physicist friend forwarded them across the North Sea to England, where they eventually reached Arthur Eddington, perhaps the only astronomer in the world with the political clout and scientific prominence sufficient to mobilize wartime resources and to put general relativity to the test.

Albert Einstein Biography

In late September, Einstein got a telegram saying that the eclipse results matched his predictions. In October, he accepted the congratulations of the most prominent physicists on the Continent at a meeting in Amsterdam. Then he went home to Berlin. The Royal Society president and the discoverer of the electron, J. Because the public learned about special relativity and general relativity at the same time, says Weart, the cult of Einstein coalesced quickly. That must count as one of the most moral acts of that time.

Avisceral, lifelong anti-authoritarian, he had renounced his German citizenship at age 16 rather than subject himself to mandatory military service. Now, in the nascent WeimarRepublic, Einstein, a Jew, found himself portrayed as a villain by swastika-sporting German nationalists and as a hero by internationalists.

After Hitler rose to power in 1933, Einstein abandoned Germany for good. He accepted an appointment to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he lived in a modest house on Mercer Street until his death from a ruptured abdominal aneurysm at age 76 in April 1955.

Throughout his public years, Einstein embodied contradictions. A pacifist, he would advocate the construction of the atomic bomb. He argued for a world without borders, and campaigned for the establishment of the state of Israel—so much so that in 1952 he was invited to be its president. He was a genius, puttering absent-mindedly around his house in Princeton, and he was a joker, sticking out his tongue for a photographer.

It was their scale. They were all larger than life, and so therefore, the thinking went, must he be, too. His first marriage had ended in divorce, a second, to a cousin, in her death, nearly two decades before his. He fathered one illegitimate daughter, who is thought to have been given up for adoption and is lost to history, and two sons, Hans Albert and Eduard.

One of them, Eduard, suffered from schizophrenia. Hans Albert taught engineering at UC Berkeley. An overview of the science by albert einstein a german born austrian physicist was a fate Einstein hated. And maybe there was.

Once the Nazis were defeated, Einstein would become not all things to all people but one thing to all people: During his first trip to the United States en route with second wife Elsa Einstein in 1921Einstein mixed physics lectures with fundraising on behalf of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But in time his hair flew, like a mind untethered, while the bags under his eyes deepened, as if from the burden of looking too hard and seeing too much.

Long before the public beatified Einstein, his fellow physicists had begun to question his infallibility.

Ayear later Einstein acknowledged that the error had in fact been his, yet he remained unrepentant. Einstein frequently and famously objected to the central tenet of quantum theory—that the subatomic world operates according to statistical probabilities rather than cause-and-effect certainties. Turner, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago and a director for mathematical and physical sciences at the National Science Foundation.

  • I live my daydreams in music;
  • That must count as one of the most moral acts of that time.

But he was also single-minded about finding a unified field theory, and from 1920 on, his career was that of a mere mortal. And God plays dice. And there have been other startling ramifications of relativity theory, such as black holes, which can be created by collapsed stars with masses so great that their gravitational force swallows everything in their vicinity, including light.

What powered the big bang? What happens to space, time and matter at the edge of a black hole? Will, a physicist at WashingtonUniversity in St. For his part, Einstein never quite knew what hit him. I never yet heard a truly convincing answer to this question. Social scientist Bernard H.

In reinventing relativity, Einstein also reinvented nothing less than the way we see the universe. For thousands of years, astronomers and mathematicians had studied the motions of bodies in the night sky, then searched for equations to match them.

Einstein did the reverse. He started with idle musings and scratches on paper and wound up pointing toward phenomena previously unimaginable and still unfathomable. Miller of UniversityCollege, London. Shortly after completing his paper on special relativity, in 1905, Einstein realized his equations applied to more than space and time.

From the point of view of an observer standing still relative to an object moving very fast—approaching the speed of light—the object would appear to be gaining mass. And the greater its velocity—in other words the more energy that had been spent in getting it moving—the greater its apparent mass.

Specifically, the measure of its energy would be equal to the measure of its mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. The speed of light, or c, is a big number: Multiply it by itself, and the result is, well, a really big number: Now multiply that number by even an extraordinarily minute amount of mass, such as what one might find in the nucleus of an atom, and the result is still an extraordinarily tremendous number. And that number is E, energy.

Prompted by two nuclear physicists, Einstein wrote to President Franklin D.

  1. And maybe there was. Einstein did the reverse.
  2. James Joyce completed his first book, Dubliners.
  3. The speed of light is always 186,282 miles per second.
  4. While working at the Patent Office, Einstein continued his own scientific discoveries and began radical experiments to consider the nature of light and space.
  5. Special Theory of Relativity This theory was written in a simple style with no footnotes or academic references.

Einstein later realized that his assessment that German scientists would be capable of building an atomic bomb—the opinion that drove him to write to FDR—was mistaken. Seemingly oblivious to the crevasses as well as to her difficulty in understanding his German, Einstein spent much of the time talking about gravitation. In a certain set of circumstances, the passenger would have no way of knowing whether he was experiencing gravity or upward acceleration.

But if the elevator were accelerating through deep space at that same rate, he would experience precisely the same downward force.