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Albert Einstein

1879 - 1955

Albert Einstein, 1879 - 1955, a German (-Swiss, -American) Physicist

Albert Einstein is considered by many to be the greatest scientist of the 20th century, and his contributions to science equal in importance and scope to those of Isaac Newton.

  • Nationality
  • German - Swiss - American

  • Subject
  • Physics, Theoretical

  • Fields
  • Relativity, nuclear energy, quantum mechanics, mass-energy equivalence, philosophy of science, peace

  • Distinctions
  • Nobel Prize, 1921, for his work on the Photoelectric Effect. Many are of the opinion that the Nobel Committee were forced to award the Nobel to Einstein because of the confirmation of his General Relativity Theory in 1919, but they were unconvinced about the theory themselves, so awarded the prize for the secondary work.

  • Posts
  • Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Theoretical Physics, Berlin.

  • Publications
  • Einstein published over 300 scientific papers in his long, illustrious career. In the year he was awarded his PhD by the University of Zurich, with his dissertation on "A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions", he went on to publish a further four papers which revolutionised physics and scientific thought and philosophy. This was his "annus mirabilis" (Wunderjahr - Miracle Year):

    1. On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light, a paper explaining the mysterious Photoelectric Effect, and in which Einstein proposes the idea of energy quanta.

    2. Über die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teichen" (On the Motion of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid, as Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat). This paper explained the mysterious Brownian Motion, in which small pollen grains were observed to move erratically in still water. It provided empirical evidence for the existence of atoms, proposed by Boltzman, and still considered as dubious by the physics community.

    3. Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper (On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies). this paper introduced his Special Theory of Relativity, in which he reconciles Maxwell's electromagnetism equations with the mechanics of bodies at speeds approaching the speed of light.

    4. Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig? (Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon its Energy content?). In this paper Einstein unleashed upon the unsuspecting world his famous formula:

  • Theories
  • Special Theory of Relativity, 1905

    General Relativity of Relativity, 1915

  • Equations
  • $E = mc^2$

    $E = {mc^2}/{√{1-{v^2}/{c^2}}}$

  • Experiments/Discoveries
  • Light-lensing

Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr
Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr

Einstein's work on relativity was published in two parts: Special Relativity in 1905, and General Relativity in 1915.

He published 4 ground-breaking papers in one year, 1905, at the age of just 26. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921 for one of these papers: on the photoelectric effect.

Einstein's light box enigma for Niels Bohr
Einstein's light box enigma for Niels Bohr, 1927

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