Albert Einstein’s Life and Contributions to Science
Chemistry 6


5/22/03

Scientist Report
Albert Einstein is one of the most well known scientists, physicists, and thinkers of all time. Many people regard him as a genius. His intelligence can be explained by his childhood, but can be proved by his contributions to the field of physics.


Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. He was raised by his father, Hermann, and his mother, Paulina Koch, as a Jewish child. His good family background is what many people believe to be the main reason for Einstein’s intellectual gigantism.


His family was not perfect, however. His family moved many times due to his father’s failed business adventures. As a child, Einstein was slow to learn to speak; this worried his parents a great deal. These fears were diminished when his parents noticed their child’s success in solving many puzzles. He also built many things with blocks at that young age, and when he got older, he was building enormous mansions out of playing cards.


When Einstein was asked what first impressed and stimulated his mind, he told them that his father had showed him a compass at the age of five. Young Albert was intrigued by how the needle always pointed in the same direction, no matter how the compass was turned. Einstein later said he felt “something deeply hidden had to be behind things.”


When Albert was old enough, he attended an elementary school in Aarau, and later moved on to a secondary school in Munich. He absolutely hated the high school he later went to in Munich. He felt that the mindless drilling in academic high schools was useless, so he quit at age fifteen nearing the end of the mid-term. He much preferred to study at home, especially geometry and books on popular science. Later on, these studies came into conflict with his deep religious feelings when he realized that the Bible could not be literally true. To that shocking revelation, he created his lifelong distrust of authority. This led to the ease with which he was able to discard long-standing scientific prejudices.


He also did this so he could join his parents who were living in Italy at the time.


Einstein didn’t attend college. Instead, he went to the Swiss Polytechnic Institute in Zurich in order to study mathematics and physics. After graduation in 1900, he became an examiner at the Swiss Patent Office. This job gave Einstein a lot of free time, during which he performed scientific experiments. These experiments led to the Papers of 1905. The Papers of 1905 were three papers written by Einstein to a German scientific periodical called Annals of Physics.


The first paper was the Quantum Theory, which was basically about quanta and the flow of light. This explained how intense light could release electrons from metal. For this paper, Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. The second paper was Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. This is the most famous of Albert Einstein’s works. The theory of relativity revolutionized scientific thought with new ideas of time, space, mass, motion, and gravitation. It treated matter and energy as exchangeable, not distinct and also laid the basis of nuclear energy (E=mc²). The third of these papers was about Brownian Motion. This paper confirmed the Atomic Theory of matter. In 1915, Einstein announced the development of the General Theory of Relativity, called the Unified Field Theory, which was based on his special theory. Einstein failed to establish this theory, though he spent the last 25 years of his life working on it.


As previously stated, Einstein’s paper on relativity was the basis of nuclear energy. This led to the creation of atomic weapons. On August 2, 1929, Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that explained the possibility of an atomic bomb and that Nazi Germany was already trying to create one. This letter brought about the Manhattan Project, which created the first nuclear weapon.


From this point on, Einstein made few contributions to the fields of math, science, and physics; and when he did, they weren’t as big or important as the others were. Information on these is hard to find, since most biographies and articles