Einstein

Einstein

[ahyn-stahyn; Ger. ahyn-shtahyn]
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955, American theoretical physicist, known for the formulation of the relativity theory, b. Ulm, Germany. He is recognized as one of the greatest physicists of all time.

Life

Einstein lived as a boy in Munich and Milan, continued his studies at the cantonal school at Aarau, Switzerland, and was graduated (1900) from the Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich. Later he became a Swiss citizen. He was examiner (1902-9) at the patent office, Bern. During this period he obtained his doctorate (1905) at the Univ. of Zürich, evolved the special theory of relativity, explained the photoelectric effect, and studied the motion of atoms, on which he based his explanation of Brownian movement. In 1909 his work had already attracted attention among scientists, and he was offered an adjunct professorship at the Univ. of Zürich. He resigned that position in 1910 to become full professor at the German Univ., Prague, and in 1912 he accepted the chair of theoretical physics at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich.

By 1913 Einstein had won international fame and was invited by the Prussian Academy of Sciences to come to Berlin as titular professor of physics and as director of theoretical physics at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. He assumed these posts in 1914 and subsequently resumed his German citizenship. For his work in theoretical physics, notably on the photoelectric effect, he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics. His property was confiscated (1934) by the Nazi government because he was Jewish, and he was deprived of his German citizenship. He had previously accepted (1933) a post at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, which he held until his death in 1955. An ardent pacifist, Einstein was long active in the cause of world peace; however, in 1939, at the request of a group of scientists, he wrote to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to stress the urgency of investigating the possible use of atomic energy in bombs. In 1940 he became an American citizen.

Major Contributions to Science

The Special and General Theories of Relativity

Einstein's early work on the theory of relativity (1905) dealt only with systems or observers in uniform (unaccelerated) motion with respect to one another and is referred to as the special theory of relativity; among other results, it demonstrated that two observers moving at great speed with respect to each other will disagree about measurements of length and time intervals made in each other's systems, that the speed of light is the limiting speed of all bodies having mass, and that mass and energy are equivalent. In 1911 he asserted the equivalence of gravitation and inertia, and in 1916 he completed his mathematical formulation of a general theory of relativity that included gravitation as a determiner of the curvature of a space-time continuum. He then began work on his unified field theory, which attempts to explain gravitation, electromagnetism, and subatomic phenomena in one set of laws; the successful development of such a unified theory, however, eluded Einstein.

Photons and the Quantum Theory

In addition to the theory of relativity, Einstein is also known for his contributions to the development of the quantum theory. He postulated (1905) light quanta (photons), upon which he based his explanation of the photoelectric effect, and he developed the quantum theory of specific heat. Although he was one of the leading figures in the development of quantum theory, Einstein regarded it as only a temporarily useful structure. He reserved his main efforts for his unified field theory, feeling that when it was completed the quantization of energy and charge would be found to be a consequence of it. Einstein wished his theories to have that simplicity and beauty which he thought fitting for an interpretation of the universe and which he did not find in quantum theory.

Writings

Einstein's writings include Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (1918; tr. 1920, reissued 1947) and excerpts (most of them translated) from letters, articles, and addresses collected in About Zionism (1930), The World as I See It (1934), Out of My Later Years (1950), Ideas and Opinions (1954), and Einstein on Peace (ed. by Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden, 1960). Einstein's manuscripts and correspondence are presently at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. The first volume of an edition of his collected works, under the editorship of John Stachel et al., appeared in 1987.

Bibliography

See the Born-Einstein letters, ed. by M. Born (tr. 1971); biographies by R. W. Clark (1971, repr. 1991), B. Hoffmann (with H. Dukas, 1972, repr. 1989), J. Bernstein (1973, repr. 1997), A. Pais (1982), M. White and J. Gribbin (1995), D. Brian (1997), A. Folsing (1998), W. Isaacson (2007), and J. Neffe (2007); studies by P. A. Schilpp, ed. (1949, repr. 1973), M. Born (rev. ed. 1962), C. Lanczos (1965), A. J. Friedman and C. Donley (1989), D. Howard and J. Stachel (1989), A. Pais (1994), and D. Overbye (2000).

orig. Isidor Feinstein

(born Dec. 24, 1907, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.—died June 18, 1989, Boston, Mass.) U.S. journalist. He worked on newspapers in his native Philadelphia and in New York and wrote for the leftist newspaper PM before starting his own investigative newsletter. From the outset I. F. Stone's Weekly (1953–67; I. F. Stone's Bi-Weekly, 1967–71) had an influence far greater than the size of its readership, which included some of the nation's most prominent politicians, academicians, and journalists. The sole author, Stone created a unique blend of wit, erudition, and pointed political commentary, and he became known for his espousal of unpopular causes long before they were taken up by the liberal establishment.

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Albert Einstein.

(born March 14, 1879, Ulm, Württemberg, Ger.—died April 18, 1955, Princeton, N.J., U.S.) German-Swiss-U.S. scientist. Born to a Jewish family in Germany, he grew up in Munich, and in 1894 he moved to Aarau, Switz. He attended a technical school in Zürich (graduating in 1900) and during this period renounced his German citizenship; stateless for some years, he became a Swiss citizen in 1901. Einstein became a junior examiner at the Swiss patent office in 1902 and began producing original theoretical work that laid many of the foundations for 20th-century physics. He received his doctorate from the University of Zürich in 1905, the same year he won international fame with the publication of three articles: one on Brownian motion, which he explained in terms of molecular kinetic energy; one on the photoelectric effect, in which he demonstrated the particle nature of light; and one on his special theory of relativity, which included his formulation of the equivalence of mass and energy (math.E = math.mmath.c2). Einstein held several professorships before becoming director of Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in 1913. In 1915 he published his general theory of relativity, which was confirmed experimentally during a solar eclipse in 1919 with observations of the deviation of light passing near the Sun. He received a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his work on the photoelectric effect, his work on relativity still being controversial. He made important contributions to quantum field theory, and for decades he sought to discover the mathematical relationship between electromagnetism and gravitation, which he believed would be a first step toward discovering the common laws governing the behaviour of everything in the universe, but such a unified field theory eluded him. His theories of relativity and gravitation represented a profound advance over Newtonian physics and revolutionized scientific and philosophical inquiry. He resigned his position at the Prussian Academy when Adolf Hitler came to power and moved to Princeton, N.J., where he joined the Institute for Advanced Study. Though a longtime pacifist, he was instrumental in persuading Pres. Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 to initiate the Manhattan Project for the production of an atomic bomb, a technology his own theories greatly furthered, though he did not work on the project himself. Einstein became a U.S. citizen in 1940 but retained his Swiss citizenship. The most eminent scientist in the world in the postwar years, he declined an offer to become the first prime minister of Israel and became a strong advocate for nuclear disarmament.

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One of two possible ways (the other is Fermi-Dirac statistics) in which a collection of indistinguishable particles may occupy a set of available discrete energy states. The gathering of particles in the same state, which is characteristic of particles that obey Bose-Einstein statistics, accounts for the cohesive streaming of laser light and the frictionless creeping of superfluid helium (see superfluidity). The theory of this behaviour was developed in 1924–25 by Satyendra Nath Bose (1894–1974) and Albert Einstein. Bose-Einstein statistics apply only to those particles, called bosons, which have integer values of spin and so do not obey the Pauli exclusion principle.

Learn more about Bose-Einstein statistics with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Albert Einstein.

(born March 14, 1879, Ulm, Württemberg, Ger.—died April 18, 1955, Princeton, N.J., U.S.) German-Swiss-U.S. scientist. Born to a Jewish family in Germany, he grew up in Munich, and in 1894 he moved to Aarau, Switz. He attended a technical school in Zürich (graduating in 1900) and during this period renounced his German citizenship; stateless for some years, he became a Swiss citizen in 1901. Einstein became a junior examiner at the Swiss patent office in 1902 and began producing original theoretical work that laid many of the foundations for 20th-century physics. He received his doctorate from the University of Zürich in 1905, the same year he won international fame with the publication of three articles: one on Brownian motion, which he explained in terms of molecular kinetic energy; one on the photoelectric effect, in which he demonstrated the particle nature of light; and one on his special theory of relativity, which included his formulation of the equivalence of mass and energy (math.E = math.mmath.c2). Einstein held several professorships before becoming director of Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in 1913. In 1915 he published his general theory of relativity, which was confirmed experimentally during a solar eclipse in 1919 with observations of the deviation of light passing near the Sun. He received a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his work on the photoelectric effect, his work on relativity still being controversial. He made important contributions to quantum field theory, and for decades he sought to discover the mathematical relationship between electromagnetism and gravitation, which he believed would be a first step toward discovering the common laws governing the behaviour of everything in the universe, but such a unified field theory eluded him. His theories of relativity and gravitation represented a profound advance over Newtonian physics and revolutionized scientific and philosophical inquiry. He resigned his position at the Prussian Academy when Adolf Hitler came to power and moved to Princeton, N.J., where he joined the Institute for Advanced Study. Though a longtime pacifist, he was instrumental in persuading Pres. Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 to initiate the Manhattan Project for the production of an atomic bomb, a technology his own theories greatly furthered, though he did not work on the project himself. Einstein became a U.S. citizen in 1940 but retained his Swiss citizenship. The most eminent scientist in the world in the postwar years, he declined an offer to become the first prime minister of Israel and became a strong advocate for nuclear disarmament.

Learn more about Einstein, Albert with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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