Often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history, German-born theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, Albert Einstein was born this day March 14th, 1879 in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire
He is best known for developing the theory of general relativity, E = mc2, which was revolutionary in physics. For this achievement he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. The latter being pivotal in establishing quantum theory within physics. Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the development of his special theory of relativity. He realized, however, that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields, and with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a paper on the general theory of relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole.
He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, and did not go back to Germany, where he had been a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He settled in the U.S., becoming a citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he helped alert President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Germany might be developing an atomic weapon, and recommended that the U.S. begin similar research; this eventually led to what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein was in support of defending the Allied forces, but largely denounced using the new discovery of nuclear fission as a weapon. Later, together with Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955. During his life Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works. His great intelligence and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with genius. In 1922, Einstein was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. This refers to his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect, “On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”, which was well supported by the experimental evidence of that time. The presentation speech began by mentioning “his theory of relativity which had been the subject of lively debate in philosophical circles and also has astrophysical implications.
Awards & Legacy
Einstein also won many awards for his work, including the he Max Planck medal of the German Physical Society In 1929, for extraordinary achievements in theoretical physics. In 1936, Einstein was also awarded the Franklin Institute’s Franklin Medal for his extensive work on relativity and the photo-electric effect. The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics also named 2005 the “World Year of Physics” in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of the annus mirabilis papers. The Albert Einstein Science Park is located on the hill Telegrafenberg in Potsdam, Germany. The best known building in the park is the Einstein Tower which has a bronze bust of Einstein at the entrance. The Tower is an astrophysical observatory that was built to perform checks of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.
The Albert Einstein Memorial in central Washington, D.C. is a monumental bronze statue depicting Einstein seated with manuscript papers in hand. The statue, commissioned in 1979, is located in a grove of trees at the southwest corner of the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences on Constitution Avenue. In 1999 Time magazine named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century, ahead of Mahatma Gandhi and Franklin Roosevelt, among others. In the words of a biographer, “to the scientifically literate and the public at large, Einstein is synonymous with genius”. Also in 1999, an opinion poll of 100 leading physicists ranked Einstein the “greatest physicist ever”. A Gallup poll recorded him as the fourth most admired person of the 20th century in the U.S. In 1990, his name was added to the Walhalla temple for “laudable and distinguished Germans”, which is located east of Regensburg, in Bavaria, Germany. The United States Postal Service also honoured Einstein with a Prominent Americans series (1965–1978) 8¢ postage stamp and In 2008, Einstein was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.