last updated January 15th, 2008 and is permanently morphing...
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Albert Einstein did not know how to tie his shoelaces.
"Then again, e=mc^2 may only be a local phenomenon." - Einstein
German-born American theoretical physicist whose special and general theories of relativity revolutionized modern thought on the nature of space and time and formed a theoretical base for the exploitation of atomic energy. He won a 1921 Nobel Prize for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.
Mystics and Mysticism
The most beautiful emotion we can experience is
the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this
emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists,
manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which
our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms-this
knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this
sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born U.S. theoretical physicist. Quoted in: Philipp Frank, Einstein: His Life and Times, ch. 12, sct. 5 (1947).
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality,
they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born U.S. scientist. Quoted in: Fritjof Capra, _The Tao of Physics_, ch. 2 (1975). Success
If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus
y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born U.S. scientist. Quoted in: Observer (London, 15 Jan. 1950).
"If at first the idea is not absurd,
then there is no hope for it."
"Recapitulating, we may say that according to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether. According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for in such space there not only would be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time (measuring-rods and clocks), nor therefore any space-time intervals in the physical sense. But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable media, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it."
From "Ether and the Theory of Relativity" an address
delivered on May 5th, 1920, in the University of Leyden
by Albert Einstein.
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
"A human being is part of the whole called by us universe , a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty... We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive."
While pedaling at night, Einstein observed that the bobbling beam
cast from his headlamp always traveled at the same speed, whether he
was cruising at a quick clip or coasting to a stop. The theory -
that light from a moving source has the same velocity as light from a
stationary source - as born on that ride. "I thought of it while
riding my bicycle," remains one of Einstein's most renowned quotes.
Another favorite saying - "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving" - is indicative of the joyful, compassionate scientist's love of the bicycle. Early in his schooling at Munich University in Germany, he would take bicycle tours with fellow scientists to contemplate the world at large. And during his final years, while at Princeton University during the early 1950s, when the automobile was the mode of transportation du jour, Einstein chose his trusty steed over any other modern engineering marvels. Indeed, the most lasting image of the wild-haired genius is that of him tooling around, atop his bicycle, with his infectious grin, gleefully imagining the next revolutionary idea.
The time of Einstein. The theory of relativity introduced a new upheaval, the transformation of space into time, or the "spatialization" of time (time and space being equivalents). Henceforth we can speak only of a "space-time continuum." For relativists time does not "pass" and matter is unfolded in both its "temporal thickness" and its "spatial span"--which means that time, like space, is an actual span. We can no longer refer to a "universal time" and an "absolute space." The properties of space-time depend on the speed at which a moving object travels, and at speeds approaching the speed of light, space-time "contracts" around the moving object. But the time of relativity, like that of classical physics, remains reversible.
Edgar Allan Poe’s final work, _Eureka_, as alcoholic ravings.
But now scientists are finding valid insights in it, such as Poe’s correct solution
of the Olbers paradox in astronomy, or his coining of the classic Einsteinian
phrase, 'Space and duration are one'.
"The Einstein-Rosen Podolsky paradox, which holds that
thory is true, nonlocal effects must occur (outside the light cone).
This was offered as a reductio ad absurdum of quantum theory, since it
suggests "telepathy," as Einstein pointed out."
-Robert Anton Wilson - _The Illuminati Papers_
the Einstein-Rosen bridge - wormholes
Once Einstein said that the problem of the Now worried him seriously.
He explained that the experience of the Now means something special for man, something essentially different from the past and the future, but that this important difference does not and cannot occur within physics. That this experience cannot be grasped by science seems to him a matter of painful but inevitable resignation. I remarked that all that occurs objectively can be described in science: on the one hand the temporal sequence of events is described in physics; and, on the other hand, the peculiarities of man's experiences with respect to time, including his different attitude toward past, present and future, can be described and (in principle) explained in psychology. But Einstein thought that scientific descriptions cannot possibly satisfy our human needs; that there is something essential about the Now which is just outside of the realm of science.
"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal god and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism."
from the film _E.T.: The Extraterrestrial_ directed by Steven Spielberg: ET's face was modeled after poet Carl Sandburg and Albert Einstein.
"In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal god."
"A human being is part of the Whole...He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest...a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."
- Albert Einstein
Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?
Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the
road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.
"If you want your children to be brilliant, teach them myths. If you want them to be very billiant, teach them more myths."
"He who joyfully marches to music rank and file,
has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake,since
for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.This disgrace to civilization should
be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate
all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds
than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing
under the cloak of war is no different than murder. "
"Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race. "
"I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war. "
"One does not make wars less likely by formulating rules of warfare.... War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished. "
"The men who possess real power in this country have no intention of ending the cold war."
on his theory of relativity:
"It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception."
"There are moments
when one feels free from one's own identification with human limitations and
inadequacies. At such moments one imagines
that one stands on some spot of a small planet, gazing in amazement at the cold
yet profoundly moving beauty of the eternal, the unfathomable; life and death flow
into one, and there is neither evolution
nor destiny; only Being."
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
"Albert Einsten nailed space-time, but the wild thing had him stumped." - Thomas Dolby
Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 - April 18, 1955) was a physicist and mathematician who proposed the theory of relativity. He also made major contributions to the development of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and cosmology, and is generally regarded as the most important physicist of the 20th century. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect and "for his services to Theoretical Physics".
In his honor, a unit used in photochemistry was named after him. An einstein is equal to Avogadro's number times the energy of one photon of light. The chemical element Einsteinium is named after the scientist as well.
In popular culture, Einstein has become synonymous with someone of very high intelligence. His face has become one of the most recognizable the world-over. In 1999 Einstein was named "Person of the Century" by Time Magazine.
Youth and College
Einstein was born at Ulm in Württemberg, Germany. His parents were Hermann Einstein, a featherbed salesman, and his wife, née Pauline Koch. He was given religious education (Judaism) and violin lessons during his youth. Around 1884, Einstein obtained his first mariner's compass, began a course of studies of self-education and absorbed as much science as possible. He built models and mechanical devices for fun. He began to learn mathematics around 1891. Reportedly, he was considered a slow learner as a child by some (due to factors such as dyslexia (by some biographers) or being extremely shy (by other biographers)). There is a recurring rumor that he failed math later on in his education, but this is not accurate, it is caused by a change in the way grades were assigned leading to confusion years later.
In 1894, the Einsteins moved to Pavia, Italy (near Milan) from Munich. Albert remained in Munich to finish school. He completed a term by himself and then moved to Pavia to join his family. In 1895, Einstein took an exam for the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (Federal Swiss Polytechnic University), but failed the arts portion of the test. He was sent by his family to Aarau, Switzerland to finish secondary school. In 1896, Einstein received his diploma from high school.
He subsequently enrolled at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, in Zurich. That same year, Einstein renounced his German citizenship, becoming stateless. In 1898, Albert met Mileva Maric, a serbian classmate (who was also a friend of Nikola Tesla), and fell in love with her. In 1900, Einstein was granted a teaching diploma by the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. He was accepted as a Swiss citizen in 1901.
Einstein and Maric had a daughter, Liserl, born in January 1902.
Work and Doctorate
Upon graduation, Einstein could not find a teaching post. He began working as a technical assistant examiner at the Swiss Patent Office in 1902. There, Einstein judged the worth of applications by the inventors, rectified their design errors, and evaluated the practicality of their work. Einstein married his first wife, Mileva Maric, on January 6, 1903. Einstein's marriage to Mileva, who was a mathematician, was both a personal and intellectual partnership: Einstein referred lovingly to Mileva as "a creature who is my equal and who is as strong and independent as I am". Abram Joffe, in his biography of Einstein, argues that Einstein was assisted by Mileva.
On May 14, 1904, Einstein's son Hans Albert Einstein was born. In 1904, Einstein's position at the Swiss Patent Office was made permanent. He obtained his doctorate after submitting his thesis "On a new determination of molecular dimensions" in 1905.
That same year, he wrote four articles that provided the foundation of modern physics, without much scientific literature to refer to or many scientific colleagues to discuss the theories with. Most physicists agree that three of those papers (Brownian Motion, the Photoelectric Effect, and special relavitiy) deserved Nobel prizes. Only the photoelectric effect would win. This is something of an irony, in that Einstein is far better-known for relativity, but that the photoelectric effect is all quantum, and Einstein became somewhat disenchanted with the path quantum theory would take. What makes these papers remarkable is that, in each case, Einstein boldly took an idea from theoretical physics to its logical consequences and managed to explain experimental results that had baffled scientists for decades.
Einstein discussed his scientific interests with Mileva and his close friends. He submitted these papers to the "Annalen der Physik" (they are commonly referred to as the "Annus Mirabilis Papers").
The first article in 1905, named "On the Motion - Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat - of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid", covered his study of Brownian motion. Using the then-controversial kinetic theory of fluids it established that the phenomenon—lacking a satisfactory explanation decades after being observed—provided empirical evidence for the reality of atoms. It also lended credence to statistical mechanics, which was also controversial.
Before this paper, atoms were recognized as a useful concept, but physicists and chemists hotly debated the question of whether atoms were real things. Einstein's statistical discussion of atomic behavior gave experimentalists a way to count atoms by looking through an ordinary microscope. Wilhelm Ostwald, one of the leaders of the anti-atom school, later told Arnold Sommerfeld that he had been converted to a belief in atoms by Einstein's complete explanation of Brownian motion.
The second paper, named "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light", proposed the idea of "light quanta" (now called photons) and showed how they could be used to explain such phenomena as the photoelectric effect. The idea of light quanta was motivated by Max Planck's earlier derivation of the law of blackbody radiation by assuming that luminous energy could only be absorbed or emitted in discrete amounts, called quanta. Einstein showed that, by assuming that light actually consisted of discrete packets, he could explain the mysterious photoelectric effect.
The idea of light quanta contradicted the wave theory of light that followed naturally from James Clerk Maxwell's equations for electromagnetic behavior and, more generally, the assumption of infinite divisibility of energy in physical systems. Even after experiments showed that Einstein's equations for the photoelectric effect were accurate, his explanation was not universally accepted. In 1922, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize, and his work on photoelectricity was mentioned by name, most physicists thought that, while the equation was correct, light quanta were impossible.
The theory of light quanta was a strong indication of wave-particle duality, the concept that physical systems can display both wave-like and particle-like properties, and that was used as a fundamental principle by the creators of quantum mechanics. A complete picture of the photoelectric effect was only obtained after the maturity of quantum mechanics.
Einstein's third paper that year was called "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies". While developing this paper, Einstein wrote to Mileva about "our work on relative motion". This paper introduced the special theory of relativity, a theory of time, distance, mass and energy (which was consistent with electromagnetism, but omitted the force of gravity). Special relativity solved the puzzle that had been apparent since the Michelson-Morley experiment, which had shown that light waves could not be travelling through any medium (other known waves travelled through media - such as water or air). The speed of light was thus fixed, and not relative to the movement of the observer. This was impossible under Newtonian classical mechanics.
Some of the paper's core mathematical ideas -- the Lorentz transforms -- had been introduced a year earlier by the Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz, but Einstein showed how to understand these mathematical oddities. His explanation arose from two axioms: one was Galileo's old idea that the laws of nature should be the same for all observers that move with constant speed relative to each other; and the other was that the speed of light is the same for every observer. Special relativity had several striking consequences because the absolute concepts of time and size are rejected. The theory came to be called the "special theory of relativity" to distinguish it from his later theory of general relativity, which considers all observers to be equivalent.
A fourth paper, titled "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?"", published late in 1905 showed one further deduction (e.g. m = L/c²) from relativity's axioms, known as the energy-mass relation. That deduction, trivally rewritten, was the famous equation that rest energy (E) equals mass (m) times the speed of light (c) squared: E = mc2. Einstein considered this equation to be of paramount importance because it showed that matter and energy are profoundly linked. The idea later proved invaluable for understanding how the Big Bang, which was a pure burst of energy, could lead to the precipitation of a universe filled with matter (it turns out that the energy required to create the matter is exactly offset by the negative potential energy of the universe's gravitational well).
The equation is often cited as an explanation of how atomic weapons produce such phenomenal amounts of energy. Although this is literally true (the mass of the residue from a nuclear blast is smaller than the mass of the original weapon; the difference has been converted to energy, as per the formula), the popular association of E=mc2 with nuclear weapons is also misleading, because the theory of relativity is not the key to the physics of fission or fusion.
According to Umberto Bartocci (University of Perugia historian of mathematics), the famous equation was first published two years prior by Olinto De Pretto, who was an industrialist from Vicenza, Italy. Though De Pretto introduce the formula, it was Einstein who connected it with the Theory of Relativity.
In 1906, Einstein was promoted to technical examiner second class. In 1908, Einstein was licensed in Berne, Switzerland, as a teacher and lecturer (known as a Privatdozent), who had no share in the university government. Einstein's second son, Eduard, was born on July 28, 1910. He divorced Mileva on February 14, 1919. Einstein married his cousin Elsa Loewenthal (née Einstein: Loewenthal was the surname of her first husband, Max) on June 2, 1919. Elsa was Albert's first cousin (maternally) and his second cousin (paternally) and she was 3 years older than Albert. There were no children from this marriage.
The fate of Albert and Mileva's first child, a daughter, born prior to their marriage, is unknown: some believe she died in infancy and some believe she was given out for adoption. The other two children were boys: one was institutionalized for schizophrenia and died in an asylum. The other moved to California and became a university professor, and had little interaction with his father.
In 1914, just before the start of World War I, Einstein settled in Berlin. His pacifism and Jewish origins outraged German nationalists. After he became world-famous (on November 7, 1919, when The Times reported the success of his gravitational theory) nationalist hatred of him grew even more ferocious.
From 1914 to 1933 he served as director of Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin, and it was during this time he received his Nobel Prize.
General relativity, and the beginning of quantum theory
In November 1915, Einstein presented a series of lectures before the Prussian Academy of Sciences in which he described his theory of general relativity. The final lecture climaxed with his introduction of an equation that replaced Newton's law of gravity. This theory considered all observers to be equivalent, not only those moving at a uniform speed. In general relativity, gravity is no longer a force (as it was in Newton's law of gravity) but is a consequence of the curvature of space-time. The theory provided the foundation for the study of cosmology and gave scientists the tools for understanding many features of the universe that were not discovered until well after Einstein's death. General relativity becomes a method of perceiving all of physics.
Einstein's relationship with quantum physics was quite remarkable. He was the first, even before Max Planck, the discoverer of the quantum, to say that quantum theory was revolutionary. His idea of light quanta was a landmark break with the classical understanding of physics. In 1909, Einstein presented his first paper to a gathering of physicists and told them that they must find some way to understand waves and particles together.
In the early 1920s, Einstein was the lead figure in a famous weekly physics colloquium at the University of Berlin.
The Copenhagen interpretation
However, in the mid-1920s, as the original quantum theory was replaced with a new quantum mechanics, Einstein balked at the Copenhagen interpretation of the new equations because it settled for a probabilistic, non-visualizable account of physical behavior. Einstein agreed that the theory was the best available, but he looked for an explanation that would be more "complete," i.e., deterministic. His belief that physics described the laws that govern "real things" had led to his successes with atoms, photons, and gravity. He was unwilling to abandon that faith.
Einstein's famous remark, "Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that he does not throw dice," appeared in a 1926 letter to Max Born. It was not a rejection of probabilistic theories per se. Einstein had used statistical analysis in his work on Brownian motion and photoelectricity. In papers published before the miraculous year of 1905, he had even discovered Gibbs ensembles on his own. But he did not believe that, at bottom, physical reality behaves randomly.
Bose Einstein statistics
In 1924, Einstein received a short paper from a young Indian physicist named Satyendra Nath Bose, describing light as a gas of photons, and asking for Einstein's assistance in publication. Einstein realised that the same statistics could be applied to atoms, and published an article in German (then the lingua franca of physics) which described Bose's model and explained its implications. Bose Einstein statistics now describes any assembly of these indistinguishable particles known as bosons. Einstein also assisted Erwin Schrödinger in the development of the Quantum Boltzmann distribution, a mixed classical and quantum mechanical gas model—although he realised that this was less significant that the Bose Einstein model, and declined to have his name included on the paper.
Einstein and former student Leo Szilard co-invented a unique type of refrigerator (usually called "The Einstein Refrigerator") in 1926.   On November 11, 1930, patent number US1781541 was awarded to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard. The patent covered a thermodynamic refrigeration cycle providing cooling with no moving parts, at a constant pressure, with only heat as an input. The refrigeration cycle used ammonia, butane, and water.
After Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Einstein was accused by the ring-wing Nazi regime of creating a "Jewish physics". Nazi physicists (notably including the Nobel laureate Johannes Stark) attempted to discredit his theories. Einstein fled to the United States. In 1935, Einstein was given permanent residency in the United States. He accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He became an American citizen in 1940 (though maintaining possession of his Swiss citizenship).
Einstein spent the last forty years of his life trying to unify gravity and electromagnetism, giving a new subtle understanding of quantum mechanics. He was looking for a classical unification of gravity and electromagnetism.
His work at Princeton focused on the unification of the laws of physics. Einstein undertook the quest for the unification of the fundamental forces and spent his time at Princeton investigating this. He attempted to construct a model, under the appropriate conditions, which described all forces as different manifestations of a single force. His attempt was in a way doomed to failure because the strong and weak nuclear forces were not understood independently until around 1970, 15 years after Einstein's death. Einstein's goal survives in the current drive for unification of the forces, embodied most notably by string theory.
Einstein began to form a Generalized Theory of Gravitation with the universal law of gravitation and the electromagnetic force in his first attempt to demonstrate the unification and simplification of the fundamental forces. In the 1950s, he described his work in a Scientific American article. Einstein was guided by the belief of a single statistical measure of variance for the entire set of physical laws and he investigated the smiliar properties of the electromagnetic and gravity forces, as they are infinite and obey the inverse square law.
Einstein's Generalized theory of gravitation is a universal mathematical approach to field theory. He investigated reducing the different phenomena by the process of logic to something already known or evident. Einstein tried to unify gravity and electromagnetism in a way that also led to a new subtle understand of quantum mechanics.
Einstein assumed a structure of a four-dimensional space-time continuum expressed in axioms represented by five component vectors. Particles appear in his research as a limited region in space in which the field strength or the energy density are particularly high. Einstein treated subatomic particles in this research as objects embedded in the unified field, influencing it and existing as an essential constituent of the unified field but not of it. Einstein also investigated a natural generalization of symmetrical tensor fields, treating the combination of two parts of the field as being a natural procedure of the total field and not the symmetrical and antisymmetrical parts separately. He researched a way to delineate the equations to be derived from a variational principle.
Einstein became increasingly isolated in his research over a Generalized Theory of Gravitation (being characterized as a "mad scientist" in these endeavors) and was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempts at constructing a theory that would unify General Relativity and quantum mechanics.
In 1948, Einstein served on the original committee which resulted in the founding of Brandeis University.
In 1952, the Israeli government proposed to Einstein that he take the post of second president. He declined the offer.
He died at Princeton in 1955, leaving the Generalized Theory of Gravitation unsolved. He was cremated the same day at Trenton, New Jersey on April 18, 1955. His ashes were scattered at an undisclosed location.
Einstein's religious views were close to the pantheism of Baruch Spinoza: he believed in a "god who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a god who concerns himself with the fate and actions of men". Einstein wanted "to know how god created the world": After being pressed on his religious views by Martin Buber, Einstein exclaimed "What we (physicists) strive for is just to draw his lines after him". He once said that among the major religions, he preferred Buddhism.
Einstein considered himself a pacifist  and humanitarian . Einstein's views on other issues, including socialism, McCarthyism and racism, were controversial.
The American FBI kept a 1,427 page file on his activities and recommended that he be barred from immigrating to the United States under the Alien Exclusion Act, alleging that Einstein "believes in, advises, advocates, or teaches a doctrine which, in a legal sense, as held by the courts in other cases, 'would allow anarchy to stalk in unmolested' and result in 'government in name only'," among other charges.
Einstein initially favored construction of the atomic bomb, in order to ensure that Hitler did not do so first, and he even sent a letter to President Roosevelt (dated August 2, 1939, before World War II broke out) encouraging him to initiate a programme to create a nuclear weapon. But after the war he lobbied for nuclear disarmament and a world government.
He was offered the opportunity to become the first President of Israel but declined.
Albert Einstein with Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell fought against nuclear tests and bombs. With the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and Bertrand Russell he released the Russell-Einstein Manifesto and organized several conferences.
Einstein in entertainment
Albert Einstein has become the subject of a number of novels, films and plays including Nicolas Roeg's film, Insignificance and Alan Lightman's novel, Einstein's Dreams. Einstein was even the subject of Philip Glass's groundbreaking 1976 opera Einstein on the Beach.