Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955)
was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed
the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of
modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). His work
is also known for its influence on the philosophy of
science. He is best known to the general public for his
mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which has been
dubbed "the world's most famous equation".
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", a
pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.
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 him to develop his
special theory of relativity during his time at the
Swiss Patent Office in Bern (1902–1909), Switzerland.
However, he realized that the principle of relativity
could also be extended to gravitational fields, and he
published a paper on general relativity in 1916 with
his theory of gravitation. 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, he applied the
general theory of relativity to model the structure of
Except for one year in Prague, Einstein lived in
Switzerland between 1895 and 1914, during which time
he renounced his German citizenship in 1896, then
received his academic diploma from the Swiss federal
polytechnic school (later the Eidgenössische Technische
Hochschule, ETH) in Zürich in 1900.
After being stateless for more than five years, he
acquired Swiss citizenship in 1901, which he kept for
the rest of his life. In 1905, he was awarded a PhD by
the University of Zurich. The same year, he published
four groundbreaking papers during his renowned annus
mirabilis (miracle year) which brought him to the notice
of the academic world at the age of 26. Einstein taught
theoretical physics at Zurich between 1912 and 1914
before he left for Berlin, where he was elected to the
Prussian Academy of Sciences.
In 1933, while Einstein was visiting the United States,
Adolf Hitler came to power. Because of his Jewish
background, Einstein did not return to Germany. He settled
in the United States and became an American citizen in 1940.
On the eve of World War II, he endorsed a letter to President
Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the potential development
of "extremely powerful bombs of a new type" and recommending
that the US begin similar research. This eventually led to the
Einstein supported the Allies, but he generally denounced
the idea of using nuclear fission as a weapon. He signed the
Russell–Einstein Manifesto with British philosopher Bertrand
Russell, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. He
was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in
Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.
Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers and more
than 150 non-scientific works. His intellectual achievements
and originality have made the word "Einstein" synonymous with
Eugene Wigner wrote of Einstein in comparison to his
contemporaries that "Einstein's understanding was deeper even
than Jancsi von Neumann's. His mind was both more penetrating
and more original than von Neumann's. And that is a very
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