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Albert Einstein: The greatest mind ever

By Sushmita Dutta | Last Updated: Sunday, March 14, 2010 - 20:15

Sushmita Dutta

“I`m not an atheist and I don`t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn`t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.”

Albert Einstein

"Imagination is more important than knowledge" - was the motto of this man. It is believed that humans in their entire lifetime do not use even 5% of their brains. But the person who utilized his brain to a very high limit was none other than the celebrated scientist - Albert Einstein. After his death, his brain was preserved for research on his intelligence. Einstein made the world change its outlook towards Physics and was an extremely gifted mathematician. His contribution to Physics has been simply phenomenal.

Einstein was born to Hermann and Pauline Einstein, on 14th March 1879, in Ulm (Germany). His parents were German Jews and his dad owned an electronics company. ‘Child is the father of man’, goes a popular saying and Einstein had started to show his abilities even as a kid. He was an exceptionally bright student in school. His grasp over mathematics was outstanding. Till the age of three, Einstein scarcely spoke which scared his parents. But he overcame this problem soon. As a little kid, maybe at four or five years of age, he became fascinated with working of the magnetic compass.

Einstein’s formal education remained incomplete since he left school half way. He was extremely distraught with the way of teaching at schools. He believed that the education system was faulty and teachers were just interested in making students mug information and pass exams rather than teaching them properly. Einstein felt that this kind of education was absolutely useless and so, he studied mathematics and physics at home.

Einstein’s family had to move to Italy due to financial problems since their business had fallen apart. In 1895, Albert Einstein took the entrance exams for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and failed. But he excelled in mathematics and physics. So his family advised him to go to a Swiss school in Aarau to complete his secondary schooling education. It is here that his ideas got a free run and he was introduced to James Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory. After graduating from Aarau at the age of 17, Einstein entered the Institute of Technology in Zurich. Here, he realized that the subject closest to his heart was Physics and that he should devote his attention to it. After two years of hard work, Einstein graduated from the Swiss Institute with outstanding results.

Here he made friends with Marcel Grossman, who provided him the notes to pass, while Einstein toiled in the laboratory. Later, he expressed his gratitude to his dear friend for helping him with the notes.

But even after graduating, he had to struggle to get a good job for two years. And he eventually found one at the Patent Office in Bern. After he joined this job, Einstein started to write his scientific papers. His papers made him famous and he soon gained recognition. Later, he was made the associate professor at the University of Zurich and he became a full time physicist. The year 1909 was called annus mirabilis or ‘miracle year’ for the scientist, as he wrote three extraordinary papers on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion and special relativity. It was in this year that he discovered the theory of relativity- the connection between electromagnetic theory and ordinary motion. These three papers made Einstein immortal in the annals of history.

By this time, Albert Einstein was recognized as a leading scientist around the world. In the year 1911, he made a new discovery that the light from another star would be bent by the gravity of the Sun. By 1915, Einstein finally concluded his theory of relativity. In Einstein’s words, “The years of anxious searching in the dark, with their intense longing, their alternations of confidence and exhaustion and the final emergence into the light – only those who have experienced it can understand it." His theory of relativity was seconded by British astronomers. This theory earned him international recognition. His fame was now widespread and people started thinking him the brightest man to have ever walked this earth.

In 1921, Einstein was bestowed with the Nobel Prize for physics. But it did not come for his theory of relativity, which was considered quite controversial by that time. He received his Nobel for his work on the photo-electric effect. By 1929, he had started working on the quantum theory, which was then believed to be pretty foolish. But Einstein began to challenge and warned that quantum theory would change the essence of science.

In the year 1933, Einstein shifted to USA from Germany as he was not ready to live under the Nazi government. He was even offered to be the President of Israel, which he declined.

In the year 1955, Albert Einstein passed away at the age of 76. Despite his prolonged illness, he continued to work till his last day.

Albert Einstein was a boon to the mankind and science. His contribution to the realms of science can never be forgotten. His thoughts were very much ahead of his time. People like Einstein are born once in an era. Small wonder then that E=MC² is the most famous equation the world over.

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

Albert Einstein

First Published: Sunday, February 5, 2012 - 17:36

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