In this success story, we are going to share Albert Einstein biography, a German-born scientist, the inventor of the theory of relativity, whose name has become synonymous with the word “genius” and whose E=mc2 equation is studied by millions of students every year. Not only was he recognized as a prominent physicist and the winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, but also as a philosopher, theologian, lifelong pacifist and amateur musician. Yet you are sure to learn many more unexpected sides to his persona throughout the story we will share with you.
During his lifetime Albert Einstein was known to have an eccentric and frivolous nature. His mixture of opposite personality traits served him the reputation of an absent-minded professor and a mad scientist combined. But is this reflection really what he was about or will we discover quite an opposite in this extraordinary man? Join Astrum People in the exploration of his unusual life story and find out what you have never been taught in science classes at school.
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in the city of Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire. His father, Hermann Einstein (August 30, 1847 – October 10, 1902), was a salesman and engineer, and his mother, Pauline Einstein (née Koch) (February 08, 1858 – February 20, 1920) was caring and a quiet woman. His parents lived in a very different world from what it is now: there was no electric light, and the houses were lighted with gas and oil lamps, heated by coal, and horses were the most common method of transportation. However, the technology was steadily improving. The year Albert was born was the same year the electric bulb was invented by Thomas Edison. The modern appliances helped Albert’s family to earn their living. In 1879, one year after Albert was born, the family moved from Ulm to Munich, where Hermann together with Albert’s uncle, Jakob Einstein, founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a company specializing in manufacturing electrical equipment based on the direct current (DC). The venture was quite successful and by 1885, the Einsteins did very well financially.
In Munich, the Einstein family grew with one more member, as on November 18, 1881, when Albert was 2.5 years old, Albert’s younger sister, Maria “Maja” Einstein, was born. Over the years, they had good relationships and were good friends.
Though now the name Einstein is often used as a synonym to “genius,” Albert was not a childhood prodigy. He started speaking relatively late when he was three years old. His parents made him see a doctor worrying that Albert had developmental issues. The scientist himself later commented that at that time he often formed full sentences in his thoughts, but did not utter them.
Although the family was Ashkenazi Jews, when Albert was 5, he went to Petersschule, a Catholic elementary school. The detrimental factor in such a decision was the school’s high educational standards. This is where the next 3 years of Albert’s life unfolded. As a student, young Einstein did not show remarkable results. Most of his grades were passing, and he was near the top of his class, but mainly because of math and science. His learning success depended mostly on his interest in the subject. It is also at this time when he developed religious background. Later, after studying sciences, he started questioning religion and eventually diverted from Judaism.
Somewhat later, after he began school, Pauline Koch enrolled her children for music lessons, during which Albert was studying how to play the violin and Marie was taking the piano lessons. Albert did not enjoy playing the violin at first, but once he discovered the music of Mozart and Beethoven, he taught himself how to play the piano and even claimed that he thought in music. Later, at the age of 17, when Albert Einstein performed Beethoven’s violin sonatas to the examiner, he was noted to have a special meaning of music.
The education continued in the autumn of 1888 when he enrolled into Luitpold Gymnasium, an equivalent of current high school (now called Albert Einstein Gymnasium). The educational institution strictly endorsed high standards for its students, requiring them, for example, to study the Greek and Latin languages. Albert did well in Latin, but he could not stand the Greek language because he could not find the common language with his teacher. Einstein loved doing things his own way rather than following the teachers’ guidelines. Such compulsive nature and attitude were quite typical for young Albert Einstein, which complicated his school relationships. When Einstein was 10 years old, he started educating himself under the guidance of his uncle Jakob Einstein, who bought the boy books for the upcoming study years. This way Albert managed to read them before the classes started and get good grades without active participation in classroom sessions. For instance, he taught himself Euclidean geometry by the age of 12 and differential and integral calculus by the age of 15. This left him some free time for model construction and long walks in the woods he started to like at that age.
In 1894, Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie weaken its position in the market because they failed to adapt to changing market oriented at alternating current (AC) standard rather than the direct current (DC) standard they had been focused on. Hermann was forced to close the business and move to Milan, Italy, and later Pavia, which offered better market prospects. Albert stayed in Germany to complete three more years of his gymnasium, but only three months later, in December 1894, he dropped out of school. Having obtained letters of recommendation from his math teacher, Albert joined his family in Italy. Over the next ten months there he took to hiking in the Alps, which was the first time he showed love to any physical activity.
In 1895, at the age of 16, Albert Einstein was determined to study electrical engineering in Zürich at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute, Switzerland (German: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich or ETH Zurich), since it did not require completed secondary school education, just an entrance exam. He failed the entrance exams but demonstrated exceptional results in mathematics and physics. To complete his secondary education and enrich his knowledge, the principal of the Swiss Federal Polytechnic advised Einstein to enter the Argovian Cantonal School in Aarau, Switzerland headed by Jost Winteler. During his studies at Aargau Cantonal School from 1895 – 1896, Einstein was hosted by Jost Winteler and his wife, Pauline. Jost and Pauline had a daughter, Marie Winteler, who was 10 years older than Albert Einstein. Marie and Albert liked each other, and the Wintelers did not mind this affection.