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Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Альберт Эйнштейн (Albert Einstein)


German-American theoretical physicist, Nobel laureate in physics (1921); agnostic

Альберт Эйнштейн (Albert Einstein)
Альберт Эйнштейн (Albert Einstein)

Albert Einstein - biography

Albert Einstein - (1879-1955), theoretical physicist, creator of the theory of relativity, author of fundamental works on quantum theory and statistical physics, one of the founders of modern physics, foreign corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1922) and foreign honorary member of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1926) .

Born in Germany, from 1893 he lived in Switzerland, from 1914 in Germany, in 1933 he emigrated to the United States. Created a private (1905) and general (1907-16) theory of relativity. The author of fundamental works on the quantum theory of light: introduced the concept of photon (1905), established the laws of the photoelectric effect, the basic law of photochemistry (Einstein's law), and predicted (1917) induced radiation. Albert Einstein developed the statistical theory of Brownian motion, laying the foundations of the theory of fluctuations, created the quantum statistics of Bose - Einstein. Since 1933 he worked on the problems of cosmology and unified field theory. In the 30s he opposed fascism, war, in the 40s - against the use of nuclear weapons. In 1940, he signed a letter to the US president about the dangers of creating nuclear weapons in Germany, which stimulated US nuclear research. One of the initiators of the creation of the state of Israel. The Nobel Prize (1921, for works on theoretical physics, especially for the discovery of the laws of the photoelectric effect).

Einstein’s childhood and primary education

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in the old German city of Ulm, in Germany, but a year later the family moved to Munich, where Albert's father, Hermann Einstein, and Uncle Jacob organized a small company, the Electrotechnical Factory of J. Einstein and Co. At first, the company, which was engaged in the improvement of arc lighting devices, electrical equipment, and DC generators, was quite successful. But in the 90s of the 19th century, in connection with the expansion of the construction of large power centers and long-distance power lines, a number of powerful electrical engineering companies arose. Hoping to save the company, the Einsteins brothers moved to Milan in 1894, but two years later, unable to withstand competition, the company ceased to exist.

Uncle Jacob devoted much time to his little nephew. “I remember, for example, that Pythagoras’s theorem was shown to me by my uncle before the sacred book on geometry fell into my hands,” Einstein said in his memoirs relating to 1945 about the textbook of Euclidean geometry. Often the uncle asked the boy math problems, and he "experienced genuine happiness when he coped with them."

Parents sent Albert first to a Catholic elementary school, and then to the Munich classical gymnasium of Luitpold, known as a progressive and very liberal educational institution, but which he never graduated from, following his family in Milan. Both at school and at the gymnasium, Albert Einstein gained not a good reputation. The reading of popular science books gave rise to the young Einstein, in his own words, "just fantastic freethinking." In his memoirs, theoretical physicist Max Born wrote: “Already in the early years, Einstein showed an indomitable will to independence. He hated the game of soldiers because it meant violence. ” Later A. Einstein said that people who enjoy marching to the sounds of the march got their brain in vain, they could well be content with one spinal cord.

First year in Switzerland

In October 1895, sixteen-year-old Albert Einstein traveled on foot from Milan to Zurich to enroll in the Federal Higher Technical School - the famous Polytechnic, for which admission did not require a certificate of high school graduation. Having brilliantly passed the entrance exams in mathematics, physics and chemistry, he, however, failed miserably in other subjects. The rector of the Polytechnic, having assessed Einstein’s extraordinary mathematical abilities, sent him to prepare for the cantonal school in Aarau (20 miles west of Zurich), which at that time was considered one of the best in Switzerland. The year spent at this school, led by a serious scientist and excellent teacher A. Tauhshmid, turned out to be very useful, and - in contrast to the barracks in Prussia - pleasant.

Studying at the Polytechnic

Albert Einstein passed the final exams in Aarau quite successfully (except for the French language exam), which gave him the right to be admitted to the Polytechnic in Zurich. The Department of Physics was headed by Professor V. G. Weber, an excellent lecturer and a talented experimenter, who was mainly concerned with electrical engineering. At first he received Einstein very well, but in the future the relationship between them became so complicated that after graduation, Einstein could not get a job for some time. To some extent, this was due to purely scientific reasons. Distinguished by the conservatism of views on electromagnetic phenomena, Weber did not accept Maxwell's theory, ideas about the field and adhered to the concept of long-range action. His students recognized the past of physics, but not its present and, especially, its future. Einstein, on the other hand, studied Maxwell’s works, was convinced of the existence of an all-pervasive ether, and reflected on how various fields (in particular, magnetic) act on it and how experimental motion can be detected relative to the ether. He then did not know about the experiments of the American physicist Albert Michelson and independently proposed his interference technique.

But the experiments invented by Albert Einstein, who passionately worked in a physical workshop, did not have a chance to be realized. Teachers did not like the obstinate student. “You are a smart fellow, Einstein, a very smart fellow, but you have a big flaw - you can’t stand the remarks,” Weber once told him, and that was a lot to determine.

Patent Office. A. Einstein's first steps towards recognition

After graduating from the Polytechnic in 1900, a young graduate physics teacher (Einstein was then in his twenty-second year) lived mainly with his parents in Milan and could not find a permanent job for two years. Only in 1902 did he finally receive, on the recommendation of his friends, an expert position in the Federal Patent Office in Bern. Shortly before this, Albert changed his citizenship and became a Swiss citizen. A few months after being hired, he married his former Zurich classmate Mileva Maric, a native of Serbia, who was four years older than him. In the Patent Office, which Einstein called the “secular monastery”, he worked for more than seven years, considering these years the happiest in life. The post of “patent service” constantly occupied his mind with various scientific and technical issues, but left enough time for independent creative work. By the middle of the “happy Bern years”, its results were the content of scientific articles that changed the face of modern physics and brought Einstein world fame.

Brownian motion

The first of these articles, “On the motion of particles suspended in a liquid at rest, resulting from the molecular-kinetic theory”, published in 1905, was devoted to the theory of Brownian motion. This phenomenon (continuous random zigzag motion of particles of flower pollen in a liquid), discovered in 1827 by the English botanist Robert Brown, had already received a statistical explanation, but Einstein's theory (which did not know previous works on Brownian motion) had a completed form and opened up possibilities for quantitative experimental studies . In 1908, the experiments of the French physicist Jean Baptiste Perrin completely confirmed Einstein's theory, which played an important role in the final formation of molecular kinetic representations.

Quanta and photo effect

In the same 1905, another Einstein's work was published - "On a Heuristic Point of View on the Emergence and Transformation of Light." Five years earlier, the German physicist Max Planck showed that the spectral composition of the radiation emitted by hot bodies can be explained if we assume that the radiation process is discrete, that is, the light is not emitted continuously, but in discrete portions of a certain energy. Einstein suggested that the absorption of light occurs in the same portions and that in general "uniform light consists of grains of energy (light quanta) ... moving in empty space at the speed of light." This revolutionary idea allowed Einstein to explain the laws of the photoelectric effect, in particular, the fact of the existence of the “red border”, that is, the minimum frequency below which no light is knocked out of matter by electrons.

The idea of ​​quanta was applied by Albert Einstein to explain other phenomena, for example, fluorescence, photoionization, and mysterious variations in the specific heat capacity of solids that the classical theory could not describe.

Einstein's work on the quantum theory of light was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921.

Private (special) theory of relativity

The most famous A. Einstein nevertheless brought the theory of relativity, presented by him for the first time in 1905, in the article "On the electrodynamics of moving bodies." Already in his youth, Einstein was trying to understand what an observer would see if he rushed after the speed of light in pursuit of a light wave. Now Einstein resolutely rejected the concept of ether, which allowed us to consider the principle of equality of all inertial reference systems as universal, and not only limited by the scope of mechanics.

Einstein put forward an amazing and at first glance paradoxical postulate that the speed of light for all observers, no matter how they move, is the same. This postulate (subject to some additional conditions) leads to the formulas previously obtained by Hendrick Lorenz for transforming coordinates and time during the transition from one inertial reference frame to another, moving relative to the first. But Lorentz considered these transformations as auxiliary, or fictitious, not directly related to real space and time. Einstein understood the reality of these transformations, in particular, the reality of the relativity of simultaneity.

Thus, the principle of relativity, established for mechanics by the Italian scientist and physicist Galileo, was extended to electrodynamics and other areas of physics. This led, in particular, to the establishment of an important universal relationship between mass M, energy E, and momentum P: E 2 = M 2 c 4 + P 2 s 2 (where c is the speed of light), which can be called one of the theoretical premises for using intranuclear energy.

Professorship. Invitation to Berlin. General theory of relativity

In 1905, Albert Einstein was 26 years old, but his name was already widely known. In 1909 he was elected professor at the University of Zurich, and two years later at the German University in Prague.

In 1912, Einstein returned to Zurich, where he occupied the chair at the Polytechnic, but already in 1914 accepted the invitation to move to work in Berlin as a professor at the University of Berlin and at the same time director of the Institute of Physics. Einstein's German citizenship was restored. By this time, work was already underway on the general theory of relativity. As a result of the joint efforts of Einstein and his former student friend M. Grossman in 1912, an article appeared “An outline of the generalized theory of relativity”, and the final formulation of the theory dates back to 1915. This theory, according to many scientists, was the most significant and most beautiful theoretical construction in the history of physics. Based on the well-known fact that the “heavy” and “inert” masses are equal, we managed to find a fundamentally new approach to solving the problem posed by the British physicist Isaac Newton: what is the mechanism of transfer of gravitational interaction between bodies and what is the carrier of this interaction.

The answer proposed by Einstein was staggeringly unexpected: the "geometry" of space - time itself acted as such a mediator. According to Einstein, any massive body causes a “curvature” of space around it, that is, makes its geometrical properties different than in Euclidean geometry, and any other body moving in such a “curved” space is affected by the first body.

The general theory of relativity led to the prediction of effects, which soon received experimental confirmation. It also made it possible to formulate fundamentally new models related to the entire Universe, including models of the unsteady (expanding) Universe.


Albert Einstein not without hesitation accepted the offer to move to Berlin. But the opportunity to communicate with the largest German scientists, among whom was Planck, attracted him.

The political and moral atmosphere in Germany became increasingly painful, anti-Semitism raised its head, and when the Nazis seized power, Einstein left Germany forever in 1933. Subsequently, in protest against fascism, he refused German citizenship and left the Prussian and Bavarian Academy of Sciences.

In the Berlin period, in addition to the general theory of relativity, Einstein developed statistics on whole-particle particles, introduced the concept of stimulated emission, which plays an important role in laser physics, and predicted (together with de Haas) the appearance of rotational momentum of bodies during their magnetization, etc. However, one of the founders of quantum theory, Einstein did not accept the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics, believing that a fundamental physical theory cannot be statistical in nature. He often repeated that “God does not play dice” with the universe.

After moving to the USA, Albert Einstein became a professor of physics at the new Institute for Fundamental Research in Princeton (New Jersey). He continued to deal with cosmology, and also intensely sought ways to build a unified field theory that would combine gravity, electromagnetism (and possibly the rest). And although he failed to implement this program, it did not shatter Einstein's reputation as one of the greatest natural scientists of all time.

At Princeton, Einstein became a local landmark. He was known as a world famous physicist, but for everyone he was a modest, friendly and somewhat eccentric person who could be encountered right on the street. In his leisure hours, he loved to play music. Starting to learn to play the violin at the age of six, Einstein continued to play his whole life, sometimes in an ensemble with other physicists. He liked sailing, which, he believed, was extraordinarily conducive to thinking about physical problems.

Among the many honors shown to Einstein was the proposal to become President of Israel, which followed in 1952, which he did not accept.

A consistent supporter of Zionism, Albert Einstein made a lot of efforts to create a Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1925.

In the minds of many people, Einstein's name is associated with the atomic problem. Indeed, realizing what a tragedy for mankind could be the creation of an atomic bomb in fascist Germany, in 1939 he sent a letter to the US president that served as an impetus for work in this direction in America. But at the end of the war, his desperate attempts to deter politicians and generals from criminal and insane actions proved futile. This was the greatest tragedy of his life.

Albert Einstein passed away on April 18, 1955 in Princeton, USA, from aortic aneurysm. (V.N. Grigoriev, Encyclopedia Cyril and Methodius)

About faith

One smart professor once at a university asked a student an interesting question.
Professor: Is God good?
Student: Yes.
Professor: Is the Devil good?
Student: None.
Professor: That's right. Tell me, son, is there evil on Earth?
Student: Yes.
Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn't it? And God created everything, right?
Student: Yes.
Professor: So who created the evil?
Student: ...
Professor: Is there ugliness, arrogance, disease, ignorance on the planet?
All this is there, right?
Student: Yes, sir.
Professor: So who created them?
Student: ...
Professor: Science claims that a person has 5 senses to explore the world around. Tell me, son, have you ever seen God?
Student: No, sir.
Professor: Tell us, have you heard God?
Student: No, sir.
Professor: Have you ever felt God? Did you taste it? Did you smell it?
Student: I'm afraid not, sir.
Professor: And do you still believe in him?
Student: Yes.
Professor: Based on the findings, science can argue that there is no God. Can you oppose something to this?
Student: No, professor. I have only faith.
Professor: Exactly. Faith is the main problem of science.
Student: Professor, does cold exist?
Professor: What kind of question? Of course it does. Have you ever been cold?
(Students laughed at the young man's question)
Student: Actually, sir, the cold does not exist. In accordance with the laws of physics, what we consider to be cold is actually a lack of heat. A person or object can be studied for whether it has or transfers energy. Absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius) is the complete absence of heat. All matter becomes inert and incapable of reacting at this temperature. The cold does not exist. We created this word to describe how we feel in the absence of heat.
(There was silence in the audience)
Student: Professor, does darkness exist?
Professor: Of course it does. What is night, if not darkness:
Student: You're wrong again, sir. Darkness also does not exist. Darkness is actually the absence of light. We can study light, but not darkness. We can use Newton's prism to decompose white light into many colors and study the different wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure the darkness. A simple ray of light can burst into the world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you find out how dark any space is? You measure how much light is represented. Is not it? Darkness is a concept that a person uses to describe what happens in the absence of light. Now tell me, sir, does death exist?
Professor: Of course. There is life, and there is death - its reverse side.
Student: You're wrong again, professor. Death is not the other side of life, it is its absence. There is a serious crack in your scientific theory.
Professor: What are you leading, young man?
Student: Professor, you teach students that we all descended from monkeys. Have you observed evolution with your own eyes?
The professor shook his head with a smile, understanding what the conversation was about.
Student: No one has seen this process, which means you are more a priest, not a scientist.
(The audience exploded with laughter)
Student: Now tell me, is there anyone in this class who saw the professor’s brain? Heard him, sniffed him, touched him?
(The students continued to laugh)
Student: Apparently, no one. Then, based on scientific facts, we can conclude that the professor does not have a brain. With all due respect to you, professor, how can we trust what you said at the lectures?
(There was silence in the audience)
Professor: I think you should just believe me.
Student: Exactly! There is one connection between God and man - it is FAITH!
The professor sat down.
This student was named Albert Einstein.

Why did Einstein show the language?

The vast majority of the world's inhabitants perceive Albert Einstein as a "mad scientist." Such an image has developed in the heads of millions of people solely due to the extraordinary appearance of the great scientist, and not his mental state.

An outstanding physicist who devoted himself entirely to science often appeared before the public in an ordinary stretched sweater, with disheveled hair, and a look turned inward - the scientist’s mind was constantly busy solving complex problems. The forgetfulness and impracticality of this sweet, intelligent person who made discoveries not for personal gain, but for the sake of all mankind, were also widely known.

Альберт Эйнштейн (Albert Einstein)

Only once in his entire long life did Albert Einstein lift the veil of secrecy over his personality, arousing even greater interest in his person. This happened on the day of the celebration of his seventy-second anniversary, March 14, 1952.

Photographer Seyss asked Einstein to make a pensive face, corresponding to the image of the researcher, to which the scientist stuck out his tongue, showing himself not only as a serious inventor, but also as an ordinary cheerful person. And so this photo came out, a picture that dispelled the image of a gray-haired, slightly disheveled genius scientist.

The brilliant physicist himself recognized this photo as unprecedentedly successful - by that time he was tired of the undeserved stereotypical image of an “evil genius”.

Альберт Эйнштейн (Albert Einstein)

The photo, which went around the whole world in a short time, was cropped - there was still the Aidelot family couple. Subsequently, Albert Einstein sent her friends as a New Year greeting card. Albert’s friend, journalist H. Smith, got a unique photograph - it had a signature made by the hand of the genius of physics, "a joking grimace to all of humanity."

In total, nine original photographs were printed, and one of them was sold in 2009, $ 74,000.