Albert Einstein

Of all the scientists to emerge from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there is one whose name is known by
almost all living people. While most of these do not understand this man's work, everyone knows that its impact on
the world of science is astonishing. Yes, many have heard of Albert Einstein's General Theory of relativity, but few
know about the intriguing life that led this scientist to discover what some have called, "The greatest single
achievement of human thought."
Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1874. Before his first birthday, his family had moved to Munich
where young Albert's father, Hermann Einstein, and uncle set up a small electro-chemical business. He was
fortunate to have an excellent family with which he held a strong relationship. Albert's mother, Pauline Einstein, had
an intense passion for music and literature, and it was she that first introduced her son to the violin in which he
found much joy and relaxation. Also, he was very close with his younger sister, Maja, and they could often be found
in the lakes that were scattered about the countryside near Munich.
As a child, Einstein's sense of curiosity had already begun to stir. A favorite toy of his was his father's compass, and
he often marvelled at his uncle's explanations of algebra. Although young Albert was intrigued by certain mysteries
of science, he was considered a slow learner. His failure to become fluent in German until the age of nine even led
some teachers to believe he was disabled.
Einstein's post-basic education began at the Luitpold Gymnasium when he was ten. It was here that he first
encountered the German spirit through the school's strict disciplinary policy. His disapproval of this method of
teaching led to his reputation as a rebel. It was probably these differences that caused Einstein to search for
knowledge at home. He began not with science, but with religion. He avidly studied the Bible seeking truth, but this
religious fervor soon died down when he discovered the intrigue of science and math. To him, these seemed much
more realistic than ancient stories. With this new knowledge he disliked class even more, and was eventually
expelled from Luitpold Gymnasium being considered a disruptive influence.
Feeling that he could no longer deal with the German mentality, Einstein moved to Switzerland where he continued
his education. At sixteen he attempted to enroll at the Federal Institute of Technology but failed the entrance exam.
This forced him to study locally for one year until he finally passed the school's evaluation. The Institute allowed
Einstein to meet many other students that shared his curiosity, and It was here that his studies turned mainly to
Physics. He quickly learned that while physicists had generally agreed on major principals in the past, there were
modern scientists who were attempting to disprove outdated theories. Since most of Einstein's teachers ignored these
new ideas, he was again forced to explore on his own. In 1900 he graduated from the Institute and then achieved
citizenship to Switzerland.
Einstein became a clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in 1902. This job had little to do with physics, but he was able to
satiate his curiosity by figuring out how new inventions worked. The most important part of Einstein's occupation
was that it allowed him enough time to pursue his own line of research. As his ideas began to develop, he published
them in specialist journals. Though he was still unknown to the scientific world, he began to attract a large circle of
friends and admirers. A group of students that he tutored quickly transformed into a social club that shared a love of
nature, music, and of course, science. In 1903 he married Mileva Meric, a mathematician friend.
In 1905, Einstein published five separate papers in a journal, the Annals of Physics. The first was immediately
acknowledged, and the University of Zurich awarded Einstein an additional degree. The other papers helped to
develop modern physics and earned him the reputation of an artist. Many scientists have said that Einstein's work
contained an imaginative spirit that was seen in most poetry. His work at this time dealt with molecules, and how
their motion affected temperature, but he is most well known for his Special Theory of Relativity which tackled
motion and the speed of light.