About this Famous Person
American theoretical physicist
Source : Sabine SCHLEICHERT
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire on 14 March 1879. His father was Hermann Einstein, a salesman and engineer. His mother was Pauline Einstein (née Koch). In 1880, the family moved to Munich, where his father and his uncle founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a company that manufactured electrical equipment based on direct current.
The Einsteins were non-observant Jews. Their son attended a Catholic elementary school from the age of five until ten. Although Einstein had early speech difficulties, he was a top student in elementary school. As he grew, Einstein built models and mechanical devices for fun and began to show a talent for mathematics. In 1889 Max Talmud (later changed to Max Talmey) introduced the ten-year old Einstein to key texts in science, mathematics and philosophy, including Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and Euclid’s Elements (which Einstein called the "holy little geometry book"). Talmud was a poor Jewish medical student from Poland. The Jewish community arranged for Talmud to take meals with the Einsteins each week on Thursdays for six years. During this time Talmud wholeheartedly guided Einstein through many secular educational interests.
In 1894, his father’s company failed: Direct current (DC) lost the War of Currents to alternating current (AC). In search of business, the Einstein family moved to Italy, first to Milan and then, a few months later, to Pavia. When the family moved to Pavia, Einstein stayed in Munich to finish his studies at the Luitpold Gymnasium. His father intended for him to pursue electrical engineering, but Einstein clashed with authorities and resented the school’s regimen and teaching method. He later wrote that the spirit of learning and creative thought were lost in strict rote learning. In the spring of 1895, he withdrew to join his family in Pavia, convincing the school to let him go by using a doctor’s note. During this time, Einstein wrote his first scientific work, "The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields".
Einstein applied directly to the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule (later Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH)) in Zürich, Switzerland. Lacking the requisite Matura certificate, he took an entrance examination, which he failed, although he got exceptional marks in mathematics and physics. The Einsteins sent Albert to Aarau, in northern Switzerland to finish secondary school. While lodging with the family of Professor Jost Winteler, he fell in love with the family’s daughter, Marie. (His sister Maja later married the Winteler son, Paul.) In Aarau, Einstein studied Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory. At age 17, he graduated, and, with his father’s approval, renounced his citizenship in the German Kingdom of Württemberg to avoid military service, and enrolled in 1896 in the mathematics and physics program at the Polytechnic in Zurich. Marie Winteler moved to Olsberg, Switzerland for a teaching post.
In the same year, Einstein’s future wife, Mileva Maric, also entered the Polytechnic to study mathematics and physics, the only woman in the academic cohort. Over the next few years, Einstein and Maric’s friendship developed into romance. In a letter to her, Einstein called Maric “a creature who is my equal and who is as strong and independent as I am.” Einstein graduated in 1900 from the Polytechnic with a diploma in mathematics and physics; Although historians have debated whether Maric influenced Einstein’s work, the majority of academic historians of science agree that she did not.
- Category Physicist