As a child Albert Einstein was a slow learner and spoke very slowly. So much so that his parents actually feared he may have learning difficulties. Thankfully, it turned out, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s some amazing facts you probably didn’t know about the man who spearheaded the theory of relativity and the world’s most renowned genius.
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm in Germany on 14th March 1879. It is said that the story of Einstein’s brilliance started when he was just four years old. His father gave him a magnetic pocket compass to play with. He became obsessed with the way the needle seemed to move around as if by magic. It’s believed that was the event from where Einstein’s deep passion for physics originated. Even as an old man, Einstein wrote about the compass, saying “I can still remember…that this experience made a deep and lasting impression on me.
Something deeply hidden had to be behind things. “Einstein became a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. However, in 1933 he was visiting America just as Hitler came into power back in Einstein’s home country of Germany. Being born to Jewish parents he rightly thought it would not be a good idea to return to Germany. The Nazis were so offended by Einstein’s intellect that they burned all his books still remaining in Germany and included him on a list of enemies of the Nazi state entitled “not yet hanged” and put a $5,000 bounty on his head. Einstein responded to the Nazis by calling their actions a “spontaneous emotional outburst “and stating that more than anything else in the world, they fear the influence of men of intellectual independence. Einstein was granted refugee status and became a citizen of the United States of America, where he stayed for the remainder of his life.
Einstein considered himself to be agnostic, not an atheist. He criticized personal gods, i.e. gods that are believed to resemble a human form. Einstein instead had pantheistic beliefs. Which is the idea that the universe and nature itself, is equal to divinity, as opposed to an anthropomorphic, or human-like, god. Einstein was well known for his iconic shabby look. Which consisted of wild, uncombed hair and baggy, oversized clothes. Also he never wore socks. He saw socks as unnecessary and got frustrated that whenever he wore socks he got holes in them. He wouldn’t even wear socks or comb his hair when visiting the White House.
Also part of Einstein’s “look” was his pipe. Einstein loved to smoke, whether it be cigarettes, cigars or his iconic pipe, which was his favorite method of tobacco inhalation. When he walked between his house and his office at Princeton University, he would almost always be seen leaving behind a trail of smoke. Einstein once had the following to say on the matter: “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs. “It was well known by everyone that knew him that Einstein had an incredibly bad memory.
He couldn’t remember most people’s names and couldn’t remember any phone numbers, including his own. In 1952, after Israel’s first President, Israel Chaim Weizmann, died, Einstein was offered the position of Israel’s presidency, because the Israelis believed him to be the greatest Jew alive. Einstein, then aged 73, politely declined the offer. He said he lacked the “natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people”. Einstein used to charge people for his autograph then donate all the money to charity. Einstein was a prolific adulterer.
During his first marriage to Mileva Marić, Albert had at least six affairs with other women. Knowing that his marriage was falling apart, Einstein made one final attempt at keeping the marriage together, for the sake of this children. So what did he do exactly? He demanded his wife signed a contract he drew up in order to maintain the impression that they were a happily married couple.
The contract included the following clauses: “You will make sure… – that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order; – that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room; you will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, you will forego…- my sitting at home with you; – my going out or traveling with you. You will obey the following points in your relations with me…- you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;- you will stop talking to me if I request it;- you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.
”Way to be tactful Albert. Amazingly his wife actually agreed to the terms, after much persuasion. After he divorced Mileva Marić in 1919, Einstein married his cousin, Elsa Loewenthal. She was very closely related to Einstein; he was actually related to her on both sides of his family. They had played together as kids but their romance didn’t flourish until later on in their lives. Einstein’s favorite hobbies were sailing and playing the violin. But neither came close to his love for theoretical physics. Einstein would play the violin to himself when he became stuck in the thinking process whilst practicing physics. The prestigious Nobel Prize was awarded to Albert Einstein in 1921. But not for his work on the theory of relativity.
He actually got it for his work on helping to discover the photoelectric effect. Which is the now, well known phenomenon, that metals emit electrons when light is shined upon them. However all of Einstein’s Nobel Prize money went to his ex-wife, Mileva, as a divorce settlement. About a week after Einstein died in 1955 at Princeton, before being cremated, an autopsy was performed on his body by Thomas Harvey, a pathologist at Princeton University. Here moved Einstein’s brain for study, which he intended to keept permanently as a keepsake and personal research project. Harvey was eventually fired from Princeton after refusing to hand over Einstein’s brain. After finding it wasn’t any different to a normal brain, Harvey dissected it into over 200 pieces, some of which he sent off to other researchers for examination. It was eventually discovered that Einstein’s parietal lobes, the parts of the brain responsible for mathematical, visual and spatial cognition, were 15% larger than the average person’s. Einstein’s brain was eventually transferred and put on display at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.
His eye’s however were also removed and handed to Henry Abrams, Einstein’s eye doctor. To this day they remain in a safe deposit box in New York City. Einstein’s last words are not known because he said them in German and the only person that heard them was a night nurse who only spoke English. But all these facts pale in comparison to the most amazing fact about Albert Einstein. In 1905 whilst working in Bern, Switzerland, Einstein published a paper on his Special Theory of Relativity”.
Which challenged the world’s idea of how space and time behaves in the universe and set the tone of theoretical physics for the next century, and counting. The ideas Einstein put forward in this revolutionary paper had enormous consequences that completely changed the way we think about, mass, energy, space and time. OH and by the way, Einstein published over 300 scientific papers over his lifetime. His paper on the Special Theory of Relativity also included, what has become the most famous equation in the world, E=mc2, otherwise known as the mass-energy equivalence.
On a very basic level it is the concept that the mass of any object is a measure of how much energy is contained within it. There were actually numerous scientists who all claimed to have discovered the equation around the same time. But it was eventually decided that Albert Einstein should be given the credit for it as he put the most effort into its discovery. E=mc2 gave rise to the atomic bomb and the nuclear arms race. Knowing that he was mostly responsible for causing the atomic bomb’s eventual discovery, Einstein slipped into a period of great depression.
He believed himself to be a pacifist. In 1915, Einstein completed his General Theory of Relativity, which implied the existence of black holes and gravitational waves and many other things, up until which point had been nothing more than hypotheses. Together with his Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity formed the Theory of Relativity. The cornerstone of modern physics and arguably the most important discovery in physics of the past century. Sure the Theory of Relativity is used every day by physicists in their increasingly complex endeavors. But its effects can be seen in our everyday lives too.
None of the following things would be possible without Einstein’s two theories of relativity: GPS systems, televisions, nuclear power plants, remote control devices, lasers, DVD-players and many others. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention, the universe itself.