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Albert Einstein (with video)

Early life and education

A young boy with short hair and a round face, wearing a white collar and large bow, with vest, coat, skirt and high boots. He is leaning against an ornate chair.
Einstein at the age of three in 1882
Studio photo of a boy seated in a relaxed posture and wearing a suit, posed in front of a backdrop of scenery.
Albert Einstein in 1893 (age 14)

The Einsteins were non-observant Jews. Albert attended a Catholic elementary school from the age of five for three years. At the age of eight, he was transferred to the Luitpold Gymnasium where he received advanced primary and secondary school education until he left Germany seven years later.[11] Although it has been thought that Einstein had early speech difficulties, this is disputed by the Albert Einstein Archives, and he excelled at the first school that he attended.[12] He was right handed;[12][13] there appears to be no evidence for the widespread popular belief[14] that he was left handed.Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire on 14 March 1879.[10] His father wasHermann 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.[10]

His father once showed him a pocket compass; Einstein realized that there must be something causing the needle to move, despite the apparent "empty space".[15] As he grew, Einstein built models and mechanical devices for fun and began to show a talent for mathematics.[10] When Einstein was ten years old, Max Talmud (later changed to Max Talmey), a poor Jewish medical student fromPoland, was introduced to the Einstein family by his brother, and during weekly visits over the next five years, he gave the boy popular books on science, mathematical texts and philosophical writings. These included Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, andEuclid's Elements (which Einstein called the "holy little geometry book").[16][17][fn 1]

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. At the end of December 1894, he travelled to Italy to join his family in Pavia, convincing the school to let him go by using a doctor's note.[19] It was during his time in Italy that he wrote a short essay with the title "On the Investigation of the State of the Ether in a Magnetic Field."[20][21]

In late summer 1895, at the age of sixteen, Einstein sat the entrance examinations for the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich (later the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule). He failed to reach the required standard in several subjects, but obtained exceptional grades in physics and mathematics.[22] On the advice of the Principal of the Polytechnic, he attended the Aargau Cantonal School inAarau, Switzerland, in 1895-96 to complete his secondary schooling. While lodging with the family of Professor Jost Winteler, he fell in love with Winteler's daughter, Marie. (His sister Maja later married the Wintelers' son, Paul.)[23] In January 1896, with his father's approval, he renounced his citizenship in the German Kingdom of Württemberg to avoid military service.[24] (He acquired Swiss citizenship five years later, in February 1901.)[25] In September 1896, he passed the Swiss Matura with mostly good grades (including a top grade of 6 in physics and mathematical subjects, on a scale of 1-6),[26] and, though only seventeen, enrolled in the four-year mathematics and physics teaching diploma program at the ETH Zurich. Marie Winteler moved to Olsberg, Switzerland for a teaching post.

Einstein's future wife, Mileva Marić, also enrolled at the Polytechnic that same year, the only woman among the six students in the mathematics and physics section of the teaching diploma course. Over the next few years, Einstein and Marić's friendship developed into romance, and they read books together on extra-curricular physics in which Einstein was taking an increasing interest. In 1900, Einstein was awarded the Zurich Polytechnic teaching diploma, but Marić failed the examination with a poor grade in the mathematics component, theory of functions.[27] There have been claims that Marić collaborated with Einstein on his celebrated 1905 papers,[28][29] but historians of physics who have studied the issue find no evidence that she made any substantive contributions.[30][31][32][33]

Marriages and children

In early 1902, Einstein and Marić had a daughter they named Lieserl, born in Novi Sad where Marić was staying with her parents. Her fate is unknown, but the contents of a letter Einstein wrote to Marić in September 1903 suggest that she was either adopted or died of scarlet fever in infancy.[34][35]

Einstein and Marić married in January 1903. In May 1904, the couple's first son, Hans Albert Einstein, was born in Bern, Switzerland. Their second son, Eduard, was born in Zurich in July 1910. In 1914, Einstein moved to Berlin, while his wife remained in Zurich with their sons. They divorced on 14 February 1919, having lived apart for five years.

Einstein married Elsa Löwenthal on 2 June 1919, after having had a relationship with her since 1912. She was his first cousin maternally and his second cousin paternally. In 1933, they emigrated to the United States. In 1935, Elsa Einstein was diagnosed with heart and kidney problems and died in December 1936.[36]

Patent office

Three young men in suits with high white collars and bow ties, sitting.
Left to right: Conrad Habicht, Maurice Solovine and Einstein, who founded the Olympia Academy

After graduating, Einstein spent almost two frustrating years searching for a teaching post, but Marcel Grossmann's father helped him secure a job in Bern,[37] at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property, the patent office, as an assistantexaminer.[38] He evaluated patent applications for electromagnetic devices. In 1903, Einstein's position at the Swiss Patent Office became permanent, although he was passed over for promotion until he "fully mastered machine technology".[39]

Much of his work at the patent office related to questions about transmission of electric signals and electrical-mechanical synchronization of time, two technical problems that show up conspicuously in the thought experiments that eventually led Einstein to his radical conclusions about the nature of light and the fundamental connection between space and time.[40]

With a few friends he met in Bern, Einstein started a small discussion group, self-mockingly named "The Olympia Academy", which met regularly to discuss science and philosophy. Their readings included the works of Henri Poincaré,Ernst Mach, and David Hume, which influenced his scientific and philosophical outlook.


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