Einstein lives on...
(14 March 1879–18 April 1955)
Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Six weeks later the family moved to Munich, where he later on began his schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium. Later, they moved to Italy and Albert continued his education at Aarau, Switzerland and in 1896 he entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics. In 1901, the year he gained his diploma, he acquired Swiss citizenship and, as he was unable to find a teaching post, he accepted a position as technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office. In 1905 he obtained his doctor's degree.
During his stay at the Patent Office, and in his spare time, he produced much of his remarkable work and in 1908 he was appointed Privatdozent in Berne. In 1909 he became Professor Extraordinary at Zurich, in 1911 Professor of Theoretical Physics at Prague, returning to Zurich in the following year to fill a similar post. In 1914 he was appointed Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute and Professor in the University of Berlin. He became a German citizen in 1914 and remained in Berlin until 1933 when he renounced his citizenship for political reasons and emigrated to America to take the position of Professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton*. He became a United States citizen in 1940 and retired from his post in 1945.
After World War II, Einstein was a leading figure in the World Government Movement, he was offered the Presidency of the State of Israel, which he declined, and he collaborated with Dr. Chaim Weizmann in establishing the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Einstein always appeared to have a clear view of the problems of physics and the determination to solve them. He had a strategy of his own and was able to visualize the main stages on the way to his goal. He regarded his major achievements as mere stepping-stones for the next advance.
At the start of his scientific work, Einstein realized the inadequacies of Newtonian mechanics and his special theory of relativity stemmed from an attempt to reconcile the laws of mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. He dealt with classical problems of statistical mechanics and problems in which they were merged with quantum theory: this led to an explanation of the Brownian movement of molecules. He investigated the thermal properties of light with a low radiation density and his observations laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In his early days in Berlin, Einstein postulated that the correct interpretation of the special theory of relativity must also furnish a theory of gravitation and in 1916 he published his paper on the general theory of relativity. During this time he also contributed to the problems of the theory of radiation and statistical mechanics.
In the 1920's, Einstein embarked on the construction of unified field theories, although he continued to work on the probabilistic interpretation of quantum theory, and he persevered with this work in America. He contributed to statistical mechanics by his development of the quantum theory of a monatomic gas and he has also accomplished valuable work in connection with atomic transition probabilities and relativistic cosmology. After his retirement he continued to work towards the unification of the basic concepts of physics, taking the opposite approach, geometrisation, to the majority of physicists.
Einstein's researches are, of course, well chronicled and his more important works include Special Theory of Relativity (1905), Relativity (English translations, 1920 and 1950), General Theory of Relativity (1916), Investigations on Theory of Brownian Movement (1926), and The Evolution of Physics (1938). Among his non-scientific works, About Zionism (1930), Why War? (1933), My Philosophy (1934), and Out of My Later Years (1950) are perhaps the most important.
Albert Einstein received honorary doctorate degrees in science, medicine and philosophy from many European and American universities. During the 1920's he lectured in Europe, America and the Far East and he was awarded Fellowships or Memberships of all the leading scientific academies throughout the world.
He gained numerous awards in recognition of his work, including the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London in 1925, and the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute in 1935.
Einstein's gifts inevitably resulted in his dwelling much in intellectual solitude and, for relaxation, music played an important part in his life. He married Mileva Maric in 1903 and they had a daughter and two sons; their marriage was dissolved in 1919 and in the same year he married his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, who died in 1936. He died on April 18, 1955 at Princeton, New Jersey.
From Nobel Lectures, Physics 1901-1921, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1967
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
* Albert Einstein was formally associated with the Institute for Advanced Study located in Princeton, New Jersey.
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1922
Einstein in quotes- source of inspiration for the common
Prof. Mohammad Kaykobad
The two names Einstein and Newton have become almost synonymous to the word 'scientist'. While Newton gave us the classical vision of the universe Einstein fine tuned it with his super human insights, and truly deserves to be called the father of modern physics. Einstein contributed more than any other scientist to the modern vision of physical reality. His special and general theories of relativity are still regarded as the most satisfactory model of the large-scale universe that we have. In spite of living in extra dimensional space and thinking very differently than we mortals do, feeling events around us in a different manner, having senses of a super genius of his own class, he was very much a human being with all the soft corners for common human beings with a great sense of humour. In this small article we shall present some of the quotes that will, in addition, confirm his commitment to the society and civilization, feelings and love for the common mass. Here are some of them:
"A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving..."
"A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future."
"Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens."
"I am by heritage a Jew, by citizenship a Swiss, and by makeup a human being, and only a human being, without any special attachment to any state or national entity whatsoever."
"I have also considered many scientific plans during my pushing you around in your pram!"
Here is a letter that he wrote to his son Hans Albert Einstein in June 1948.
"Make a lot of walks to get healthy and don't read that much but save yourself some until you're grown up."
Letter to his son Eduard Einstein in June 1918.
"When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge."
"If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew."
(Address to the French Philosophical Society at the Sorbonne (6 April 1922)
"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music... I do know that I get most joy in life out of my violin."
As quoted in "What Life Means to Einstein : An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" in The Saturday Evening Post Vol. 202 (26 October 1929), p. 113
"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
As quoted in "What Life Means to Einstein : An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" in The Saturday Evening Post Vol. 202 (26 October 1929), p. 117
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."
Letter to his son Eduard (5 February 1930)
"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
Comment during an interview. Belgenland (December 1930).
"It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind."
Letter to Vegetarian Watch-Tower (27 December 1930)
"I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war."
Interview with George Sylvester Viereck (January 1931)
"I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research."
Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931) by Albert Einstein, p. 97
"By the way, there are increasing signs that the Russian trials are not faked, but that there is a plot among those who look upon Stalin as a stupid reactionary who has betrayed the ideas of the revolution. Though we find it difficult to imagine this kind of internal thing, those who know Russia best are all more or less of the same opinion. I was firmly convinced to begin with that it was a case of a dictator's despotic acts, based on lies and deception, but this was a delusion." The Born-Einstein Letters (translated by Irene Born) (Walker and Company, New York, 1971)
"Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do - but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it."
Jotted (in German) on the margins of a letter to him (1933). As quoted in Albert Einstein, The Human Side : New Glimpses From His Archives (1981)
"Bear in mind that those who are finer and nobler are always alone - and necessarily so - and that because of this they can enjoy the purity of their own atmosphere. I shake your hand in heartfelt comradeship, E."
Response to a letter from an unemployed professional musician (5 April 1933) as quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman ISBN 0691023689
"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.Our time is distinguished by wonderful achievements in the fields of scientific understanding and the technical application of those insights. Who would not be cheered by this? But let us not forget that human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind. What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living." Written statement (September 1937) as quoted in Albert Einstein, The Human Side: New Glimpses From His Archives (1981) New Glimpses From His Archives (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman
"I consider it important, indeed urgently necessary, for intellectual workers to get together, both to protect their own economic status and also, generally speaking, to secure their influence in the political field."
In a comment explaining why he joined the American Federation of Teachers local number 552 as a charter member (1938)
"Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth."
Statement on the occasion of Gandhi's 70th birthday (1939) Einstein archive 32-601, published in Out of My Later Years (1950).
"Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit... not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in what we believe is evil."
United Nations radio interview recorded in Einstein's study, Princeton, New Jersey, (1950)
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly."
Letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, professor emeritus of philosophy at the College of the City of New York, defending the appointment of Bertrand Russell to a teaching position (March 19, 1940).
"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."
Letter to Barbara Lee Wilson (7 January 1943), Einstein Archives 42-606
"I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well as history and philosophy of science. So many people today - and even professional scientists - seem to me like someone who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is - in my opinion - the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth."
Letter to Robert A. Thorton, Physics Professor at University of Puerto Rico (7 December 1944) [EA-674, Einstein Archive, Hebrew University, Jerusalem].
"For the most part we humans live with the false impression of security and a feeling of being at home in a seemingly trustworthy physical and human environment. But when the expected course of everyday life is interrupted, we are like shipwrecked people on a miserable plank in the open sea, having forgotten where they came from and not knowing whither they are drifting. But once we fully accept this, life becomes easier and there is no longer any disappointment."
Letter (26 April 1945); as quoted in Albert Einstein, The Human Side: New Glimpses From His Archives (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman
"The position in which we are now is a very strange one which in general political life never happened. Namely, the thing that I refer to is this: To have security against atomic bombs and against the other biological weapons, we have to prevent war, for if we cannot prevent war every nation will use every means that is at their disposal; and in spite of all promises they make, they will do it. At the same time, so long as war is not prevented, all the governments of the nations have to prepare for war, and if you have to prepare for war, then you are in a state where you cannot abolish war. This is really the cornerstone of our situation. Now, I believe what we should try to bring about is the general conviction that the first thing you have to abolish is war at all costs, and every other point of view must be of secondary importance." Address to the symposium "The Social Task of the Scientist in the Atomic Era" at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey (17 November 1946)
"Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it." As quoted by Virgil Henshaw in Albert Einstein: Philosopher Scientist (1949)
"A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. But intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience."
Letter to Dr. H. L. Gordon (May 3, 1949 - AEA 58-217) as quoted in Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007) by Walter Isaacson ISBN 9780743264730
"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being."
Letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (28 September 1949), from article by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997)
"I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs."
Statement upon joining the Montreal Pipe Smokers Club. (1950)
"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it."
Letter to California student E. Holzapfel (March 1951) Einstein Archive 59-1013, quoted in Albert Einstein, the Human Side (1979) by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman
"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
Letter to Carl Seelig (11 March 1952), Einstein Archives 39-013
"A truly rational theory would allow us to deduce the elementary particles (electron, etc.) and not be forced to state them a priori."
Letter to Michele Besso (10 September 1952), Letter n°190, Correspondance, 1903-1955, by Pierre Speziali, Michele Angelo Besso, published by Hermann, 1972.
"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
Letter to an atheist (1954) as quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman ISBN 0691023689
"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions."
Ideas and Opinions (1954)
"The idea of achieving security through national armament is, at the present state of military technique, a disastrous illusion."
Ideas and Opinions (1954)
"Development of Western Science is based on two great achievements - the invention of the formal logical system (in Euclidean geometry) by the Greek philosophers, and the discovery of the possibility to find out causal relationships by systematic experiment (during the Renaissance). In my opinion, one has not to be astonished that the Chinese sages have not made these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all."
Quoted in Cleopatra's Nose, Essays on the Unexpected, Daniel J Boorstin (1995), New York: Vintage Books, p3).
"Working on the final formulation of technological patents was a veritable blessing for me. It enforced many-sided thinking and also provided important stimuli to physical thought. [Academia] places a young person under a kind of compulsion to produce impressive quantities of scientific publications - a temptation to superficiality." As quoted in "Who Knew?" at NationalGeographic.com (May 2005)
The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind. They are dependent on each other. Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is - insofar as it is thinkable at all - primitive and muddled."
Contribution in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, P.A. Schilpp, ed. (The Library of Living Philosophers, Evanston, IL (1949), p. 684)
"I have found no better expression than "religious" for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as it is accessible to human reason. Whenever this feeling is absent, science degenerates into uninspired empiricism."
Letter to Maurice Solovine, (1 January 1951) [Einstein Archive 21-174]; published in Letters to Solovine (1993)
"I believe, indeed, that overemphasis on the purely intellectual attitude, often directed solely to the practical and factual, in our education, has led directly to the impairment of ethical values. I am not thinking so much of the dangers with which technical progress has directly confronted mankind, as of the stifling of mutual human considerations by a "matter-of-fact" habit of thought which has come to lie like a killing frost upon human relations. ... The frightful dilemma of the political world situation has much to do with this sin of omission on the part of our civilization. Without "ethical culture," there is no salvation for humanity."
"The Need for Ethical Culture" celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Ethical Culture Society, founded by Felix Adler (5 January 1951).
"Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the mind before you reach eighteen." As quoted in Mathematics, Queen and Servant of the Sciences (1952) by Eric Temple Bell
"Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value."
As quoted by LIFE magazine (2 May 1955)
"That is simple my friend: because politics is more difficult than physics."
Response to being asked why people could discover atomic power, but not the means to control it, as quoted in The New York Times (22 April 1955)
In 1952, he was offered the position of President of Israel, but declined.
"Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity."
Helle Zeit, Dunkle Zeit: In Memoriam Albert Einstein (1956) edited by Carl Seelig, p. 71.
"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity." An explanation of relativity which he gave to his secretary Helen Dukas to convey to non-scientists and reporters, as quoted in Best Quotes of '54, '55, l56 (1957) by James B. Simpson; also in Expandable Quotable Einstein (2005) edited by Alice Calaprice
"Much reading after a certain age diverts the mind from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking, just as the man who spends too much time in the theaters is apt to be content with living vicariously instead of living his own life."
M. K. Wisehart, A Close Look at the World's Greatest Thinker, American Magazine, June 1930
"I gang my own gait and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties I have never lost an obstinate sense of detachment, of the need for solitude - a feeling which increases with the years.
My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the few ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader. As quoted in "Recording the Experience" (10 June 2004) at The Library of Congress
"I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
Attributed to an unidentified letter to Harry S. Truman in Alex Johnson, "The culture of Einstein", MSNBC, 18 April 2005
In 1999, Albert Einstein was named Person of the Century by Time magazine.
"Einstein: One of the Finest Physicists of All Time"
Prof. Dr. Jamal Nazrul Islam
Interviewed by Tabassum Mokhduma
“It stands to the everlasting credit of science, that by acting on the human mind, it has man's insecurity before himself and before nature.”
Albert Einstein is considered one of the two greatest physicists of all time, the other being Isaac Newton. Among Einstein's greatest discoveries are the Special Theory of Relativity (1905), the General Theory of Relativity (1915) and the photoelectric effect (1905). The Special Theory of Relativity establishes the equivalence of mass and energy through the formula E = mc2 while the General Theory of Relativity generalizes Newton's Theory of Gravitation to incorporate the Special Theory of Relativity. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and best known scientists and intellectuals of all time, he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect. Today, on the eve of this great physicist's 131st birth anniversary, Star Campus took the opportunity to talk about his work with well-known scientist of the country Dr. Jamal Nazrul Islam, Professor Emeritus and the Director of Research Centre for Mathematics and Physical Sciences (RCMPS) at University of Chittagong (CU). A famous physicist and mathematician himself, Dr. Islam expressed his very own views on Einstein and spoke about this Nobel winning physicist's work among others. Here are the excerpts of the interview:
“Einstein was a theoretical physicist, philosopher and author who is often regarded as the father of modern physics. He is one of the finest physicists of all time. The Theory of Relativity put forward by Einstein not only changed our scientific world of view but also impacted on human civilization quite deeply.” According to him, the notions of absolute space and absolute time had to be forsaken; matter and energy had to be regarded as equivalent (hunks of small matter being repository of enormous sum of energy). Unfortunately, however, the E = mc2 formula when put to use Chain Reactions in the Atomic Bomb (which acts as an uncontrolled Nuclear Reactor) brought about havoc. “This was indeed a catastrophic and unwanted application. The plentiful other applications which turn out to be beneficial should make us more responsible in avoiding wrong applications of the formula.”
Dr. Islam said that the development of quantum statistics for photons and other particles of integral spin was a landmark in quantum physics and had immediate support from Einstein.
“Why Einstein's equations are so very complicated compared to Newton's equations?
There are several reasons for this. In Einstein's theory the gravitational field is produced not only by matter, but also by energy that resides in the matter, because of the equivalence of the matter and energy. Further, for the same reason, the energy that exists in the gravitational field also produces gravitational fields, which field has additional energy, which produces further gravitational energy and so on. This process is a highly non-linear one. This does not happen in Newtonian theory, namely, the energy stored in the gravitational field does not give rise to additional gravitational fields”, added this gifted physicist of our country.
Adding that it is a testimony to Einstein's genius that he produced a set of equations which automatically takes into account the above effects and many subtle other ones without considering these effects in detail but by using general mathematical and physical arguments, Dr. Islam said that this is also an indication of deep connection of mathematics with the physical world.
He spoke about the works of Einstein that brought about a huge change in the total concept of Physics as a whole and regretted that there is hardly any opportunity in the country for the younger generation to study Physics and show their hidden talents as well. “If you do not have the opportunity than you cannot expect that things will change all on a sudden. Lack of research opportunities are depriving those who are interested in Physics while a trend of running after quick money are responsible among others which are discouraging students to study not only Physics but other science subjects as well”, he added further.
At the end of the conversation, Dr. Islam concluded by saying, “Einstein truly said that the world stands before us as a great eternal riddle”, and he believes that to solve this riddle, there are no better ways than exploring the world of uncharted opportunities.
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