Baylor College Medical School

92 3. Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Biography

92.3. Albert Einstein spent his early years in Munich, Germany. When he was about five years old, he first saw a compass. The moving needle fascinated him, hinting at the invisible forces he would spend his life trying to understand. Although Einstein received good grades, he didn't like school. At 15, he quit high school and went to join his parents, who had moved to Italy. Einstein returned to high school in Switzerland and graduated in 1896.

Einstein then entered one of Europe's finest scientific institutes. When he graduated, a friend helped him find a job in the Swiss patent office. Reviewing patents all day left him with time to further his studies. In 1905, he earned a Ph.D. in physics.

Einstein went to develop revolutionary ideas about how the universe works. His general theory of relativity describes how gravity, light, and time are related. His special relativity describes how the measurement of time and space is affected by the maximum speed of light. His famous formula, "E = mc2", makes it possible to find out how much energy is created when mass is converted to energy.

His ideas revolutionized scientific thinking, and disproved previously held beliefs, earning him scientific acclaim. He left the patent office and returned to Germany to teach and study.

In 1914, World War I broke out. Einstein hated he mindless destruction of the war, and he became committed to peace. In 1916,Einstein published another earth-shattering paper, in which he proposed that gravity is not a force, as Newton explained it, but a curvature in space-time, caused by the presence of mass. By the end of World War I, Einstein was known worldwide. In 1921, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.

In 1933, when Hitler took power in Germany, Einstein, who was jewish, knew it was time to leave Europe. He moved to the United States and later became a citizen. In 1939, fearing that German scientists were working on an atomic bomb, Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt, which prompted the development of the Manhattan Project. This project produced the two bombs that were dropped on Japan at the end of World War II.

Einstein spent his las years as a professor at Princeton University, working for world peace and to ensure that the bomb would never again be used. His last letter was written one week before he died. In it, he expressed his support for a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.


3. How would you feel if your work was used to develop a dangerous weapon? Why?

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Dangerous weapons are used to take lives. That isn't a development I'd personally ever want to be a part of.