Albert Einstein, (born March
14, 1879, Ulm, Württemberg, Germany—died April 18, 1955,
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.), German-born physicist who
developed the special and general theories of relativity and
won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation
of the photoelectric effect. Einstein is generally
considered the most influential physicist of the 20th
Childhood and education
Einstein’s parents were secular, middle-class Jews. His
father, Hermann Einstein, was originally a featherbed
salesman and later ran an electrochemical factory with
moderate success. His mother, the former Pauline Koch, ran
the family household. He had one sister, Maria (who went by
the name Maja), born two years after Albert.
Einstein would write that
two “wonders” deeply affected his early years. The first was
his encounter with a compass at age five. He was mystified
that invisible forces could deflect the needle. This would
lead to a lifelong fascination with invisible forces. The
second wonder came at age 12 when he discovered a book of
geometry, which he devoured, calling it his “sacred little
Einstein became deeply
religious at age 12, even composing several songs in praise
of God and chanting religious songs on the way to school.
This began to change, however, after he read science books
that contradicted his religious beliefs. This challenge to
established authority left a deep and lasting impression. At
the Luitpold Gymnasium, Einstein often felt out of place and
victimized by a Prussian-style educational system that
seemed to stifle originality and creativity. One teacher
even told him that he would never amount to anything.
Einstein at the age of 3 in 1882
Yet another important
influence on Einstein was a young medical student, Max
Talmud (later Max Talmey), who often had dinner at the
Einstein home. Talmud became an informal tutor, introducing
Einstein to higher mathematics and philosophy. A pivotal
turning point occurred when Einstein was 16. Talmud had
earlier introduced him to a children’s science series by
Aaron Bernstein, Naturwissenschaftliche Volksbucher
(1867–68; Popular Books on Physical Science), in which the
author imagined riding alongside electricity that was
traveling inside a telegraph wire. Einstein then asked
himself the question that would dominate his thinking for
the next 10 years: What would a light beam look like if you
could run alongside it? If light were a wave, then the light
beam should appear stationary, like a frozen wave. Even as a
child, though, he knew that stationary light waves had never
been seen, so there was a paradox. Einstein also wrote his
first “scientific paper” at that time (“The Investigation of
the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields”).
Einstein’s education was
disrupted by his father’s repeated failures at business. In
1894, after his company failed to get an important contract
to electrify the city of Munich, Hermann Einstein moved to
Milan to work with a relative. Einstein was left at a
boardinghouse in Munich and expected to finish his
education. Alone, miserable, and repelled by the looming
prospect of military duty when he turned 16, Einstein ran
away six months later and landed on the doorstep of his
surprised parents. His parents realized the enormous
problems that he faced as a school dropout and draft dodger
with no employable skills. His prospects did not look
Fortunately, Einstein could
apply directly to the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule
(“Swiss Federal Polytechnic School”; in 1911, following
expansion in 1909 to full university status, it was renamed
the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, or “Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology”) in Zürich without the equivalent
of a high school diploma if he passed its stiff entrance
examinations. His marks showed that he excelled in
mathematics and physics, but he failed at French, chemistry,
and biology. Because of his exceptional math scores, he was
allowed into the polytechnic on the condition that he first
finish his formal schooling. He went to a special high
school run by Jost Winteler in Aarau, Switzerland, and
graduated in 1896. He also renounced his German citizenship
at that time. (He was stateless until 1901, when he was
granted Swiss citizenship.) He became lifelong friends with
the Winteler family, with whom he had been boarding. (Winteler’s
daughter, Marie, was Einstein’s first love; Einstein’s
sister, Maja, would eventually marry Winteler’s son Paul;
and his close friend Michele Besso would marry their eldest
Einstein would recall that
his years in Zürich were some of the happiest years of his
life. He met many students who would become loyal friends,
such as Marcel Grossmann, a mathematician, and Besso, with
whom he enjoyed lengthy conversations about space and time.
He also met his future wife, Mileva Maric, a fellow physics
student from Serbia.
I would have found [a job]
long ago if Weber had not played a dishonest game with me.
relationship with Maric deepened, but his parents vehemently
opposed the relationship. His mother especially objected to
her Serbian background (Maric’s family was Eastern Orthodox
Christian). Einstein defied his parents, however, and in
January 1902 he and Maric even had a child, Lieserl, whose
fate is unknown. (It is commonly thought that she died of
scarlet fever or was given up for adoption.)
In 1902 Einstein reached
perhaps the lowest point in his life. He could not marry
Maric and support a family without a job, and his father’s
business went bankrupt. Desperate and unemployed, Einstein
took lowly jobs tutoring children, but he was fired from
even these jobs.
The turning point came
later that year, when the father of his lifelong friend
Marcel Grossmann was able to recommend him for a position as
a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Bern. About then,
Einstein’s father became seriously ill and, just before he
died, gave his blessing for his son to marry Maric. For
years, Einstein would experience enormous sadness
remembering that his father had died thinking him a failure.
With a small but steady
income for the first time, Einstein felt confident enough to
marry Maric, which he did on January 6, 1903. Their
children, Hans Albert and Eduard, were born in Bern in 1904
and 1910, respectively. In hindsight, Einstein’s job at the
patent office was a blessing. He would quickly finish
analyzing patent applications, leaving him time to daydream
about the vision that had obsessed him since he was 16: What
would happen if you raced alongside a light beam? While at
the polytechnic school he had studied Maxwell’s equations,
which describe the nature of light, and discovered a fact
unknown to James Clerk Maxwell himself—namely, that the
speed of light remains the same no matter how fast one
moves. This violates Newton’s laws of motion, however,
because there is no absolute velocity in Isaac Newton’s
theory. This insight led Einstein to formulate the principle
of relativity: “the speed of light is a constant in any
inertial frame (constantly moving frame).”
Einstein during his visit to the United States
During 1905, often called
Einstein’s “miracle year,” he published four papers in the
Annalen der Physik, each of which would alter the course of
1. “Über einen die
Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden
heuristischen Gesichtspunkt” (“On a Heuristic Viewpoint
Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”), in
which Einstein applied the quantum theory to light in order
to explain the photoelectric effect. If light occurs in tiny
packets (later called photons), then it should knock out
electrons in a metal in a precise way.
2. “Über die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme
geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten
suspendierten Teilchen” (“On the Movement of Small Particles
Suspended in Stationary Liquids Required by the
Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat”), in which Einstein
offered the first experimental proof of the existence of
atoms. By analyzing the motion of tiny particles suspended
in still water, called Brownian motion, he could calculate
the size of the jostling atoms and Avogadro’s number (see
3. “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” (“On the
Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”), in which Einstein laid
out the mathematical theory of special relativity.
4. “Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt
abhängig?” (“Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its
Energy Content?”), submitted almost as an afterthought,
which showed that relativity theory led to the equation E =
mc2. This provided the first mechanism to explain the energy
source of the Sun and other stars.
Einstein also submitted a paper in 1905 for his doctorate.
especially Henri Poincaré and Hendrik Lorentz, had pieces of
the theory of special relativity, but Einstein was the first
to assemble the whole theory together and to realize that it
was a universal law of nature, not a curious figment of
motion in the ether, as Poincaré and Lorentz had thought.
(In one private letter to Mileva, Einstein referred to “our
theory,” which has led some to speculate that she was a
cofounder of relativity theory. However, Mileva had
abandoned physics after twice failing her graduate exams,
and there is no record of her involvement in developing
relativity. In fact, in his 1905 paper, Einstein only
credits his conversations with Besso in developing
In the 19th century there
were two pillars of physics: Newton’s laws of motion and
Maxwell’s theory of light. Einstein was alone in realizing
that they were in contradiction and that one of them must
Portrait taken in 1935 in Princeton
General relativity and
At first Einstein’s 1905 papers were ignored by the physics
community. This began to change after he received the
attention of just one physicist, perhaps the most
influential physicist of his generation, Max Planck, the
founder of the quantum theory.
Soon, owing to Planck’s
laudatory comments and to experiments that gradually
confirmed his theories, Einstein was invited to lecture at
international meetings, such as the Solvay Conferences, and
he rose rapidly in the academic world. He was offered a
series of positions at increasingly prestigious
institutions, including the University of Zürich, the
University of Prague, the Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology, and finally the University of Berlin, where he
served as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for
Physics from 1913 to 1933 (although the opening of the
institute was delayed until 1917).
Even as his fame spread,
Einstein’s marriage was falling apart. He was constantly on
the road, speaking at international conferences, and lost in
contemplation of relativity. The couple argued frequently
about their children and their meager finances. Convinced
that his marriage was doomed, Einstein began an affair with
a cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, whom he later married. (Elsa was a
first cousin on his mother’s side and a second cousin on his
father’s side.) When he finally divorced Mileva in 1919, he
agreed to give her the money he might receive if he ever won
a Nobel Prize.
One of the deep thoughts
that consumed Einstein from 1905 to 1915 was a crucial flaw
in his own theory: it made no mention of gravitation or
acceleration. His friend Paul Ehrenfest had noticed a
curious fact. If a disk is spinning, its rim travels faster
than its centre, and hence (by special relativity) metre
sticks placed on its circumference should shrink. This meant
that Euclidean plane geometry must fail for the disk. For
the next 10 years, Einstein would be absorbed with
formulating a theory of gravity in terms of the curvature of
space-time. To Einstein, Newton’s gravitational force was
actually a by-product of a deeper reality: the bending of
the fabric of space and time.
In November 1915 Einstein
finally completed the general theory of relativity, which he
considered to be his masterpiece. In the summer of 1915,
Einstein had given six two-hour lectures at the University
of Göttingen that thoroughly explained an incomplete version
of general relativity that lacked a few necessary
mathematical details. Much to Einstein’s consternation, the
mathematician David Hilbert, who had organized the lectures
at his university and had been corresponding with Einstein,
then completed these details and submitted a paper in
November on general relativity just five days before
Einstein, as if the theory were his own. Later they patched
up their differences and remained friends. Einstein would
write to Hilbert,
I struggled against a
resulting sense of bitterness, and I did so with complete
success. I once more think of you in unclouded friendship,
and would ask you to try to do likewise toward me.
Today physicists refer to
the action from which the equations are derived as the
Einstein-Hilbert action, but the theory itself is attributed
solely to Einstein.
Einstein was convinced that
general relativity was correct because of its mathematical
beauty and because it accurately predicted the precession of
the perihelion of Mercury’s orbit around the Sun (see
Mercury: Mercury in tests of relativity). His theory also
predicted a measurable deflection of light around the Sun.
As a consequence, he even offered to help fund an expedition
to measure the deflection of starlight during an eclipse of
World renown and Nobel
Einstein’s work was interrupted by World War I. A lifelong
pacifist, he was only one of four intellectuals in Germany
to sign a manifesto opposing Germany’s entry into war.
Disgusted, he called nationalism “the measles of mankind.”
He would write, “At such a time as this, one realizes what a
sorry species of animal one belongs to.”
In the chaos unleashed
after the war, in November 1918, radical students seized
control of the University of Berlin and held the rector of
the college and several professors hostage. Many feared that
calling in the police to release the officials would result
in a tragic confrontation. Einstein, because he was
respected by both students and faculty, was the logical
candidate to mediate this crisis. Together with Max Born,
Einstein brokered a compromise that resolved it.
After the war, two
expeditions were sent to test Einstein’s prediction of
deflected starlight near the Sun. One set sail for the
island of Principe, off the coast of West Africa, and the
other to Sobral in northern Brazil in order to observe the
solar eclipse of May 29, 1919. On November 6 the results
were announced in London at a joint meeting of the Royal
Society and the Royal Astronomical Society.
Nobel laureate J.J.
Thomson, president of the Royal Society, stated:
This result is not an
isolated one, it is a whole continent of scientific
ideas.…This is the most important result obtained in
connection with the theory of gravitation since Newton’s
day, and it is fitting that it should be announced at a
meeting of the Society so closely connected with him.
The headline of The Times
of London read, “Revolution in Science—New Theory of the
Universe—Newton’s Ideas Overthrown—Momentous
Pronouncement—Space ‘Warped.’” Almost immediately, Einstein
became a world-renowned physicist, the successor to Isaac
Invitations came pouring in
for him to speak around the world. In 1921 Einstein began
the first of several world tours, visiting the United
States, England, Japan, and France. Everywhere he went, the
crowds numbered in the thousands. En route from Japan, he
received word that he had received the Nobel Prize for
Physics, but for the photoelectric effect rather than for
his relativity theories. During his acceptance speech,
Einstein startled the audience by speaking about relativity
instead of the photoelectric effect.
Einstein also launched the
new science of cosmology. His equations predicted that the
universe is dynamic—expanding or contracting. This
contradicted the prevailing view that the universe was
static, so he reluctantly introduced a “cosmological term”
to stabilize his model of the universe. In 1929 astronomer
Edwin Hubble found that the universe was indeed expanding,
thereby confirming Einstein’s earlier work. In 1930, in a
visit to the Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles,
Einstein met with Hubble and declared the cosmological
constant to be his “greatest blunder.” Recent satellite
data, however, have shown that the cosmological constant is
probably not zero but actually dominates the matter-energy
content of the entire universe. Einstein’s “blunder”
apparently determines the ultimate fate of the universe.
Albert Einstein explaining his theories, 1921.
During that same visit to
California, Einstein was asked to appear alongside the comic
actor Charlie Chaplin during the Hollywood debut of the film
City Lights. When they were mobbed by thousands, Chaplin
remarked, “The people applaud me because everybody
understands me, and they applaud you because no one
understands you.” Einstein asked Chaplin, “What does it all
mean?” Chaplin replied, “Nothing.”
Einstein also began
correspondences with other influential thinkers during this
period. He corresponded with Sigmund Freud (both of them had
sons with mental problems) on whether war was intrinsic to
humanity. He discussed with the Indian mystic Rabindranath
Tagore the question of whether consciousness can affect
existence. One journalist remarked,
It was interesting to see
them together—Tagore, the poet with the head of a thinker,
and Einstein, the thinker with the head of a poet. It seemed
to an observer as though two planets were engaged in a chat.
Einstein also clarified his
religious views, stating that he believed there was an “old
one” who was the ultimate lawgiver. He wrote that he did not
believe in a personal God that intervened in human affairs
but instead believed in the God of the 17th-century Dutch
Jewish philosopher Benedict de Spinoza—the God of harmony
and beauty. His task, he believed, was to formulate a master
theory that would allow him to “read the mind of God.” He
I’m not an atheist and I
don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the
position of a little child entering a huge library filled
with books in many different languages.…The child dimly
suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books
but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the
attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward
Nazi backlash and coming
Inevitably, Einstein’s fame and the great success of his
theories created a backlash. The rising Nazi movement found
a convenient target in relativity, branding it “Jewish
physics” and sponsoring conferences and book burnings to
denounce Einstein and his theories. The Nazis enlisted other
physicists, including Nobel laureates Philipp Lenard and
Johannes Stark, to denounce Einstein. One Hundred Authors
Against Einstein was published in 1931. When asked to
comment on this denunciation of relativity by so many
scientists, Einstein replied that to defeat relativity one
did not need the word of 100 scientists, just one fact.
In December 1932 Einstein
decided to leave Germany forever (he would never go back).
It became obvious to Einstein that his life was in danger. A
Nazi organization published a magazine with Einstein’s
picture and the caption “Not Yet Hanged” on the cover. There
was even a price on his head. So great was the threat that
Einstein split with his pacifist friends and said that it
was justified to defend yourself with arms against Nazi
aggression. To Einstein, pacifism was not an absolute
concept but one that had to be re-examined depending on the
magnitude of the threat.
Einstein settled at the
newly formed Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New
Jersey, which soon became a mecca for physicists from around
the world. Newspaper articles declared that the “pope of
physics” had left Germany and that Princeton had become the
Einstein in 1947
Personal sorrow, World
War II, and the atomic bomb
The 1930s were hard years for Einstein. His son Eduard was
diagnosed with schizophrenia and suffered a mental breakdown
in 1930. (Eduard would be institutionalized for the rest of
his life.) Einstein’s close friend, physicist Paul Ehrenfest,
who helped in the development of general relativity,
committed suicide in 1933. And Einstein’s beloved wife,
Elsa, died in 1936.
To his horror, during the
late 1930s, physicists began seriously to consider whether
his equation E = mc2 might make an atomic bomb possible. In
1920 Einstein himself had considered but eventually
dismissed the possibility. However, he left it open if a
method could be found to magnify the power of the atom. Then
in 1938–39 Otto Hahn, Fritz Strassmann, Lise Meitner, and
Otto Frisch showed that vast amounts of energy could be
unleashed by the splitting of the uranium atom. The news
electrified the physics community.
In July 1939 physicist Leo
Szilard convinced Einstein that he should send a letter to
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt urging him to develop
an atomic bomb. With Einstein’s guidance, Szilard drafted a
letter on August 2 that Einstein signed, and the document
was delivered to Roosevelt by one of his economic advisers,
Alexander Sachs, on October 11. Roosevelt wrote back on
October 19, informing Einstein that he had organized the
Uranium Committee to study the issue.
Einstein was granted
permanent residency in the United States in 1935 and became
an American citizen in 1940, although he chose to retain his
Swiss citizenship. During the war Einstein’s colleagues were
asked to journey to the desert town of Los Alamos, New
Mexico, to develop the first atomic bomb for the Manhattan
Project. Einstein, the man whose equation had set the whole
effort into motion, was never asked to participate.
Voluminous declassified Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) files, numbering several thousand, reveal the reason:
the U.S. government feared Einstein’s lifelong association
with peace and socialist organizations. (FBI director J.
Edgar Hoover went so far as to recommend that Einstein be
kept out of America by the Alien Exclusion Act, but he was
overruled by the U.S. State Department.) Instead, during the
war Einstein was asked to help the U.S. Navy evaluate
designs for future weapons systems. Einstein also helped the
war effort by auctioning off priceless personal manuscripts.
In particular, a handwritten copy of his 1905 paper on
special relativity was sold for $6.5 million. It is now
located in the Library of Congress.
Einstein was on vacation
when he heard the news that an atomic bomb had been dropped
on Japan. Almost immediately he was part of an international
effort to try to bring the atomic bomb under control,
forming the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists.
Einstein, Albert: 70th
birthday [Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.]The physics
community split on the question of whether to build a
hydrogen bomb. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the
atomic bomb project, was stripped of his security clearance
for having suspected leftist associations. Einstein backed
Oppenheimer and opposed the development of the hydrogen
bomb, instead calling for international controls on the
spread of nuclear technology. Einstein also was increasingly
drawn to antiwar activities and to advancing the civil
rights of African Americans.
In 1952 David Ben-Gurion,
Israel’s premier, offered Einstein the post of president of
Israel. Einstein, a prominent figure in the Zionist
movement, respectfully declined.
isolation and death
Although Einstein continued to pioneer many key developments
in the theory of general relativity—such as wormholes,
higher dimensions, the possibility of time travel, the
existence of black holes, and the creation of the
universe—he was increasingly isolated from the rest of the
physics community. Because of the huge strides made by
quantum theory in unraveling the secrets of atoms and
molecules, the majority of physicists were working on the
quantum theory, not relativity. In fact, Einstein would
engage in a series of historic private debates with Niels
Bohr, originator of the Bohr atomic model. Through a series
of sophisticated “thought experiments,” Einstein tried to
find logical inconsistencies in the quantum theory,
particularly its lack of a deterministic mechanism. Einstein
would often say that “God does not play dice with the
In 1935 Einstein’s most
celebrated attack on the quantum theory led to the EPR
(Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen) thought experiment. According to
quantum theory, under certain circumstances two electrons
separated by huge distances would have their properties
linked, as if by an umbilical cord. Under these
circumstances, if the properties of the first electron were
measured, the state of the second electron would be known
instantly—faster than the speed of light. This conclusion,
Einstein claimed, clearly violated relativity. (Experiments
conducted since then have confirmed that the quantum theory,
rather than Einstein, was correct about the EPR experiment.
In essence, what Einstein had actually shown was that
quantum mechanics is nonlocal; i.e., random information can
travel faster than light. This does not violate relativity,
because the information is random and therefore useless.)
The other reason for
Einstein’s increasing detachment from his colleagues was his
obsession, beginning in 1925, with discovering a unified
field theory—an all-embracing theory that would unify the
forces of the universe, and thereby the laws of physics,
into one framework. In his later years he stopped opposing
the quantum theory and tried to incorporate it, along with
light and gravity, into a larger unified field theory.
Gradually Einstein became set in his ways. He rarely
traveled far and confined himself to long walks around
Princeton with close associates, whom he engaged in deep
conversations about politics, religion, physics, and his
unified field theory. In 1950 he published an article on his
theory in Scientific American, but because it neglected the
still-mysterious strong force, it was necessarily
incomplete. When he died five years later of an aortic
aneurysm, it was still unfinished.
In some sense, Einstein, instead of being a relic, may have
been too far ahead of his time. The strong force, a major
piece of any unified field theory, was still a total mystery
in Einstein’s lifetime. Only in the 1970s and ’80s did
physicists begin to unravel the secret of the strong force
with the quark model. Nevertheless, Einstein’s work
continues to win Nobel Prizes for succeeding physicists. In
1993 a Nobel Prize was awarded to the discoverers of
gravitation waves, predicted by Einstein. In 1995 a Nobel
Prize was awarded to the discoverers of Bose-Einstein
condensates (a new form of matter that can occur at
extremely low temperatures). Known black holes now number in
the thousands. New generations of space satellites have
continued to verify the cosmology of Einstein. And many
leading physicists are trying to finish Einstein’s ultimate
dream of a “theory of everything.”
Einstein wrote the
space-time entry for the 13th edition of the Encyclopædia
Albert Einstein (14 March 1879
– 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist. He
developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two
pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics).
Einstein's work is also known for its influence on the
philosophy of science. Einstein is best known in popular
culture for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2
(which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation").
He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his
"services to theoretical physics", in particular his
discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, a pivotal
step in the evolution of quantum theory.
Near the beginning of his
career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no
longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics
with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the
development of his special theory of relativity. He
realized, however, that the principle of relativity could
also be extended to gravitational fields, and with his
subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a
paper on general relativity. He continued to deal with
problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which
led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of
molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of
light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of
light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of
relativity to model the large-scale structure of the
He was visiting the United
States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and, being
Jewish, did not go back to Germany, where he had been a
professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He settled in
the U.S., becoming an American citizen in 1940. On the eve
of World War II, he endorsed a letter to President Franklin
D. Roosevelt alerting him to the potential development of
"extremely powerful bombs of a new type" and recommending
that the U.S. begin similar research. This eventually led to
what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein supported
defending the Allied forces, but largely denounced the idea
of using the newly discovered nuclear fission as a weapon.
Later, with the British philosopher Bertrand Russell,
Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which
highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein was
affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in
Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.
Einstein published more
than 300 scientific papers along with over 150
non-scientific works. On 5 December 2014, universities and
archives announced the release of Einstein's papers,
comprising more than 30,000 unique documents. Einstein's
intellectual achievements and originality have made the word
"Einstein" synonymous with "genius".
Albert Einstein in 1893 (age 14)
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of
Württemberg in the German Empire on 14 March 1879. His
parents were Hermann Einstein, a salesman and engineer, and
Pauline 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 Ashkenazi Jews, and Albert attended a Catholic
elementary school from the age of 5 for three years. At the
age of 8, he was transferred to the Luitpold Gymnasium (now
known as the Albert Einstein Gymnasium), where he received
advanced primary and secondary school education until he
left Germany seven years later.
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 was 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. 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.
In 1895, at the age of 16,
Einstein sat the entrance examinations for the Swiss Federal
Polytechnic in Zürich (later the Eidgenössische Technische
Hochschule, ETH). He failed to reach the required standard
in the general part of the examination, but obtained
exceptional grades in physics and mathematics. On the advice
of the principal of the Polytechnic, he attended the
Argovian cantonal school (gymnasium) in Aarau, 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. (Albert's sister
Maja later married Wintelers' son Paul.) In January 1896,
with his father's approval, he renounced his citizenship in
the German Kingdom of Württemberg to avoid military service.
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. Though only
17, he enrolled in the four-year mathematics and physics
teaching diploma program at the Zürich Polytechnic. Marie
Winteler moved to Olsberg, Switzerland, for a teaching post.
Einstein's future wife,
Mileva Marić, also enrolled at the Polytechnic that same
year. She was 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 Zürich Polytechnic teaching diploma, but Marić failed
the examination with a poor grade in the mathematics
component, theory of functions. There have been claims that
Marić collaborated with Einstein on his celebrated 1905
papers, but historians of physics who have studied the issue
find no evidence that she made any substantive
Marriages and children
The discovery and publication in 1987 of an early
correspondence between Einstein and Marić revealed that they
had had a daughter, called "Lieserl" in their letters, born
in early 1902 in Novi Sad where Marić was staying with her
parents. Marić returned to Switzerland without the child,
whose real name and fate are unknown. Einstein probably
never saw his daughter. The contents of his letter to Marić
in September 1903 suggest that the girl was either adopted
or died of scarlet fever in infancy.
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 Zürich in
July 1910. In 1914, the couple separated; Einstein moved to
Berlin and his wife remained in Zürich with their sons. They
divorced on 14 February 1919, having lived apart for five
years. Eduard, whom his father called "Tete" (for petit),
had a breakdown at about age 20 and was diagnosed with
schizophrenia. His mother cared for him and he was also
committed to asylums for several periods, including
full-time after her death.
The marriage with Marić
does not seem to have been very happy. In letters revealed
in 2015, Einstein wrote to his early love, Marie Winteler,
about his marriage and his still strong feelings for Marie.
In 1910 he wrote to her that "I think of you in heartfelt
love every spare minute and am so unhappy as only a man can
be" while his wife was pregnant with their second child.
Einstein spoke about a "misguided love" and a "missed life"
regarding his love for Marie.
Einstein married Elsa
Löwenthal on 2 June 1919, after having had a relationship
with her since 1912. She was a first cousin maternally and a
second cousin paternally. In 1933, they emigrated to the
United States. In 1935, Elsa Einstein was diagnosed with
heart and kidney problems; she died in December 1936.
Einstein with his wife Elsa
After graduating, Einstein spent almost two frustrating
years searching for a teaching post. He acquired Swiss
citizenship in February 1901, but was not conscripted for
medical reasons. With the help of Marcel Grossmann's father
Einstein secured a job in Bern at the Federal Office for
Intellectual Property, the patent office, as an assistant
examiner. He evaluated patent applications for a variety of
devices including a gravel sorter and an electromechanical
typewriter. 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".
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.
With a few friends he had
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
Einstein at his office, University of Berlin, 1920
In 1900, his paper "Folgerungen aus den
Capillaritätserscheinungen" ("Conclusions from the
Capillarity Phenomena") was published in the prestigious
Annalen der Physik. On 30 April 1905, Einstein completed his
thesis, with Alfred Kleiner, Professor of Experimental
Physics, serving as pro-forma advisor. As a result, Einstein
was awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich, with his
dissertation entitled, "A New Determination of Molecular
Dimensions." That same year, which has been called
Einstein's annus mirabilis (miracle year), he published four
groundbreaking papers, on the photoelectric effect, Brownian
motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of mass and
energy, which were to bring him to the notice of the
By 1908, he was recognized
as a leading scientist and was appointed lecturer at the
University of Bern. The following year, after giving a
lecture on electrodynamics and the relativity principle at
the University of Zurich, Alfred Kleiner recommended him to
the faculty for a newly created professorship in theoretical
physics. Einstein was appointed associate professor in 1909.
Einstein became a full
professor at the German Charles-Ferdinand University in
Prague in April 1911, accepting Austrian citizenship in the
Austro-Hungarian empire to do so. During his Prague stay
Einstein wrote 11 scientific works, 5 of them on radiation
mathematics and on quantum theory of the solids. In July
1912 he returned to his alma mater in Zürich. From 1912
until 1914 he was professor of theoretical physics at the
ETH Zurich, where he taught analytical mechanics and
thermodynamics. He also studied continuum mechanics, the
molecular theory of heat, and the problem of gravitation, on
which he worked with mathematician and his friend Marcel
In 1914, he returned to the
German Empire after being appointed director of the Kaiser
Wilhelm Institute for Physics (1914–1932) and a professor at
the Humboldt University of Berlin, but freed from most
teaching obligations. He soon became a member of the
Prussian Academy of Sciences, and in 1916 was appointed
president of the German Physical Society (1916–1918).
Based on calculations
Einstein made in 1911, about his new theory of general
relativity, light from another star would be bent by the
Sun's gravity. In 1919 that prediction was confirmed by Sir
Arthur Eddington during the solar eclipse of 29 May 1919.
Those observations were published in the international
media, making Einstein world famous. On 7 November 1919, the
leading British newspaper The Times printed a banner
headline that read: "Revolution in Science – New Theory of
the Universe – Newtonian Ideas Overthrown".
In 1920, he became Foreign
Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and
Sciences. In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in
Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, as
relativity was considered still somewhat controversial.
Einstein was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS)
in 1921. He also received the Copley Medal from the Royal
Society in 1925.
Albert Einstein in 1921
Einstein visited New York City for the first time on 2 April
1921, where he received an official welcome by Mayor John
Francis Hylan, followed by three weeks of lectures and
receptions. He went on to deliver several lectures at
Columbia University and Princeton University, and in
Washington he accompanied representatives of the National
Academy of Science on a visit to the White House. On his
return to Europe he was the guest of the British statesman
and philosopher Viscount Haldane in London, where he met
several renowned scientific, intellectual and political
figures, and delivered a lecture at King's College.
He also published an essay,
"My First Impression of the U.S.A.," in July 1921, in which
he tried briefly to describe some characteristics of
Americans, much as had Alexis de Tocqueville, who published
his own impressions in Democracy in America (1835). For some
of his observations, Einstein was clearly surprised: "What
strikes a visitor is the joyous, positive attitude to life .
. . The American is friendly, self-confident, optimistic,
and without envy."
In 1922, his travels took
him to Asia and later to Palestine, as part of a six-month
excursion and speaking tour, as he visited Singapore, Ceylon
and Japan, where he gave a series of lectures to thousands
of Japanese. After his first public lecture, he met the
emperor and empress at the Imperial Palace, where thousands
came to watch. In a letter to his sons, Einstein described
his impression of the Japanese as being modest, intelligent,
considerate, and having a true feel for art.
Because of Einstein's
travels to the Far East, he was unable to personally accept
the Nobel Prize for Physics at the Stockholm award ceremony
in December 1922. In his place, the banquet speech was held
by a German diplomat, who praised Einstein not only as a
scientist but also as an international peacemaker and
On his return voyage, he
visited Palestine for 12 days in what would become his only
visit to that region. Einstein was greeted as if he were a
head of state, rather than a physicist, which included a
cannon salute upon arriving at the home of the British high
commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel. During one reception, the
building was stormed by people who wanted to see and hear
him. In Einstein's talk to the audience, he expressed
happiness that the Jewish people were beginning to be
recognized as a force in the world.
Einstein in New York, 1921, his first visit to the United
1930–1931: Travel to
In December 1930, Einstein visited America for the second
time, originally intended as a two-month working visit as a
research fellow at the California Institute of Technology.
After the national attention he received during his first
trip to the U.S., he and his arrangers aimed to protect his
privacy. Although swamped with telegrams and invitations to
receive awards or speak publicly, he declined them all.
After arriving in New York City, Einstein was taken to
various places and events, including Chinatown, a lunch with
the editors of the New York Times, and a performance of
Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, where he was cheered by
the audience on his arrival. During the days following, he
was given the keys to the city by Mayor Jimmy Walker and met
the president of Columbia University, who described Einstein
as "the ruling monarch of the mind." Harry Emerson Fosdick,
pastor at New York's Riverside Church, gave Einstein a tour
of the church and showed him a full-size statue that the
church made of Einstein, standing at the entrance. Also
during his stay in New York, he joined a crowd of 15,000
people at Madison Square Garden during a Hanukkah
Einstein next traveled to
California where he met Caltech president and Nobel
laureate, Robert A. Millikan. His friendship with Millikan
was "awkward", as Millikan "had a penchant for patriotic
militarism," where Einstein was a pronounced pacifist.
During an address to Caltech's students, Einstein noted that
science was often inclined to do more harm than good.
This aversion to war also
led Einstein to befriend author Upton Sinclair and film star
Charlie Chaplin, both noted for their pacifism. Carl Laemmle,
head of Universal Studios, gave Einstein a tour of his
studio and introduced him to Chaplin. They had an instant
rapport, with Chaplin inviting Einstein and his wife, Elsa,
to his home for dinner. Chaplin said Einstein's outward
persona, calm and gentle, seemed to conceal a "highly
emotional temperament," from which came his "extraordinary
Chaplin also remembers Elsa
telling him about the time Einstein conceived his theory of
relativity. During breakfast one morning, he seemed lost in
thought and ignored his food. She asked him if something was
bothering him. He sat down at his piano and started playing.
He continued playing and writing notes for half an hour,
then went upstairs to his study, where he remained for two
weeks, with Elsa bringing up his food. At the end of the two
weeks he came downstairs with two sheets of paper bearing
Chaplin's film, City
Lights, was to premier a few days later in Hollywood, and
Chaplin invited Einstein and Elsa to join him as his special
guests. Walter Isaacson, Einstein's biographer, described
this as "one of the most memorable scenes in the new era of
celebrity." Einstein and Chaplin arrived together, in black
tie, with Elsa joining them, "beaming." The audience
applauded as they entered the theater. Chaplin visited
Einstein at his home on a later trip to Berlin, and recalled
his "modest little flat" and the piano at which he had begun
writing his theory. Chaplin speculated that it was "possibly
used as kindling wood by the Nazis."
Charlie Chaplin and Einstein at the Hollywood premier of
City Lights, January 1931
1933: Emigration to the
In February 1933 while on a visit to the United States,
Einstein knew he could not return to Germany with the rise
to power of the Nazis under Germany's new chancellor, Adolf
While at American
universities in early 1933, he undertook his third two-month
visiting professorship at the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena. He and his wife Elsa returned to
Belgium by ship in March, and during the trip they learned
that their cottage was raided by the Nazis and his personal
sailboat confiscated. Upon landing in Antwerp on 28 March,
he immediately went to the German consulate and turned in
his passport, formally renouncing his German citizenship. A
few years later, the Nazis sold his boat and turned his
cottage into an Aryan youth camp.
In April 1933, he also discovered that the new German
government had passed laws barring Jews from holding any
official positions, including teaching at universities.
Historian Gerald Holton describes how, with "virtually no
audible protest being raised by their colleagues," thousands
of Jewish scientists were suddenly forced to give up their
university positions and their names were removed from the
rolls of institutions where they were employed.
A month later, Einstein's
works were among those targeted by Nazi book burnings, with
Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels proclaiming,
"Jewish intellectualism is dead." One German magazine
included him in a list of enemies of the German regime with
the phrase, "not yet hanged", offering a $5,000 bounty on
his head. In a subsequent letter to physicist and friend Max
Born, who had already emigrated from Germany to England,
Einstein wrote, "... I must confess that the degree of their
brutality and cowardice came as something of a surprise."
After moving to the U.S., he described the book burnings as
a "spontaneous emotional outburst" by those who "shun
popular enlightenment," and "more than anything else in the
world, fear the influence of men of intellectual
Einstein was now without a permanent home, unsure where he
would live and work, and equally worried about the fate of
countless other scientists still in Germany. He rented a
house in De Haan, Belgium, where he lived for a few months.
In late July 1933, he went to England for about six weeks at
the personal invitation of British naval officer Commander
Oliver Locker-Lampson, who had become friends with Einstein
in the preceding years. To protect Einstein, Locker-Lampson
secretly had two assistants watch over him at his secluded
cottage outside London, with the press publishing a photo of
them guarding Einstein.
Einstein to meet Winston Churchill at his home, and later,
Austen Chamberlain and former Prime Minister Lloyd George.
Einstein asked them to help bring Jewish scientists out of
Germany. British historian Martin Gilbert notes that
Churchill responded immediately, and sent his friend,
physicist Frederick Lindemann to Germany to seek out Jewish
scientists and place them in British universities. Churchill
later observed that as a result of Germany having driven the
Jews out, they had lowered their "technical standards" and
put the Allies' technology ahead of theirs.
Einstein later contacted
leaders of other nations, including Turkey's Prime Minister,
İsmet İnönü, to whom he wrote in September 1933 requesting
placement of unemployed German-Jewish scientists. As a
result of Einstein's letter, Jewish invitees to Turkey
eventually totaled over "1,000 saved individuals."
submitted a bill to parliament to extend British citizenship
to Einstein, during which period Einstein made a number of
public appearances describing the crisis brewing in Europe.
The bill failed to become law, however, and Einstein then
accepted an earlier offer from the Princeton Institute for
Advanced Study, in the U.S., to become a resident scholar.
Albert Einstein with his wife Elsa Einstein and Zionist
leaders, including future President of Israel Chaim Weizmann,
his wife Vera Weizmann, Menahem Ussishkin, and Ben-Zion
Mossinson on arrival in New York City in 1921
Resident scholar at the
Institute for Advanced Study
In October 1933 Einstein returned to the U.S. and took up a
position at the Institute for Advanced Study (in Princeton,
New Jersey), noted for having become a refuge for scientists
fleeing Nazi Germany. At the time, most American
universities, including Harvard, Princeton and Yale, had
minimal or no Jewish faculty or students, as a result of
their Jewish quota which lasted until the late 1940s.
Einstein was still
undecided on his future. He had offers from several European
universities, including Oxford where he stayed for three
short periods between May 1931 and June 1933, but in 1935 he
arrived at the decision to remain permanently in the United
States and apply for citizenship.
Einstein's affiliation with
the Institute for Advanced Study would last until his death
in 1955. He was one of the four first selected (two of the
others being John von Neumann and Kurt Gödel) at the new
Institute, where he soon developed a close friendship with
Gödel. The two would take long walks together discussing
their work. Bruria Kaufman, his assistant, later became a
physicist. During this period, Einstein tried to develop a
unified field theory and to refute the accepted
interpretation of quantum physics, both unsuccessfully.
World War II and the
In 1939, a group of Hungarian scientists that included
émigré physicist Leó Szilárd attempted to alert Washington
of ongoing Nazi atomic bomb research. The group's warnings
were discounted. Einstein and Szilárd, along with other
refugees such as Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner, "regarded
it as their responsibility to alert Americans to the
possibility that German scientists might win the race to
build an atomic bomb, and to warn that Hitler would be more
than willing to resort to such a weapon."
To make certain the U.S. was aware of the danger, in July
1939, a few months before the beginning of World War II in
Europe, Szilárd and Wigner visited Einstein to explain the
possibility of atomic bombs, which Einstein, a pacifist,
said he had never considered. He was asked to lend his
support by writing a letter, with Szilárd, to President
Roosevelt, recommending the U.S. pay attention and engage in
its own nuclear weapons research. A secret German facility,
apparently the largest of the Third Reich, covering 75 acres
in an underground complex, was being re-excavated in Austria
in December 2014 and may have been planned for use in
nuclear research and development.
The letter is believed to
be "arguably the key stimulus for the U.S. adoption of
serious investigations into nuclear weapons on the eve of
the U.S. entry into World War II". In addition to the
letter, Einstein used his connections with the Belgian Royal
Family and the Belgian queen mother to get access with a
personal envoy to the White House's Oval Office. President
Roosevelt could not take the risk of allowing Hitler to
possess atomic bombs first. As a result of Einstein's letter
and his meetings with Roosevelt, the U.S. entered the "race"
to develop the bomb, drawing on its "immense material,
financial, and scientific resources" to initiate the
Manhattan Project. It became the only country to
successfully develop an atomic bomb during World War II.
For Einstein, "war was a
disease ... [and] he called for resistance to war." By
signing the letter to Roosevelt he went against his pacifist
principles. In 1954, a year before his death, Einstein said
to his old friend, Linus Pauling, "I made one great mistake
in my life—when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt
recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some
justification—the danger that the Germans would make them
Einstein and Niels Bohr, 1925
Einstein became an American citizen in 1940. Not long after
settling into his career at the Institute for Advanced Study
(in Princeton, New Jersey), he expressed his appreciation of
the meritocracy in American culture when compared to Europe.
He recognized the "right of individuals to say and think
what they pleased", without social barriers, and as a
result, individuals were encouraged, he said, to be more
creative, a trait he valued from his own early education.
Supporter of civil rights
Einstein was a passionate, committed antiracist and joined
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP) in Princeton, where he campaigned for the civil
rights of African Americans. He considered racism America's
"worst disease," seeing it as "handed down from one
generation to the next." As part of his involvement, he
corresponded with civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois and
was prepared to testify on his behalf during his trial in
1951. When Einstein offered to be a character witness for Du
Bois, the judge decided to drop the case.
In 1946 Einstein visited Lincoln University in Pennsylvania
where he was awarded an honorary degree. Lincoln was the
first university in the United States to grant college
degrees to blacks, including Langston Hughes and Thurgood
Marshall. To its students, Einstein gave a speech about
racism in America, adding, "I do not intend to be quiet
about it." A resident of Princeton recalls that Einstein had
once paid the college tuition for a black student, and black
physicist Sylvester James Gates states that Einstein had
been one of his early science heroes, later finding out
about Einstein's support for civil rights.
Assisting Zionist causes
Einstein was a figurehead leader in helping establish the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which opened in 1925, and
was among its first Board of Governors. Earlier, in 1921, he
was asked by the biochemist and president of the World
Zionist Organization, Chaim Weizmann, to help raise funds
for the planned university. He also submitted various
suggestions as to its initial programs.
Among those, he advised
first creating an Institute of Agriculture in order to
settle the undeveloped land. That should be followed, he
suggested, by a Chemical Institute and an Institute of
Microbiology, to fight the various ongoing epidemics such as
malaria, which he called an "evil" that was undermining a
third of the country's development. Establishing an Oriental
Studies Institute, to include language courses given in both
Hebrew and Arabic, for scientific exploration of the country
and its historical monuments, was also important.
Chaim Weizmann later became
Israel's first president. Upon his death while in office in
November 1952 and at the urging of Ezriel Carlebach, Prime
Minister David Ben-Gurion offered Einstein the position of
President of Israel, a mostly ceremonial post. The offer was
presented by Israel's ambassador in Washington, Abba Eban,
who explained that the offer "embodies the deepest respect
which the Jewish people can repose in any of its sons".
Einstein declined, and wrote in his response that he was
"deeply moved", and "at once saddened and ashamed" that he
could not accept it.
Albert Einstein playing violin
Love of music
Einstein developed an appreciation of music at an early age.
His mother played the piano reasonably well and wanted her
son to learn the violin, not only to instill in him a love
of music but also to help him assimilate into German
culture. According to conductor Leon Botstein, Einstein is
said to have begun playing when he was 5, although he did
not enjoy it at that age.
When he turned 13 he discovered the violin sonatas of
Mozart, whereupon "Einstein fell in love" with Mozart's
music and studied music more willingly. He taught himself to
play without "ever practicing systematically", he said,
deciding that "love is a better teacher than a sense of
duty." At age 17, he was heard by a school examiner in Aarau
as he played Beethoven's violin sonatas, the examiner
stating afterward that his playing was "remarkable and
revealing of 'great insight'." What struck the examiner,
writes Botstein, was that Einstein "displayed a deep love of
the music, a quality that was and remains in short supply.
Music possessed an unusual meaning for this student."
Music took on a pivotal and
permanent role in Einstein's life from that period on.
Although the idea of becoming a professional himself was not
on his mind at any time, among those with whom Einstein
played chamber music were a few professionals, and he
performed for private audiences and friends. Chamber music
had also become a regular part of his social life while
living in Bern, Zürich, and Berlin, where he played with Max
Planck and his son, among others. He is sometimes
erroneously credited as the editor of the 1937 edition of
the Köchel catalogue of Mozart's work; that edition was
actually prepared by Alfred Einstein.
In 1931, while engaged in
research at the California Institute of Technology, he
visited the Zoellner family conservatory in Los Angeles,
where he played some of Beethoven and Mozart's works with
members of the Zoellner Quartet. Near the end of his life,
when the young Juilliard Quartet visited him in Princeton,
he played his violin with them, and the quartet was
"impressed by Einstein's level of coordination and
First Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Einstein
at his house in Princeton, 1949
Political and religious
Einstein's political view was in favor of socialism and
critical of capitalism, which he detailed in his essays such
as "Why Socialism?". Einstein offered and was called on to
give judgments and opinions on matters often unrelated to
theoretical physics or mathematics. He strongly advocated
the idea of a democratic global government that would check
the power of nation-states in the framework of a world
Einstein's views about
religious belief have been collected from interviews and
original writings. He called himself an agnostic, while
disassociating himself from the label atheist. He said he
believed in the "pantheistic" God of Baruch Spinoza, but not
in a personal god, a belief he criticized. Einstein once
wrote: "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never
denied this but expressed it clearly".
On 17 April 1955, Albert Einstein experienced internal
bleeding caused by the rupture of an abdominal aortic
aneurysm, which had previously been reinforced surgically by
Rudolph Nissen in 1948. He took the draft of a speech he was
preparing for a television appearance commemorating the
State of Israel's seventh anniversary with him to the
hospital, but he did not live long enough to complete it.
Einstein refused surgery,
saying: "I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to
prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time
to go. I will do it elegantly." He died in Princeton
Hospital early the next morning at the age of 76, having
continued to work until near the end.
During the autopsy, the
pathologist of Princeton Hospital, Thomas Stoltz Harvey,
removed Einstein's brain for preservation without the
permission of his family, in the hope that the neuroscience
of the future would be able to discover what made Einstein
so intelligent. Einstein's remains were cremated and his
ashes were scattered at an undisclosed location.
In his lecture at
Einstein's memorial, nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer
summarized his impression of him as a person: "He was almost
wholly without sophistication and wholly without worldliness
... There was always with him a wonderful purity at once
childlike and profoundly stubborn."
Throughout his life, Einstein published hundreds of books
and articles. He published more than 300 scientific papers
and 150 non-scientific ones. On 5 December 2014,
universities and archives announced the release of
Einstein's papers, comprising more than 30,000 unique
documents. Einstein's intellectual achievements and
originality have made the word "Einstein" synonymous with
"genius". In addition to the work he did by himself he also
collaborated with other scientists on additional projects
including the Bose–Einstein statistics, the Einstein
refrigerator and others.
1905 – Annus Mirabilis
The Annus Mirabilis papers are four articles pertaining to
the photoelectric effect (which gave rise to quantum
theory), Brownian motion, the special theory of relativity,
and E = mc2 that Albert Einstein published in the Annalen
der Physik scientific journal in 1905. These four works
contributed substantially to the foundation of modern
physics and changed views on space, time, and matter. The
four papers are:
Thermodynamic fluctuations and statistical physics
Albert Einstein's first paper submitted in 1900 to Annalen
der Physik was on capillary attraction. It was published in
1901 with the title "Folgerungen aus den
Capillaritätserscheinungen", which translates as
"Conclusions from the capillarity phenomena". Two papers he
published in 1902–1903 (thermodynamics) attempted to
interpret atomic phenomena from a statistical point of view.
These papers were the foundation for the 1905 paper on
Brownian motion, which showed that Brownian movement can be
construed as firm evidence that molecules exist. His
research in 1903 and 1904 was mainly concerned with the
effect of finite atomic size on diffusion phenomena.
He articulated the principle of relativity. This was
understood by Hermann Minkowski to be a generalization of
rotational invariance from space to space-time. Other
principles postulated by Einstein and later vindicated are
the principle of equivalence and the principle of adiabatic
invariance of the quantum number.
Theory of relativity and
E = mc²
Einstein's "Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper" ("On the
Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies") was received on 30 June
1905 and published 26 September of that same year. It
reconciles Maxwell's equations for electricity and magnetism
with the laws of mechanics, by introducing major changes to
mechanics close to the speed of light. This later became
known as Einstein's special theory of relativity.
Consequences of this
include the time-space frame of a moving body appearing to
slow down and contract (in the direction of motion) when
measured in the frame of the observer. This paper also
argued that the idea of a luminiferous aether—one of the
leading theoretical entities in physics at the time—was
In his paper on mass–energy
equivalence, Einstein produced E = mc2 from his special
relativity equations. Einstein's 1905 work on relativity
remained controversial for many years, but was accepted by
leading physicists, starting with Max Planck.
Photons and energy
In a 1905 paper, Einstein postulated that light itself
consists of localized particles (quanta). Einstein's light
quanta were nearly universally rejected by all physicists,
including Max Planck and Niels Bohr. This idea only became
universally accepted in 1919, with Robert Millikan's
detailed experiments on the photoelectric effect, and with
the measurement of Compton scattering.
Einstein concluded that
each wave of frequency f is associated with a collection of
photons with energy hf each, where h is Planck's constant.
He does not say much more, because he is not sure how the
particles are related to the wave. But he does suggest that
this idea would explain certain experimental results,
notably the photoelectric effect.
In 1907, Einstein proposed a model of matter where each atom
in a lattice structure is an independent harmonic
oscillator. In the Einstein model, each atom oscillates
independently—a series of equally spaced quantized states
for each oscillator. Einstein was aware that getting the
frequency of the actual oscillations would be different, but
he nevertheless proposed this theory because it was a
particularly clear demonstration that quantum mechanics
could solve the specific heat problem in classical
mechanics. Peter Debye refined this model.
Adiabatic principle and
Throughout the 1910s, quantum mechanics expanded in scope to
cover many different systems. After Ernest Rutherford
discovered the nucleus and proposed that electrons orbit
like planets, Niels Bohr was able to show that the same
quantum mechanical postulates introduced by Planck and
developed by Einstein would explain the discrete motion of
electrons in atoms, and the periodic table of the elements.
Einstein contributed to
these developments by linking them with the 1898 arguments
Wilhelm Wien had made. Wien had shown that the hypothesis of
adiabatic invariance of a thermal equilibrium state allows
all the blackbody curves at different temperature to be
derived from one another by a simple shifting process.
Einstein noted in 1911 that the same adiabatic principle
shows that the quantity which is quantized in any mechanical
motion must be an adiabatic invariant. Arnold Sommerfeld
identified this adiabatic invariant as the action variable
of classical mechanics.
Einstein with writer and musician and Nobel laureate
Rabindranath Tagore, 1930
Although the patent office promoted Einstein to Technical
Examiner Second Class in 1906, he had not given up on
academia. In 1908, he became a Privatdozent at the
University of Bern. In "über die Entwicklung unserer
Anschauungen über das Wesen und die Konstitution der
Strahlung" ("The Development of our Views on the Composition
and Essence of Radiation"), on the quantization of light,
and in an earlier 1909 paper, Einstein showed that Max
Planck's energy quanta must have well-defined momenta and
act in some respects as independent, point-like particles.
This paper introduced the photon concept (although the name
photon was introduced later by Gilbert N. Lewis in 1926) and
inspired the notion of wave–particle duality in quantum
mechanics. Einstein saw this wave-particle duality in
radiation as concrete evidence for his conviction that
physics needed a new, unified foundation.
Theory of critical
Einstein returned to the problem of thermodynamic
fluctuations, giving a treatment of the density variations
in a fluid at its critical point. Ordinarily the density
fluctuations are controlled by the second derivative of the
free energy with respect to the density. At the critical
point, this derivative is zero, leading to large
fluctuations. The effect of density fluctuations is that
light of all wavelengths is scattered, making the fluid look
milky white. Einstein relates this to Rayleigh scattering,
which is what happens when the fluctuation size is much
smaller than the wavelength, and which explains why the sky
is blue. Einstein quantitatively derived critical
opalescence from a treatment of density fluctuations, and
demonstrated how both the effect and Rayleigh scattering
originate from the atomistic constitution of matter.
In a series of works completed from 1911 to 1913, Planck
reformulated his 1900 quantum theory and introduced the idea
of zero-point energy in his "second quantum theory." Soon,
this idea attracted the attention of Albert Einstein and his
assistant Otto Stern. Assuming the energy of rotating
diatomic molecules contains zero-point energy, they then
compared the theoretical specific heat of hydrogen gas with
the experimental data. The numbers matched nicely. However,
after publishing the findings, they promptly withdrew their
support, because they no longer had confidence in the
correctness of the idea of zero-point energy.
General relativity and
the equivalence principle
General relativity (GR) is a theory of gravitation that was
developed by Albert Einstein between 1907 and 1915.
According to general relativity, the observed gravitational
attraction between masses results from the warping of space
and time by those masses. General relativity has developed
into an essential tool in modern astrophysics. It provides
the foundation for the current understanding of black holes,
regions of space where gravitational attraction is so strong
that not even light can escape.
As Albert Einstein later
said, the reason for the development of general relativity
was that the preference of inertial motions within special
relativity was unsatisfactory, while a theory which from the
outset prefers no state of motion (even accelerated ones)
should appear more satisfactory. Consequently, in 1907 he
published an article on acceleration under special
relativity. In that article titled "On the Relativity
Principle and the Conclusions Drawn from It", he argued that
free fall is really inertial motion, and that for a
free-falling observer the rules of special relativity must
apply. This argument is called the equivalence principle. In
the same article, Einstein also predicted the phenomena of
gravitational time dilation, gravitational red shift and
deflection of light.
In 1911, Einstein published
another article "On the Influence of Gravitation on the
Propagation of Light" expanding on the 1907 article, in
which he estimated the amount of deflection of light by
massive bodies. Thus, the theoretical prediction of general
relativity can for the first time be tested experimentally.
Hole argument and
While developing general relativity, Einstein became
confused about the gauge invariance in the theory. He
formulated an argument that led him to conclude that a
general relativistic field theory is impossible. He gave up
looking for fully generally covariant tensor equations, and
searched for equations that would be invariant under general
linear transformations only.
In June 1913, the Entwurf
("draft") theory was the result of these investigations. As
its name suggests, it was a sketch of a theory, less elegant
and more difficult than general relativity, with the
equations of motion supplemented by additional gauge fixing
conditions. After more than two years of intensive work,
Einstein realized that the hole argument was mistaken and
abandoned the theory in November 1915.
Einstein accepting U.S. citizenship certificate from judge
In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity
to the structure of the universe as a whole. He discovered
that the general field equations predicted a universe that
was dynamic, either contracting or expanding. As
observational evidence for a dynamic universe was not known
at the time, Einstein introduced a new term, the
cosmological constant, to the field equations, in order to
allow the theory to predict a static universe. The modified
field equations predicted a static universe of closed
curvature, in accordance with Einstein's understanding of
Mach's principle in these years.
Following the discovery of
the recession of the nebulae by Edwin Hubble in 1929,
Einstein abandoned his static model of the universe, and
proposed two dynamic models of the cosmos, the
Friedman-Einstein model of 1931 and the Einstein-deSitter
model of 1932. In each of these models, Einstein discarded
the cosmological constant, claiming that it was "in any case
In many Einstein
biographies, it is claimed that Einstein referred to the
cosmological constant in later years as his "biggest
blunder". The astrophysicist Mario Livio has recently cast
doubt on this claim, suggesting that it may be exaggerated.
In late 2013, a team led by
the Irish physicist Cormac O'Raifeartaigh discovered
evidence that, shortly after learning of Hubble's
observations of the recession of the nebulae, Einstein
considered a steady-state model of the universe. In a
hitherto overlooked manuscript, apparently written in early
1931, Einstein explored a model of the expanding universe in
which the density of matter remains constant due to a
continuous creation of matter, a process he associated with
the cosmological constant. As he stated in the paper, "In
what follows, I would like to draw attention to a solution
to equation (1) that can account for Hubbel's [sic] facts,
and in which the density is constant over time"..."If one
considers a physically bounded volume, particles of matter
will be continually leaving it. For the density to remain
constant, new particles of matter must be continually formed
in the volume from space."
It thus appears that
Einstein considered a Steady State model of the expanding
universe many years before Hoyle, Bondi and Gold. However,
Einstein's steady-state model contained a fundamental flaw
and he quickly abandoned the idea.
Modern quantum theory
Einstein was displeased with quantum theory and quantum
mechanics (the very theory he helped create), despite its
acceptance by other physicists, stating that God "is not
playing at dice." Einstein continued to maintain his
disbelief in the theory, and attempted unsuccessfully to
disprove it until he died at the age of 76. In 1917, at the
height of his work on relativity, Einstein published an
article in Physikalische Zeitschrift that proposed the
possibility of stimulated emission, the physical process
that makes possible the maser and the laser. This article
showed that the statistics of absorption and emission of
light would only be consistent with Planck's distribution
law if the emission of light into a mode with n photons
would be enhanced statistically compared to the emission of
light into an empty mode. This paper was enormously
influential in the later development of quantum mechanics,
because it was the first paper to show that the statistics
of atomic transitions had simple laws. Einstein discovered
Louis de Broglie's work, and supported his ideas, which were
received skeptically at first. In another major paper from
this era, Einstein gave a wave equation for de Broglie
waves, which Einstein suggested was the Hamilton–Jacobi
equation of mechanics. This paper would inspire
Schrödinger's work of 1926.
In 1924, Einstein received a description of a statistical
model from Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, based on a
counting method that assumed that light could be understood
as a gas of indistinguishable particles. Einstein noted that
Bose's statistics applied to some atoms as well as to the
proposed light particles, and submitted his translation of
Bose's paper to the Zeitschrift für Physik. Einstein also
published his own articles describing the model and its
implications, among them the Bose–Einstein condensate
phenomenon that some particulates should appear at very low
temperatures. It was not until 1995 that the first such
condensate was produced experimentally by Eric Allin Cornell
and Carl Wieman using ultra-cooling equipment built at the
NIST–JILA laboratory at the University of Colorado at
Boulder. Bose–Einstein statistics are now used to describe
the behaviors of any assembly of bosons. Einstein's sketches
for this project may be seen in the Einstein Archive in the
library of the Leiden University.
General relativity includes a dynamical spacetime, so it is
difficult to see how to identify the conserved energy and
momentum. Noether's theorem allows these quantities to be
determined from a Lagrangian with translation invariance,
but general covariance makes translation invariance into
something of a gauge symmetry. The energy and momentum
derived within general relativity by Noether's
presecriptions do not make a real tensor for this reason.
Einstein argued that this
is true for fundamental reasons, because the gravitational
field could be made to vanish by a choice of coordinates. He
maintained that the non-covariant energy momentum
pseudotensor was in fact the best description of the energy
momentum distribution in a gravitational field. This
approach has been echoed by Lev Landau and Evgeny Lifshitz,
and others, and has become standard.
The use of non-covariant
objects like pseudotensors was heavily criticized in 1917 by
Erwin Schrödinger and others.
Unified field theory
Following his research on general relativity, Einstein
entered into a series of attempts to generalize his
geometric theory of gravitation to include electromagnetism
as another aspect of a single entity. In 1950, he described
his "unified field theory" in a Scientific American article
entitled "On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation".
Although he continued to be lauded for his work, Einstein
became increasingly isolated in his research, and his
efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. In his pursuit of a
unification of the fundamental forces, Einstein ignored some
mainstream developments in physics, most notably the strong
and weak nuclear forces, which were not well understood
until many years after his death. Mainstream physics, in
turn, largely ignored Einstein's approaches to unification.
Einstein's dream of unifying other laws of physics with
gravity motivates modern quests for a theory of everything
and in particular string theory, where geometrical fields
emerge in a unified quantum-mechanical setting.
Einstein collaborated with others to produce a model of a
wormhole. His motivation was to model elementary particles
with charge as a solution of gravitational field equations,
in line with the program outlined in the paper "Do
Gravitational Fields play an Important Role in the
Constitution of the Elementary Particles?". These solutions
cut and pasted Schwarzschild black holes to make a bridge
between two patches.
If one end of a wormhole
was positively charged, the other end would be negatively
charged. These properties led Einstein to believe that pairs
of particles and antiparticles could be described in this
In order to incorporate spinning point particles into
general relativity, the affine connection needed to be
generalized to include an antisymmetric part, called the
torsion. This modification was made by Einstein and Cartan
in the 1920s.
Equations of motion
The theory of general relativity has a fundamental law—the
Einstein equations which describe how space curves, the
geodesic equation which describes how particles move may be
derived from the Einstein equations.
Since the equations of
general relativity are non-linear, a lump of energy made out
of pure gravitational fields, like a black hole, would move
on a trajectory which is determined by the Einstein
equations themselves, not by a new law. So Einstein proposed
that the path of a singular solution, like a black hole,
would be determined to be a geodesic from general relativity
This was established by
Einstein, Infeld, and Hoffmann for pointlike objects without
angular momentum, and by Roy Kerr for spinning objects.
Einstein conducted other investigations that were
unsuccessful and abandoned. These pertain to force,
superconductivity, gravitational waves, and other research.
Collaboration with other
In addition to longtime collaborators Leopold Infeld, Nathan
Rosen, Peter Bergmann and others, Einstein also had some
one-shot collaborations with various scientists.
Einstein and De Haas demonstrated that magnetization is due
to the motion of electrons, nowadays known to be the spin.
In order to show this, they reversed the magnetization in an
iron bar suspended on a torsion pendulum. They confirmed
that this leads the bar to rotate, because the electron's
angular momentum changes as the magnetization changes. This
experiment needed to be sensitive, because the angular
momentum associated with electrons is small, but it
definitively established that electron motion of some kind
is responsible for magnetization.
Schrödinger gas model
Einstein suggested to Erwin Schrödinger that he might be
able to reproduce the statistics of a Bose–Einstein gas by
considering a box. Then to each possible quantum motion of a
particle in a box associate an independent harmonic
oscillator. Quantizing these oscillators, each level will
have an integer occupation number, which will be the number
of particles in it.
This formulation is a form
of second quantization, but it predates modern quantum
mechanics. Erwin Schrödinger applied this to derive the
thermodynamic properties of a semiclassical ideal gas.
Schrödinger urged Einstein to add his name as co-author,
although Einstein declined the invitation.
In 1926, Einstein and his former student Leó Szilárd
co-invented (and in 1930, patented) the Einstein
refrigerator. This absorption refrigerator was then
revolutionary for having no moving parts and using only heat
as an input. On 11 November 1930, U.S. Patent 1,781,541 was
awarded to Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd for the
refrigerator. Their invention was not immediately put into
commercial production, and the most promising of their
patents were acquired by the Swedish company Electrolux.
Bohr versus Einstein
The Bohr–Einstein debates were a series of public disputes
about quantum mechanics between Albert Einstein and Niels
Bohr who were two of its founders. Their debates are
remembered because of their importance to the philosophy of
In 1935, Einstein returned to the question of quantum
mechanics. He considered how a measurement on one of two
entangled particles would affect the other. He noted, along
with his collaborators, that by performing different
measurements on the distant particle, either of position or
momentum, different properties of the entangled partner
could be discovered without disturbing it in any way.
He then used a hypothesis
of local realism to conclude that the other particle had
these properties already determined. The principle he
proposed is that if it is possible to determine what the
answer to a position or momentum measurement would be,
without in any way disturbing the particle, then the
particle actually has values of position or momentum.
This principle distilled
the essence of Einstein's objection to quantum mechanics. As
a physical principle, it was shown to be incorrect when the
Aspect experiment of 1982 confirmed Bell's theorem, which
had been promulgated in 1964.
While traveling, Einstein wrote daily to his wife Elsa and
adopted stepdaughters Margot and Ilse. The letters were
included in the papers bequeathed to The Hebrew University.
Margot Einstein permitted the personal letters to be made
available to the public, but requested that it not be done
until twenty years after her death (she died in 1986).
Barbara Wolff, of The Hebrew University's Albert Einstein
Archives, told the BBC that there are about 3,500 pages of
private correspondence written between 1912 and 1955.
Corbis, successor to The
Roger Richman Agency, licenses the use of his name and
associated imagery, as agent for the university.
In popular culture
In the period before World War II, The New Yorker published
a vignette in their "The Talk of the Town" feature saying
that Einstein was so well known in America that he would be
stopped on the street by people wanting him to explain "that
theory". He finally figured out a way to handle the
incessant inquiries. He told his inquirers "Pardon me,
sorry! Always I am mistaken for Professor Einstein."
Einstein has been the
subject of or inspiration for many novels, films, plays, and
works of music. He is a favorite model for depictions of mad
scientists and absent-minded professors; his expressive face
and distinctive hairstyle have been widely copied and
exaggerated. Time magazine's Frederic Golden wrote that
Einstein was "a cartoonist's dream come true".
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A happy man is too satisfied with the present
to think too much about the future.
Written at age seventeen
(September 18, 1896) for a school French essay entitled
"My Future Plans."CPAE,
Vol. 1, Doc. 22
* Strenuous intellectual work and the study
of God's Nature are the angels that will lead me through all
the troubles of this life with consolation, strength, and
To Pauline Winteler,
mother of Einstein's girlfriend Marie, ca. May 1897.CPAE,
Vol. 1, Doc. 34
I decided the following about our future: I
will look for a positionimmediately,
no matter how humble it is. My scientific goals and my
personal vanity will not prevent me from accepting even the
most subordinate position.
To future wife Mileva
Maric, July 7, 1901, while having difficulty finding his
Vol. 1, Doc. 114
I have come to know the mutability of all
human relationships and have learned to insulate myself
against both heat and cold so that a temperature balance is
fairly well assured.
To Heinrich Zangger, March
Vol. 8, Doc. 309
* I am by heritage a Jew, by citizenship a
Swiss, and by makeup a human being, andonlya
human being, without any special attachment to any state or
national entity whatsoever.
To Alfred Kneser, June 7,
Vol. 8, Doc. 560
* I was originally supposed to become an
engineer, but the thought of having to expend my creative
energy on things that make practical everyday life even more
refined, with a loathsome capital gain as the goal, was
unbearable to me.
To Heinrich Zangger, ca.
August 11, 1918.CPAE,
Vol. 8, Doc. 597
Here is yet another application of the
principle of relativity ...: today I am described in Germany
as a "German savant" and in England as a "Swiss Jew." Should
it ever be my fate to be represented as a bête noire, I
should, on the contrary, become a "Swiss Jew" for the
Germans and a "German savant" for the English.
1919. Quoted in Hoffmann,Albert
Einstein: Creator and Rebel, 139; also quoted in
His Life and Times, 144
* I have not yet eaten enough of the Tree of
Knowledge, though in my profession I am obliged to feed on
To Max Born, November 9,
1919. In Born,Born-Einstein
With fame I become more and more stupid,
which of course is a very common phenomenon.
To Heinrich Zangger,
December 1919. Einstein Archive 39-726; also quoted in
Dukas and Hoffmann,Albert
Einstein, the Human Side, 8
* My father's ashes lie in Milan. I buried my
mother here [Berlin] only a few days ago. My children are in
Switzerland.... I myself have journeyed everywhere
continuously-a stranger everywhere.... A person like me is
at home anywhere with those near and dear to him.
To Max Born, March 3,
1920. In Born,Born-Einstein
Let me tell you what I look like: pale face,
long hair, and a tiny start of a paunch. In addition, an
awkward gait, and a cigar in the mouth ... and a pen in
pocket or hand. But crooked legs and warts he does not have,
and so is quite handsome-also there's no hair on his hands,
as is so often the case with ugly men. So it really is a
pity that you didn't see me.
Postcard to eight-year-old
cousin Elisabeth Ney, September 1920. Einstein Archive
36-525; also quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann,Albert
Einstein, the Human Side, 44
Just as with the man in the fairy tale who
turned whatever he touched into gold, with me everything is
turned into newspaper clamor.
To Max Born, September 9,
1920. Einstein Archive 8-151
Personally, I experience the greatest degree
of pleasure in having contact with works of art. They
furnish me with happy feelings of an intensity that I cannot
derive from other sources.
1920. In Moszkowski,Conversations
with Einstein, 184
It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad
taste, to select a few individuals for boundless admiration,
attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them.
This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular
assessment of my powers and achievements and the reality is
From an interview,Nieuwe
Rotterdamsche Courant, 1921; reprinted inIdeas
and Opinions, 3-7
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.
From an address to the
French Philosophical Society at the Sorbonne, April 6,
1922. See also French press clipping, April 7, 1922,
Einstein Archive 36-378; andBerliner
Tageblatt, April 8, 1922, Einstein Archive 79-535
* When a blind beetle crawls over the surface
of a curved branch, it doesn't notice that the track it has
covered is indeed curved. I was lucky enough to notice what
the beetle didn't notice.
In answer to his son
Eduard's question about why he is so famous, 1922.
Quoted in Max Flückiger,Albert
Einstein in Bern(Bern:
Haupt, 1961); also quoted inGrüning,
Ein Haus für Albert Einstein,498
* Now I am sitting peacefully in Holland
after being told that certain people in Germany have it in
for me as a "Jewish saint." In Stuttgart there was even a
poster in which I appeared in first place among the richest
To sons Hans Albert and
Eduard, November 24, 1923
* [I] must seek in the stars that which was
denied [to me] on earth.
To his secretary Bette
Neumann, ca. 1923-1924, with whom he had fallen in love,
upon ending his relationship with her. See Pais,Subtle
Is the Lord, 320, and Fölsing,Albert
* Of all the communities available to us,
there is not one I would want to devote myself to except for
the society of the true seekers, which has very few living
members at any one time.
To Max and Hedwig Born,
April 29, 1924. In Born,Born-Einstein
* Imagination is more important than
knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination
embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving
birth to evolution.
Originally in "What Life
Means to Einstein,"Saturday
Evening Post, October 26, 1929; reprinted in "On
To punish me for my contempt of authority,
Fate has made me an authority myself.
Aphorism for a friend,
September 18, 1930. Einstein Archive 36-598; also quoted
in Hoffmann,Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel,
I am an artist's model.
To a fellow train
passenger, October 31, 1930, who asked him his
occupation, reflecting Einstein's feeling that he was
constantly posing for sculptures and paintings. Einstein
Archive 21-006; also quoted in ibid., 4
I have never looked upon ease and happiness
as ends in themselves-such an ethical basis I call the ideal
of a pigsty.... The ideals which have guided my way, and
time after time have given me the energy to face life, have
been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.
From "What I Believe,"Forum
(1930), 193-194; reprinted inIdeas
and Opinions, 8-11
I am truly a "lone traveler" 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
this, I have never lost a sense of distance and the need for
Ibid. Sometimes translated
as "I am a lone wolf" and "I am a horse for a single
A hundred times a day I remind myself that my
inner and outer lives are based on the labors of other
people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in
order to give in the same measure as I have received and am
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 or merit of my own.
Professor Einstein begs you to treat your
publications for the time being as if he were already dead.
Written on Einstein's
behalf by his secretary, Helen Dukas, March 1931, after
he was besieged by one manuscript too many. Einstein
Although I am a typical loner in my daily
life, my awareness of belonging to the invisible community
of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has
prevented me from feelings of isolation.
From "My Credo," for the
German League for Human Rights, 1932. Quoted in Leach,Living
Although I try to be universal in thought, I
am European by instinct and inclination.
September 11, 1933. Quoted in Holton,Advancement
of Science, 126
People flatter me so long as I don't get in
their way. [At other times] they immediately turn to abuse
and calumny in defense of their interests.
To a pacifist friend.
54; reprinted inIdeas
and Opinions, 110
* To be called to account publicly for whatothershave
said in your name, when you cannot defend yourself, is a sad
From "Interviewers," in
ibid., 40 and 15, respectively
* My life is a simple thing that would
interest no one. It is a known fact that I was born, and
that is all that is necessary.
To Princeton High School
reporter Henry Russo. InThe
Tower, April 13, 1935
* As a boy of twelve years making my
acquaintance with elementary mathematics, I was thrilled in
seeing that it was possible to find out truth by reasoning
alone, without the help of any outside experience.... I
became more and more convinced that even nature could be
understood as a relatively simple mathematical structure.
I have acclimated extremely well here, live
like a bear in its cave, and feel more at home than ever
before in my eventful life. This bearlike quality has
increased even more because of the death of my mate, who was
more attached to other people than I am.
To Max Born, ca. early
1937, after the death of Einstein's wife, Elsa. In Born,Born-Einstein
I wouldn't want to live if I did not have my
work.... In any case, it's good that I'm already old and
personally don't have to count on a prolonged future.
To close friend Michele
Besso, October 10, 1938, reflecting on Hitler's rise to
power. Einstein Archive 7-376
* I firmly believe that love [of a subject or
hobby] is a better teacher than a sense of duty-at least for
Draft of a letter to
Philipp Frank, 1940
Why is it that nobody understands me, yet
everybody likes me?
From an interview,New
York Times, March 12, 1944
* I do not like to state an opinion on a
matter unless I know the precise facts.
From an interview with
Richard J. Lewis,New
York Times, August 12, 1945, 29:3, on declining to
comment on Germany's progress on the atom bomb
I never worry about the future. It comes soon
Einstein Archive 36-570
I have to apologize to you that I am still
among the living. Therewillbe
a remedy for this, however.
To a child, Tyffany
Williams, in South Africa, August 25, 1946, after she
expressed surprise in a letter that Einstein was still
alive. Einstein Archive 42-612
* What is essential in the life of a man of
my kind iswhathe
thinks, and not what he does or suffers.
Written in 1946 for
"Autobiographical Notes," in Schilpp,Albert
Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, 33
There have already been published by the
bucketsful such brazen lies and utter fictions about me that
I would long since have gone to my grave if I had allowed
myself to pay attention to them.
To the writer Max Brod,
February 22, 1949. Einstein Archive 34-066
My scientific work is motivated by an
irresistible longing to understand the secrets of nature and
by no other feelings. My love for justice and the striving
to contribute toward the improvement of human conditions are
quite independent from my scientific interests.
To F. Lentz, August 20,
1949, in answer to a letter asking Einstein about his
scientific motivation. Einstein Archive 58-418
* I'm doing just fine, considering that I
have triumphantly survived Nazism and two wives.
To Jakob Ehrat, May 12,
It is a strange thing to be so widely known,
yet to be so lonely. But it is a fact that this kind of
popularity ... is forcing its victim into a defensive
position that leads to isolation.
To E. Marangoni, October
1, 1952. Einstein Archive 60-406
I have no special talents. I am only
To Carl Seelig, his
biographer, March 11, 1952. Einstein Archive 39-013. A
similar sentiment was expressed in a letter to Hans
Muehsam, March 4, 1953, Einstein Archive 38-424
All my life I have dealt with objective
matters; hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the
experience to deal properly with people and to carry out
Statement to Abba Eban,
Israeli ambassador to the United States, November 18,
1952, turning down the presidency of Israel after Chaim
Weizmann's death. Einstein Archive 28-943
In the past it never occurred to me that
every casual remark of mine would be snatched up and
recorded. Otherwise I would have crept further into my
To Carl Seelig, October
25, 1953. Einstein Archive 39-053
All manner of fable is being attached to my
personality, and there is no end to the number of
ingeniously devised tales. All the more do I appreciate and
respect what is truly sincere.
To Queen Elizabeth of
Belgium, March 28, 1954. Einstein Archive 32-410
I'm not the kind of snob or exhibitionist
that you take me to be and furthermore have nothing of value
to say of immediate concern, as you seem to assume.
In reply to a letter, May
1954, asking Einstein to send a message to a new museum
in Chile, to be. . . .
(During a lecture)
This has been done elegantly by Minkowski;
but chalk is cheaper than grey matter, and we will do it as
[Attributed by Pólya.]
Quoted in J E Littlewood,A
Everything should be made as simple as
possible, but not simpler. Reader's Digest. Oct. 1977.
I don't believe in mathematics.
Quoted in Carl Seelig.Albert
Imagination is more important than knowledge. On Science.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is
the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and
science. What I Believe.
The bitter and the sweet come from the
outside, the hard from within, from one's own efforts. Out of My Later Years.
Gott würfelt nicht.
Common sense is the collection of prejudices
acquired by age eighteen.
Quoted in E T BellMathematics,
Queen and Servant of the Sciences. 1952.
God does not care about our mathematical
difficulties. He integrates empirically.
Quoted in L InfeldQuest,
How can it be that mathematics, being after
all a product of human thought independent of experience, is
so admirably adapted to the objects of reality?
Nature to him was an open book, whose letters he could read
Quoted in G SimmonsCalculus
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to
reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are
certain, they do not refer to reality.
Quoted in J R Newman,The
World of Mathematics(New
What is this frog and mouse battle among the
[i.e. Brouwer vs. Hilbert]
Quoted in H EvesMathematical
Raffiniert ist der Herr Gott, aber boshaft
ist er nicht.
God is subtle, but he is not malicious.
Inscribed in Fine Hall, Princeton University.
Nature hides her secrets because of her
essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse.
The human mind has first to construct forms,
independently, before we can find them in things.
Since the mathematicians have invaded the
theory of relativity, I do not understand it myself anymore.
Quoted in P A Schilpp,Albert
Do not worry about your difficulties in
mathematics, I assure you that mine are greater.
The truth of a theory is in your mind, not in
Quoted in H EvesMathematical
These thoughts did not come in any verbal
formulation. I rarely think in words at all. A thought
comes, and I may try to express it in words afterward.
Quoted in H EvesMathematical
A human being is a part of the whole, called
by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He
experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something
separated from the resta kind of optical delusion of his
consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for
a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free
ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of
compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of
nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this
completely, but the striving for such achievement is in
itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner
Quoted in H EvesMathematical
The world needs heroes and it's better they
be harmless men like me than villains like Hitler.
Quoted in H EvesReturn
to Mathematical Circles(Boston
It is nothing short of a miracle that modern
methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the
holy curiousity of inquiry.
Quoted in H EvesReturn
to Mathematical Circles(Boston
Everything that is really great and inspiring
is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.
Quoted in H EvesReturn
to Mathematical Circles(Boston
The search for truth is more precious than
its possession. The American Mathematical Monthly100(3).
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 at the Sorbonne, Paris.
We come now to the question: what is a priori
certain or necessary, respectively in geometry (doctrine of
space) or its foundations? Formerly we thought everything;
nowadays we think nothing. Already the distance-concept is
logically arbitrary; there need be no things that correspond
to it, even approximately.
Britannica, 14th ed.
Most of the fundamental ideas of science are
essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a
language comprehensible to everyone. The Evolution of Physics.
Science without religion is lame; religion
without science is blind. Reader's Digest, Nov. 1973.
(To a student)
Dear Miss --
I have read about sixteen pages of your manuscript ... I
suffered exactly the same treatment at the hands of my
teachers who disliked me for my independence and passed over
me when they wanted assistants ... keep your manuscript for
your sons and daughters, in order that they may derive
consolation from it and not give a damn for what their
teachers tell them or think of them. ... There is too much
education altogether. The World as I See It, (New York, 1949), 21-22.
(Written in old age)
I have never belonged wholeheartedly to a country, a state,
nor to a circle of friends, nor even to my own family.
When I was still a rather precocious young man, I already
realized most vividly the futility of the hopes and
aspirations that most men pursue throughout their lives.
Well-being and happiness never appeared to me as an absolute
aim. I am even inclined to compare such moral aims to the
ambitions of a pig.
Quoted in C P Snow,Variety
of Men, (Harmondsworth 1969) 77.
The relativity principle in connection with
the basic Maxwellian equations demands that the mass should
be a direct measure of the energy contained in a body; light
transfers mass. With radium there should be a noticeable
diminution of mass. The idea is amusing and enticing; but
whether the Almighty is laughing at it and is leading me up
the garden path -- that I cannot know.
When I am judging a theory, I ask myself
whether, if I were God, I would have arranged the world in
such a way.
Great spirits have always encountered violent
opposition from mediocre minds.
.. common sense is nothing more than a
deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind before you reach
Quoted in E T Bell,Mathematics:
Queen and Servant of Science
Thus the partial differential equation
entered theoretical physics as a handmaid, but has gradually
become mistress. The World as I See It
But the creative principle resides in
mathematics. In a certain sense, therefore, I hold true that
pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed.
Quoted in H R Pagels,The
But there is another reason for the high
repute of mathematics: it is mathematics that offers the
exact natural sciences a certain measure of security which,
withut mathematics, they could not attain.
Quoted in E T BellMen
One reason why mathematics enjoys special
esteem, above all other sciences, is that its laws are
absolutely certain and indisputable, while those of other
sciences are to some extent debatable and in constant danger
of being overthrown by newly discovered facts. Sidelights on Relativity
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to
reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are
certain, they do not refer to reality. Sidelights on Relativity
How can it be that mathematics, being after
all a product of human thought which is independent of
experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of
reality? Is human reason, then, without experience, merely
by taking thought, able to fathom the properties of real
things? Sidelights on Relativity
Mathematics are well and good but nature
keeps dragging us around by the nose.
Quoted in A P French,Einstein:
a Centenary Volume
Education is that which remains when one has
forgotten everything learned in school. Ideas and opinions(New
A hundred times every day I remind myself
that my inner and outer life depend 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.
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
Before God we are all equally wise - equally
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
Each of us visits that Earth involuntarily
and without an invitation. For me, it is enough to wonder at
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
If at first the idea is not absurd, then
there is no hope for it.
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
It is my contention that killing under the
cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
My religion consists of a humble admiration
of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in
the slightest details we are able to perceive with our frail
and feeble minds.
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
Reading after a certain time diverts the mind
too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too
much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy
habits of thinking.
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
[EFR: For a modern view replace reading by watching
Sometimes one pays most for things one gets
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
The most incomprehensible fact about the
universe is that it is comprehensible.
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
The world we have made, as a result of the
level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we
cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
There are two ways to live your life. One is
as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though
everything is a miracle.
Quoted in Des MacHale,Wisdom(London,
"Any intelligent fool
can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.
It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to
move in the opposite direction."
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling
"I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are
"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very
"The only real valuable thing is intuition."
"A person starts to live when he can live outside
"I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice."
"God is subtle but he is not malicious."
"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of
"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
"The eternal mystery of the world is its
"Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for
"Science without religion is lame. Religion without
science is blind."
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried
"Great spirits have often encountered violent
opposition from weak minds."
"Everything should be made as simple as possible,
but not simpler."
"Common sense is the collection of prejudices
acquired by age eighteen."
"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have
to earn one's living at it."
"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide
"The only thing that interferes with my learning is
"God does not care about our mathematical
difficulties. He integrates empirically."
"The whole of science is nothing more than a
refinement of everyday thinking."
"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands
of a pathological criminal."
"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be
achieved by understanding."
"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is
that it is comprehensible."
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of
thinking we used when we created them."
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten
everything he learned in school."
"The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
"Do not worry about your difficulties in
Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."
"Equations are more important to me, because
politics is for the present, but an equation is
something for eternity."
"If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y
plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your
"Two things are infinite: the universe and human
stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."
"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality,
they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they
do not refer to reality."
"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of
Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be
fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and
"In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of
sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."
"The fear of death is the most unjustified of all
fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's
"Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar
chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated
thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves."
"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the
loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism
-- how passionately I hate them!"
"No, this trick won't work...How on earth are you
ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics
so important a biological phenomenon as first love?"
"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the
illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the
slight details we are able to perceive with our frail
and feeble mind."
"Yes, we have to divide up our time like that,
between our politics and our equations. But to me our
equations are far more important, for politics are only
a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation
"The release of atom power has changed everything
except our way of thinking...the solution to this
problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had
known, I should have become a watchmaker."
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition
from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when
a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary
prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the
mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all
science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can
no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as
good as dead: his eyes are closed."
"A man's ethical behavior should be based
effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no
religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a
poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of
punishment and hope of reward after death."
"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind
advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path
to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of
life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but
through striving after rational knowledge."
"Now he has departed from this strange world a
little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us,
who believe in physics, know that the distinction
between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly
"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very
long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is
meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And
radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals
here, they receive them there. The only difference is
that there is no cat."
"One had to cram all this stuff into one's mind for
the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This
coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I
had passed the final examination, I found the
consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to
me for an entire year."
"...one of the strongest motives that lead men to
art and science is escape from everyday life with its
painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the
fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires. A finely
tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life
into the world of objective perception and thought."
"He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has
already earned my contempt. He has been given a large
brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would
surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be
done away with at once. Heroism at command, how
violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble
war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part
of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing
under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."
"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us
_universe_, a part limited in time and space. He
experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as
something separated from the rest... a kind of optical
delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind
of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires
and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our
task must be to free ourselves from this prison by
widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living
creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not
everything that can be counted counts." (Sign hanging in
Einstein's office at Princeton)
"Unthinking respect for
authority is the greatest enemy of truth."
["The Curious History of
"Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But there is no
doubt in my mind that the lion belongs with it even if he
cannot reveal himself to the eye all at once because of his
"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
["The Yale Book of
"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they
are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not
refer to reality."
[Address to Prussian
Academy of Science, January 1921]
"As a human being, one has been endowed with just enough
intelligence to be able to see clearly how utterly
inadequate that intelligence is when confronted with what
[Letter to Queen Elisabeth
of Belgium, September 1932]
"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."
["The Yale Book of
"It is true that my parents were worried because I began to
speak fairly late, so that they even consulted a doctor. I
can't say how old I was — but surely not less than three."
"Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices
laid down in the mind before you reach eighteen."
["The Universe and Dr.
"If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z.
Work is X; Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut."
["The Yale Book of
"Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of
the human race."
["Albert Einstein, the
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the
mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the
cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know
it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as
dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
["The World As I See It,"
"My passionate sense of social justice and social
responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my
pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human
beings and human communities. I am truly a 'lone traveler'
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 a sense of
distance and a need for solitude."
["The World As I See It,"
"If I were to start taking care of my grooming, I would no
longer be my own self."
[Letter, December 1913]
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is
limited. Imagination encircles the world."
"The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time
have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been
Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship
with men of like mind, without the occupation with the
objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of
art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty
to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions,
outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me
["The World As I See It,"
"The aim [of education] must be the training of
independently acting and thinking individuals who, however,
see in the service to the community their highest life
[Address, October 1936]
"Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere
sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion
towards men and towards objective things."
[Letter, July 1947]
"Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are
intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the
true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does
know or is capable of knowing."
["Conversations with Albert
"I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I
may try to express in words afterwards."
"A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too
much on the future."
"The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity
has its own reason for existing."
"The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this
kind ... is akin to that of the religious worshipper or the
lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention
or program, but straight from the heart."
"The ordinary adult never gives a thought to space-time
problems ... I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I
did not begin to wonder about space and time until I was an
adult. I then delved more deeply into the problem than any
other adult or child would have done."
"One thing I have learned in a long life: That all our
science, measured against reality, is primitive and
childlike — and yet it is the most precious thing we have."
["Albert Einstein: Creator
and Rebel," 1972]
"The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is
to go on working."
1. “Imagination is more
important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas
imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress,
giving birth to evolution."
2. “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
3. “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
4. “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."
5. “I, at any rate, am
convinced that He (God) does not throw dice."
6. “The important thing is
not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for
7. “Science without
religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
8. “Two things are
infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure
about the universe."
9. “Falling in love is not
at all the most stupid thing that people do— but gravitation
cannot be held responsible for it."
10. “The most beautiful
experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the
fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art
and true science."
11. “Anyone who has never
made a mistake has never tried anything new."
12. “Try not to become a
man of success, but rather try to become a man of value"
13. “The secret to
creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
14. “The difference between
genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
15. “Weakness of attitude
becomes weakness of character."
16. “Pure mathematics is,
in its way, the poetry of logical ideas."
17. “Nature shows us only
the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt that the lion
belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself
because of his enormous size."
18. “Only a life lived for
others is a life worthwhile."
19. “It's not that I'm so
smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
20. “My religion consists
of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit
who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to
perceive with our frail and feeble mind."
21. “Peace cannot be kept
by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."
22. “I never think of the
future. It comes soon enough."
23. “Do not worry about
your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you that mine
are all greater"
24. “In order to form an
immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all,
be a sheep."
25. “The most
incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is
26. “Reality is merely an
illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
27. “Truth is what stands
the test of experience."
28. “Life is like riding a
bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving"
29. “Insanity: doing the
same thing over and over again and expecting different
30. “Common sense is
nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the
mind before you reach eighteen."