There is no more famous scientist: Albert Einstein, the genius of science par excellence. He revolutionized the world view in just one year, his “miracle year” in 1905. He was determined, with only his science in mind – at the expense of his friends, wives, and children. But that was only part of his personality. Behind this Albert Einstein was something else hidden. What was this hidden power that drove and inspired him?
10 The Lonely Genius Of Science
Charlie Chaplin saw the Einstein cheering crowds as he greeted his guest at the Los Angeles premiere of the film “Lights of the City.”
On January 30, 1931, journalists snapped up what he told Einstein: “They cheer me because everyone understands me – but with you because nobody understands you.” It was also a mystery to Einstein himself. He once confessed that he, too, wondered, “Where does it come from that no one understands me and yet everyone likes me?”
No doubt: at the height of his career, he admired his surroundings, but did not understand him. Einstein was a media superstar, a cult figure, from the 1930s. Where he performed, where he spoke, people were thrilled.
Few colleagues, even physicists, and mathematicians were able to keep up with his ideas. In doing so, Einstein shared the fate of many geniuses – loneliness: “I lived in loneliness that is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity,” he admits in his autobiographical book “From My Late Years”.
He almost mockingly called himself a “one-spinner.” Einstein sought the loneliness and silence to be able to hang on to his thoughts and daydreams. For safety, he always took a notebook with him, so that nothing would be lost from the incursions.
He liked being among people. He cultivated his friendships and corresponded a lot. In conversation, he was looking for funny punchlines. He knew his effect on people.
Thus, on December 10, 1930, he wrote in his travel diary: “The reporters asked selected stupid questions, which I answered with cheap jokes, which were enthusiastically received.” How had it all started? What did Einstein’s life look like before he became so famous?
09 Childhood And School
At half-past noon – on 14 March 1879 – the first cry of a baby was heard in Bahnhofstrasse B 135 in Ulm. The little worm was the first son of Hermann and Pauline Einstein. He was to become the genius of science: Albert Einstein.
His family was Jewish and lived in Swabian for generations. In the house of Einstein’s, they did not pray, the parents did not go to the synagogue, they did not pay attention to the food regulations.
Einstein’s mother was educated and played the piano – the musical talent was her son. His father was a merchant and a partner in the bed-feather shop of his cousins. The parents raised Einstein and his younger sister Maja freely and anything but authoritarian.
The parents gave the children a sense of security – and supported the children’s talents as soon as they showed up. They wanted to educate their children to become independent, free and tolerant people.
And little Albert was independent early on: while playing on the road, he was often offside and hung on to his dreams. At the age of four, he was given a compass by his father – and was fascinated by the needle, as it always pointed in the same direction by ghostly hands.
“There had to be something behind things that were deeply hidden,” he later wrote. At the age of twelve, he read enthusiastically Alexander von Humboldt’s “Cosmos”. The sense of the mysterious, beautiful and wonderful, a “holy curiosity” was the driving force of his entire later life.
Einstein was not a bad student– contrary to what many suspects. The family lived in Munich from 1880. In elementary school, “Albertle” was the best in his class. From 1888 to 1894 he attended the Luitpold-Gymnasium. There he was an outsider but had good to very good grades: “very good” in the science subjects and Latin, “good” in Greek.
But then Einstein had to make his first experience of injustice and resentment at school: because of the anti-Semitism that was already spreading at that time, his parents emigrated to Milan. Because young Albert was so close to high school, he was left alone in Munich until his Abitur.
He later called Munich an “anti-Semitic reactionary wasp’s nest,” a remark that is not surprising considering that his then class teacher insulted him just before Christmas: he would never become anything and he should leave school… His mere presence spoiled his respect in the class, according to the “educator”.
The 15-year-old Einstein then left Munich neck-and-neck and took the train to Milan. He later graduated from the Cantonal School of Aarau in Switzerland in September 1896. His A-level grades again: “very good” and “good”. In his French A-levels, he self-confidently wrote that he wanted to become a physics professor.
08 Student And “Expert III. Class”
In October 1896, Einstein was enrolled in the Matriculation VI, “Specialist Teacher in Mathematical-Scientific Direction” of the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich. Here, 17 years later, he was to become a physics professor – at the now renamed “Federal Institute of Technology.”
Einstein was diligent and determined and graduated on July 28, 1900, at the age of 21. After that, he sought a job – and, despite his talent and grades, found no employment. He was so desperate that his father wrote without his knowledge to the famous chemist Wilhelm Ostwald in Leipzig: “My son now feels deeply unhappy in his present joblessness and every day the idea is stronger in him that he with his career he derailed be…”
It was this Wilhelm Ostwald who would recommend the unknown student to the Nobel Prize in Physics nine years later.
It was not until two years later, on 23 June 1902, that he finally became an “expert III class” at the Swiss Patent Office for Intellectual Property in Bern. Now he made his first money and had time for his ideas.
And indeed: the years until his “miracle year”, the “annus mirabilis” in 1905, laid the foundation of his theories – and changed the physics and all the natural science of his time. After eight hours of service, Einstein began his research.
These projects showed his determination, his joy in thought experiments and journeys into the realm of fantasy. He called intuition the source of his ideas. Einstein’s teacher was a fantasy. Behind each of his fundamental contributions to the physics of modernity was a concrete dream image. These images are also the key to understanding the basic ideas of his theories, the special and the general theory of relativity.
In 1905 his doctoral thesis was accepted in Zurich and since January 15, 1906, he was “Dr. Albert Einstein.” Then everything went very fast: he was promoted to “Expert II. Class”. Two years later he became a private lecturer and finally on 15 October 1909 professor of physics in Zurich.
After a short period as a professor in Prague, Max Planck brought him to Berlin on 1 April 1914. Einstein became a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and was at the provisional peak of his career.
07 Einstein Private – The Daydreamer
Playing the violin, reading house music, reading books and games of skill: the genius of natural science spent his free time with it – in Berlin and later at Princeton. So, he recovered – and thus had time for his daydreams and concentration games.
He loved nature, loved sailing and was anything but a boring stool. His passion for sailboats and extensive excursions on the water began during his time in Zurich, in 1896, at the age of 17. But he didn’t have the money for his boat. He fulfilled this dream only in Berlin, 18 years later.
In November 1922, on a trip to Japan, he unexpectedly received the news of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Einstein was to receive the prize for 1921, for his work on the “Light Electric Effect” of 1905.
Einstein had been able to explain why light can generate electricity when it falls on a conductive plate. Today, this effect is the basis for light barriers and not least for the laser. And it’s in every CD and DVD player.
Wealthy friends gave him a more comfortable boat, his “bottlenose dolphin” for his 50th birthday, in 1929. He affectionately called this dinghy cruiser his “thick sailing ship”. It was a custom-made made of solid mahogany.
For four full summers, Einstein enjoyed country life close to his boat in Caputh near Potsdam. He often stayed on the water all day. He wanted to move away from all the hustle and bustle and hang on to his thoughts on his own. Sailing in his time in Berlin was also a kind of calm-coming in the face of the political upheavals in Germany.
Einstein was at the height of his scientific career in Germany at the time. On June 28, 1929, the German Physical Society awarded Max Planck and himself the Max Planck Medal to his “revered master” Max Planck. Exactly 50 years earlier, the 21-year-old Planck had received his doctorate in Munich.
On this day, however, Einstein had to pass nearly a thousand grumpy Nazi students on his way to the Physical Institute. This day, the government and the President of the Reich had proclaimed the “Day of Mourning”: ten years earlier, the German negotiators had signed the peace treaty at Versailles.
Einstein never forgot that day, as he later noted bitterly. For him, his time in Berlin had expired, he knew that. Against the growing anti-Jewishness, Einstein fled to the United States.
06 The Special And General Theory Of Relativity
The older of the sisters saw the light of day on June 30, 1905, and was presented to a wide audience for the first time on March 23, 1906, in Berlin. Her spiritual father had already dreamed of her when he was still pushing the school bench. The younger one was the fruit of incidences in Bern in 1907. But she was not born in Berlin until eight years later. In 1919, when the sun darkened, she was to finally establish her father’s world fame. From then on, everyone knew his and her name: Albert Einstein and the special and general theory of relativity. Still, they remained a mystery. Only twelve people should know them exactly, claims the English physicist Arthur Eddington.
The Older Sister – The Special Theory Of Relativity
Even in his school days, Einstein dreamed of the nature of light. What would an observer “see” who would run as fast as the light next to a beam of light? Could he see anything at all? Wouldn’t everything be dark for him? He was fascinated by the problem: what you wanted to look at – the light – was exactly what you were looking at – the light.
Until the special theory of relativity was to see the light of the world in 1905, he repeatedly brooded over questions about the light. In the Bern patent office, he had the time to do so – despite a 48-hour week. As a scientist, he was still completely unknown.
From 1902 to 1909 he sat at the desk on the upper floor of a building of the Post and Telegraph Directorate. His work forced him to think in many ways, and “also offered important suggestions for physical thinking,” Einstein later said of his profession at the time.
After his eight hours of service, there were “eight hours of Allotria and another Sunday” for him, and with Allotria – mischief – he meant no bar visits or feasts. He meant working time for his spiritual children, his ideas on a new building of physics.
The Younger Sister – The General Theory Of Relativity
Einstein was only 17 and was still pushing the school bench in Switzerland. He was already dealing with a question that bore the seeds of a new theory of gravity.
The question that surrounded the young student was: What actually happens in an elevator when you cut the cables and everything – the elevator and the occupants – fell down freely. This was not a horror dream, but a serious physical question. The student Einstein guessed that this image was the key to getting behind the mystery of gravity. In 1907, eight years before the actual birth of the general theory of relativity, Einstein finally had the decisive answer.
In retrospect, he wrote: “I was sitting in an armchair in the Bern patent office when suddenly the thought came to me: if a person is in free fall, he will not be able to feel his own gravity. A light came on me. This simple thought impressed me lastingly. The enthusiasm I felt then drove me to the theory of gravity.”
Einstein’s idea: No physicist could decide, by an experimental, however sophisticated, whether he is in a gravity field of a body or an accelerated frame of reference, just the elevator. This “equivalence principle” became the fulcrum of the general theory of relativity.
This example also led Einstein to distract the light rays. Again, he imagined a physicist who adjusted a beam of light parallel to the ground in the elevator. Now the elevator is free. He sees the beam of light bent towards the ground. However, since both situations – the accelerated fall and the case in a heavy field – are indistinguishable, a beam of light must also be bent towards that body in the gravity field of a body.
05 Light Is Always The Same Fast
The answer to the question from the school days – and thus the basic idea of the special theory of relativity – is said to have come to him in May 1905, he later informed. Five weeks later it became official, on June 30, 1905.
The basic idea behind his new physics had already been hinted at by others, but he was the first to accurately summarize the results of their experiments and research.
The fulcrum is a characteristic of light that seems to contradict our everyday experience: light always spreads at the same speed – the speed of light, around 300,000 kilometers, no matter how the light source moves. in the second.
This is not the case with sound, for example. Sound, as a carrier, requires the air to spread – and the speed of the sound depends very much on how the sound source moves. The sound of a train coming towards us sounds higher than a train moving away from us.
04 The Nature Of Light
Light is completely different in nature. It does not need a material carrier to spread it. Its wearer is literally nothing: the vacuum. Light has the highest speed at which processes can spread. There is nothing about that. One consequence of the fact that nothing can move faster than light is probably the most famous formula in the world – E=mc2.
This formula conjured up Einstein with a small overcast calculation and a thought experiment: a box in which a single particle of light was enclosed. Einstein knew the energy E of the light particle and left the system to itself.
Light propagates at the speed of light c. So, the light also, then and then, hit the ideal walls of the box. However, the light would not lose its impulse to move. From this Einstein could then conclude how “heavy” the light particle would have to be: exactly E=mc2.
With this, Einstein came up with a formula that also applies to all other bodies and not just to light. The consequences of practical life on a small scale and that of the big world were enormous. After all, this formula indirectly led to nuclear fission and thus to a terrible weapon: the atomic bomb.
03 The Global Breakthrough
Einstein still needed the mathematical tools to get this theory into the world. In June 1911, he had calculated a number. He pondered that stars would be diverted near the sun towards the sun. You would have to be able to observe that during a solar eclipse. He calculated a deflection of 0.84 arc seconds to the sun. A tiny value, but still measurable.
In 1915, the whole theory was developed. The general theory of relativity now described why bodies attract each other through gravity. She used a new language, a new image for this phenomenon: that of the curvature of space and time.
The solar eclipse on May 29, 1919, confirmed Einstein’s prediction and the value he had calculated brilliantly. On September 24, Einstein proudly wrote to his mother: “Today is joyful news. Lorentz telegraphed to me that the English expeditions finally proved the light deflection in the sun.” He was worried about his mother Pauline, after all, she was lying in a Swiss sanatorium in Lucerne with cancer.
On October 8, the Berliner Tageblatt wrote: “The sun is coming to the day.” The London Times followed on November 8 with “The Revolution in Science” – “The Revolution in Science”. But the congratulations of his German colleagues were still waiting. It was not until February 20, 1920, that the German Physical Society wanted to confirm Einstein’s prediction – but on that day one thing was missing: Einstein. It was the anniversary of his mother Pauline’s death.
Einstein In The Original Tone
Everyone knows the pictures: the whisker head, the white hair standing in the mountains – Einstein, the non-conformist. But his voice is rarely heard – except in the few film clips that are rarely shown. On the CD “Dear An- and Absent” original sound recordings of Einstein from the years 1921 to 1951 are collected. They give an idea of why his contemporaries were fascinated by him and his words.
02 Einstein And Religion
In the sound document, Einstein explains his “confession of faith”. By this, however, he means his political and moral values and not religious faith. But Einstein has also often spoken out about religion and God. And there is hardly a concern in which the physicist has remained as ununderstood as in the subject of “God and Physics”. We know many words and phrases in which Einstein alludes to God.
“God does not dice…” and “Refined is the Lord God, but He is not evil.” He is said to have said this to the mathematics professor Oscar Veblen in Princeton in May 1921. Two years later, when he confessed, he proved how dazzling he played with such sayings: “I thought about it again. Maybe He is evil.”
Einstein believed in a Creator, but not in a personal God. For him, the word “God” was the sum of all the laws and orders according to which this world arose and continues to exist. When asked by a New York rabbi, “Do you believe in God?” he answered almost evasively: “I am not an atheist… The problem is too great for our limited mind.”
Einstein felt great moral and ethical responsibility. For him, the man was not free in his will. On November 10, 1930, in Berlin, he referred to the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in the recording “My Creed” for the German League of Human Rights:
“Everyone acts not only under external coercion but also according to an inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying: A person can do what he wants, but he does not want what he wants, has filled me alive since my youth.” For him, this was the key to being able to endure people’s mistakes with humor and a sense of reality.
01 Einstein And Science
Einstein wrote a manuscript for a radio address to the Science Conference London on September 28, 1941, in Princeton. Einstein was very interested in the latest technical achievements, especially radio and radio fascinated him.
Thus, in his time in Berlin on August 22, 1930, he had the “7. Great German Radio Exhibition and phono show” opened. At that time, in the House of the Radio Industry, he gave a speech to the “Revered Guests and Absents!”
Einstein considered how much wireless broadcasting had brought the world together and brought people together from all over the world. For Einstein, this was the work of great scientists and technicians, who had made broadcasting possible with their findings.
Behind all these technical achievements stood for him “the divine curiosity and the instinct to play of the tinkering and pondering researcher, no less the constructive imagination of the technical inventor.” Einstein knew the inter-ethnic power of broadcasting and science. The sound document is a testament to Einstein’s philosophical vein and talent.