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Albert Einstein: the Miracle Mind Essay

The book, Albert Einstein: The Miracle Mind, written by Tabatha Teatts is about this century’s greatest physicist, Albert Einstein. He was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany to Hermann Einstein and Pauline Koch. Albert’s original name was Ainstein and his ancestors were of Jewish origin. Down the generation, for some unknown reason, the name was changed to Einstein. When he was about one year old, his family moved to Munich to set up an electrical engineering company. Contrary to the belief that he must have always been a brilliant child, he was rather an unusual child. He was a slow talker and preferred to play by himself.

He was thought to be “stupid” and slow due to his habits. When Albert wanted to talk, he would first think about it, then say it quietly to himself, and finally say it out loud. He was not interested in rough outdoor plays as other boys, but rather enjoyed puzzles and building houses by stacking cards. Just because he played quietly does not mean that he did not have a temper. When he was five years old, he was taught by a home tutor who never returned after almost being struck with the chair by Albert. He even had severe temper tantrums, which persisted until he was seven years old. When Albert was six years old, he had an experience that would influence his imagination and curiosity and shape his future. Albert had been ill, and to amuse Albert, his father brought home a compass. Albert was amazed that no matter which direction he turned the compass, the needle would still point north.

At the age of seven, Albert was allowed to start directly at the second grade level at Volksschule – a Catholic elementary school. He did well in his studies. At the age of nine, he enrolled in Munich’s Luitpold Gymnasium (“gymnasium” is actually a German word for “secondary school”). At the age of ten, he became attracted in mathematics and science, and read many books in these fields. Albert was influenced by a book written by Aaron Bernstein that made him think about what it would feel to travel on a wave of light. This eventually led to Albert’s great theory of relativity. While he was still in school, the family’s electrical company in Germany shut down and the family moved to Pavia, Italy. Albert was to stay and finish school, but on December 29, 1894 he quit school and moved to Italy to be with his family.

Albert planned to enter Federal Polytechnic University in Zurich. He studied hard in math and science but barely studied in the other subjects. He performed well in math and science, but failed in other areas. Therefore, he was not accepted into the Polytechnic. However, the head of the physics department was so awed by Albert’s math and science scores that he was invited to attend the lectures even if Albert was not accepted into Federal Polytechnic University. However, Albert could not accept it because he had to move to Aarau, Switzerland to finish his last year of secondary school at Canton School.

After finishing at Canton School, Albert was accepted into Polytechnic. In his first year Albert learned about math and mechanics. He became really excited when he started learning physics, but when he soon found out that the professor never taught new lessons in physics, he lost interest in class and annoyed the teacher. This proved to be a mistake later in his future when was trying to find a job. Albert mainly studied by himself, and one of his close friends who took good notes shared them with Albert. This helped Albert get through his classes.

When Albert had free time he went to cafés with his friends and had long discussions on theories, experiments, and problems to occupy the time. He also loved to play his violin, which helped him to meet many new people since he was a good-looking musician. Then he met Mileva Maric, a student at Polytechnic who was very intelligent and had great knowledge in mathematics. They became friends and quickly grew close.

After Albert graduated in the summer of 1900 his had planned on obtaining advanced degrees while working as an assistant to one of Polytechnic professors. His second goal was to marry Mileva, but he did not do very well on accomplishing either one of those goals. He could not find assistantship because he had irritated his physics professor while at Polytechnic. Because Mileva was a little older than Albert, was not Jewish, and had a limp from being born with a dislocated hip, Albert’s parents were very much against their relationship. Albert was not allowed to marry until he was able to find a job.

By December of 1900, Albert finished writing a paper on capillarity (the interaction between liquid meeting solid), and it was published in the Annalen der Physik (Journal of Physics), but he still could not find a job as an assistant. Things started to look brighter when his friend got him a position as a patent examiner and another friend asked him to teach a class for couple of months. In May of 1901, Mileva found out she was pregnant and by end of January 1902 she had a little girl and named her baby Lieserl (Little Lisa). By then Albert was working at the patent office and getting steady pay. In October of 1902, at the age of fifty-five, Albert’s father died of heart disease. Just before he died, he gave Albert permission to marry Mileva. On January 6, 1903, Albert and Mileva were finally married.

Albert continued to work for the patent office. Albert became lonely staying at home with just his wife and his daughter, so Albert and his friends met every night and discussed theories and books they were reading. They called their group “the Olympia Academy.” In May 1904, Hans Albert Einstein was born. By end of 1904 one of Albert’s close friend, Michele Besso, came to work with him at the patent office. Albert enjoyed going over questions about light with his close friend and wrote many scientific papers to Annalen der Physik even though he was working full-time. Mileva helped Albert with the mathematical facts. In March 1905, he finished his paper on light. This would become the basis for the quantum physics, which would later help us create lasers, transistors, cell phones, electron microscopes, DVD players, solar cells, weapons, cameras, aircraft, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

In April 1906 Albert was promoted to “Technical Expert Second Class” and received a raise while working at the office. By 1905 and 1909 Albert wrote over two dozen papers to Annalen der Physik. On the other hand Albert’s Olympia Academy group stopped meeting each other because some members left town. While the other members of the group were gone Albert and Mileva had to occupy the time. So they drew a drawing of a machine that could measure tiny amounts of energy. After they finished their drawing they sent it to the Habicht brothers. The Habicht brothers worked on it for about twenty years. But by 1911 Albert gave up hope.

In 1907 Albert went to Bern University to look for a job. Just as he was preparing to leave for the university in Zurich, his wife, Mileva, got pregnant again. So, instead of going to Zurich he decided to move the entire family to Prague, Germany for the university there. After they got to Prague, joy and tragedy struck. The good news was that they gave birth to their second son, Eduard. The bad news was is that Albert came down with stomach ailment – a condition that would cause difficulties for him for the rest of his life. By October, he was well enough to attend the first Solvay Conference in Brussels, Belgium. Albert said that he had never labored as hard.

When Albert turned thirty-four in March 1913, he received a birthday card from his cousin, Elsa. After that, their letter writing began again. That summer, Albert’s friends, Max Planck and Walther Nernst, tried to convince him to move to Berlin. Albert decided to go but not until April 1914. Mileva and the children, however, remained in Zurich. He was sad to leave his children, but an exciting event was on his mind: an upcoming eclipse. In Berlin, since he had nowhere else to stay, he stayed at his cousin’s (Elsa) house. Mileva gave math and piano lessons to try to make ends meet while Albert was gone.

At Easter time in 1916 Albert and Mileva divorced, and his stomach troubles got worse. Albert lost about fifty-eight pounds because of this. In October 1917 Albert finally became the director or the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. Elsa’s daughter, Ilse, became Albert’s secretary in January 1918. Working with Ilse gave him many ideas. Albert asked Ilse if she would marry him even though he was already engaged with her mother. Although Elsa gave them her permission to marry, Ilse rejected Albert. After divorcing Albert, Mileva was not earning enough money to support herself. This made Albert feel sorry for leaving her. Thus, he told her that he would give her any Noble Prize money he won in the future. Elsa and Albert finally got married in Berlin on June 2, 1919. A couple of weeks after the marriage the solar eclipse happened.

On February 20, 1920 Albert’s mother, Pauline, died. He was so sad that he went to the United States to get it off his mind. His first trip to the United States was on April 1921. He was welcomed to the White House by President Warren G. Harding. He also won the Nobel Prize in Physics in1921. He was so famous because of his theories he was asked to lecture and visit Prague, Austria, France, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Palestine between 1922 and 1923. On the personal side, his son Hans Albert married a woman named Frieda Knecht in 1927 and Ilse got married to a man named Rudolf Kayser in 1924.

In 1928 Albert developed a heart condition that made him stay in bed. The Einstein’s had a summer house in Caputh, Germany that they used when they wanted to get away from the crowd for a while. When Albert turned fifty in 1929 he was well enough to appreciate his birthday gift: a sailboat. Sailing became one of his chief hobbies. Not long after this, Albert received news of tragedy and excitement. The great news was that Hans Albert and his wife gave birth to Bernhard Caesar Einstein. The horrible news was that his second son, Eduard, got sick with schizophrenia. Albert had to return back home so they left their summer home never to return again. Germans came to Albert’s summer house and burned everything down in search of him. When they could not find him, they put him in the official “Enemies of the State” book, with the caption stating “Not yet hanged.” In 1934, Albert was in Princeton, joined by Elsa’s daughter, Margot. Sadly, Ilse had died. Two years later, in December 1936, his wife Elsa also died.

On July 1939 a man named Leo Szilard informed Albert that the Germans may be planning to drop an atomic bomb on the United States. They told this to President Roosevelt. In 1943, Albert still was not allowed to work on the Manhattan Project, but was allowed to work for the U.S. Navy as a high-explosive adviser. The Congress offered Albert an American citizenship. While he was working on his citizenship, America dropped two bombs on Japan. This was all due to Albert’s work. Albert felt devastated and ashamed.

In 1948 Mileva died because of a terrible stroke. When the President of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, died in 1952, Albert was offered presidency, but he turned it down. Albert kept getting stomach pains. That same year, a radioactive metal was discovered in the debris from the first thermonuclear device explosion. The metal was designated a new chemical element and officially named “Einsteinium” for Albert Einstein in 1955. Albert became so famous that people wanted autographs, quotes, advice — even for his shoes from him!

On his seventy-seventh birthday people asked him if they could take a picture of him. He agreed but when they took his picture, he stuck his tongue out instead of smiling. Also on his birthday he got a card from his friends who addressed their greetings to the “President of the Olympia Group.”

On April 13, 1955, Albert’s abdominal aneurysm ruptured and he was admitted to the Princeton Hospital. He did not want any heroic measures to keep him alive. In his hospital room he tried to figure out the problem that had stumped him for so long. When he finally figured out the answer he told the nurse. Unfortunately, because he said it in German, she did not understand. Albert Einstein died on April 18, 1978, at 1:15a.m.

Albert did not mind people studying his brain, but did not want the results publicized. Still today his theories are being tested and proved all over the world. Because of all his fame from his theories, an artist named Robert Berks sculpted a bronze statue of Albert Einstein in 1978. The statue stands outside of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. holding a notepad saying his famous equation, E=mc².

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