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Of all the scientists to emerge from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there is one whose
name is known by almost all living people. While most of these do not understand this man's
work, everyone knows that its impact on the world of science is astonishing. Yes, many
have heard of Albert Einstein's General Theory of relativity, but few know about the
intriguing life that led this scientist to discover what some have called, "The greatest single
achievement of human thought."
Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1874. Before his first birthday, his family
had moved to Munich where young Albert's father, Hermann Einstein, and uncle set up a
small electro-chemical business. He was fortunate to have an excellent family with which he
held a strong relationship. Albert's mother, Pauline Einstein, had an intense passion for music
and literature, and it was she that first introduced her son to the violin in which he found
much joy and relaxation. Also, he was very close with his younger sister, Maja, and they
could often be found in the lakes that were scattered about the countryside near Munich.
As a child, Einstein's sense of curiosity had already begun to stir. A favorite toy of his was
his father's compass, and he often marvelled at his uncle's explanations of algebra. Although
young Albert was intrigued by certain mysteries of science, he was considered a slow
learner. His failure to become fluent in German until the age of nine even led some teachers
to believe he was disabled.
Einstein's post-basic education began at the Luitpold Gymnasium when he was ten. It was
here that he first encountered the German spirit through the school's strict disciplinary policy.
His disapproval of this method of teaching led to his reputation as a rebel. It was probably
these differences that caused Einstein to search for knowledge at home. He began not with
science, but with religion. He avidly studied the Bible seeking truth, but this religious fervor
soon died down when he discovered the intrigue of science and math. To him, these seemed
much more realistic than ancient stories. With this new knowledge he disliked class even
more, and was eventually expelled from Luitpold Gymnasium being considered a disruptive
Feeling that he could no longer deal with the German mentality, Einstein moved to
Switzerland where he continued his education. At sixteen he attempted to enroll at the
Federal Institute of Technology but failed the entrance exam. This forced him to study locally
for one year until he finally passed the school's evaluation. The Institute allowed Einstein to
meet many other students that shared his curiosity, and It was here that his studies turned
mainly to Physics. He quickly learned that while physicists had generally agreed on major
principals in the past, there were modern scientists who were attempting to disprove
outdated theories. Since most of Einstein's teachers ignored these new ideas, he was again
forced to explore on his own. In 1900 he graduated from the Institute and then achieved
citizenship to Switzerland.
Einstein became a clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in 1902. This job had little to do with
physics, but he was able to satiate his curiosity by figuring out how new inventions worked.
The most important part of Einstein's occupation was that it allowed him enough time to
pursue his own line of research. As his ideas began to develop, he published them in
specialist journals. Though he was still unknown to the scientific world, he began to attract a
large circle of friends and admirers. A group of students that he tutored quickly transformed
into a social club that shared a love of nature, music, and of course, science. In 1903 he
married Mileva Meric, a mathematician friend.
In 1905, Einstein published five separate papers in a journal, the Annals of Physics. The first
was immediately acknowledged, and the University of Zurich awarded Einstein an additional
degree. The other papers helped to develop modern ph...
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