The Man Behind The Name;Albert Einstein
By Chioma Anigbogu
He is referred to as the most intelligent man to ever walk this earth. He was thought to be dull, in fact his teacher called him the dumbest student he had ever taught. But how did he go from dumb to very intelligent?, becoming everything his teachers ever dreamed of plus more. You will definitely learn something from the story of this genius who was written off by many but ended up becoming exceptionally successful. (Confidence Arinze-ago)
Albert Einstein was born on 14th March 1879 in Germany to Hermann and Pauline Einstein. He was thought to be retarded when he was born as he was overweight and his head had an odd shape. A year after he was born, his parents moved to Munich where his father and his uncle opened a company that built electrical equipments. He had a sister, Maja (or Maria), who was two years younger. According to him, he didn’t talk till he was three and his parents were scared he was retarded though his grandmother and sister contradict this. His mother enrolled him for violin lessons when he was quite young and throughout his life, he had an intense love for music especially Classical music. His sister said he used music frequently as a study aid. Albert was never much of a talker and he rarely mixed with children.
His interest in physics was perhaps piqued at the age of five when his father gave him a magnetic compass and he kept trying to figure out how it worked. He was homeschooled until he was seven and this helped build his tendency to isolate himself. When he started elementary school, his teachers thought him dull, dim-witted and hopeless as he wouldn’t answer questions immediately it was asked until he was quite sure of his answer. He didn’t fit in and he failed miserably. Once more, his parents were worried that he was retarded. He found that he was very talented in Math. Albert had a great and seemingly insatiable thirst for knowledge.
A medical student, Max Talmud, who became a friend of the family decided to take young Albert under his wings and gave him books on science and philosophy. He read advanced mathematics textbooks on his own. At fifteen in high school, his Greek teacher told him that he would never amount to anything and that he should stop wasting everyone’s time and leave school which he did. He had a doctor write him a sick note that he was going to break down if he wasn’t released to see his family as he was in a boarding school and his parents had moved to Milan, Italy. And so at the age of fifteen, he dropped out of high school.
His father was livid that he was a dropout and he wanted his son to be an electrical engineer. At sixteen, Albert applied to a polytechnic in Zürich, Switzerland but he didn’t do so well in the entrance examination though his maths and physics scores in the exam were superb. The principal of the polytechnic advised him to finish high school and he did just that. To get out being enlisted in the army, he denounced his German citizenship.
At seventeen, he applied again for a four-year diploma program in mathematics and physics teaching at the polytechnic. This time, he got in. He got a Swiss citizenship and it was in this school that he met and fell in love with Mileva Marić. He graduated at the age of 21 and he searched for a job for two years during which, he did a lot of menial jobs. With the help of an ex-classmate’s father, he got a job as a patent clerk and he was passed over for promotion often. His work involved electromagnetic devices. During his free time, he carried out scientific researches.
In 1902, Albert and Mileva had a baby girl named Lieserl who historians only knew about from letters between Albert and Mileva. No one knows exactly where she was or what happened to her but she’s thought to have died of scarlet fever when she was a year old. In 1903, Albert got married to Mileva and had another child, a boy this time, Hans, in 1904. In 1905 (Albert’s miracle year), he was awarded a PhD by the university of Zürich and he published four outstanding papers on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity and the equivalence of mass and energy. In 1908, he was appointed a lecturer in the University of Bern.
In 1910 when his wife was pregnant with her third child, Albert wrote to Marie Winteler whom he had fallen in love with before he met Mileva that he still loved her and that he was unhappy. That same year, his wife gave birth to their second son, Eduard. In 1911, he became a full professor. He taught at various schools and was well known as a theoretical physicist. In 1914, he got separated from his wife and they lived apart for five years until they got officially divorced. That same year, in 1919, he got married to Elsa Löwenthal who was his first cousin on his mother’s side (his mother’s brother’s daughter) and his second cousin from his father’s side. He had been having an affair with her since 1912.
Eduard, his second son, was mentally ill and was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 20. Elsa died in 1936 after 17 years of marriage as she had heart and kidney disease. During the period of his second marriage, he was rumored to have been seeing other women.
His major achievements
- Awarded a PhD – 1905
- Publishing of 4 groundbreaking papers – 1905
- Appointed lecturer – 1908
- Appointed associate professor – 1909
- Appointed full professor – 1911
- Appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelmn Institute for Physics – 1914
- Appointed president of the German Physical society – 1916
- Nobel prize in physics for the photoelectric effect explanation – 1921
At the later stages of his life, Albert became mentally ill. The researches and studying finally got to him. He died in 1955 at the age of 76 after refusing repeat surgery (as he had one seven years before) to correct abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture. His words: “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”. The pathologist who did an autopsy on him removed his brain without his family’s permission for preservation in hope that what made him so intelligent would be found. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered.
Before his death, he wrote more than 300 scientific papers. He made significant contributions to humanity. One thing that should be noted about Albert was not his intelligence but rather his stubbornness and persistence. He could have just been an unknown high school dropout but he made something of himself. He wasn’t a privileged kid. He was thought to be retarded but he stuck to his passion until he made it. He fought to be a renowned physicist.
Albert Einstein said he has done his share. Have you done yours?