Albert Einstein Biography: Discovering the Extraordinary Journey of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany to parents Hermann and Pauline. The Einstein family was Jewish, which would later cause trouble for them. As a child, Einstein experienced speech difficulties and kept to himself. He began learning mathematics and science from a young age from textbooks his uncle gave him.

At age 15, Einstein felt frustrated with the strict German discipline-focused education system. After repeated business failures, his father moved the family to Italy in 1894, where Einstein stayed to finish secondary school. Einstein’s parents doubted his intellectual abilities due to his speech challenges. However, he began excelling in math and science and developed a passion for learning how the universe worked.

Schooling Troubles

Einstein consistently struggled behaviorally to fit into the authoritarian German schools he attended. He was quiet but sure of his own beliefs, which brought him into conflict with authority figures. Their rigid teaching methods went against Einstein’s inquisitive, creative nature.

SchoolYears Attended
Luitpold Gymnasium (Munich, Germany)1888-1894
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Zurich, Switzerland)1896-1900

Einstein was expelled from the Luitpold Gymnasium at age 15 for his contrary behavior. His unimpressed professors at the Swiss Federal Institute did not think much of him initially. However, Einstein overcame these obstacles through self-education and unlocking his intellectual gifts.

Scientific Discoveries and Fame

After graduating in 1900, Einstein faced difficulty finding work in academia. He worked odd jobs until receiving a position in 1902 at the Swiss Patent Office. The job provided time for contemplating physics problems. In 1905, dubbed his “miracle year,” Einstein published four groundbreaking papers on:

  • The Photoelectric Effect: Explained photons and how light can behave as particles
  • Brownian Motion: Definitive proof of atoms and molecules
  • Special Theory of Relativity: Revolutionized conceptions of time, space, mass, energy, and gravity
  • Mass-Energy Equivalence (E = mc2): Showed mass and energy are interchangeable

The mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc2 containing the speed of light constant c is Einstein’s most famous discovery. These papers fundamentally transformed physics and put Einstein in the international spotlight.

Nobel Prize in Physics

In 1921, Einstein finally received a Nobel Prize – but it was for explaining the photoelectric effect, not his theory of relativity. He became an eminent professor and began traveling the world, lecturing on physics.

Increasing antisemitism in Germany caused Einstein to settle permanently in the United States in 1933 as the Nazi party rose to power. Einstein renounced his German citizenship and joined the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. He became an American citizen in 1940 but retained his Swiss citizenship.

Personal Life

Einstein married his first wife Mileva Maric, a former classmate, in 1903. They had two sons together, Hans and Eduard. Their marriage grew difficult, partially over Einstein’s growing fame and time away. After divorcing Mileva in 1919, Einstein married his cousin Elsa Lowenthal that same year. Elsa passed away in 1936 after living with Einstein in Germany and then America.

Outside his scientific explorations, Einstein enjoyed violin, sailing, writing, philosophy and working towards social justice causes. As a pacifist later in life, Einstein advocated against militarism and nationalism.

During World War II, he penned a famous letter to President Franklin Roosevelt warning about Germany’s efforts to develop an atomic bomb and suggesting the United States commence its own nuclear program.

Einstein’s Health and Death

By the early 1950s, Einstein began experiencing severe internal bleeding caused by an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He refused surgery, believing people had the right to choose their time of death.

On April 18, 1955, Einstein passed away at age 76 in Princeton, New Jersey. After his death, Einstein’s brain was removed and preserved without the permission of his family. Tissue analysis revealed unusual physiological features which could have contributed to Einstein’s intellectual gifts.

Einstein did not want his brain or body venerated. After keeping his brain for research purposes for several decades, it was returned and cremated according to his wishes in 1999. The pathologist who conducted the unauthorized brain autopsy, Thomas Harvey, kept fragments of Einstein’s brain until his own death in 2007 when the pieces were removed from his possession.

Theories and Discoveries

In 1915, Einstein completed his General Theory of Relativity after 10 years of work. This built upon his earlier Special Theory to describe gravitation in complex scenarios. The equations showed space and time constitute a curved 4-dimensional structure influenced by mass and energy.

So objects cause space to curve, while motion follows the straightest path in curved space. The theory explained unusual observations about Mercury’s orbit that classical physics failed to. It also enabled predictions for the gravitational phenomena observed during solar eclipses starting in 1919 which vaulted Einstein further into the scientific stratosphere.

Unified Field Theory

Einstein spent his later decades trying to reconcile electromagnetism with gravity through a single unified theory, hoping to leave physics with an integrated understanding from which quantum mechanics could be deduced.

While the Unified Field Theory was elegant, it remained mathematically inconsistent and was disproven by particle experiments. However, Einstein’s work on finding linkages between fundamental forces remains pertinent to current physics research.

Einstein’s Cultural Influence

As a scientific genius and eccentric celebrity, Einstein became an iconic figure rapidly recognized everywhere. Images of Einstein showing his whimsical hair and moustache made him instantly identifiable.

Why Was Einstein Famous?

Einstein fundamentally changed our comprehension of the physical world, space, time, energy, light, and gravity. Discoveries like E = mc2 re-conceptualized mass and energy as manifestations of the same underlying reality.

His work demonstrated light could behave both as particles and waves, through the photoelectric effect relating light with discrete energy packets called photons. Findings also proved the existence of atoms and molecules well before ordinary microscopes could visualize them.

While controversial at first, experiments repeatedly validated Einstein’s often paradoxical radical reconceptions about the natural world. His sudden insights decentralized longstanding Newtonian traditions in physics replaced with fresh worldviews centered around relativity and quantum dynamics. As an approachable pop culture icon who weekly made theoretical breakthroughs overturning classical physics, Einstein captivated public interest like no prior scientist.


Albert Einstein profoundly reshaped our understanding of space, time, energy, light, gravity, and the subatomic realm. His discoveries emerged from passionate curiosity about nature’s deepest workings – from investigating light particles bouncing to inferring warped spacetime from Mercury’s orbit. An eccentric genius and master conceptualist, Einstein’s flair for gedanken experiments enabled transformative breakthroughs transcending laboratory confines.

Forever synonymous with genius, Einstein embodies imagination’s power to reveal new existential vistas. Despite antisemitism derailing his early academic options in Germany, Einstein flourished through self-education, eventually revolutionizing physics as an immigrant patent clerk visualizing mind-bending theories between applications. Relativity and E = mc2 highlight warping interconnections between matter, energy and velocity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What nationality was Albert Einstein?

Albert Einstein was born in Germany in 1879. He renounced his German citizenship in 1933 and immigrated permanently to the United States where he became an American citizen in 1940. However, he retained his Swiss citizenship throughout his life after attending university in Switzerland in the late 1890s.

Was Einstein a bad student?

No. Einstein experienced difficulties fitting into the highly regimented German schools he attended as a child due to his inquisitive and freethinking nature. He failed an entrance exam to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at age 16.

However, Einstein overcame early academic struggles through persistent self-education. He began excelling in math and physics once at university and beyond.

When did Einstein make his major discoveries?

Einstein’s ‘miracle year’ came in 1905 when he published four seminal papers while working at the Swiss Patent Office. He introduced his Special Theory of Relativity and the iconic mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc2 in papers during this remarkably productive year. His General Theory of Relativity followed a decade later in 1915.

What unexpected things happened after Einstein’s death?

After Einstein’s 1955 death, an unauthorized autopsy removed his entire brain from his body prior to burial. Einstein’s brain became preserved for several decades for analysis without his or his family’s consent. Studies found unusual anatomical asymmetry and convolutions in Einstein’s parietal lobes which could have aided his visual thinking.

Why was Einstein’s brain stolen?

The pathologist who conducted Einstein’s autopsy, Dr. Thomas Harvey, removed his brain to preserve it for scientific study without permission. As Einstein possessed such intellectual gifts, Harvey wanted to understand any distinctive physiological features which may have contributed to the brilliant physicist’s thinking skills.