Who was Albert Einstein really?

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A photograph of Albert Einstein

So I am pretty sure you have already heard of Albert Einstein or even perhaps know him as the wild-haired genius... or perhaps you even recall this mostly famous formula...

E=mc2?

Well for those who don’t... this blog post will tell you all (well most) you need to know about this 76-year-old genius who was generally considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century... with a few extras you might or might not have known.

So let's start at the very beginning...

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Württemberg Germany on March 14 1879 and died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm in April 18 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.

Did you know he was born with an alarmingly large head and it was too big for his body? His mother feared he was deformed and his grandmother was even said to be crying when he was born but everyone was later assured by physicians that he would grow into it and of course... he did.

His family.

So Alberts parents were secular, middle-class Jewish people. His father was originally a featherbed salesman and later ran an electrochemical factory. His name was Hermann Einstein. His mother on the other hand ran the family house hold and her name was Pauline Kock.

Did you know Albert had a sister? Her name was Maria.

As a kid.

Did you know that Albert only really started talking when he was about 4 years old?

It is said that underachieving school kids have long taken the claim that Albert Einstein in fact flunked maths as a kid... but actual records show that he was actually an exceptional student and even before the age of 15 he had mastered differential and integral calculus. In fact, he scored high grades during his school days in Munick and was only frustrated by what he described as the ‘mechanical discipline’ demanded by his teachers. He was actually consistently at the top of his class and was even considered something of a prodigy of his grasp complex of mathematical and scientific concepts.

He was even later in life presented with this question of when he was a kid and he himself said: “Before I was 15 I had mastered differential and integral caculus.”

So yes, he might have dropped out of school and left without any degree at the age of 15 but it was simply to avoid state-mandated military service and to follow his parents to Milan.

Did you know... during one of his years at school officials changed the grading system by making A's into F's and vice versa so the F that Albert became famous for was actually an A.

He did however, fail his university entrance exam.

At 16 years old, in 1895, Albert took the entrance exam for the Swiss Federal Polytechnic, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics School. Even though he had exceptional scored in physics and mathematics, his other scores weren't good enough to pass the exam as a whole.

His love life.

At the age of 17 Albert was now a new physics student at the University in Zurich and this is where he fell in love with his wife who was four years older than him, Mileva Maric. This was considered to be a modern love affair in the late 1800's because not only did they not marry for many years due to Albert being broke but also because Mileva never received the seal of approval from her parents.

Even though they were not married Mileva became pregnant in 1902 and went away to have his illegitimate daughter Lieserl. To this day, nobody knows what happened to her. Some speculate that she was perhaps adopted or even died of scarlet fever. In 1904 however, Albert then had a son called Hans Albert and another son Eduard followed in 1910.

Did you know that his son Eduard at the age of 20, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and then institutionalized?

Albert was actually quite a bad husband. He had a few affairs he did not even try to hide. He even moved the entire family to Berlin without discussion and actually treated his wife more as a servant than a wife.

After his marriage to Mileva Maric hit the rocks in the early 1910's, Albert started a new relationship with his cousin Elsa. Mileva then finally divorced Albert several years later in 1919.

So as part of their separation agreement, Albert promised his annual stipend plus whatever money he might get from the Nobel Prize – which he was convinced he would eventually win but did not even have yet – and Mileva agreed. She then later received a small fortune when he got his award in 1922 for his work on the photoelectric effect. By this time, he was already remarried to his cousin Elsa.
Elsa passed in 1936.

His hobbies.

A photograph of Albert Einstein wearing no socks Did you know that Albert loved to sail? Ever since university he loved it but also admitted he never made a particular good sailor and in fact... he didn't even know how to swim.

Did you know that Albert was a great musician? If the whole genius thing was not going to work out for him he would have become a famous violin player. His mother played piano so he had the love of music installed in him and started violin lessons at a young age of 5.

Did you know Albert never enjoyed wearing socks? In fact, in a letter to Lowenthal he bragged about getting away without wearing socks while he was at Oxford.


His work.

A photograph of Albert Einstein teaching Albert turned classical physics on its head with his special and general theories or relativity, which revolutionized scientists understanding of everything from space and time to gravity and energy.

Even though Albert showed flashes of brilliance during his years at the Zurick Polytechnic, he had quite a rebellious personality and skipping classes was one of his known habits. His professors never liked this and gave him less than glowing recommendations on his graduation is 1900 which resulted in Einstein taking 9 years to get a job in academia.

Albert spent two years searching already for an academic position before he then settled for a job as the Swiss patent officer in Bern. This job was actually perfect for him at the time because it was a breeze doing his office duties in only a few hours plus it gave him the rest of the day for writing and conduction research.

What made Albert Einstein world famous over night?
A photograph of Albert Einsteins theory

In 1915 Albert published his theory of general relativity which stated that gravitational field cause distortion in the fabric of space and time. It was only until May 1919 when a total solar eclipse provided the proper conditions to test the claim that a supermassive object - like the sun – would cause a measurable curve in the starlight passing by it.

So this is where an English astronomer Arthur Eddington journeyed to the coast of West Africa and photographed the eclipse. What he found upon analysing the pictures, confirmed that the suns gravity had indeed deflected the light by roughly 1.7 arc seconds... exactly as predicted by general relativity.

This news made Albert Einstein an overnight celebrity.

Newspapers even named him as the hair to Sir Isaac Newton and he went on to travel the world lecturing on his theories about the cosmos. He received invitations and honours from all over the world and there was hardly any magazine which did not report about him and praise his work to the skies.

Did you know that the FBI spied on Albert for decades?

In December 1932 Albert decided to leave Nazi Germany just before Hitler rose to power in 1933 because of the political situation and he actually never again set foot on German ground. So when he left Berlin and took up a position in Princeton, New Jersey, USA at the Institute for Advanced Study, the FBI launched what would eventually become a 22-year surveillance campaign.

It was said that his support for pacifists, civil rights and left wing causes drew suspicion on him by J. Edgar Hoover from the FBI. Agents listened to his phone calls, opened his mail and even went through his trash in hope of unmasking him as a soviet spy. They even investigated tips that he was building a death ray. Crazy huh?! The good news is that the projects came up empty handed and by the time Albert died in 1955, his FBI file was a whopping 1800 pages.

Did you know that Albert was even asked to be president of Israel?

When the head of state at the time Chaim Weizmann died in 1952, the Israeli government offered to appoint Albert as the national second president. It was believed that Einstein felt a deep connection to his Jewish heritage and often spoke out against anti-Semitism.

But the 73-year-old wasted no time in declining the honour and replied: 'All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official function.'


Did you know that Einstein urged the building of the Atomic Bomb?

So in the late 1930's, Einstein heard that new research had been done by German scientists that had put them on a path to the atom bomb. This whole doomsday weapon idea then got Albert to set aside his pacifist principles and he teamed up with Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard and he actually helped Albert write an important letter to President Franklin D Roosevelt to start conducting atomic research.

But shortly before his death in 1955, Albert had deep regrets about his minor involvement in bringing about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing and said: 'Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I never would have lifted a finger.'

Did you know that Alberts brain was stolen after his death?

When Albert was alive he requested that his body be cremated but a Princeton pathologist Thomas Harvey, removed his unique brain during his autopsy and kept it in the hope of unlocking the secrets of his genius.

Then in 1999, a team from a Canadian university published a very controversial paper claiming Albert possessed unusual folds on his parietal lobe; a part of the brain associated with mathematical and spatial ability.

So there you have it... Albert Einstein in a nutshell. I hope you enjoyed all this and please tell me below in the comments below which part was most interesting to you.
Take care and be blessed!

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Martin Grobler

About Martin

Martin is a digital marketing specialist, a producer and always online. His educational background is Digital and has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. His wife & little girl comes first and in his spare time he really enjoys making music. You can learn more about him [HERE].
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