Albert Einstein

His work | Quotes | Timeline | Finding out more

His work

In 1905, Einstein was 25 years old, holding down a full time job, and being a father to his one year old son Hans-Albert. He also published five scientific papers: two on evidence for the existence of atoms, two on relativity, and one on photons - particles of light. Einstein regarded only the last one as "revolutionary", since the idea of photons appeared to contradict the established theory of light as a continuous classical field. By contrast, atoms and relativity were natural developments of the classical tradition of physics.

Einstein regarded as his greatest work his 1915 theory of gravity, called General Relativity. He also held various patents - such as for a refrigerator. A topical research field for which he laid the foundations in 1925 is "Bose-Einstein Condensation".


A good reference for Einstein quotes is: "The expanded quotable Einstein", by A. Calaprice, Princeton University Press 2000.

"Subtle is the Lord; but malicious he is not".
To Oscar Veblen 1921, regarding an experimental result purporting to contradict general relativity (subsequently the result was found to be wrong). Inscribed over the fireplace in the Faculty Lounge of the Mathematics Department of Princeton University.

"I have second thoughts. Maybe God is malicious".
To. V. Bargmann.

"What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world".
To Ernst Straus.

"But the years of anxious searching in the dark, with there intense longing, their alterations of confidence and exhaustion, and the final emergence into the light - only those who have experienced it can understand it".
Lecture, University of Glasgow, 1933.

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality".
Einstein: address to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, Jan. 27, 1921. Published in "Sidelights on relativity", Mathuen, London, 1922.

"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible".
Einstein in P. Schillip (editor) "Albert Einstein: philosopher-scientist", (1949) pg. 112.

Poem (1920)

Wherever I go and wherever I stay,
There's always a picture of me on display,
On top of the desk, or out in the hall,
Tied around a neck, or hung on the wall.

Women and men, they play a strange game,
Asking, beseeching: "Please sign your name".
From the erudite fellow they brook not a quibble
But firmly insist on a piece of his scribble.

Sometimes, surrounded by all this good cheer,
I'm puzzled by some of the things that I hear,
And wonder, my mind for a moment not hazy,
If I and not they could really be crazy.

Translated from the German. Handwritten facsimile in: "Albert through the looking glass", by Zeev Rosenkranz (1998).


1879 Born March 14 in Ulm, Germany.
1896 Renounces German citizenship.
1901 Becomes Swiss citizen. First scientific paper is published: "Conclusions drawn from the phenomena of capillarity", Annalen der Physik, March 1901.
1902 Daughter Lieserl born to Mileva Maric. Appointed technical expert third class in the Swiss Patent Office in Bern.
1903 Marriage to Mileva Maric.
1904 Son Hans Albert born.
1905 The miraculous year. Writes important papers on Brownian motion, photons, special relativity. Receives Ph.D. from Zurich University.
1906 Promoted to technical expert second class in the Swiss Patent Office.
1907 Discovers the Principle of Equivalence.
1908 Appointed lecturer at Bern University.
1909 Resigns from the Patent Office. Appointed Associate Professor of theoretical physics at Zurich University.
1910 Second son Eduard born.
1911 Appointed Professor of theoretical physics at German University of Prague.
1916 Publishes the General Theory of Relativity.
1919 Gravitational bending of light observed during solar eclipse. Einstein becomes a world figure.
1920 Mass meeting against the General Theory of Relativity in Berlin.
1922 Awarded Nobel Prize for Physics for 1921.
1924 Publishes paper predicting Bose-Einstein condensation of gases.
1927 Begins debate with Neils Bohr on the foundations of quantum mechanics.
1930 Intense activity on behalf of pacifism.
1935 The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox is published in Physical Review.
1939 Signs famous letter to President Roosevelt recommending research on nuclear weapons.
1940 Becomes US citizen.
1952 Offered presidency of Israel.
1955 Dies April 18 of aortic rupture, age 76. Body cremated and ashes scattered at an undisclosed place

Based on more complete Timeline in "Albert through the looking glass", by Zeev Rosenkranz (1998).

Finding out more

Web sites about Einstein. Books about Einstein. Einstein's special relativity papers.