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Albert Einstein

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Albert Einstein

Albert Einstien (March 14, 1879 - April 18, 1955) was a physicist who first proposed the theory of relativity. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for his explanation of the photoelectric effect "and other contributions"; however, the announcement of the award was not made until a year later, in 1922. His theoretical work suggested the possibility of creating an atomic bomb. His discovered equation, E=MC2 is well known as one that changed the world.

Einstien was born March 14, 1879 at Ulm in Wberg, Germany. He grew up in Munich and later in Italy, and received his higher education in Switzerland. At age 17 he renounced his German citizenship and later, in 1901, was accepted as a Swiss citizen. He married his first wife, Mileva Maric in 1903. Her role in his early years is subject of much controversy. He obtained his doctorate in 1905. That same year, he wrote four articles that lay the foundation for modern physics.

The first article in this miracle year is remembered as his study of Brownian motion. It established empirical evidence for the reality of atoms. Before this paper, atoms were recognized as a useful concept, but physicists and chemists hotly debated the question of whether atoms were real things. Einstien's statistical discussion of atomic behavior gave experimentalists a way to count atoms by looking through an ordinary microscope. Wilhelm Ostwald, one of the leaders of the anti-atom school, later told Arnold Sommerfeld that he had been converted to a belief in atoms by Einstien's complete explanation of Brownian motion.

The second paper of 1905 proposed the idea of "light quanta" (now called photons) and showed how they could be used to explain such phenomena as the photoelectric effect. Einstien's theory of light quanta received almost no support from other physicists for nearly 20 years. It contradicted the wave theory of light that underlay James Clerk Maxwell's equations for electromagnetic behavior. Even after experiments demonstrated that Einstien's equations for the photoelectric effect were splendidly accurate, his explanation was not accepted. In 1922, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize, and his work on photoelectricity was mentioned by name, most physicists thought that, while the equation was correct, light quanta were impossible.

1905's third paper introduced the special theory of relativity, a detailed analysis of the concepts of time, distance, mass and energy which omits the force of gravity. Some of the paper's core mathematical ideas had been introduced a year earlier by the Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz, but Einstien showed how to understand these mathematical oddities. His explanation arose from two axioms: one was Galileo's old idea that the laws of nature should be the same for all observers that move with constant speed relative to each other; and, two, that the speed of light is the same for every observer. Special relativity has several striking consequences because the absolute concepts of time and size are rejected. The theory came to be called "special theory of relativity" to distinguish

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