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Physics
Einstein's contribution to 20th century physics is uncontested and has been described in countless publications of all kinds. He is probably best known for his Special and General theories of Relativity. But his scientific works also include papers on theoretical mechanics, on quantum theory, and important contributions to cosmology. Einstein's revolutionary ideas touched off heated debates, and not only among the scientists in his own field. Many philosophical articles, for example, have also dealt with his theories.

 


Scientific Papers
In 1905, while living at Kramgasse No. 49, Albert Einstein developed the Special Theory of Relativity. His work on the General Theory also began in Bern.

 

Einstein himself called the years from 1902 to 1909 the happiest and most fruitful period in his life. He presented no less than 32 scientific publications. Six of them stand out in particular: the fundamental papers Einstein published as a 26-year-old in 1905, the year of his breakthrough:

On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light
(For this paper on the photoelectric effect he received the Nobel Prize of 1921.)

On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in Stationary Liquids Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat
(On a problem in statistical mechanics)

On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies
(Special theory of relativity)

Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon Its Energy Content?
(Equivalence of mass and energy)

On the Theory of Brownian Motion
(Published in 1906)

A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions
(His doctoral dissertation)


Thus, Bern became the starting point of a unique academic career. The year 1905 - often called his "annus mirabilis" - was the most creative period of scientific endeavours for Einstein (and for the whole community of physicists). His theories were received very sceptically at first. Today they are an indispensable part of physics. The consequences of the theory of relativity, for instance, are confirmed daily by modern acceleration experiments.

 

Family
In 1903, Albert Einstein married Mileva Maric against the will of their parents. The two had met while studying at the ETH (Federal Institute of Technology) in Zurich. Mileva, originally from Serbia, had come to Switzerland to study, encouraged by her father, who was aware of her exceptional intellectual abilities. Mileva was one of the first women ever to enrol at the ETH for physics.
In 1902 she gave birth to a girl, Lieserl, whose fate remains largely in the dark. In 1904 Hans Albert was born. He became an engineer, and, in 1937, a professor of hydraulic engineering in Berkeley, California.


 

Friends
Einstein's most important friends and partners in discussion were Maurice Solovine and Conrad Habicht. Together they founded the so-called "Olympia Academy," having, as its purpose, the discussion of philosophical and scientific problems. Einstein kept up these contacts after his departure from Bern.
With another lifetime friend, Michele Besso, Einstein often discussed scientific matters on the way home from the Patent Office.


Work at the Patent Office
In June 1902, Einstein started work as a "technical expert third class" at the Patent Office in Bern. He had been recommended by his friend, Marcel Grossmann. In 1906 he was promoted to "expert second class." His bread-winning job left him enough time for his scientific work. In 1908 he lectured at Bern University, and in 1909 he resigned from the Patent Office in order to take up the post of associate professor of theoretical physics at Zurich University.


Chronology

1879
Albert Einstein is born in Ulm (Germany) on 14 March. He is the first child of Hermann and Pauline Einstein-Koch.
1880
His family moves to Munich.
1881
Birth of Albert's sister Maja.
1888
"Luitpold-Gymnasium"
1894
Albert's parents move to Pavia and Milan. He stays in Munich.
1895
Albert arrives in Switzerland.
1896
"Matura" exams at the cantonal school in Aarau. Albert starts studying physics and mathematics at the Polytechnic in Zurich (ETH).
1900
Diploma as a teacher in mathematics and physics.
1901
Swiss citizen, assistant teacher at the "Technikum" in Winterthur.
1902
Albert moves to Bern and starts work at the Swiss Federal Patent Office in Bern as a "technical expert third class." The "Olympia Academy" is founded.
1902
Birth of Lieserl.
1903
He marries Mileva Maric on 6 January.
1903
They take up residence at Kramgasse No. 49 in the autumn.
1904
Birth of Hans Albert.
1905
Einstein's "annus mirabilis": doctoral dissertation, publication of 5 fundamental papers in the "Annalen der Physik."
1906
Einstein promoted to "technical expert second class."
1907
First attempts to apply the laws of gravitation to the Special Theory of Relativity.
1908
He gains teaching qualification at Bern University.
1909
Resignation from the Patent Office.
1909
Associate professor of theoretical physics at Zurich University.
1910
Birth of Eduard.
1911
Full professor at the German University in Prague.
1912
Full professor at the ETH in Zurich.
1913
Draft of a generalized theory of relativity, i.e. a theory of gravitation.
1913
Member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin.
1914
The Einsteins move to Berlin. His wife, Mileva, and his sons return to Zurich 3 months later.
1915
Einstein completes the General Theory of Relativity.
1917
Health collapse. First publication on cosmology.
1919
Divorce from Mileva Maric. Einstein marries his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal.
1919
Solar eclipse expedition furnishes proof of the bending of stellar light in gravitational fields, as predicted by Einstein.
1921
Nobel Prize (Physics) "for his outstanding contributions to theoretical physics and, in particular, for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect."
1922
Member of the League of Nations' Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.
1929
Publication of the "Unified Field Theory." (Like his later publications on the same topic it presents no satisfactory solution.)
1933
Resignation from the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Einstein immigrates to the USA, as many other Jews do..
1933
Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
1936
Death of Einstein's second wife, Elsa.
1940
American citizen.
1948
Death of Einstein's first wife, Mileva Maric, in Zurich.
1955
Albert Einstein dies on 18 April, at the age of 76, from a rupture of his aorta.

 

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