Albert Einstein is a revered figure both in the scientific community and in the general public, with his intelligence and contributions to the field of science celebrated as some of the building blocks of our understanding of physics. Today marks his 139th birthday, and while Albert Einstein may be long gone at this point, the impact of his research and other contributions to science lives on as a major force in his field and for our understanding of science in general.
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Many people associate Albert Einstein with the idea of the perfect student who catapulted to stardom with his famous paper detailing the equation ”E=MC2” the truth is that he was a below average student who struggled to perform well during his early school days. It’s important to recognize that Albert Einstein was always extremely intelligent, it just turns out that the lack of creative latitude that traditional education gave him didn’t resonate well with the young student. A teacher actually went so far as to suggest that Albert Einstein would never amount to anything – a sentiment that he would prove wrong relatively early in his scientific career with the publication of groundbreaking papers.
After struggling to complete elementary school at the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich, he moved onto the Swiss Federal Polytechnic school in Germany due to his above average performance in the field of science and math. Despite his issues with schooling early on in his education career, Albert Einstein always showed signs of intelligence and a fierce desire to learn and innovate. One early influence of the young scientist was Max Talmud, a Polish Medical student who served as an informal tutor and introduced Einstein to the books “Popular books on physical science.”
His attendance at the school in Zurich would allow Albert Einstein to explore his inquisitive nature and express his creativity – an opportunity that was lacking in his earlier education. This freedom combined with the foundation of scientific knowledge he had been building up over years would soon allow him to create something exceptional.
The Famous Papers
Soon after graduating from school, Albert Einstein secured a job at the Swiss Patent Office. Although that work managed to pay the bills, Einstein spent his free time working on his exploration of new ideas that were developed during his time in school.
In 1905, Albert Einstein published four papers in Annalen der Physik – one of the best known physics journals at the time. Two of the papers focused on lesser-known phenomena like the photoelectric effect and Brownian movement. The other two, however, built the foundation of the work for which he would be remembered long after his death: the equation E=MC2 and the special theory of relativity.
Just 10 years later, Einstein published a paper on General Relativity – and went on to win a Nobel Prize in Physics I’m 1921.
A Lasting Legacy
It may seem strange to celebrate the annual birthday of a scientist who died so many years ago, but his contributions to science were so immense that society will likely be celebrating Albert Einstein long after we’re gone. As today brings the devastating news of the passing of Stephen Hawking, another incredibly influential scientist, it’s a particularly special day to reflect on the achievements of those who brought so much to our understanding of the world around us and continue to have an impact that will outlive them by hundreds of years
After his passing, numerous scientists have honored his legacy by continuing the work he started over 100 years ago. Back in 1993, a Nobel prize was awarded for the discovery of gravitation waves – a phenomenon that Einstein had original predicted. To this day, scientists are working diligently to find a unified theory of everything – one of Einstein’s dreams that he wasn’t able to accomplish before his passing.
Albert Einstein accomplished more in his life than many could ever hope to achieve – at least in the world of physics. From humble beginnings as a student who struggled greatly with the constraints of a traditional education to one of the brightest minds we’ve ever seen, Albert Einstein defied expectations and proved that genius isn’t limited to performance on tests and in the classroom. While many excel within the traditional education system, there are those with much to offer that have an intelligence and creativity that is only stifled by the rigidity of schooling.
While it’s by no means a good idea to ditch the education in hopes that you’ll be the next Einstein, his achievements prove that intelligence may be lurking where you least expect it. From a student with poor grades came the foundation of modern physics, pricing that anyone with enough intelligence and motivation can make significant contributions to our understanding of science.
With Stephen Hawking now becoming another exceptional mind that has left us behind, it’s a somber day but also one for celebration as we add another great mind to a list of scientific greats like Albert Einstein that will be revered for years to come