Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist.
He is best known for his theory of relativity and specifically mass-energy equivalence, E = mc2. Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect."
Einstein's many contributions to physics include his special theory of relativity, which reconciled mechanics with electromagnetism, and his general theory of relativity which extended the principle of relativity to non-uniform motion, creating a new theory of gravitation. His other contributions include relativistic cosmology, capillary action, critical opalescence, classical problems of statistical mechanics and their application to quantum theory, an explanation of the Brownian movement of molecules, atomic transition probabilities, the quantum theory of a monatomic gas, thermal properties of light with low radiation density (which laid the foundation for the photon theory), a theory of radiation including stimulated emission, the conception of a unified field theory, and the geometrization of physics.
Works by Albert Einstein include more than fifty scientific papers and also non-scientific books. In 1999 Einstein was named Time magazine's "Person of the Century", and a poll of prominent physicists named him the greatest physicist of all time. In popular culture the name "Einstein" has become synonymous with genius.Wurttemberg, Germany. Little did anyone know that young Albert Einstein, who had various speech difficulties and learned to talk late, would go on to become the most prominent physicist in history and named People magazine's "Man of the Century" in 1999.
In 1905, Einstein published four revolutionary papers in the journal Annalen der Physik, including papers explaining the photoelectric effect and the fundamentals of his special theory of relativity. His work laid the foundation for the field of quantum physics, though he himself had some concerns about the conceptual implications of his own work.
Specifically, Einstein didn't like the fact that quantum physics allows (conceptually at the time, though it has since been demonstrated) that information about a system can be "communicated" instantaneously through quantum entanglement. This violates one of the principles of relativity, which is that no information can travel faster than the speed of light. Einstein's friendly, though heated, debate with colleague Niels Bohr on this issue went on for years, and provided key insights into the developing quantum theory.
In the later years of his life, Einstein focused his work on the attempt to derive a Unified Field Theory (more often called Grand Unified Theory, or GUT, at the time) which would unify the fundamental forces of physics into a single conceptual framework. This attempt was not successful, but it is still the holy grail of physics research, resulting in theories such as string theory, quantum gravity, and loop quantum gravity.
In addition to his work in physics, he also became a prominent figure in popular culture, obtaining a status akin to a modern day rock star. His distinctive appearance may have helped with this, and certainly has made him popular among cartoonists. He wrote a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939, expressing concern that Germany might be using his own research to develop nuclear weapons. This letter motivated FDR to initiate the Manhattan Project to develop such a weapon for the Allies first.
Einstein later became a vocal supporter of the Zionist movement, although he also expressed concerns about the specifics of the decision to form Israel ... concerns which the continued violence in that region & border dispute shows to have been prescient. He was asked to be Israel's second president, but he chose to decline it.