Details from the Remarkable Life of Albert Einstein
Alone except for an attending nurse keeping vigil, the remarkable life of the great physicist Albert Einstein came to a quiet end in a Princeton hospital room early in the morning of April 18, 1955. In 1999 Time magazine named this brilliant scientist “Person of the Century.” His many groundbreaking scientific theories, especially his theory of relativity, dazzled his colleagues and earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. The following two newspaper articles were published on the day of his death, providing many details of his full life and unprecedented career.
This copyrighted article was published by the Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington) on April 18, 1955:
Einstein Genius Developed Early
(Compiled from Associated Press and United Press dispatches)
Albert Einstein, the quiet, unpretentious wizard of mathematics and physics, spent his lifetime searching for a unified mathematical concept of the laws that govern the universe. He was born in Ulm, Germany, March 14, 1879, of middle-class Jewish parents.
From Einstein’s father, Hermann, an electrical engineer, he got his first glimpses of the world of science. From his mother, Pauline Koch, he acquired his love of music and art.
Because he did not speak a word until he was 3 years old, his parents feared there might be something wrong with their child. They need not have worried.
At 10, Einstein was given a geometry book and had mastered every problem within three months.
Advance Is Rapid
At 11 he was able to discuss the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. By 14, he had taught himself algebra, analytical geometry, and integral and differential calculus, none of which was part of his school curriculum.
When he took entrance examinations at the Polytechnic Academy in Zurich, Switzerland, where he planned to pursue his father’s profession, his wizardry in mathematics and physics astounded his professors.
In addition to his technical studies, Einstein always was deeply interested in philosophy.
It was physics, however, that mainly occupied the budding scientist. He admitted later that he had concentrated on physics rather than mathematics because:
“It was not clear to me as a student that the approach to a more profound knowledge of the basic principles of physics is tied up with the most precise mathematical methods.
“This dawned on me only after years of independent scientific work.”
A Familiar Figure
The life of this amazing intellectual giant was simple and modest. His disdain for personal glory and material gain was almost a legend. His baggy-clad figure, a pipe perpetually in his mouth, and his long shaggy white hair and moustache, made him instantly recognizable almost anywhere in the world. He came to the United States during Hitler’s purge of the Jews.
In his leisure Einstein loved to play the violin and to go sailing. He was a familiar figure walking in the streets of Princeton, where he made purchases in the stores, and nodded “good mornings” as he went.
Einstein was married twice. First in 1903 to Mileva Maric, a Serbian Catholic whom he later divorced. They had two sons, (Hans) Albert and Edward. The second marriage, in 1915, was to Elsa Einstein, his first cousin, who had two daughters by a previous marriage: Isle, who died in 1934, and Margot.
Hans now is a professor at the University of California and Edward is in Switzerland.
After his second wife’s death in 1936, Einstein lived a secluded life in Princeton with Margot, and his housekeeper-secretary, Miss Helen Dukas.
Axioms Not Believed
Einstein said he believed that scientists could find the fundamental forces of nature and through them attain greater mastery of the universe in which we live.
Asked once how he formulated his theory of relativity, Einstein replied: “I never believed an axiom.”
Einstein hated publicity. He avoided personal interviews. Once he stuck his tongue out at a photographer snapping his picture.
Einstein had little use for birthdays. He usually refused birthday cakes, ignored planned receptions in his honor, and devoted his time to a book on equations.
The scientist hated conformists, proudly describing himself as an “incorrigible nonconformist.”
His disregard for money was almost legendary. Once he was reported to have used a $1,500 check for a bookmark—and then lost the book.
Einstein purposely avoided using “unnecessary” words in his conversation and never bothered to cram known facts into his brilliant mind. Once, during his first visit to America from Germany in 1921, he was asked whether he knew the speed of sound.
“I don’t know,” Einstein replied. “I don’t crowd my memory with facts that I can easily find in an encyclopedia.”
Faith Aids Life
Einstein, in his efforts to hammer out a mathematical concept of the universe, once told his fellow scientists, “I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.”
The learned teacher also commented he had “a kind of faith that helped me through my whole life—not to become hopeless in the great difficulties of investigation.”
Einstein answered much mail personally.
When a member of a sophomore geometry class at a Hollywood school sent Einstein a problem that had stumped her classmates, he answered by return airmail. He enclosed a diagram sketched on the back of her letter and signed it “A. E.” The diagram indicated the method of solution, but did not give the answer.
Einstein thus stepped down from his higher mathematics frequently and with apparent delight to aid those less gifted than he.
Again, Einstein walked into the Princeton telegraph office to find the local telegrapher struggling over an annual report in which he was asked to determine the percentage increase of messages over the previous year.
Einstein, the telegrapher said, asked what was wrong. “I showed him the whole sheaf of calculations, he shook his head impatiently, took the pencil from my hand and gave me his version.
“Dr. Einstein Said So”
“He wrote down some kind of a symbol that looked like a written note of music and said it was ‘infinity’ or something like that. Well, I sent that into my home office and when they sent me another letter asking what the symbol was all about, I wrote back: ‘It must be O.K.—Dr. Einstein said so.’”
Although Einstein won renown as a scientist, he once said that if he had to do it over again he would not go into that field.
“I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances,” the scientist told a magazine writer.
This copyrighted article was published by the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) on the front page of its April 18, 1955, issue:
Einstein Achieved World Renown at 26;
Bared Universe Secrets by Mathematics
Albert Einstein, ranked by many scientists as the outstanding scientific mind of his time, reduced secrets of the universe to mathematical formulae.
He achieved world renown when he was only 26. That was in 1905 when he expounded his Special Theory of Relativity. One part of that theory set out that matter could be turned into energy. This was verified in the laboratory and proved dramatically 40 years later when some matter—uranium 235—was turned into energy over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In 1915 Einstein completed his General Theory of Relativity. That was an expansion of his Special Theory relating to motion to include the phenomena of gravitation. It expanded and revised Sir Isaac Newton’s almost sacred law. This theory dealt with the inter-relationship of time and space, matter and energy, gravitation and inertia.
Of the difference between Newton’s belief and his theory, Einstein wrote: “The new theory of gravitation diverges from that of Newton with respect to its basal theory…in practical application the two agree so closely that it has been difficult to find cases in which actual difference could be subjected to observation.”
New Gravitation Theory
In 1950, after 30 years of intensive study, Einstein expounded a new theory that, if proved, might be the key to the universe. He was then 70 years old.
He called it a Generalized Theory of Gravitation. If eventually proved—an effort that might require many years—it would fill in gaps and permit a mathematical explanation of the connection supposed to exist between gravitation and electromagnetism.
Einstein believed that it explained more about what gravitation is. Gravitation has been one of the greatest scientific mysteries. It is gravity that keeps humans from floating off the earth. It is gravity that keeps the earth and other planets spinning always in the same paths around the sun.
Einstein’s new theory attempted to get a better foundation to explain all the basic physical laws in terms of gravitation, electricity and magnetism. It was an attempt to describe, in one law, everything that goes on everywhere from the inside of one tiny atom to the limits of the universe.
This theory, an extension of his relativity theory, formed a new chapter in the third edition of Einstein’s book, “The Meaning of Relativity,” published by the Princeton University Press.
Did Atomic Research
It was Einstein who gave science the theoretical knowledge needed for the atom bomb. Existence of atomic energy became known as a result of his relativity theory.
He found that a small quantity of matter could produce astronomical quantities of energy.