By Manju Gupta
Known the world over as the creator of the Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein was born in 1879 to a Jewish family in Ulm, and grew up in Munich. As a child he was not happy at school and was constantly facing trouble with his teachers. He was rather weak in studies. One day, a teacher summoned him, saying, ?Albert, I must insist that you stop asking questions in my classes. I have no answers for them and the students are losing their respect for me. It seems to me that should you decide to leave this school, it might be a very good idea.?
In 1894, Einstein and his family moved to Switzerland. He became a junior examiner at the patent office in 1902. As this clerical job could be finished in two to three hours, he could find time to write. He began producing original theoretical works that laid many of the foundations for 20th-century physics. Whenever anyone walked in at his workplace, he would nonchalantly stop his scribblings, usually equations, and put them into a file in his desk drawer. In 1905 he received his doctorate from the University of Zurich and the same year won international fame with the publication of his three articles. One was on Brownian Motion demonstrating the existence of molecules. A very interesting incident related is that once he climbed a ladder to change a picture on the wall. Lost in his thoughts, his foot slipped and he came crashing to the floor. On recovering from the fall, he took out a paper and pen and began working on the causes of the fall. Like the fall of the apple in Sir Isaac Newton'sgarden, Einstein decided to work on it and restructured the Theory of Gravitation.
His second article was on Photoelectric Effect in which he demonstrated the particle nature of light. His third paper was on Theory of Relativity which included his formula for the equivalence of mass and energy: E=mc2. This theory was published
He become a junior examiner at the patent office in 1902. As this clerical job could be finished in two to three hours, he could find time to write. He began producing original theoretical works that laid many of the foundations for 20th-century physics.
and was confirmed experimentally during a solar eclipse in 1919 with observation of the deviation of light passing on nearing the sun. When he received the photographs, he remarked with a twinkle in his eyes, ?Now that my Theory of Relativity has been proved true, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Had my theory been proved false, France would have said that I was German and Germany would have declared that I was a Jew.?
On being asked to explain the Theory of Relativity, Einstein said, ?When a man sits with a petty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute, then it will seem like more than an hour. This is relativity.?
Einstein married Mileva Maria though it was an unhappy marriage from the very beginning. A very interesting incident is related about him. After her fiance had been introduced to the pastor of the church, the pastor took the girl aside and remarked, ?I approve of your young man (Einstein) in every respect save one. He lacks a sense of humour. I asked him to explain to me Enstein'sTheory of Relativity and he actually tried to do it.?
Einstein went so far as to include the anticipated Nobel Prize in the divorce settlement he had agreed to in 1919. The Prize was given to him in 1921 for his work on the Photoelectic Effect, with his work on relativity still being contro-versial.
A young school girl was having difficulty in solving maths problems given to her as homework. She had heard that close to her house lived a very famous mathematician who was also a kind man. She approached him for help. Einstein was very helpful and explained everything patiently. In appreication, she gave him her chocolate to eat. The little girl went and told her mother, ?It was easier to understand it from him than when our teacher explained it in school.?
On hearing this, the mother immediately went over to his house to apologise for the inconvenience. But Enstein replied with glee, ?You don'thave to apologise. I have certainly learnt more from the conversation with the child than she did from me.?
When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Einstein resigned his posi-tion at the Russian Acade-my and went to Princeton, USA to join the Institute for Advanced Study.
Meanwhile Einstein had married again. He used to go regularly on lecture tours. Once his second wife Elsa packed his suitcase, instructing him, ?The black suit is to be worn on the evening you make your speech. Don'tforget. Put on the clean shirt, tie and please, please, the socks!? He dutifully nodded. On his return Elsa found the suitcase untouched. Einstein remarked ruefully, ?I guess I forgot… but then, they came to hear what I had to say and not to see whether I was fashionably dressed, isn'tthat so??
He was very fond of playing the violin. A wealthy industrialist sent him a ?Guarnerius? violin valued then at $ 30,000, but Einstein returned it saying, ?This valuable instrument should be played by a true artist. Please forgive me, I am used to my old violin.?
Once on a lecture tour to Prague, he began, ?It could perhaps be more under-standable and more enjoyable if I were to play for you instead.? He took out his violin and proceeded to play Mozart sonatas to an highly apprecia-tive aud-ience.
Einstein, the most radical of classical physicists, could not reconcile himself to the new quantum theory and objected to its emphasis on proba-bility. Once he was deep in discussion on it with Niels Bohr (another scientist), when they reached a point where Einstein exclaimed, ?God does not play dice.? Bohr was equally upset, and yelled back, ?Stop telling God what to do.?
Disguisted with the state of world affairs and growing violence, Einstein went to Japan, where he spent time with the children, who drew drawings for him. He accepted these joyously and remarked, ?In the children lies the hope of the world. They must never be brought up to hate. They must never abuse the hard-won achievements of the human race.? He turned to the children to say, ?Let us hope that your generation will put mine to shame.?
This most eminent scientist in the world in the post-war years declined to become the first Prime Minister of Israel and became a strong advocate of nuclear disarmament. He died in 1955 at the peak of his glory.