Albert Einstein started his journey form Ulm, a city in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany on March 14, 1879. At the age of 16, he showed glimpses of brilliance after obtaining exceptional grades in physics and mathematics while applying for the Swiss Federal institute of Polytechnic.
Soon, he became the mozart of the scientific community. During his entire scientific career, Einstein produced an astonishing number of papers, but it was in 1905, when he changed the common perception of scientific community by the idea of special and general theories of relativity.
It revolutionized scientific understanding of physics and physical laws including pace,time and gravity. Apart from the brains, he was also known for his peace loving nature and pacifist views in the 20th century. But surprisingly, there are still several mysteries and unknown facts about him that we are going to explore.
12. Einstein didn’t fail in maths
Einstein once said “Before I was 15 I had mastered differential and integral calculus.” Wait, what? There was one widely held belief about the genius is that he failed math as a student. Over the years, many assertions were made that Einstein consistently failed in mathematics during his school years.
In 1935, at Princeton when he was presented by a clipping of the Ripley’s column claiming that he did failed grad-school math. In reply, he simply laughed and said “I never failed in mathematics,” he added “Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.”
According to the records, he was actually an exceptional student, as he scored high grades during his school days in Munich. The main reason behind the dropout was that at the age of 15, he actually left Germany and abandoned his school due to family problems or political worries.
11. It took eight years to get him a job in academics
After graduating from Swiss federal Polytechnic in 1890, the genius spent two years searching for a job in academics. He later secured a job in Bern (Switzerland) at the Federal office for intellectual property, patent office as an assistant examiner.
Though the job was menial, it proved out to be the perfect fit for him to concentrate on conducting new researches and writing papers. In 1905, after five years of his first paper he did something that will change the whole course of the entire Physics world.
Often termed as Einstein’s annus mirabilis or miracle year, the year 1905 saw many revolutionary articles on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, but the most important one was theories on special relativity. It was after that when he was recognized as the leading scientist and offered for the post of a lecturer at the University of Bern in 1908.
10. He offered his Nobel Prize money as a divorce settlement
Image credit: wikimedia
After marrying Mileva Marić in 1903, the relationship soon reached the rock bottom and ended up in a divorce in 1919. Marić was in Berlin when she learned that her husband is having an affair with his first cousin Elsa back in Zurich. She soon rushed back, but can’t save their relationship and get divorced after living apart for five years.
As a part of the post divorce settlement, Einstein promised her an annual stipend plus extra money that he might receive from the Nobel Prize, which he was confident that will be his anytime soon. Later, Maric agreed upon the settlement and Einstein later handed over some fortune upon receiving the award in 1922 for his work on the photoelectric effect.
9. Inventor of a refrigerator
In the year 1930, Einstein patent a refrigerator along with his former student Leo Szilard. His refrigerator was an absorption refrigerator, which only needs a heat source to operate at a constant pressure.
The two world class physicists got the idea of making a refrigerator that will work without several moving parts after they heard news of a family living in Berlin were killed due to structural failure in their refrigerator which leaked toxic fumes. Their design would eliminate this kind of any failure.
8. The change of philosophy— Atomic bomb
In 1938, when Einstein learned that the German scientists are an inch closer to make the deadliest atomic bomb, he along with the Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard wrote a letter to U.S president Franklin Roosevelt, urging to make atomic research as quickly as possible.
The idea of weapon of that caliber into the Nazi hands forced him to set aside pacifist principles and values and do whatever is necessary to prevent such disaster. At earlier stages, the U.S government was slow to react, but after two other findings in 1940 and 1941 clearly demonstrated that the bomb was feasible, which lead to the formation of Manhattan project in 1941.
Although he never participated directly in the Project, he deeply regretted his indirect contribution (E=mc2) in the nuclear bombings of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While facing an interview he quoted “Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I never would have lifted a finger.”
He went on to become an advocate of nuclear disarmament, controls on weapons testing and unified world government. Shortly before his death in 1955, with philosopher Bertrand Russell he sign the “Russell-Einstein Manifesto,” a public letter that stressed the risks of nuclear war and implored governments to “find peaceful means for the settlement of all international disputes.”
7. The FBI spied on him over 2 decades
In 1933, soon after Hitler rose to the power, the German government passed a law barring Jews from holding any high rank /official jobs. After losing his job at the university in his native land, he remained in Belgium and Great Britain for a brief period of time and then finally took a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey as a resident scholar. In 1935, he decided to remain there permanently and applied for the US citizenship.
On the other hand, a sudden immigration of a German physicist in the United States attracted a huge attention from J.Edgar Hoover, the then Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Einstein’s pacifist, civil rights and left-wing ideology, triggered a serious surveillance campaign, which eventually continued for 22 years.
FBI feared that he was a Soviet spy and was actively planning to make a death ray as a plot against the U.S. Federal Agents tracked his phone calls, trespass his mails, followed his movements in the hope of unmasking him, but all with no results. The investigation finally came to halt upon his death in 1955.
6. He was asked to be the President of Israel
Einstein was always antagonistic towards antisemitism which he even manifested out in public. After the death of Chaim Weizmann, a prominent Zionist leader and later the first president of Israel, in 1952, the Israeli government believed that Einstein will be the perfect person to succeed Weizmann.
While he was never a devoted Zionist, his love for the Jews was never hidden from the Israeli government as he was offered the post of the highest figure in the country. In a reply, he wasted little or no time in declining the honor. In the letter to Israeli ambassador, he wrote “All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official function.”
5. His brain was rescued/stolen after his death
The greatest mind of the 20th century, died on April 1955 from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Before his death, he had requested that his body should be cremated completely, but in an unexpected incident, Princeton university pathologist Thomas Harvey removed his brain during the autopsy and kept it with himself in the hope of unlocking the secrets of his genius without any prior approval from his family or so.
After winning an unwilling approval from Einstein’s son, Harvey deliberately had the brain cut into pieces and sent to different scientists for various researches. Since then a handful of studies has been conducted, but most have either been dismissed or discredited.
Perhaps the most credible theory came in 1999, when a group of scientists from a Canadian university published a controversial paper claiming that he possessed unusual folds on his parietal lobe, a part of the brain associated with mathematical and spatial ability.
4. About his eyes and uncommon habits
We know that upon his death, pathologist Thomas Harvey removed his brain from the body, but do you know that he also had removed his eyes for some unknown reasons. Later, he handed eyeballs over to Henry Abrams Einstein’s eye doctor. Today they remain in a safe deposit box in New York City.
Well, it just takes something abnormal about the person to be a genius. For example; Nikola Tesla one of the mad genius the world had ever seen. He admitted that he was in love with a pigeon that he was feeding and was also certain that the pigeon loved him back. In the case of Einstein, he also had some pretty uncommon habits, including his despise in wearing socks and so on.
3. A solar eclipse that made Einstein world famous
Einstein published his theory of general relativity, in which he stated that gravitational fields cause distortions in the fabric of space and time. The theory remained controversial only until May 1919, when a total solar eclipse provided the perfect conditions to test the theory generally claiming that a supermassive object would cause a measurable curve in the starlight passing by it.
Hoping to prove Einstein’s theory, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington an English astronomer and physicist also famous for the Eddington limit (the natural limit to the luminosity of stars) took the opportunity.
He journeyed all the way to the coast of West Africa and documented the eclipse. Upon analyzing the pictures, he confirmed that the sun’s gravity had deflected the light by roughly 1.7 arc-seconds, exactly as predicted in general relativity. The news made Einstein an overnight celebrity.
Newspapers hailed him as the heir to Sir Isaac Newton, and he went on to travel the world lecturing on his theories about the cosmos. According to Einstein biographer Walter Isaacson, in the six years after the 1919 eclipse, more than 600 books and articles were written about the theory of relativity.
2. Einstein And Hasenöhrl Connection
On September 1905, when Albert Einstein published a ground breaking paper on the special relativity, many of his critics pointed out that he actually plagiarized someone else’s work. They pointed out that Einstein’s famous E=mc² was actually discovered a year before by Friedrich Hasenöhrl in his Equivalence of Mass and Energy.
The Austrian born Friedrich Hasenöhrl was one of prominent physicist of his time, famously known for his studies on blackbody radiation in a reflecting cavity and has a significant impact on some of the greatest minds in physics such as Karl Herzfeld and Erwin Schrödinger.
Since then, there have been numerous debates on who came up with the formula first. In 1921, Philipp Lenard, a Nobel Laureate in physics gave Hasenöhrl the credit for “E=mc².” But soon other physicists like Max von Laue disprove those claims, saying that Hasenöhrl only derived his calculations from the works of Henri Poincaré and Max Abraham’s work on the inertia of electromagnetic energy to derive his calculation on cavity radiation.
1. About Einstein’s first daughter
In the year 1896, following his surrender of German citizenship, he enrolled at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich. Here, he met his future wife Mileva Marić, a fellow student of Serbian ethnicity. The friendship soon developed into romance and the couple get united in a wedlock after 7 years.
But a year before the marraige, Maric gave birth to a daughter named Lieserl. Both of them never spoke about their first born child neither in public nor to their family. Biographers and researchers only came to know about this after a discovery of his private letters in the late 1980s.
According to those letters, Lieserl was born in early 1902 in Novi Sad, Serbia, where Marić was living with her family. Einstein probably never saw his daughter as he was in Switzerland while Marić gave birth to Lieserl yet she joined him without their first born.
Some scholars think that Lieserl died from scarlet fever in 1903, while others believe she survived the sickness and was adopted by another family in Serbia. Her fate remains a mystery to this day.