Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 14: Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein
March 14, 1879 – April 18,1955

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist. He is best known for his theory of relativity and specifically mass–energy equivalence, expressed by the equation 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:
  • Special theory of relativity, which reconciled mechanics with electromagnetism
  • General theory of relativity, a new theory of gravitation which added the principle of equivalence to the principle of relativity
  • Founding of relativistic cosmology with a cosmological constant
  • The first post-Newtonian expansions for the perihelion advance of planet Mercury and frame-dragging
  • The deflection of light by gravity and gravitational lensing
  • An explanation for capillary action
  • The first fluctuation dissipation theorem which explained the Brownian movement of molecules
  • The photon theory and wave-particle duality from the thermodynamic properties of light
  • The quantum theory of atomic motion in solids
  • Zero point energy
  • The semiclassical version of the Schrodinger equation
  • Relations for atomic transition probabilities which predicted stimulated emission
  • The quantum theory of a monatomic gas which predicted Bose-Einstein condensation
  • The EPR paradox
  • A program for a unified field theory by the geometrization of physics.

Einstein published over 300 scientific works and over 150 non-scientific works. In 1999 Time magazine named him the "Person of the Century", and according to Einstein biographer Don Howard, "to the scientifically literate and the public at large, Einstein is synonymous with genius."

In 1999, Albert Einstein was named "Person of the Century" by Time magazine, a Gallup poll recorded him as the fourth most admired person of the 20th century and according to The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Einstein is "the greatest scientist of the twentieth century and one of the supreme intellects of all time."

A partial list of his memorials:
  • The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics named 2005 the "World Year of Physics" in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of the Annus Mirabilis Papers.
  • The Albert Einstein Institute
  • The Albert Einstein Memorial by Robert Berks
  • A unit used in photochemistry, the einstein
  • The chemical element 99, einsteinium
  • The asteroid 2001 Einstein
  • The Albert Einstein Award
  • The Albert Einstein Peace Prize

In the period before World War II, Albert Einstein was so well-known in America that he would be stopped on the street by people wanting him to explain "that theory". He finally figured out a way to handle the incessant inquiries. He told his inquirers "Pardon me, sorry! Always I am mistaken for Professor Einstein."

Albert Einstein has been the subject of or inspiration for many novels, films, and plays. Einstein is a favorite model for depictions of mad scientists and absent-minded professors; his expressive face and distinctive hairstyle have been widely copied and exaggerated. Time magazine's Frederic Golden wrote that Einstein was "a cartoonist's dream come true."

Einstein's association with great intelligence has made the name Einstein synonymous with genius, often used in ironic expressions such as "Nice job, Einstein!".

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