Albert Einstein was born in Württemberg, Germany on March 14, 1879 to non-practicing Jewish parents. Soon after, his family moved to Munich where he began his schooling. In 1896, Einstein renounced his German citizenship and enrolled in the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to become a math and physics teacher. After graduating in 1901, Einstein could not find a teaching job and accepted a position in the Swiss Patent Office. In the same year he became a Swiss citizen, and in 1905 obtained his doctorate in physics. Einstein kept his Swiss passport until he died.
Much of Einstein's most famous work was completed during his stay at the Swiss Patent Office. In 1909 he became a professor at Zurich, and in 1911 he accepted the post of Professor of Theoretical Physics in Prague. He regained his German citizenship again in 1914 after being appointed as a professor at the University of Berlin, where he remained until 1932. In that year, Einstein took a visiting position as Professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton. After Hitler came to power in 1933, however, he knew he would be unable to return to Berlin, as his theories were already under attack by the National Socialists as "Jewish physics." He renounced his German citizenship once again and stayed as Princeton, attaining U.S. citizenship in 1940. He retired from his teaching post in 1945.
Einstein was a leading figure in the World Government Movement after World War II. He was even offered the Presidency of the State of Israel, which he declined, but he did help establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with Dr. Chaim Weizmann.
Einstein always knew the problems he wished to conquer in physics, and he felt that his major achievements were only stepping stones onto the next advance. When he began his scientific work, Einstein felt that Newtonian mechanics were inadequate; his Theory of Relativity began as an attempt to reconcile the laws of mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. He also developed a theory of gravitation from his interpretation of relativity, and in 1916 he published his work on relativity.
In the 1920s he pursued the construction of unified field theories, and also continued his work on quantum theory. After retirement he worked toward the unification of the basic concepts of physics, taking an approach opposite to that of most physicists. Einstein received honorary degrees in medicine, science, and philosophy from universities in America and Europe. He also received numerous awards for his work, including the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his 1905 photon explanation of light.
Einstein enjoyed spending time in his own intellectual solitude, and from the time of his childhood violing lessons, music had been an important part of his relaxation. In 1903, Einstein married Mileva Maric, with whom he had a daughter and two sons. This marriage was ended in 1919, following which he married his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal. She died in 1936, and Einstein died on April 18, 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey.
Nobel Lectures. Physics 1901-1921,
Quotes from the Faculty:
"It is interesting that this was done in 1905, because that is a year that all physicists immediately recognize as Einstein's miracle year in which he (a) came up with the special theory of relativity; (b) came up with the 'photon' explanation of light and basically started quantum mechanics; and (c) explained molecular diffusion as well. In fact, 2005 has been dubbed the 'World Year of Physics 2005' in honor of the Centennial of that amazing year."
-- Dr. Tom Solomon
"In a just world, Einstein would probably have 5 Nobel Prizes...That ought to get your name on a wall."
-- Dr. Ben Vollmayr-Lee