By the time Albert Einstein died at the age of 76, he had totally transformed the way that we see the universe, including our very notions of space and time. Not bad for someone who struggled at school.
Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany in 1879. As a schoolboy, his work didn't scream "genius" and even his teachers found it hard to reconcile the student they had known with the great scientist he later became. After finally graduating from the Polytechnic School in Zurich, he couldn't find a job in a university so he worked for the Swiss Patent Office and spent his spare time working on theoretical physics problems.
The time that Einstein spent thinking about physics rather than patent applications was well spent and in 1905, whilst still at the patent office, he published three papers in the leading German physics journal, Annalen der Physik. These papers on Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect and special relativity contained explanations and ideas that changed the way we all view the world. At the age of just 26, Einstein's had produced not one, but three groundbreaking pieces of work.
By the time he finally found an academic job in 1909, Einstein's reputation as one of the greatest scientists of all time was spreading rapidly. And in 1915, at the age of 36, Einstein produced his theory of general relativity which delved even further into the workings of the universe.
But Einstein's private life was not as successful as his academic life. In 1903 he married his first wife, Mileva Marie, but not before they had a daughter, Lieserl, who they put up for adoption in 1902. Einstein and Mileva also had two sons, Hans Albert in 1904 and Eduard in 1910, but by 1914 divorce proceedings had started. And in 1919, Einstein married his cousin, Elsa, who had nursed him through serious illness.
After being awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for physics for his work on the photoelectric effect, Einstein became closely involved with the development of quantum theory before moving on to pursue the search for a grand unified theory that would tie all of physics together.
In 1933, Einstein escaped the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany by accepting a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, USA where he spent the rest of his life. Einstein was a pacifist and although he initially supported the use of atomic weapons as a deterrent in the Second World War he later campaigned for nuclear disarmament and world peace.
Einstein died in 1955 of heart failure and became an icon of genius.
- Albert Einstein: Image and Impact, The American Institute of Physics
- On this site Einstein's life is divided into the different aspects of his life from his major work to his social concerns, everything you might want to know.
- American Museum of Natural History, Online Exhibition
- Great Online exhibition explaining about Einstein himself and all his major work in relativity.
- Einstein Revealed
- With a game based on the twins paradox and an explanation of when the speed of light does change - you can't miss this site.
- Albert Einstein
- A really comprehensive biography and quotations - click on his fellow scientists to find out more about them too.
- The Einstein Papers
- This site contains information about the so-far eight volumes of published Einstein papers edited by Satchel, Kox, Klein, Janssen et al.
- Albert Einstein Archives
- This site contains a biography, reading list, multimedia information and Einstein for kids.
- Nobel Foundation
- The Nobel Foundation's Einstein biography, click through to read Einstein's Nobel lecture.
- Einstein in Princeton
- Read all about Einstein's life in Princeton with quotes.
- Albert Einstein's Letters to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
- Find out how Einstein felt about nuclear weapons from Einstein himself.
- Time Magazine
- This series of articles on Einstein take us from his biography, through relativity to string theory! Person of the Century
A Brief History of Relativity by Stephen Hawking
Einstein's Unfinished Symphony
The Age of Einstein
- Albert Einstein Quiz
- Think you know a lot about Einstein? Try the Albert Einstein Quiz
- Albert Einstein Online
- This site has an enormous list of links for anything to do with Albert Einstein. For biographies, quotes, pictures or the physics have a look here.
- Albert Einstein
- A short biography with links to other sites and reviews of an array of books.