Who was Albert Einstein? Discoveries and curiosities

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientists of all time. He was born in Ulm, Germany, on March 14, 1879 to a family of Jewish origin, although in 1896, at the age of 17, he renounced German citizenship because it was contrary to the Prussian military mentality.

He remained stateless (i.e. without nationality) until 1901, a year after his graduation from the ETH Zurich, when he officially became a Swiss citizen (following his request in 1899) in order to accept a job at the Bern Patent Office. In the 1930s, to escape the Nazi dictatorship, Einstein flew to the United States, a nation of which he acquired citizenship in 1940 while also retaining the Swiss one.


But is Einstein famous for his mad scientist look, with that unkempt hair? In fact, for this aspect of him he has become a kind of pop icon, it’s true, even among you guys and around the world. However, Einstein’s fame is due to his extraordinary discoveries in physics and mathematics that have radically changed the conception of the universe.

He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for the theory of the photoelectric effect , that is the discovery according to which light has a bivalent nature (wave and particle) depending on its specific interactions. He developed the theory of general relativity, which in addition to defining the existence of space-time has determined that gravity is the effect caused by the deformation of massive bodies on space-time itself. In practice, gravity affects time: time flows faster for objects in space than for objects on Earth. He then developed the special theory of relativity, postulating that light has the ability to propagate in a vacuum with a constant speed (c). No one had ever understood that the speed of light is a universal constant. From this he also derived the relationship between mass and energy which led to his mathematical formula E = mc2 , the most famous equation in the world.

His discoveries led human madness, in spite of himself, to develop the atomic bomb. Einstein immediately fought against weapons of mass destruction, but unfortunately the first two atomic bombs killed thousands and thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.



Albert Einstein was dyslexic. He learned to speak just before the age of 3 and to read only at 9 (but at 12 he was already delighted in reading books on … physics). He swapped and omitted letters, numbers and formulas when he wrote, composed incomplete sentences. From a very young age he opposed the rigid Germanic educational system, coming into conflict with the professors from middle school, often as a result of the physical and psychological mistreatment that they suffered. Einstein also had problems with memory and alertness.

Since dyslexia was not known at the time, Einstein – like all other dyslexics – was labeled simply as unintelligent , late, asocial and immersed in his fantasies …


But is it true, as some say, that Einstein did badly in school and especially in mathematics? It is an anecdote that has been around for many years, but it is false . Einstein had difficulties in some subjects, especially in French and in the humanities, but never in mathematics or physics, subjects in which his profit has always been very good. This false legend stems from some misinterpreted factors .

For example, in Switzerland the grades ranged from 1 to 6. And in physics and mathematics Einstein always had 6, which is the maximum. He had the lowest grades in French and in the humanities due to his dyslexia , difficulty speaking and writing. In addition, his teachers disliked him very much, whom he criticized for the violent and punitive methods they applied. Another true fact is that Einstein was not admitted to the Zurich Polytechnic in 1895, both because he had not yet matured the requirements for entry and because of an insufficiency in French.

But let’s see one of Einstein’s report cards when he was studying in Switzerland at the age of 15-16: he is 6 (which is the maximum) in Physics, Algebra, History and Descriptive Geometry; he has 5 (which corresponds to a good profit, like a 7 of ours) in German, Italian, Chemistry, Natural History; he has a 4 (ie sufficient, like our 6) in Geography and Technical Education. The only failure, a 3 (corresponding to our 5), is in French.


Albert Einstein spent a few years in Italy and knew our language quite well. His father Hermann owned a small electrical machinery manufacturing company. While he fostered his passion for science simply by giving him a compass when he was 5 (Albert said years later that it was one of the most revealing experiences of his life), his mother Pauline Koch made him teach violin lessons, the instrument that has always played. Hermann Einstein founded in 1894, together with an Italian partner, the Einstein-Garrone National Electrotechnical Workshops in Pavia, and the whole family moved from Munich to the Lombard city. Curiously, the Einstein family lived in Palazzo Cornazzani, the ancient residence of Ugo Foscolo. There the young Albert wrote his first scientific article. Two years later the family moved to Bern and later to Milan, where Albert also went to live for a short time.


Einstein was fond of art , and especially of music. He played the violin and the piano and especially loved Mozart and Bach. He put creativity first. “Imagination – he said – is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination embraces the world ”. According to Einstein, religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree, represented by thought.

But Einstein had other passions. One of them was the bicycle. He only moved on foot or by bike, and he never wanted to get a license to drive a car. He said he conceived his major theories of him riding his bicycle. There is no shortage of photos that portray him while he rides. He compared the bicycle to life: moving forward so as not to lose balance. But besides the bicycle he loved sailing and walking. He had practiced sailing a lot in the Swiss lakes but also in Princeton. He practiced the walks especially when he lived in Italy, in Pavia: on one occasion he went on foot from Casteggio to Genoa.

In Switzerland he also made some climbing and in Bern he founded a club of friends which he called the “Olympic Academy”: he walked with them for miles talking about physics. By bicycle he crossed the Maloja pass in 1913, together with Marie Curie, also a Nobel laureate and passionate about cycling.

Albert Einstein


Was his thinking and behavior as open to everyone as they say? Not exactly. With his first wife, the Serbian Mileva Mari c, also a talented physicist and his collaborator, Albert Einstein was not at all tender , imposing almost military rules and a coexistence without any effusion or contact. Einstein met Mileva in 1896 in the first year of his studies at the Zurich Polytechnic.

The two fell in love and in 1902 had a daughter who died as soon as she was born of scarlet fever. In 1903 they married and the following year Hans Albert was born, who would later become an engineer. In 1910 Eduard was born, an excellent musician but suffering from mental disorders. In 1912 the marriage went into crisis and Einstein had an affair with his first cousin Elsa Lowenthal. Shortly thereafter, the German genius imposed on Mileva a series of absolutely unbelievable conditions, or rules. Here they are:

  • My clothes and linens need to be kept tidy.
  • I must have been served three meals a day regularly in my room.
  • My bedroom and study must always be kept tidy and my desk never touched by anyone but me.
  • You will give up any relationship with me, beyond those required to maintain appearances in society. In particular you will not ask: that I spend my time with you at home, that I go out or travel with you.
  • You will explicitly promise to observe the following points: You will not expect affection from me and you will not blame me for it; you must answer me immediately when I speak to you; you must leave my room or studio immediately and without protest when I ask you to go; you will promise not to denigrate me in the eyes of my children, in word or deed.

Certainly not a manual of respect for women … Not surprisingly, Mileva left Einstein a few months later taking the two children with her. Einstein always supported her economically (including the money from the Nobel Prize), but practically never from her emotional point of view, letting her raise her two children alone.


Einsteinium (Es) is the 99th element of the periodic table, and pays homage to the German genius. It is a very radioactive metal , produced by neutron bombardment of plutonium. It was identified in 1952 by Albert Ghiorso – whose idol was Einstein – in the remains of the first hydrogen bomb test. This year the news is that scientists have managed to reproduce Einsteinium, which is not present in nature and has not been found in the earth’s crust. It is still an element still little studied and very mysterious.


Albert Einstein let some American universities study his brain . When he died in 1955 at the age of 76, his brain was in fact immediately removed from the body by pathologist Thomas Harvey, who stole it and made it disappear for many years. When Harvey decided to give it back to the world and science and studies began, it turned out to be no bigger than the average , indeed: lighter than normal (1,230 kg against 1.5 kg of average). However, its parietal lobes, which are the seat of mathematical, musical and language faculties, are 15% larger than normal.

Neuroscientist Albert Galaburda , of Harvard Medical School in Boston, wondered if Einstein was born with a special brain that made him a great physicist, or if rather his high-level physics did the expansion of some parts of the world. his brain. In short: is it nature or is it culture that determines human predispositions and capacities? Perhaps, some scientists argue, it is a combination of the two.


Albert Einstein wrote and said sentences of great impact and profound intelligence that marked his time. Here are some of them.

  • Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees, it will spend its entire life believing that it is stupid.
  • The measure of intelligence is given by the ability to change when necessary.
  • The mind that manages to expand never returns to the previous dimension.
  • In the midst of difficulties lies the opportunity.
  • Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, but I still have doubts about the universe.
  • The mind is like a parachute: it only works if it opens.
  • It is easier to break an atom than a prejudice.
  • Everyone knows that something is impossible to achieve, until a fool who does not know it arrives and invents it.
  • Man invented the atomic bomb, but no mouse in the world would build a mousetrap.
  • The supreme art of the teacher is to awaken the joy of creativity and knowledge.
  • Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
  • The serious natural disasters call for a change of mentality that forces us to abandon the logic of pure consumerism and to promote respect for creation.
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