Albert Einstein Biography
Later Life and Death
While the first part of Albert Einstein's scientific career was filled with some of the boldest and most important discoveries in the field of physics, the latter part of his scientific career wasn't as distinguished. Ever the rebel, Einstein split with mainstream physics, arguing against the popular theory of quantum mechanics. In particular, he did not like the idea that particles didn't exist in a specific space until they were observed.
Unified Field Theory
Einstein spent much of the latter part of his career trying to develop a "unified field theory." This theory would bring together both the gravitational field (equations from Einstein's general theory of relativity) and the electromagnetic field. He wanted a single set of equations that would explain both fields as different manifestations of the same unified field.
Einstein spent around thirty years searching for a solution to this problem. In doing so, he isolated himself from the rest of the physics community which was focused on describing and exploring quantum mechanics. In the end, Einstein failed in producing a unified field theory and many felt that he had squandered much of his life and genius in pursuit of a solution. However, science is still moving forward and physicists continue to hope to find a unified field theory. Some of Einstein's insights and ideas may still prove true or help to guide future scientists to a solution.
Debating with Bohr
One of the most famous scientific arguments in history occurred between Einstein and fellow physicist Niels Bohr. Bohr had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922, a year after Einstein, for his work on the atom. He was a proponent of quantum theory. The two scientists had a public debate over the viability of quantum mechanics that lasted decades. Although they disagreed with each other, they formed a lifelong friendship and enjoyed each other's company.
Politics and Civil Rights
Einstein's main political belief was that of individual freedom and civil rights. He worked for the equal rights of African-Americans by joining the NAACP and speaking out against segregation. At one point he offered to serve as a character witness for civil rights leader W.E.B Dubois in a trial. Einstein also supported Jewish causes and was even offered the position of president of Israel in 1952. Einstein, however, turned down the position and remained in the United States for the rest of his life.
Albert Einstein was 76 when he died from internal bleeding caused by an abdominal aneurysm on April 18, 1955. Einstein's remains were cremated, but his brain was kept and preserved. Portions of his brain (it was later dissected) are held by museums.
Einstein's name has become synonymous with the word "genius." He will be remembered as one of the great scientists in world history whose impact on the 20th century went beyond science to influence culture, war, and art. He was named by Time Magazine as the "Person of the Century" in 1999.
Einstein did not regret spending so much time on the unified field theory. He said he had already made his name in the world of science and that even a small possibility of finding a unified field theory was worth the time and effort.
Niels Bohr would get so frustrated in his debates with Einstein that he was sometimes heard muttering "Einstein....Einstein....Einstein" over and over again.
Albert Einstein Biography Contents
- Growing up Einstein
- Education, the Patent Office, and Marriage
- The Miracle Year
- Theory of General Relativity
- Academic Career and Nobel Prize
- Leaving Germany and World War II
- More Discoveries
- Later Life and Death
- Albert Einstein Quotes and Bibliography