Albert Einstein Biography
Albert Einstein's most famous discoveries and theories include the four groundbreaking papers of his Miracle Year (Photoelectric Effect and Light Quanta, Brownian Motion, Special Relativity, Mass-Energy Equivalence) and the Theory of General Relativity. However, Einstein had many more important discoveries and theories that he developed during his scientific career. We will outline some of them below.
Einstein Solid or Quantized Atomic Vibrations
In 1907, a few years after introducing the concept that light existed in small packets called quanta, Einstein applied quantum theory to a mechanical system for the first time. He proposed a model for a solid where each atom in a solid has its own individual oscillations. This model solved a major problem in mechanical physics by explaining how the specific heat of a solid goes to zero at zero temperature. The model became known as the Einstein Solid.
Einstein made a major contribution to the development of quantum theory with his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect where he described light as consisting of small quanta (later to be called photons). Throughout his early career, Einstein suggested that light should be treated as both a wave and a particle. This concept has become known as the wave-particle duality of light and is a foundation of quantum physics.
Einstein would later write "It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do".
Using his general theory of relativity, Einstein predicted gravitational waves in 1916. These waves are disturbances in the fabric of space-time caused by accelerated masses. The first observation of gravitational waves was not published until 2016, 100 years after Einstein predicted them.
When Einstein's general theory of relativity was applied to the universe as a whole it opened up a new branch of physics called physical cosmology. This area of physics looks at the fundamentals and the very nature of the universe (Is the universe static, expanding, or shrinking? What shape is the universe?). Einstein explored this idea in 1917 and developed a theory of a static universe where he used a "cosmological constant" in his field equations. Einstein would later explore the idea of an expanding universe in 1931.
In 1924, Einstein received a paper from mathematician Satyendra Nath Bose. The paper used a unique approach to problems in quantum mechanics using statistical mathematics. Einstein first had Bose's paper published and then added several papers of his own to the subject. Einstein then applied Bose's statistical method to gas molecules. What he found was extraordinary. When a group of atoms are cooled close to absolute zero they create a new state of matter. This new state of matter became known as the Bose-Einstein condensate. The first Bose-Einstein condensate wasn't produced in a lab until 1995.
Walther Nernst, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, was so excited over Einstein's paper on quantized atomic vibrations that, upon reading it, he traveled to Zurich to visit Einstein to discuss it with him.
Together with Leo Szilard, Einstein invented a refrigerator with no moving parts. It was known as the Einstein refrigerator.
Einstein worked with physicist Nathan Rosen to develop a model of a wormhole called the Einstein-Rosen Bridge.
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