Albert Einstein was both an amazing scientist and an inspiring human rights activist. His name is far from being extinct in modern society and the remarkable thinker has given our world a revolutionary understanding of the universe. Although his name is well known, how much about his life do we actually know?
What issues did he face?
Although he achieved fame for his discoveries, his battle to reach the standing he did may surprise you. He was raised in a secular Jewish family in Germany, and after taking a position at Princeton University, never went back to his native land. The Nazis labelled Einstein’s work ‘Jewish Physics’, Jewish citizens were banned from university work and other official jobs, and Einstein himself was even targeted to be killed.
What was he passionate about?
Due to his fame as a scientist, Einstein’s achievements outside of that field are often overlooked. In the last 20 years of his life, he promoted causes that were close to his heart. He was an outspoken activist for civil rights. Einstein had experienced poor treatment of Jews in Germany and was quick to notice similarities between this and segregation in America. In 1946, Einstein, known to turn down speeches, spoke at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, a historically black university, and accepted an honorary degree. He was also quoted as saying that racism was “a disease of white people”. One of the possible reasons that there is little record of this is that the media at the time effectively ignored his activism. He was a pacifist and was strongly against the idea of his discoveries being used to harm others, like when he found out that the atomic bomb was used to attack Japan. He was strongly against the idea and made an effort to stop it.
What actually were his scientific discoveries?
Possibly his most famous contribution to the world was the equation “E=MC2”, which foreshadowed the development of atomic power and the atomic bomb and told us that mass and energy were connected, and his theory of relativity, which he considered his lifetime’s achievement. This gave a more detailed explanation of how gravitational forces worked, building on Isaac Newton’s theory. This theory gives us answers to the birth and death of stars, black holes and the evolution of the universe.
What are some common misconceptions about him?
Although Albert Einstein achieved a great deal in his lifetime, with scientific breakthroughs still marvelled at today, a lot of facts about his life are entirely inaccurate and pose a threat to the way this hero of science is remembered. Many scources state that Einstein’s success is especially remarkable because of his lack of talent in school, branding him a bad pupil and a surprising turnaround. This may not be a massively damaging impression, but it is inaccurate. Easily enough to be confused, the school grades were flipped, going from a system where 'one' was the highest grade to one where 'one' was the lowest. Publications that have had access to his school records have corrected the idea that he was a bad student, but he did suffer from nervous breakdowns in school. Many believe that Einstein’s work only consisted of theories, not knowing that he was also an avid inventor. He worked in a patent office in Switzerland from 1902 to 1909 and invented a self-adjusting camera, an electromagnetic sound apparatus and an environmentally-friendly refrigerator. Some also believe that he was not involved in politics, but this is also untrue. Although he never joined an official political party, he did advocate for the rights of African Americans and often spoke out on behalf of the oppressed.