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Einstein And His General Theory Essay, Research Paper

Originaly handed in 11/6/98

Submitted to School Sucks 11/9/98




Einstein 1879-1955

Probably the most recognized figure in the science

world today is that of Albert Einstein. One of the few

scientists who revolutionized the entire Physics field and

the way we think, he is responsible for ideas as grand and

complex as the relationships that exist between time and

gravity, to why the sky is blue, an issue now considered to

be fundamental.

Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879, in Ulm,

Germany into a middle-class Jewish family. A year later,

they moved to Munich, were Albert grew up. In elementary

school, his success was less then admirable. At the age of

twelve, he was given a book on Geometry, he instantly fell

in love. He found that his studies were much more successful

outside of the classroom.

In1894, his family moved to Italy. Einstein stayed

behind to finish his studies. In 1895, he applied for

admission to the Zurich Polytechnic Institute. He was denied

acceptance, due to the fact that his previous curriculum was

completely science centered. He was forced to complete

another year of secondary school, before he was admitted to

the institute in 1896. While at school, he met Mileva Maric,

the woman he would marry in 1903, and go on to father two

children with.

Upon graduation from the institute, he took a job as an

examiner at the Swiss patent office in Bern. At night, he

would work on his Physics, and his own theories. His first

works were published in 1904, and dealt with statistical

thermodynamics, but not anything that wasn?t already known

in the physics field.

He first made a name for himself in 1905, with the

publishing of his series of papers, titled: Annalen der

Physik. The first paper ?On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning

the Production and Transformation of Light? linked

statistical thermodynamics to light radiation, by using

results that had been obtained five years earlier by Max

Planck. This paper dealt with the way light is distributed

among the spectrum, and particles he called Light Quanta.

The idea was not accepted right off the bat. It wasn?t until

more than a decade later, when Robert Millikan verified

Einstein?s theory of light quanta that the idea was


The second paper in the series was entitled ?On the

Movement of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid

Demanded by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat.? This

piece studied the erratic movement of particles suspended in

a liquid, with this, Einstein showed direct evidence of the

existence of both molecules and atoms.

The most significant of his 1905 papers, however, was

?On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.? The subject of

this paper is what has come to be known as the Special

Theory of Relativity. It dealt with the relationship between

physical measurement made while traveling at a constant

velocity. Here, he showed that whether or not two events

occurred simultaneously was all relative to the observer. In

other words, measurements of duration are all relative to

the observer.

Another amazing Einstein discovery of 1905 was revealed

in the paper ?Does the inertia of a Body Depend on its

Energy Content?? This drew its conclusion from the principle

of relativity. Its conclusion? When the energy content of a

body changes, its mass must also change. This conclusion

lead to the formula: E=Mc2.

It took the next decade following Einstein?s big year

for all of this new information to settle with the Physics

community. He was made a professor at the University of

Zurich in 1909, German University in Prague in 1911, and at

his old stomping ground, the Zurich Polytechnic Institute in

1912. Finally, he was offered a position as director of the

Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin. He would

stay there from 1914 to 1933. During his stint in Berlin, he

divorced his wife, and married his first cousin Elsa


Also, while he was in Berlin, in 1915, he developed and

proved his General Theory of Relativity (See Section Two).

In essence, he developed the idea that both light, and

therefore time are affected by gravity. This idea was

verified in 1919 during a solar eclipse, where it was

determined that the sun was altering the path of star light.

This lead to a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for Albert


Einstein had become something of a celebrity, and due

to this, he and Elsa were on a trip to the United States in

1933, when the Nazis came to power. He and his wife vowed

never to return to Germany. He was given a research and

teaching post at Princeton, and took U.S. citizenship. He

always opposed, and spoke out against the Nazi government.

In 1939, Einstein wrote a letter to President

Roosevelt, warning him of Germany?s capability to produce an

atomic bomb. Einstein was a strong pacifist, and was opposed

to the building of weapons of mass destruction. The irony is

that it was Einstein?s discovery of E=Mc2 that made the

production of the A-bomb a possibility.

For the rest of his life, Einstein worked on the idea

of a Unified Field Theory to no avail, but helped to promote

pacifism, and the United Nations. He died 1955 in Princeton,

New Jersey.





Developed from 1911-1915, Einstein?s view of gravity?s

effects on the universe, including both light and time

became one of his most famous theories. The proof of his

ideas ended up earning Einstein a Nobel Prize for Physics.

The basic idea is that the universe in which we exist

is four dimensional. The four dimensions are length, width,

height, and time. Space without matter can be thought of as

a flat plane. Newton?s ideas figured that gravity was a

mutual attraction of all material objects, and that this was

how the universe worked. Newton believed that everything

existed on this flat plane. Einstein had a new idea.

He believed that gravity could affect more than just

material objects. He felt that light, and consequently time

were subject to the same law. He felt that the gravity of

matter created divots in the fabric of space time.

His theory views space time as a tightly stretched

sheet of rubber. If a massive object is placed in the

center, it creates a divot. If a smaller object is rolled

along the rubber towards the object, because of the bend in

the rubber, it will naturally role towards the more massive

object. This was Einstein?s idea of how orbits were formed.

A massive object creates a depression in space-time, and

smaller objects following a straight path ends up in an

orbit. In other words, matter ?tells? space-time how to

bend, and bent space-time ?tells? matter how to move.

Einstein got this idea, when thinking about someone in

freefall. The person does not feel the effects of gravity,

they have a sense of weightlessness. If all material objects

had a uniform attraction, this would not occur.

Einstein also believed that light was bent by gravity.

This was proved, in turn proving the theory a few years

later. In 1919, there was a complete solar eclipse. The

moon?s shadowing of the sun allowed stars to be seen during

the day. According to Einstein?s theory, the starlight

passing close to the sun would be bent, and the visible

stars would appear in a different position. This was the

case. Einstein was right. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for

Physics in 1921.

A prediction in the theory was an object so massive in

space that any light passing by would not be able to escape

the gravity. A place from which light could not escape: a

black hole. With the Hubble Space Telescope, the existence

of black holes has been verified.

The public was satisfied teaching the Newtonian

principles of gravity, but Einstein was not. Thanks to him

we now have a much more comprehensive view of our universe.

But, who knows? In 100 more years, we may have altered our

opinions just as greatly as opinions were changed by Albert

Einstein in 1915.


Asimov, Isaac. The History of Physics. Walker and Co.:New York. 1966

Evans, Barry. The Wrong Way Comet and Other Mysteries of Our Solar System. Tab

Books: Blue Ridge, PA. 1992

Gardner, Martin. The Relativity Explosion. Random House: New York. 1976

Gribbin, John. Time and Space. Dorling Kendersly: London. 1994

Infeld, Leopold. Albert Einstein. Scribner?s Sons: New York. 1950

Rucker, Rudolf B. Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension. Dover Products: New

York. 1977

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