Summary of “A Truly Beautiful Mind”: 2022

Albert Einstein was born on 14 March 1879 in the German city of Ulm. Without any prediction or recognition of his future endeavours, his mother thought that Einstein was a freak. She found Albert’s head too large. Einstein still was not talking when he reached the age of two-and-a-half years. But when he finally learned to speak, he uttered everything twice. He didn’t interact with other children properly which made them call Einstein “Brother Boring”. So, he played all by himself. Einstein particularly had a fascination for mechanical toys. He was so thrilled by them that looking at his newborn baby sister, he said: “Fine, but where are her wheels?”

According to his headmaster, it didn’t matter what profession Einstein chose because he would never make a success at anything. Initially, Einstein began learning to play the violin at the age of six for his mother wanted him to learn violin. Later, he became a gifted violinist and maintained this skill throughout his life. He went to high school in Munich and scored good marks in almost every subject. His family had moved to Munich when he was 15 months old. Einstein used to hate the schooling system there and often clashed with his teachers. Finally, suffocated by the school regimentation, he left school at the age of 15.

Albert’s parents had moved to Milan the previous year, leaving their son with relatives. Einstein wished to continue his education in German-speaking Switzerland as it was much more liberal than Munich. Being gifted in Mathematics and keenly interested in Physics, Einstein decided to study at a university in Zurich, after finishing school. Apart from being interested in Science, he developed a special interest in a fellow student, Mileva Maric, whom he found to be a “clever creature”. She had come all the way to Switzerland because the University of Zurich was one of the few universities in Europe where women were allowed to get degrees. Einstein found in her an ally against the “philistines”. They fell in love and exchanged a number of love letters. Einstein wrote in one of the letters: “How happy and proud I shall be when we both have brought our work on relativity to a victorious conclusion.”

In 1900, Einstein was a 21-year-old unemployed graduate. He worked as a teaching assistant, gave private lessons and finally managed to secure a job in 1902 as a technical expert in the patent office in Bern. Instead of just assessing other people’s inventions, Einstein was also developing his own ideas in secret. It is said that he used to call his desk drawer at work the “bureau of theoretical physics”.

According to one of the most famous papers of 1905-Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity- time and distance are not absolute. For instance, two perfectly accurate clocks will not continue to show the same time if they come together again after a journey if one of them has been moving very fast relative to the other. And from this, the world’s most famous formula describing the relationship between mass and energy was formed.

Albert Einstein wanted to marry Mileva right after finishing studies but his mother was against it since Mileva was three years older than Einstein. Mileva’s intelligence also bothered her and finally, Einstein was made to put the wedding off.  However, they married in January 1903 and had two sons. But after getting married, Mileva was losing her intellectual ambition and becoming a sad housewife. So, after a few years of constant fighting, they got divorced in 1919. Einstein married his cousin Elsa the same year.

In 1915, Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity which provided a new interpretation of gravity. This theory was later proven by an eclipse of the sun in 1919. Einstein had correctly calculated in advance the extent to which light from fixed stars would be deflected through the sun’s gravitational field. Einstein received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 and was praised and complimented for his achievement. He was showered with honours and invitations from different parts of the world.

Einstein emigrated to the United States when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933. The discovery of nuclear fission in Berlin created disturbances in the life of Americas Physicists. Many American Physicists had run away from Fascism but now they were afraid that the Nazis could build and use an atomic bomb.

On 2 August 1939, Einstein wrote a letter to the American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which he stated that “A single bomb of this type…exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory.” The Americans developed the atomic bomb in secrecy and dropped in on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

This incident had a deep impact on Einstein. He was shaken by the extent of destruction caused by the atomic bomb. So, he wrote a public missive to the United Nations in which he proposed the formation of a world government but it made no impact. But over the next decade, he became more involved in politics and used his popularity to promote peace and democracy. Einstein died in 1955 at the age of 76. He was as much celebrated as a world citizen as he was for his scientific genius.

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