Albert Einstein

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Though everybody knows me, there are very few people who really know me. I am a revolutionary.
—Albert Einstein
Classic Einstein.

Albert Einstein (1879—1955) was a theoretical physicist and one of the most quotable scientists of all time — being a really smart dude means that he gets appropriated by both theists and atheists. He is considered to be the one of the "fathers of modern physics," (the other being Max Planck, founder of quantum mechanics) and developed the theory of relativity to reconcile classical mechanics with the laws of electromagnetic and gravitational fields. He advocated a one world government hoping that it would put an end to "an infantile sickness" known as nationalism. Einstein believed the Soviet Union could be persuaded to join and that this would solve the incipient Cold War: "Better to let Russia see that there is nothing to be achieved by aggression, but there are advantages in joining [a world government]: Then the Russian regime's attitude will probably change and they will take part without compulsion."[1]


[edit] Major contributions to science

  • Statistical Mechanics - demonstrating the reality of atoms and explaining why the sky is blue using Brownian motion, Einstein solids.
  • Special Relativity - a more general theory of motion than Newton's laws. Fundamental predictions are time dilation, length contraction and loss of simultaneity. It has been fully incorporated into the Standard Model of particle physics and modern gravitation theory.
  • General Relativity - the modern theory of gravity, predicting, among other things, gravitational waves, gravitational time dilation, expanding (or contracting) Universe and black holes. This is considered to be his magnum opus. The Einstein summation convention and the Einstein-Kahler metric are thus named in his honor.
  • Old quantum theory - explanation of the photoelectric effect using Planck's quantum hypothesis, recognition of wave-particle duality, description of atoms as quantum harmonic oscillators, quantum theory of radiation.

[edit] Religious views

My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and enoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.[2]
The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.[3]

Facts like this haven't stopped Einstein from being the subject of a popular urban legend where he "humiliates" an atheist professor with (pretty fallacious) logic.[4] There are also many made-up quotes floating around that are attributed to Einstein, a list of which can be found here.

[edit] Myths

Being a famous scientist, Albert Einstein is subject to many myths. Here are some common ones:

Albert Einstein worked on the Manhattan Project.
Wrong. While his work in physics was crucial to the project's success, Einstein wasn't involved due to the US government seeing him as a security risk. However, it is true that he was appointed Adviser on Highly Explosive Materials by the U.S. Navy.
Albert Einstein failed Math
By his own words "I never failed in mathematics ... Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus."
Albert Einstein was a Soviet spy
While Albert Einstein was an admitted socialist and somewhat of a USSR apologist, he wasn't a spy.

[edit] See also

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Albert Onestone.

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  3. Albert Einstein's 'God Letter' To Be Auctioned On eBay With An Opening Bid Of $3 Million
  4. Snopes
Personal tools