9 little known facts about Einstein

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There is no corner of this world where people don’t acknowledge how instrumental Albert Einstein was in changing the notions about space, time and matter. In the honor of his 139th birthday, Spectra pays tribute to one of the greatest scientists of the millennium.
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The popular fact that Einstein failed Mathematics in 5th grade is, in fact, a myth. He, in fact, had mastered differential and integral calculus by the age of 15. Einstein’s matriculation certificate (shown on the left) shows that he scored perfect marks in Geometry, Algebra and Physics.

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Along with being a man of science, Albert Einstein was a great musician. He inherited his passion for music from his mother, Pauline Einstein, who herself was an accomplished pianist. His struggle for learning the art of playing violin began at the age of 5. His second wife, Elsa Einstein confessed that one of the main reasons why she fell in love with her cousin Albert was “because he played Mozart so beautifully on the violin.”

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Despite being so talented, it took Einstein nine years to get a job in academia. By virtue of his four papers, in one of which he introduced Special Theory of Relativity, published in 1905, he became well known in the world of Physics but he still didn’t become a full professor until 1909, almost a decade after he left school.

Einstein could have been the president of Israel! He was offered this position after the death of their first president, Chaim Weizmann, but he refused to take it. “All my life I have dealt with objective matters,” Einstein wrote in a letter to the Israeli ambassador, “hence I lack both, the natural aptitude and the experience, to deal properly with people and to exercise official function.”

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When he divorced his first wife, he promised to give her his Nobel Prize money, which he hadn’t even won yet (1919). After winning the prize money he kept his word and actually gave her the money. On basis of this, some people speculate that his wife helped him prove few of his famous theories. However, no definitive proof has been found in this regard.

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He received the Nobel Prize in 1921 but surprisingly it wasn’t for his famous theory of relativity (for which he is renowned today)! It was for photoelectric effect; weird phenomenon which was not explained by classical Maxwell theory of electromagnetism but was successfully explained by Einstein in one of his papers in 1905.

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He was under FBI surveillance for decades. Shortly before Hitler rose to power in 1933, Einstein left Berlin for the US. His support for civil rights had already drawn suspicion from FBI, and after his arrival on American shores, he was under constant supervision. Agents listened to his phone calls, opened his mail and even checked his trash in the hope of unmasking him as a Soviet spy. However, all their efforts were in vain. By the time Einstein died in 1955, his FBI file was composed of 1400 pages!

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Einstein wrote his first scientific essay at the age of 15 titled ‘On the Investigation of the State of the Ether in a Magnetic Field’. However, it never got published. His first journal publication was ‘Conclusions Drawn from the Phenomena of Capillarity in 1901’, at age of 21.

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Einstein forced the development of the atomic bomb at first but later on he supported nuclear disarmament. Though he never participated directly in the Manhattan Project, he later expressed deep regret about his minor role in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was also one of the prime signatories of Russell-Einstein Manifesto which highlighted the dangers posed by Nuclear Weapons.

(compiled by Zahra Tariq)

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