Albert Einstein: A Profile of a Leader

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879 to a middle-class German Jewish family. His parents were concerned that he scarcely talked until the age of three, but he was not so much a backward as a quiet child. He would build tall houses of cards and hated playing soldier. At the age of twelve he was fascinated by a geometry book. As a child, Einstein revealed an extraordinary curiosity for understanding the mysteries of science. Einstein took music lessons, playing both the violin and piano — a passion that followed him into adulthood.

At the age of fifteen Albert quit high school disgusted by rote learning and martinet teachers, and followed his family to Italy where they had moved their failing electrotechnical business. After half a year of wandering and loafing, he attended a congenial Swiss school. The next year he entered the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. After working hard in the laboratory but skipping lectures, Einstein graduated with an unexceptional record. For two grim years he could find only odd jobs, but he finally got a post as a patent examiner. He married a former classmate.

In 1905, while working as a patent clerk in Bern, Switzerland, Einstein had what came to be known as his “Annus Mirabilis” — or “miracle year”.  It was during this time that the young physicist obtained his Doctorate degree and published four of his most influential research papers, including the Special Theory of Relativity. In that, the now world famous equation “e = mc2″ unlocked mysteries of the Universe theretofore unknown.

Ten years later, in 1915, Einstein completed his General Theory of Relativity and in 1921 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (iconic status cemented in 1919 when Arthur Eddington’s expedition confirmed Albert Einstein’s prediction). It also launched him to international superstardom and his name became a household word synonymous with genius all over the world.

The cornerstone for the Hebrew University in Jerusalem was laid on July 24, 1918. In 1923 Albert Einstein visited Eretz Israel, which at the time was under British occupation.The highlight of Einstein’s tour came atop Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, where he gave the inaugural lecture at the Hebrew University. For several years, Einstein had fundraised around the world to help establish the Jewish university, and to generate support for Zionism in general.

Unwilling to live in Germany under the new Nazi government, Einstein joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He turned away from strict pacifism, and warned world political leaders to prepare for German aggression. He also worked to rescue Jewish and other political victims of the Nazis.

In 1939 Einstein signed a letter that informed President F. D. Roosevelt of the possibility of nuclear bombs, warning that the Germans might try to build them. The next year Einstein became an American citizen. In 1952 Einstein was asked to become the second President of the State of Israel, but declined. He was supporting many causes, such as the United Nations and world government, nuclear disarmament, and civil liberties. In 1955 the search for a true unified field theory for a more profound understanding of nature continued to fill Einstein’s days. While corresponding about a new anti-war project and writing a speech for Israel, he was stricken and died.

Albert Einstein gave the Hebrew University the rights to his name. By doing so, he ensured continued funding to the university. Royalties are paid to the university by organizations who use his name.

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Albert Einstein’s Quotes:

  • The  world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but  because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
  • The  difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its  limits.
  • Only  a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.

Related article: 

The Remarkable Story of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus