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On This Day | 14 March 1879: Albert Einstein is born

14 March 1879: On this day in history, the Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Württemberg. Together with Isaac Newton, he is considered to be one of the most important physicists of all time.

Albert Einstein Nobel Prize portrait
Official portrait, 1921 | Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

In 1895 Einstein moved to Switzerland to complete his studies and eventually became Swiss in 1901, securing a job at the Patent office in Bern. Here, he related to questions about transmission of electric signals and synchronization of time.

In 1905, he was awarded a PhD by the University of Zurich. During this year Einstein published four papers which were to become major contributions to the foundation of modern physics. They revolutionized science’s understanding of the fundamental concepts of space, time, mass, and energy and set the basis for quantum physics and relativity theory.

Between 1911 and 1914 – while in Prague and Zurich – Einstein developed his General Theory of Relativity which in 1917 he applied to the structure of the universe as a whole. He discovered that the general field equations predicted a universe that was dynamic, either contracting or expanding.

At this point Einstein had already accepted the role of director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin. Here Einstein started to research Planck’s work on the emission of light, which would influence quantum physics research. In 1922 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

In 1933, while visiting the United States, Hitler came to power. Having a Jewish background, Einstein decided not to return to Germany and became an American citizen. He died in Princeton in 1955 where he had researched since 1940.

Albert Einstein was a strong pacifist and one of the few German scientists to sign the 1914 ‘Manifesto to the Europeans’ against Germany’s militarism during WWI. Throughout his life, Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific ones.


Chiara Baroni

This edition of On This Day in Berlin History was written by BBS Member Chiara Baroni.

It’s one of four events she has chosen to remember this March. Follow Our Blog to see what else she chooses.