On March 14th, 1879, Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany.
The world-renowned physicist’s most prominent achievement was his theory of relativity which transformed the study of theoretical physics, making it one of the two pillars of modern physics. It was these achievements, amongst others – many of which are contained in his some 30,000 papers – which saw him awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921.
Revered in popular culture, Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence formula was proposed in 1905 in his publication ‘Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy content?’. Whilst not actually including the now famous equation, this document lay out the formula E = mc²
Einstein famously played a prominent role in the second world war. A non-observant Jew, Einstein was conveniently abroad in February 1933 – he was visiting and speaking at American universities – during the period of Hitler’s ascension to power. Einstein and a group of other refugee scientists in the US deemed it necessary to alert the US government to the threat posed by Nazi atomic research. A letter penned by Einstein and scientist Leó Szilárd was sent to President Roosevelt and directly resulted in the establishment of the Manhattan Project. The spoils of this project were, for America, the first atomic weapons in human history. Some historians have highlighted the role which the Manhattan Project – and the subsequent atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – played in ending the conflict in Asia and, ergo, the second world war*.
*[However, many historians are of the view that the atomic attacks were a move of US neo-imperialism – even President Eisenhower recanted his initial support for the attacks in his memoirs].
After an incredible and inspirational life, fuelled by genius and an unprecedented talent, Albert Einstein was to pass away aged 76 on April 18th, 1955, in New Jersey.