Interesting Facts About Albert Einstein – Discoveries, Facts, and Personal Life
Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2.
Born in Ulm in Württemberg (now in Germany), Einstein taught at and contributed to a number of universities; he received his PhD from the University of Zurich, in Switzerland, and worked as an assistant professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, where he later became a full professor. He also taught at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
In 1902, Einstein married Mileva Marić, a fellow scientist from Serbia then working as a nanny. They had two sons together; their first was born in 1903. The couple later divorced and he married his cousin Elsa Einstein, who was also a physicist and whose company he greatly enjoyed. He had one stepdaughter with his second wife and two sons with his first wife. His second marriage lasted until Elsa’s death in 1936.
Einstein spent most of his life living in Zurich, where he and other members of the faculty regularly met at an Italian restaurant for lunch on Sundays.
Einstein was not initially successful in his academic career. He obtained a position at the patent office in Bern after taking his first job, but gave it up after only five months for a chance to attend university, which he hoped would be better for his future career as a scientist. He studied theoretical physics at the University of Zurich under Alfred Kleiner, who made Einstein aware of the importance of experimental physics. His dissertation, entitled “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions,” was awarded a relatively low grade, “honorable,” which allowed him to free of tuition fees required of doctoral students.
Einstein married Mileva Marić, who also studied physics. They had two sons together. Their first son, Hans Albert Einstein (1902–1973), was born July 14, 1902. Their second son, Eduard “Tete” Einstein (1904–1968), was born on January 6 of the following year.
Having received his PhD in 1905, Einstein gave an academic presentation at the University of Bern that same year and began work at the Swiss Patent Office. He continued researching and published several papers over the next few years but did not gain a spot on the faculty at a university for another eight years. In 1909, he became a professor at the University of Zurich.
Einstein was a member of several scientific academies and learned societies. He received honorary doctorates from many European and American universities and from many countries around the world.
Einstein was a lifelong pacifist, vegetarian, and socialist based on his ethical philosophy of “concern for man and the pursuit of justice.” According to engineer Leo Szilard, who worked with Einstein on atomic issues in Berlin in 1933, ‘From [his] early youth [Einstein] had shown an aversion to war and militarism. He did not like the sight of soldiers, or of arms. His response to the declaration of war by the United States in 1941 was “O God, how horrible.”
Many people have heard of Einstein and marveled at his talent in physics. Fewer know that he is a committed humanist and pacifist who, in his later years, was very concerned about the future of humanity.
Albert Einstein married the only female student in his physics class
You might have heard or read this quote before: Albert Einstein married the only female student in his physics class and they’d been happily married for forty years when she died.
While it sounds like a nice piece of trivia, it’s actually not true. The actual story is as follows: Einstein earned his Doctorate from the University of Zurich at 21. He was then appointed as a teacher at the school where he had studied and was assigned to give mandatory Physics lessons to all third-year students (both male and female).
One of those students who he taught in 1896 was 21-year-old Mileva Maric. She came from an Orthodox family, and as such, she wasn’t allowed to travel far away from home. Einstein was two years younger than Maric, and while they might have been attracted to each other, the chances of them having an affair were very slim.
Einstein’s father wanted him to work as a Patent Officer, but Einstein wanted to be a scientist. His father then promised that if he didn’t get into University on his first attempt, he wouldn’t pay for any more education. That alone should tell you that Einstein’s father wasn’t rich and could barely support his son’s education.
While at university, Einstein became friends with Michele Besso who was also studying there. He also was a friend of Einstein’s cousin who introduced the two. Besso and Einstein became good friends and would later become roommates in various apartments that they shared in Switzerland.
While still at high school, Maric had wanted to study Mathematics at the University, however her father wouldn’t allow her to enter University because she as a woman wasn’t allowed to study alongside men. So she studied at Trade School instead before finally being able to attend the university in 1896 where she studied Physics and Arithmetic. Despite being older than Maric, Einstein didn’t have time for women or relationships and he treated them with disdain. He moved out of his parents’ home when he was eighteen and went straight into boarding school when he left school.
In March 1896, Einstein had to write a short piece about his future career goals. He wrote that he wanted to become a teacher in an Advanced School (High School) and that he would consider becoming a professor in Zurich or Heidelberg. He never mentioned anything about becoming a Professor at the University of Bern, which is where he was offered the job in 1901.
In 1897, Maric graduated with her degree in Physics and Arithmetic. She did very well in her exams but wasn’t able to attend any celebratory dinner events due to her religion, so Einstein and Besso went without her and signed all of her certificates on behalf of the entire group of students who had graduated together.
Maric married Einstein on July 16, 1903 after Einstein had moved to Bern (in 1901) and she was able to support herself. She had used the money that she received from selling her family’s apartment in Yugoslavia and moved there with her husband where they rented lodgings.
It is true that some of her relatives disapproved of the relationship between them, however, they did eventually accept it. On January 6, 1904 their first child was born – Max – followed by two more children – Lieserl in 1904 who died in early childhood and a second child who died soon after birth.
Mileva had a difficult pregnancy with her first child Max and it was Einstein’s parents who helped them financially to support their newborn child. The couple moved to Bavaria in Germany to help Mileva recover after she gave birth. That was in early 1905.
During this time, Einstein wrote his famous paper on the photoelectric effect which he sent off for publication before he had even presented it at the University of Bern, so it is unlikely that Mileva would have been able to assist him with much more than typing out the paper (something she didn’t do very well at). Although their relationship as husband and wife wasn’t great, they were still close friends with one another until her death in 1948.
Einstein was quoted as saying “We have grown apart in many ways. She’s become Catholic and I’m Jewish.” (Woolf, 1999). That was all he ever said about their relationship. There are pictures of the couple from 1906 onwards with Einstein being photographed alone after that date.
I could go on for ages but I won’t, my point is that the story isn’t fact unless you can find some evidence that they were together before she graduated from University and had a child together. The story has since been immortalized as fact both on various History Channel programs and in Mathematics classes throughout the world, but it’s not true.
If you’d like to read more about Einstein and Mileva’s relationship, I recommend reading the book “Einstein’s Wife: Work and Marriage in the Lives of Five Great Twentieth-Century Women” by Andrea Gabor.
Albert Einstein paid his Nobel Prize money for a divorce
By the time Einstein won the Nobel Prize, in 1921, he was already divorced. He and Mileva had married in 1903, but their marriage had failed a decade earlier. And while the pair was hardly estranged when they separated (they lived within walking distance of one another), Einstein wasn’t exactly eager to provide support for his ex-wife and their two sons.
In fact, he insisted that she sign a document saying that she would never come back to him for anything, ever — not even for financial assistance. In order to get the required signatures from the court officials who would officially seal their divorce, Mileva needed $198,000 (the equivalent of about $1 million today).
This was a lot of money — until Einstein won the Nobel Prize. At that moment, it became a paltry sum.
And so it came to be that the Nobel Prize money became the divorce settlement for Einstein and Mileva Maric.
But first there were problems: The 1921 accounts of Einstein’s fifth annual income tax showed a net income of only $44,000. But at the prevailing exchange rate, that still left $120,000 — more than enough to satisfy every financial demand Mileva had made. Even after the attorney’s fees were deducted, there should have been plenty left over to make her happy.
Albert Einstein married his cousin Elsa
Elsa Einstein (18 January 1876 – 20 December 1936) was the second wife and cousin of Albert Einstein. She was born in Italy, the daughter of his mother’s sister Katrina (de) Koch and her husband Emanuel Caesar Einstein. Elsa and Albert married in 1919.
She was five years older than her famous cousin. In childhood she had enjoyed his company and playfully referred to him as her “Einstein”. Elsa and Albert married at the port city of Genoa on March 14, in a civil ceremony. The couple moved to Berlin.
Einstein’s career did not initially flourish after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1922; Elsa is known for consistently defending him against outsiders’ criticism during this period, including threats by a local anti-Semitic paper that her husband should be “sacked”. She also shielded him from excessive demands by relatives who had become dependent on him.
Elsa developed a swollen eye and was diagnosed with heart and kidney problems. She died in December 1936, aged 60, at their home in Princeton. Albert Einstein was so grief-stricken that he could not attend her funeral.
No one knows what happened to Albert Einstein’s illegitimate daughter
Albert and Mileva’s first daughter, Lieserl, died as a young child.
This fact is known because the couple later had two boys, Eduard and Hans Albert. But no one knows anything about the first daughter – where she was born or when she died. The only thing we know is her name: Lieserl. Even this much information is known thanks to Einstein’s sister, Maja.
What happened to the child? Until recently, it was generally accepted that she died of scarlet fever in infancy – sometime between 1903 and 1905.
If the child did not die in infancy, what later became of her? Did she have children? Is there anyone who carries Einstein’s genes today? These are questions we cannot answer because no one knows any more about Lieserl’s life or death.
Nobel Prize for Physics
Albert Einstein is considered one of the greatest scientists, physicists and thinkers of all times. He received Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.” In 1922 he received Noble prize in Economic Sciences (The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.
Albert’s second son, Eduard ‘Tete’ Einstein, was institutionalized for most of his adult life
Eduard was considered “not normal” from the age of five, but it was not until his teens that his parents realized he was profoundly disturbed. Like his father, Eduard was a quiet child who did not readily mix with other children and appeared to possess an overactive imagination. He had difficulty learning to speak and walked clumsily. His uncontrollable temper and mood swings distressed both parents and teachers.
At age thirteen, Eduard began exhibiting sexual behavior in public that threatened to scandalize the family: ‘He would go into the street without any clothes on, or stand before windows in his nightshirt when people were passing by. This would happen at any hour of the day or night. His parents finally got him to stop this by locking him out of the house, and this was the beginning of a long series of incidents with his father.’
Eduard began to demand money from his parents. Albert ‘refused to give him any more, whereupon Eduard threatened his father with a knife’. Nevertheless, Albert’s wife was more distressed when her fourteen-year-old hijacker son threatened suicide and had to be committed under her own care. He lived in an institution for seventeen years.
Violent and uncooperative, Eduard received electroshock treatment five times between 1916 and 1919. The effect was devastating: ‘His body and his legs were not able to control each other any more, to the point that he was unable to walk. He was paralyzed in both legs.’
His father described Eduard’s treatment as ‘a series of brutal interventions’. The reason for such measures was never clearly explained except that Eduard had been ‘hardly potty trained’ and had suffered from rickets. He remained incapacitated for the rest of his life. It is difficult to reconcile this with Einstein’s opposition to capital punishment, which he felt was motivated by his desire for social justice: ‘One hangman less; one neurotic more.’
Albert never saw his son again after he immigrated to the United States in 1933. Tete Einstein died in 1951.
Albert Einstein had an affair with an alleged Russian spy: Margarita Konenkova
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was a man of many mysteries; some of the great scientist’s puzzles are still being unraveled today. As recently as 2008 British historian and author sort out some of these mysteries in his book, The Private Albert Einstein. Author Roger Highfield claims in his book, Albert Einstein’s affairs left both men and women in a bewildered frenzy, including Margarita Konenkova. Highfield writes that Margarita “won Einstein’s heart after charming him with her passionate letters.”
Margarita was born in St Petersburg, Russia, and before she met Albert Einstein she was enrolled as a law student at the University of Moscow. She was also a “self-styled revolutionary,” who helped organize strikes among her fellow law students. In 1908 Margarita moved to Geneva where she studied under Alexander Kerensky (1881-1970), who later became the Russian premier during the short-lived Russian Provisional Government (1917). While studying with Kerensky is when Margarita developed her skills for intelligence work.
Margarita’s friend, Anya, was also a student of Kerensky. “Anya had a baby and named the child after Einstein.” At this time Margarita was 23 years old and Albert Einstein was 37. “Einstein doted on the child,” writes Highfield. “But as soon as he arrived to take over his duties at the university, Margarita fell ill and found there was no room for her in the flat she shared with her husband.” Anya suggested Margarita stay with her cousin, Dr Vladimir Konenkov, who resided near Albert Einstein in Bern. Margarita’s affair with Albert Einstein began when Dr. Konenkov and Margarita moved in with Einstein. Highfield writes that Albert Einstein “was smitten with Margarita’s looks, her passion and her intelligence.” Highfield continues, “The situation was complicated by the fact that Margarita’s husband was in prison, charged with trying to assassinate Tsar Nicholas II.”
“I read the letter over again…but it is still not clear to me how you could have had sex relations with W. [Wilhelm Ostwald] or me,” Albert Einstein wrote to Margarita in a letter dated January 17, 1932. Albert Einstein was 62 years old and Margarita Konenkova was 49 at this time. Margarita replied to Einstein’s letter, “Oh Albert! The only thing I can say is that you are guilty of the same ethical offense as W., but in a much more subtle way. You have devoured my heart like a hungry animal. And even worse, you have made me into an animal like yourself.”
Margarita also wrote to her friend, Boris Rosing, about her affair with Albert Einstein. “This year our marriage has come apart completely,” Margarita wrote. “But A. still loves me and he does not want to lose me completely…I think I could get away with it if I did not get pregnant again and bore him children and [if] I were capable of winning his love. Oh God, am I capable of that?”
Boris Rosing replied to Margarita, “You are just as much to blame as he is.” He also added that they both “betrayed the best within us.” Einstein and Margarita continued their affair even though they both knew it was wrong. In 1930 Albert Einstein’s wife, Elsa, died; Margarita picked up where Elsa left off. “Warmth and love flowed from her,” writes Highfield. “Einstein became so intoxicated that he called Margarita ‘little puppy.’ He compared her with a cobra and sent her a note saying he was more in love with her than ever. But he was plagued by guilt and confessed to her that he thought of you just as I did of my wife.'”
Highfield writes that although Albert Einstein continued to see Margarita, he also sought physical intimacy with other women. “Einstein is still the most passionate man I have ever known,” Margarita told a friend. “He made love to me for five hours without stopping.” Margarita continued to see Albert Einstein even after 1940, when she was convinced Einstein would have nothing more to do with her. Margarita died in 1974 at the age of 86.