Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works. On 5 December 2014, universities and archives announced the release of Einstein’s papers, comprising more than 30,000 unique documents. Einstein’s intellectual achievements and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with “genius“.
The Einsteins were non-observant Ashkenazi Jews. Albert attended a Catholic elementary school from the age of 5 for three years. At the age of 8, he was transferred to the Luitpold Gymnasium (now known as the Albert Einstein Gymnasium), where he received advanced primary and secondary school education until he left Germany seven years later.
In 1894, his father’s company failed: direct current (DC) lost the War of Currents to alternating current (AC). In search of business, the Einstein family moved to Italy, first to Milan and then, a few months later, to Pavia. When the family moved to Pavia, Einstein stayed in Munich to finish his studies at the Luitpold Gymnasium. His father intended for him to pursue electrical engineering, but Einstein clashed with authorities and resented the school’s regimen and teaching method. He later wrote that the spirit of learning and creative thought were lost in strict rote learning. At the end of December 1894, he travelled to Italy to join his family in Pavia, convincing the school to let him go by using a doctor’s note. It was during his time in Italy that he wrote a short essay with the title “On the Investigation of the State of the Ether in a Magnetic Field.
In 1895, at the age of 16, Einstein sat the entrance examinations for the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zürich (later the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule ETH). He failed to reach the required standard in the general part of the examination,but obtained exceptional grades in physics and mathematics. On the advice of the principal of the Polytechnic, he attended theArgovian cantonal school (gymnasium) in Aarau, Switzerland, in 1895–96 to complete his secondary schooling. While lodging with the family of Professor Jost Winteler, he fell in love with Winteler’s daughter, Marie. (Albert’s sister Maja later married Wintelers’ son Paul.) In January 1896, with his father’s approval, he renounced his citizenship in the German Kingdom of Württemberg to avoidmilitary service. In September 1896, he passed the Swiss Matura with mostly good grades, including a top grade of 6 in physics and mathematical subjects, on a scale of 1–6. Though only 17, he enrolled in the four-year mathematics and physics teaching diploma program at the Zürich Polytechnic. Marie Winteler moved to Olsberg, Switzerland for a teaching post.
Einstein’s future wife, Mileva Marić, also enrolled at the Polytechnic that same year. She was the only woman among the six students in the mathematics and physics section of the teaching diploma course. Over the next few years, Einstein and Marić’s friendship developed into romance, and they read books together on extra-curricular physics in which Einstein was taking an increasing interest. In 1900, Einstein was awarded the Zürich Polytechnic teaching diploma, but Marić failed the examination with a poor grade in the mathematics component, theory of functions. There have been claims that Marić collaborated with Einstein on his celebrated 1905 papers, but historians of physics who have studied the issue find no evidence that she made any substantive contributions.
Marriages and children
Albert Einstein in 1904 (age 25)
The discovery and publication in 1987 of an early correspondence between Einstein and Marić revealed that they had had a daughter, called “Lieserl” in their letters, born in early 1902 in Novi Sad where Marić was staying with her parents. Marić returned to Switzerland without the child, whose real name and fate are unknown. Einstein probably never saw his daughter. The contents of his letter to Marić in September 1903 suggest that the girl was either adopted or died of scarlet fever in infancy.
Einstein with his wife Elsa
Einstein and Marić married in January 1903. In May 1904, the couple’s first son, Hans Albert Einstein, was born in Bern, Switzerland. Their second son, Eduard, was born in Zürich in July 1910. In 1914, the couple separated; Einstein moved to Berlin and his wife remained in Zürich with their sons. They divorced on 14 February 1919, having lived apart for five years. Eduard, whom his father called “Tete” (for petit), had a breakdown at about age 20 and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His mother cared for him and he was also committed to asylums for several periods, including full-time after her death.
The marriage with Marić does not seem to have been very happy. In letters revealed in 2015, Einstein wrote to his early love, Marie Winteler, about his marriage and his still strong feelings for Marie. In 1910 he wrote to her that “I think of you in heartfelt love every spare minute and am so unhappy as only a man can be” while his wife was pregnant with their second child. Einstein spoke about a “misguided love” and a “missed life” regarding his love for Marie.
Einstein married Elsa Löwenthal on 2 June 1919, after having had a relationship with her since 1912. She was a first cousin maternally and a second cousin paternally. In 1933, they emigrated to the United States. In 1935, Elsa Einstein was diagnosed with heart and kidney problems; she died in December 1936.
After graduating, Einstein spent almost two frustrating years searching for a teaching post. He acquired Swiss citizenship in February 1901, but was not conscripted for medical reasons. With the help of Marcel Grossmann‘s father Einstein secured a job in Bern at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property, the patent office, as an assistant examiner. He evaluated patent applicationsfor a variety of devices including a gravel sorter and an electromechanical typewriter. In 1903, Einstein’s position at the Swiss Patent Office became permanent, although he was passed over for promotion until he “fully mastered machine technology”.:370
Much of his work at the patent office related to questions about transmission of electric signals and electrical-mechanical synchronization of time, two technical problems that show up conspicuously in the thought experiments that eventually led Einstein to his radical conclusions about the nature of light and the fundamental connection between space and time.:377
With a few friends he had met in Bern, Einstein started a small discussion group, self-mockingly named “The Olympia Academy“, which met regularly to discuss science and philosophy. Their readings included the works of Henri Poincaré, Ernst Mach, and David Hume, which influenced his scientific and philosophical outlook.
Einstein’s official 1921 portrait after receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics