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This Day in History

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Friday, March 14, 1879. :   Physicist Albert Einstein is born.

     Albert Einstein was born on 14 March 1879 at Ulm in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. At six he began learning to play the violin and became a gifted amateur violinist, although it is said that once, in a violent temper, he threw a chair at his teacher. Einstein was considered a slow learner, possibly due to dyslexia, simple shyness, or the significantly rare and unusual structure of his brain, which upon his request was removed and examined after his death. There is a persistent rumour that he failed mathematics later in his education, but this is untrue; a change in the way grades were assigned caused confusion years later.

Einstein was passionately interested in physics and mathematics and read eagerly in both subjects. He is perhaps best known for his development of the special and general theories of relativity. This theory considered all observers to be equivalent, not only those moving at a uniform speed. In general relativity, gravity is no longer a force, as it was in Newton's law of gravity, but is a consequence of the curvature of space-time. Einstein's equation E = mc2 proposed that the energy in matter is equal to its mass multiplied by the square of the velocity of light. This equation explained how stars, like our own sun, can emit large amounts of light while losing very little mass The equation also anticipated the splitting of the atom and led to the development of nuclear fission and the atomic bomb. Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

In the early years of the 20th century Einstein advanced theories that proposed entirely new ways of thinking about space, time, and gravitation and revolutionised scientific and philosophic inquiry. He died on 18 April 1955.

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