Einstein's accomplishments

Einstein's accomplishments

Light and general relativity

In 1906, the patent office promoted Einstein to Technical Examiner Second Class, but he had not given up on academia. In 1908, he became a privatdozent at the University of Bern. [Citation | last = Pais | first = Abraham | author-link = Abraham Pais | year = 1982 | title = Subtle is the Lord. The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein | publisher = Oxford University Press | page = 522 | id = ISBN 0-19-520438-7 ] In 1910, he wrote a paper on critical opalescence that described the cumulative effect of light scattered by individual molecules in the atmosphere, i.e. why the sky is blue.Levenson, Thomas. " [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/einstein/genius/ Einstein's Big Idea] ." "Public Broadcasting Service." 2005. Retrieved on February 25, 2006.]

During 1909, Einstein published "Über die Entwicklung unserer Anschauungen über das Wesen und die Konstitution der Strahlung" (""), on the quantization of light. In this and in an earlier 1909 paper, Einstein showed that Max Planck's energy quanta must have well-defined momenta and act in some respects as independent, point-like particles. This paper introduced the "photon" concept (although the term itself was introduced by Gilbert N. Lewis in 1926) and inspired the notion of wave–particle duality in quantum mechanics.

In 1911, Einstein became an associate professor at the University of Zurich. However, shortly afterward, he accepted a full professorship at the Charles University of Prague. While in Prague, Einstein published a paper about the effects of gravity on light, specifically the gravitational redshift and the gravitational deflection of light. The paper appealed to astronomers to find ways of detecting the deflection during a solar eclipse. [cite journal | last=Einstein | first=Albert | title=On the Influence of Gravity on the Propagation of Light | journal=Annalen der Physik | year=1911 | volume=35 | pages=898–908 (also in Collected Papers Vol. 3, document 23)] German astronomer Erwin Finlay-Freundlich publicized Einstein's challenge to scientists around the world.Crelinsten, Jeffrey. " [http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/8165.html Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity] ." "Princeton University Press." 2006. Retrieved on March 13, 2007. ISBN 9780691123103]

In 1912, Einstein returned to Switzerland to accept a professorship at his alma mater, the ETH. There he met mathematician Marcel Grossmann who introduced him to Riemannian geometry, and at the recommendation of Italian mathematician Tullio Levi-Civita, Einstein began exploring the usefulness of general covariance (essentially the use of tensors) for his gravitational theory. Although for a while Einstein thought that there were problems with that approach, he later returned to it and by late 1915 had published his general theory of relativity in the form that is still used today Harv|Einstein|1915. This theory explains gravitation as distortion of the structure of spacetime by matter, affecting the inertial motion of other matter.

After many relocations, Mileva established a permanent home with the children in Zurich in 1914, just before the start of World War I. Einstein continued on alone to Berlin, where he became a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. As part of the arrangements for his new position, he also became a professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin, although with a special clause freeing him from most teaching obligations. From 1914 to 1932 he was also director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics.Kant, Horst. "Albert Einstein and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin." in Renn, Jürgen. "Albert Einstein - Chief Engineer of the Universe: One Hundred Authors for Einstein." Ed. Renn, Jürgen. "Wiley-VCH." 2005. pp. 166–169. ISBN = 3527405747]

During World War I, the speeches and writings of Central Powers scientists were available only to Central Powers academics, for national security reasons. Some of Einstein's work did reach the United Kingdom and the United States through the efforts of the Austrian Paul Ehrenfest and physicists in the Netherlands, especially 1902 Nobel Prize-winner Hendrik Lorentz and Willem de Sitter of the Leiden University. After the war ended, Einstein maintained his relationship with the Leiden University, accepting a contract as an "Extraordinary Professor"; he travelled to Holland regularly to lecture there between 1920 and 1930. [cite web|url=http://www.lorentz.leidenuniv.nl/history/einstein/einstein.html|title=Two friends in Leiden|accessdate=2007-06-11]

In 1917, Einstein published an article in "Physikalische Zeitschrift" that proposed the possibility of stimulated emission, the physical process that makes possible the maser and the laser Harv|Einstein|1917b. He also published a paper introducing a new notion, the cosmological constant, into the general theory of relativity in an attempt to model the behavior of the entire universe Harv|Einstein|1917a.

1917 was the year astronomers began taking Einstein up on his 1911 challenge from Prague. The Mount Wilson Observatory in California, U.S., published a solar spectroscopic analysis that showed no gravitational redshift. [Citation | last =Crelinsten | first =Jeffrey | title =Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity | ISBN =978-0-691-12310-3 | publisher =Princeton University Press | pages = 103–108 | year =2006 | url =http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/8165.html | accessdate =2007-03-13 ] In 1918, the Lick Observatory, also in California, announced that they too had disproven Einstein's prediction, although their findings were not published. [Citation | last =Crelinsten | first =Jeffrey | title =Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity | ISBN =978-0-691-12310-3 | publisher =Princeton University Press | pages = 114–119 | year =2006 | url =http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/8165.html | accessdate =2007-03-13 ]

However, in May 1919, a team led by British astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington claimed to have confirmed Einstein's prediction of gravitational deflection of starlight by the Sun while photographing a solar eclipse in Sobral, northern Brazil, and Príncipe. On November 7, 1919, leading British newspaper "The Times" printed a banner headline that read: "Revolution in Science – New Theory of the Universe – Newtonian Ideas Overthrown".cite journal | last = Andrzej | first = Stasiak | year = 2003 | title = Myths in science | journal = EMBO reports | volume = 4 | issue = 3 | pages = 236 | issn = | pmid = | doi =10.1038/sj.embor.embor779 | id = | url = http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v4/n3/full/embor779.html | accessdate = 2007-03-31 ] In an interview Nobel laureate Max Born praised general relativity as the "greatest feat of human thinking about nature"; [cite news | title = The genius of space and time
url = http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/scienceandnature/0,,1571826,00.html | publisher = The Guardian | date = September 17, 2005 | accessdate = 2007-03-31
] fellow laureate Paul Dirac was quoted saying it was "probably the greatest scientific discovery ever made".Schmidhuber, Jürgen. " [http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/einstein.html ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879–1955) and the 'Greatest Scientific Discovery Ever'] ." 2006. Retrieved on October 4, 2006.]

In their excitement, the world media made Albert Einstein world-famous. Ironically, later examination of the photographs taken on the Eddington expedition showed that the experimental uncertainty was of about the same magnitude as the effect Eddington claimed to have demonstrated, and in 1962 a British expedition concluded that the method used was inherently unreliable. The deflection of light during a solar eclipse has, however, been more accurately measured (and confirmed) by later observations. [See the table in MathPages [http://www.mathpages.com/rr/s6-03/6-03.htm Bending Light] ]

There was some resentment toward the newcomer Einstein's fame in the scientific community, notably among German physicists, who later started the "Deutsche Physik" (German Physics) movement.Hentschel, Klaus; Hentschel, Ann M. "Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology of Primary Sources." "Birkhaeuser Verlag." 1996. p. xxi. ISBN 3764353120] [For a discussion of astronomers' attitudes and debates about relativity, see Jeffrey Crelinsten, Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity (Princeton University Press, 2006), esp. chapters 6, 9, 10 and 11.]

Nobel Prize

In 1921 Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, "for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect". This refers to his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect: "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light", which was well supported by the experimental evidence by that time. The presentation speech began by mentioning "his theory of relativity which had been the subject of lively debate in philosophical circles and also has astrophysical implications which are being rigorously examined at the present time." Harv|Einstein|1923 As stipulated in their 1919 divorce settlement, Einstein gave the Nobel prize money to his first wife, Mileva Marić.

Einstein traveled to New York City in the United States for the first time on April 2, 1921. When asked where he got his scientific ideas, Einstein explained that he believed scientific work best proceeds from an examination of physical reality and a search for underlying axioms, with consistent explanations that apply in all instances and avoid contradicting each other. He also recommended theories with visualizable results Harv|Einstein|1954. [See Albert Einstein, "Geometry and Experience," (1921), reprinted in "Ideas and Opinions".]

Unified field theory

Einstein's research after general relativity consisted primarily of a long series of attempts to generalize his theory of gravitation in order to unify and simplify the fundamental laws of physics, particularly gravitation and electromagnetism. In 1950, he described this "unified field theory" in a "Scientific American" article entitled "On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation" Harv|Einstein|1950.

Although he continued to be lauded for his work in theoretical physics, Einstein became increasingly isolated in his research, and his attempts were ultimately unsuccessful. In his pursuit of a unification of the fundamental forces, he ignored some mainstream developments in physics (and vice versa), most notably the strong and weak nuclear forces, which were not well understood until many years after Einstein's death. Einstein's goal of unifying the laws of physics under a single model survives in the current drive for the grand unification theory. [cite web | url=http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00013319-39C7-1C74-9B81809EC588EF21 | title="A Unified Physics by 2050?" | accessdate=2007-10-04]


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