Albert Einstein (pronounced in German [ˈalbɐt ˈaɪnʃtaɪn]) born March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg (German Empire), and died April 18, 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey (United States), is a theoretical physicist . He was successively German, stateless (between 1896 and 1901), Swiss (1901) and of dual Swiss-American nationality (1940). He married Mileva Marić, then his cousin Elsa Einstein.
He published his theory of special relativity in 1905 and his theory of gravity, known as general relativity, in 1915. He largely contributed to the development of quantum mechanics and cosmology, and received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. His work is particularly well known to the general public for the equation E mc2, which establishes an equivalence between the mass and the energy of a system.
Today he is considered one of the greatest scientists in history, and his fame goes far beyond the scientific community. He is the personality of the twentieth century according to the weekly Time. In popular culture, his name and person are directly linked to notions of intelligence, knowledge and genius.
His father, Hermann Einstein, born August 30, 1847 in Buchau, died October 10, 1902 in Milan. He was an entrepreneur (Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie) and married Pauline Koch (1858-1920) on August 8, 1876. Three years later, on March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein, their first child, was born in their apartment in Ulm in Germany.
The Einsteins are non-practicing Jews, but a relative teaches Albert the elements of Judaism. At around eleven years of age, he had a very religious phase: he did not eat pork and composed religious songs that he sang on the way to school. “But I read my first science books, and I finished with the faith of Abraham. He doesn't do his Bar Mitzvah and doesn't learn Hebrew.
Albert's interest in science was aroused by a compass when he was five years old: the existence of an action at a distance seemed "miraculous" to him and greatly surprised him. At the age of twelve, a little book on Euclidean geometry of the plane, which he would later name the “sacred book of geometry”, marked him strongly (“the clarity and certainty of the demonstrations had an indescribable effect on me”). His uncle Jakob, an associate engineer in his father's electrical equipment business, poses math problems for him. Max Talmey, a medical student who often dines with the Einsteins, gives him science books and later works by Kant, and they often have long discussions.
From twelve to sixteen, he learned differential and integral calculus on his own.
Einstein presents a relatively atypical school career compared to the eminent scientists who were later his contemporaries. Very early on, the young man protests against the arbitrary power exercised by the teachers, so he is often portrayed by them as a bad element, very dizzy. He experiences difficulties in expressing himself until late in his childhood.
He began his schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich but was dismissed at the age of 15, (his Greek teacher judging his presence incompatible with the strict discipline reigning there at the time). He has excellent math results. He joined his parents in Pavia, Italy, in 1895 and renounced his German nationality (this abandonment being formalized in 1896). In his request for the repudiation of German nationality, he declares that he does not adhere to any religious denomination, thus signing his official break with the Jewish religion.
At the age of 16, he decided to join the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) - which can then be accessed.