Einstein Essays

"How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people -- first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving...

"I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves -- this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts -- possessions, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible.

"My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a 'lone traveler' and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude..."

"My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the few ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader. In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates; force attracts men of low morality... The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.

"This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor... This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man... I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence -- as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."

The text of Albert Einstein's copyrighted essay, "The World As I See It," was shortened for our Web exhibit. The essay was originally published in "Forum and Century," vol. 84, pp. 193-194, the thirteenth in the Forum series, Living Philosophies. It is also included in Living Philosophies (pp. 3-7) New York: Simon Schuster, 1931. For a more recent source, you can also find a copy of it in A. Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, based on Mein Weltbild, edited by Carl Seelig, New York: Bonzana Books, 1954 (pp. 8-11).

Albert Einstein was a German American scientist. He is best known for his theories on relativity and theories of matter and heat. Einstein is considered one of the greatest physicists of all time because he is thought to have changed the way one looks at the universe. Einstein was born in Ulm, southern Germany, to Jewish parents. A year after he was born he moved to Munich, Germany. Einstein showed no signs of being a genius at an early age. He did not like to receive instructions in school, therefore his education had to begin at home. He would still have to attend school in Munich though, and would get exceptional grades especially in Mathematics; however, he hated it, a teacher suggested him to leave and just study at home because of his dislike toward the school. Merely his presence caused the other students to disrespect the teachers. A story that Einstein loved to tell was that he once saw a compass and saw that the needle had a northward swing. He knew there was something behind it and he wanted to know the hidden mysteries. Einstein first learned algebra and the pythagora’s theorem when his uncle taught it to him. His uncle would visit the family frequently and was Einstein’s mentor. He would help him and encourage him to go on and never give up. Einstein loved to solve the algebraic and geometrical problems on his own. At the age of twelve he read a couple of books on Euclid Geometry and learned the whole thing on his own. At the age of fourteen he read a few science books and the books had an immense influence on his life.

At the age of fifteen his parents moved to Milan, Italy, Einstein took this opportunity to drop out of the school in Munich. He spent a year just living with his parents and reading. Albert then realized that he needed to do something in life. He decided to finish school in Aarau, Switzerland. In 1895, he tried to enter into the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (a type of university). He took the entrance exam, failed it, and passed it the second time. In the institute Albert realized that his true love was Physics. Albert hated that school also, so much was his dislike toward the school, that he would not even attend the classes. He would rather stay home and do experiments and have his friend take notes for him, then he would just study the notes on his own and take the tests.

Albert graduated from the university with not so prestigious grades, he tried to get a job at a university as a professor, but failed to find one. He even became a Swiss citizen to find a job in Switzerland, but it did not work out either. In 1902 he found a job at the patent office at Bern. All he had to do was put applications in for patents. This gave him time to devote himself to the Physics questions that he had and do scientific papers. In 1903 he married Meliva Maritsch, he had two sons with her and discussed his ideas with her all the time.

Einstein started to draw attention to himself when he started to publish his papers. In 1905 he was hired as a professor in the University of Zurich for his Annus Mirabilis-the four major papers that he wrote in his life-. The first one was about the theoretical dissertations on the dimensions of molecules. The second was about the Brownian Motion; he made predictions about the motion of particles. The third one was about the Photoelectric Effect, which contained a revolutionary hypothesis on the nature of light. In this paper he wrote about the photon being proportional to frequency. His Fourth and most revolutionary paper was the one about Theory of Special Relativity, which contained the interaction viewed simultaneously by an observer at rest, and by an observer moving at uniform speed.

Albert did not really become world famous until some of the things in his Theory of Special Relativity proved to be true. In his theory he explained the unexplained variations in the orbital motion of the planets. This was proved in 1919 when there was an eclipse. After the eclipse, people realized that what he had stated was true. From that time on he became world known. He was invited to many special meetings; on one of them he met one of his favorite scientist Max Planck and others that he relished. It was in that same year that he married his cousin Elsa. In 1921, he won the Noble Prize for Physics for the research he did on the PhotoElectric effect.

Since Albert was a publicly declared Zionist, he was the target of many anti-semetics. He would be ridiculed in Germany because of his beliefs. Albert had moved to Germany to work at the University in Prague. When Hitler came to power, he immediately moved to Princeton, New Jersey. Albert later learned that some German scientist had discovered how to split the uranium atom. Albert and other scientist sent a letter to President Roosevelt and told him to start an atomic bomb project also. That is why the Manhattan project was started. Einstein helped to make the first two atomic Bombs.

Albert Einstein died in 1955, in Princeton, New Jersey. He was able to see his own people return to their homeland, something he wanted to see all his life. Einstein accomplished many things in life because of his hard work, and all his work has helped our world today.

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