Albert Einstein

"Since I do not foresee that atomic energy is to be a great boon for a long time, I have to say that for the present it is a menace. Perhaps it is well that it should be. It many intimidate the human race into bringing order into it's international affairs, which without the pressure of fear, it would not do."

Albert Einstein OnLine

Selected Biography

Einstein did not talk until he was age three. He withdrew from school at 15 for several years. When he finally returned, he often skipped his classes at the Polytechnic University in Zurich and used the time to study physics on his own or to play his beloved violin. He passed his examinations and graduated in 1900 by studying the notes of a classmate. Einsteinīs professors did not think highly of him and would not recommend him for a university position.

Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1921 but not for relativity rather for his 1905 work on the photoelectric effect.

Einstein believed that a good theory is one in which a minimum number of postulates is required to account for the physical evidence. This sparseness of postulates, a feature of all Einstein's work, was what made his work so difficult for colleagues to comprehend, let alone support.

Einstein, a strong Zionist, left Germany in 1933 when Hitler came to power. In 1934, his property was confiscated by the Nazi government, and he was deprived of this German citizenship.

Einstein wrote two letters to US American presidents on nuclear issues making policy requests, one famous, the other less so, one successful the other a failure. Both letters were written collaboratively with other scientists.

In 1939 he wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, pointing out the possibility of making an atomic bomb and the likelihood that the German government was embarking on such a course. He recommended the US begin work on such a project. In 1945, after the first nuclear bomb was tested, and the second World War was clearly coming to an end, Einstein wrote to Harry Truman requesting the atomic bomb not be used against civilians.

After the war, He continued his active support of Zionism but declined the offer made by leaders of the state of Israel to become president of that country.

In the U.S. during the late 1940s and early '50s he spoke out on the need for the nation's intellectuals to make any sacrifice necessary to preserve political freedom.