How much do I want to read more? 6/10
This "Who was" book obviously stands out because of the character of Einstein to be one of the most famous person in the modern world.
One thing stands from his childhood: He was thinking differently. He wasn't shy thinking on his own, although he was a shy kid.
However nothing fancy here, just simple facts, told in a simplistic way.
Reading about exceptional people is always inspiring. However I didn't get thrilled here.
Still, it helps me think about parenting my child: what is her "gift"? It also helps not worrying about her for not speaking at the age of 2. And it helps to convince me it was not such a bad thing for being myself a quiet one.
[quote, Albert Einstein]
“For an idea that does not at first seem insane, there is no hope.”
Albert Einstein was a very poor student who got kicked out of school? Well, he was. Yet he was one of the most brilliant people that the world has ever known.
Albert was a peace-loving person who hated war? Well, he was. Yet his work led to the creation of the most destructive bomb ever.
Albert was shy and hated publicity and attention? Yet he was a media superstar. Even now, fifty years after his death, Hollywood still makes movies about him—and T-shirts, coffee mugs, and posters are decorated with pictures of his famous face.
Chapter 1 - Born to Think
[quote, Albert Einstein]
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Albert Einstein made his entrance into the world on March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany.
He certainly didn’t seem like an extraordinary child. He was chubby and pale with thick, black hair. He was so quiet and shy that his parents worried that there was something wrong with him.
They took Albert to doctors. “He doesn’t talk,” his parents explained. The doctors found nothing wrong.
The story goes that Albert didn’t speak a word until he was three or four years old.
Then suddenly, over supper one night, he said, “The soup is too hot.”
He enjoyed playing with blocks and building houses out of playing cards.
His parents continued to worry about their lonely and quiet son.
It was just his nature. He was quiet. He was a thinker.
Electricity fascinated Albert. It was invisible, powerful, and dangerous. Electricity was like some mysterious secret.
How fast is electricity? Is there a way to see it? What’s it made of? If there’s electricity, could there be other strange and mysterious forces in the universe?
Albert enjoyed thinking about a world beyond the one that could be seen or explained. As he later said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Albert was amazed that some strange and powerful force was all around him. He could not see it or feel it. Yet it was there, making the compass needle move.
Albert had more to think about. School wasn’t teaching him about the things that mattered to him. So at about age 10, Albert started to teach himself. He was going to read as much about science as he could.
Music calmed his active mind. He especially liked playing duets with his mother. She would accompany him on the piano. One day, while they were playing, Albert suddenly realized that music chords were like patterns of numbers.
Later, when Albert was famous and traveled all around the world, he carried only two things with him—his suitcase and his violin.
He would lie on his back in the grass, look at the sky, and think about space. Is anything farther away than space? How fast would somebody have to go to get there? How does light get all the way from those stars to your eyes? How far does space go on? Could you ride on a beam of light? Is anything bigger than the universe?
The Magnetic Earth
The iron inside the earth creates magnetic forces. The earth itself has a north pole end (near the North Pole) and a south pole end (near the South Pole). A compass’s needle is magnetic. One end is attracted to the earth’s north pole and one to the earth’s south pole. There is an arrow on the end of the compass needle that always points north.
Chapter 2 - What’s to Be Done with a Genius?
Albert liked elementary school. The teachers were kind and patient. They tried their best to answer all of Albert’s questions.
when he started high school. It was an awful experience.
In the classrooms, everyone had to sit very straight at all times. Teachers yelled out orders.
Questions were not allowed. Albert was expected to read and memorize. He was not expected to think. Albert was stunned. This wasn’t his style.
Math was his favorite subject because you couldn’t just memorize math problems.
For Albert, that “older brother” was Max Talmey.
Max quickly came to understand and appreciate how brilliant the teenage Albert was. He brought Albert lots of books from the local university.
Max couldn’t really discuss math with Albert. “The flight of Albert’s mathematical genius,” wrote Max, “was so high that I could no longer follow.” But Max did encourage Albert to explore new interests.
for a while, Albert wanted to follow the traditions of the Jewish religion very strictly. For example, he refused to eat pork. Like many people, Albert did not believe the exact words of the Bible
“Ideas come from God,” he claimed
And later in life, Albert often said that his goal as a scientist was to “read God’s mind.”
Albert’s family moved from Germany to Italy because of his father’s business, leaving Albert behind to finish school.
One of his teachers called him “a lazy dog.” Others said that he was a bad influence on his classmates because he was always asking questions the teachers could not answer. The end result was that Albert was expelled from school.
Chapter 3 - Albert Takes a Very Deep Breath … and Keeps Thinking
[quote, Albert Einstein]
“One is born into a herd of buffaloes and must be glad if one is not trampled underfoot before one’s time.”
Getting expelled from school—even a school he hated—was very painful for Albert. He was embarrassed to have failed so openly. He was angry with his teachers. He was disappointed in himself.
The study of other scientists’ theories pushed Albert’s thinking even further. In Italy, he had the time to write down those thoughts and answer many of the questions he had been asking himself for years. Now he was a real scientist. He even had his first scientific paper published in a magazine, while he was still a teenager!
When scientists have new ideas to share, they write about them in scientific journals.
For Albert, as for all scientists, getting papers published was very important; it was the only way other scientists could learn about his ideas and thoughts.
Albert’s first published paper was about electricity and magnetism.
to everybody’s surprise, Albert began his paper by disagreeing with something that all scientists assumed was true.
Scientists claimed that the “empty” part of outer space—the part without planets and moons—was filled with something called “ether.” Scientists had no idea what ether was made of, or what it looked like, felt like, or smelled like. But they all agreed it was there. Albert disagreed. He claimed that the empty part of space was, well, empty.
Albert’s first paper did not get a lot of attention.
Who was he to challenge the theories of the world’s most respected scientists? However, years later, many of those same scientists would seek out Einstein’s first published paper and marvel at the genius of the young scientist. Because Albert was right.
His family’s business was failing, and Albert worried that he was a drain on his parents—a sponge that took but never gave back.
“I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind,” he said.
he wanted to become a physics professor. To do this, Albert knew that he would have to finish high school.
Albert also decided that the freedom to think, to explore his own ideas, would always be the most important thing in life.
If he got married and had children, his wife and family would matter to him, of course. But they would never matter as much, he realized, as his ability to think freely. To some people, that might sound like a selfish way to live.
Albert re-entered high school in Switzerland, where German was spoken. What a pleasant and unexpected surprise! His new school wasn’t like the German high school at all. At the Swiss school, students were supposed to ask questions.
How fast does time pass? What is the future—do we travel into it or is it already here? Will time ever run out?
After graduating from high school, Albert stayed in Switzerland and began college at Swiss Federal Polytechnic in the city of Zurich.
Albert had no money. His family had fallen on hard times. An uncle provided Albert with a little money. But it wasn’t much. Albert lived in a dark room, ate barely enough, and went without new clothes just so he could stay in school.
One of his new friends was Mileva Maric, the only woman in Albert’s class.
“Without the thought of you,” he wrote her in 1900 at the age of twenty-one, “I would no longer want to live among this sorry herd of humans.”
Upon graduation from college in 1900, Albert was all set to become a physics teacher.
However, he could not find a teaching job.
His uncle stopped sending him money. Albert’s clothes were ragged. His meals were few and far between. His health suffered. Without a job, he couldn’t afford to marry Mileva. Albert ended up taking a job with the Swiss Patent Office. It wasn’t where he wanted to work, but it was a job.
Then Albert’s father died. Albert was devastated. Fortunately, he had Mileva. And, surprisingly, his job at the patent office turned out to be far better than Albert could have ever imagined.