the man who changed the world
born in 1879, in ulm, germany, einstein was two years old when his parents moved to munich. there his father opened a business in electrical supplies. as a boy, einstein did not learn to talk until later than others of his age, and in his early childhood he was not considered especially bright. but by the time he was fourteen years old, he had recovered from a slow start to the extent that he had taught himself advanced mathematics from textbooks. by then he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. he wanted to be a physicist and devote himself to research.
the einsteins, however, could not afford to pay for the advanced education young einstein needed. the family business had declined, and they were forced to leave munich to live in milan, italy, where they had relatives. as for albert, the family did manage to send him to a technical school in switzerland, and later to the federal institute of technology in zurich.
in 1901, when einstein was twenty-two years old, he began teaching, and in 1902 he went to work as a patent office examiner in bern. now able to pay his own expenses, he continued his schooling at the university of zurich, where he received a doctor's degree in 1905. this was the period when he first began the research which led to his famous theory of relativity.
to most people it is not easy to explain why einstein's theory has had such an immense effect upon the whole scientific and intellectual world. after its formation, scientists never again regarded the world as they had before. the theory set forth new and far-reaching conclusions about the nature of space, time, motion, mass, energy, and the relations governing all these. basically the theory proposed, among other things, that the greatest speed possible is the speed of light; that the rate of a clock moving through space will decrease as its speed increases; and that energy and mass are equal and interchangeable. this latter claim, based on the formula e = mc2(energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light) was later proved by atomic fission, on which the atomic bomb is based.
toward the fend of his life, when einstein was asked to explain his law of relativity to a group of young students, he said; "when you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it's only a minute. but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think it's two hours. that is relativity. "
einstein had an effect on science and history that only a few men have ever achieved. an american university president once commented that "einstein has created a new outlook, a new view of the universe. it may be some generations before the average mind grasps the identity of time and space, and so on—but even ordinary men understand now that the universe is something vaster than ever thought before. "
by 1914 einstein had gained world fame. he accepted the offer to become a professor at the prussian academy of sciences in berlin. he had few duties, little teaching, and unlimited opportunities for study. it was an ideal position, but soon his peace and quiet were broken by the first world war. einstein hated violence. though he was not personally involved, the war and its misery affected him deeply. he lost interest in much of his research. only when peace finally came in 1918 was he able to get back to work.
during the years following world war i, germany heaped honors upon einstein. he was persuaded to become director of theoretical physics in the kaiser wilhelm institute. he won the nobel prize for physics in 1921. prussia made him an honorary citizen. potsdam built an einstein tower in its astro-physical institute (天体物理学院). berlin held public celebration on his fiftieth birthday. being a shy man, einstein did not attend, but he received several baskets full of cards, letters, and telegrams expressing admiration and best wishes. the gifts to him would have filled a railway freight car.
four years later, adolph hitler came to power in germany. he and his nazis disliked intellectuals, and they hated jews. there was no respect even for albert einstein, who only wanted to think of the problems of time and space and who never got involved in politics. the academy of sciences was closed to him; his house was searched for weapons; he lost his professorship; all his property was seized; and finally his german citizenship was taken away. he became a man without a country.
upon leaving* germany, einstein went first to france, then to belgium, and then to england. there he received an invitation from the united states. the institute for advanced study at princeton, new jersey, offered him a lifetime professorship. he accepted, but he asked so small a salary that to maintain its own pay-scale (费用 ) the institute had to give him more than he requested. • 252 •
such behaviour was characteristic of einstein. he had little interest in money, though he could have been very wealthy. he once turned down an offer of $ 1,000 a minute to speak on the radio. on another occasion he put a check for $ 1,500 from the rockefeller foundation between the pages of a book to help him remember where he had stopped reading. then, having used the check as a bookmark, he lost the book!
in 1955 einstein became an american citizen. when interviewed about his new country, he told reporters: "seven years ago, when asked for the reason i left germany, i made this statement: 'as long as i have any choice, i will only stay in a country where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law is the rule. political liberty implies liberty to express one's political opinions orally and in writing, and a tolerant respect for any and every individual opinion. '" einstein lived the rest of his life in the united states.
much of the great scientist's time was devoted to efforts to build world peace. he also found time to practice playing his violin, for he loved music and was a better than average violinist. he lived quietly in princeton, working at the institute and entertaining himself with his violin in his simple home.
in 1955 einstein's life ended peacefully at the age of seventy-six. because this simple man of genius used his intelligence for his fellowmen, all men now live in a changed world. einstein lived not to conquer or destroy, but to understand.
1. einstein was a person with simple habits but deep thoughts.
2. einstein wanted to be a physicist at the age of fourteen, though he was not intelligent enough at that time.
3. it was during the period when einstein was studying for his doctorate that he began his research.
4. the significance of einstein's theory was that it changed people's way of looking at the world.
5. einstein's theory is easily understandable.
6. einstein entertained himself with his violin in his spare time because violin was his best loved musical instrument.
7. after adolph hitler came into power, einstein was seriously persecuted and driven out of germany because he hated war.
8. having been forced to leave germany, einstein accepted an offer to work as a in u. s. .
9. world war i made it impossible for einstein to go on with______.
10. einstein had enjoyed high reputation in the world by______.