Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
The greatest physicist of the 20th Century. His ideas
revolutionized our entire understanding of the universe. Einstein changed the course of
science as much as did Copernicus, Newton and Darwin. His fundamental contribution was the
theory of relativity. This has many facets, but for most people the theory means that the
faster you travel (approaching the speed of light), the more time slows down. He also was
responsible for the formulation E=MC2,
which describes the relationship between mass and energy. A little mass can give off a lot
of energy. Among other things, this formula accounts for the tremendous explosive force
given off by an atomic bomb.
Einstein was born in Germany, spending his boyhood in Munich. His
teachers thought him stupid, because Einstein did not observe the petty rules of school.
The boy liked to daydream and soar into the realms of his thought-experiments. The budding
genius, at the age of 14, taught himself integral calculus and analytic geometry. In 1894,
Einsteins family moved to Italy. Young Albert was sent to Switzerland to study. He
liked it there and later became a Swiss citizen. He earned a Ph.D. in physics from the
University of Zurich. His first job was as an inspector in the Swiss patent office. This
paid the bills and gave him time to figure out the nature of the universe -- or as
Einstein liked to put it, to figure out how Gods mind works.
After his theories gained prominence, Einstein was appointed
professor of theoretical physics at the University of Zurich and at the University of
Prague. In 1913, he was appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute in
Berlin. In 1921, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research of the photoelectric
Einstein, who was Jewish, fled anti-Semitic persecution in
Germany just as Hitler came to power. On his arrival to the United States in 1933,
Einstein had a job waiting for him. He was granted a lifetime professorship by the
Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton. He was naturalized in 1940 as a U.S. citizen --
his third citizenship.
Mischa Elman (1891-1967)
Concert and recording violinist. His violin
teacher in Russia persuaded the Czar to suspend the rule barring Jews from the Imperial
Conservatory of St. Petersburg. For more than 50 years he made concert tours in the United
States and other countries. Elman was born in Stalnoje, Russia. He became a U.S. citizen
"I know that what is
impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself to us as the highest wisdom and the
most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive
forms -- this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all true religiousness. In this
sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the ranks of the devoutly religious men."