Einstein, Albert (1879–1955) German physicist
and discoverer of the theory of relativity. Born in Ulm, Einstein received his scientific education in Zurich. After an undistinguished career as a student he found employment in the Patent Office in Bern, and it was from here that in 1905 he published the papers that laid the foundation of his reputation, on the photoelectric effect, on Brownian motion, and on the special theory of relativity. In 1916 he published the general theory. In 1933 Einstein accepted the position at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies which he occupied for the rest of his life. Einstein maintained profound philosophical interests, and frequently emphasized the importance to his work of the philosophical thought of his predecessors, especially Hume and Mach. In his later years his reflections on the nature of the world as it is described by quantum mechanics occasioned prolonged discussion with the Danish physicist Niels Bohr. Einstein's conviction that quantum mechanics could not possibly be the last word about the nature of physical reality was frequently felt to be conservative, but the project that occupied him, the search for a field theory that would unify the four fundamental physical forces, has recently sprung back into prominence. Einstein's belief that fundamental physics should concern the ‘marble’ of space, time, and geometry, rather than the ‘wood’ of arbitrary proliferations of particles, is again congenial to many physicists.