Happy birthday, Albert Einstein!

Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 — April 18, 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist. His theories about the relationship of matter and energy in the early years of the 20th century transformed scientific understanding of the universe. His general theory of relativity, published in 1917, became one of the cornerstones of modern physics, marking a break with classical Newtonian views of space, time, and thermodynamic energy, including light. Einstein received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1922.

(True story: Around 1950, Hayward Cirker, founder and president of Dover Publications, wanted to publish a reprint of the original papers on relativity, first published in 1923. Einstein couldn’t imagine that anyone would care much since the work was over 30 years old. But Cirker was adamant, Einstein relented — and the Dover edition of The Principle of Relativity has been in print ever since.)

With the ascent to power of the Nazi party in Germany in 1933, Einstein emigrated to the United States, where he accepted a professorship at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. Princeton remained his home and workplace for the rest of his life.

During his life, Einstein’s name became synonymous with the word “genius” and he was known in popular culture as the smartest man in the world. His own view of himself was much more modest. He once said, “I have no special talents — I am only passionately curious.”

In an issue of Time magazine in 1999, Einstein was named “Person of the Century.” And for more information, visit the website for the Nobel Prize to learn more about the significance of his work.

More Dover Publication titles about Einstein and his work include:

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by Max Born. Born was also a Nobel Laureate and his book analyzes and interprets the theory of relativity in language which is comprehensible to non-scientists. He begins with an overview of physics which includes Copernican Astronomy and classical Newtonian physics. First published in 1922, the Dover edition is updated to encompass the rest of Einstein’s life and work.

The Universe and Dr. Einstein by Lincoln Barnett. Originally published in 1948 and acclaimed by Einstein, the book presents a clear and readable explanation of the theory of relativity.

Einstein’s Legacy by Julian Shwinger. An electronic reprint of the 1986 edition in which the author explains Einstein’s scientific theories, as well as the work of scientists before and after Einstein who influenced relativity theory. Schwinger follows Einstein’s dictum to make explanations “as simple as possible, but not more so.”

Albert Einstein: Historical and Cultural Perspectives by Gerald Holton and Yehuda Elkana. The book explores Einstein’s social and ethical ideas about the importance of individual liberty and dignity, as well as the need for a person to speak out against persecution and war. The book consists of 23 papers from the Einstein Centennial symposium held in Jerusalem in 1979 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s birth.

And in case you need just one more because you don’t understand relativity or time or space, here’s a title that includes pictures: Relativity Simply Explained.