Albert Einstein

Alice Calaprice , Trevor Lipscombe

Albert Einstein



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Albert Einstein is one of the most famous scientists of all time, and many people think of him as the personification of the word “genius”. The image of him standing in front of a blackboard with his dishevelled hair and bushy moustache is easily recognisable. Yet, Albert Einstein was also a human being with a bubbly personality, an insatiable curiosity, and an ironic and cutting sense of humour; a man of many contradictions and various weaknesses, who also committed and suffered his own misdeeds. In their book Einstein: A Biography, Alice Calaprice and Trevor Lipscombe aim to present the human side of the man who has become an iconic figure and somewhat of a stereotype, presenting the lesser known sides of his character so that we can understand Albert Einstein as the brilliant, yet contradictory human being that he was.

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Analysis and key concepts


Albert Einstein was a genius and a paradox, a common combination for the great thinkers of every age


Albert Einstein was a very curious person, a determining characteristic in becoming a good scientist


The correspondence between Albert Einstein and Mileva Marić reveals something about their relationship but much of it is still shrouded in mystery


1905 was an ‘Annus Mirabilis’ for Albert Einstein: he published four revolutionary scientific articles that boosted his career


Einstein’s relativity theory represents a milestone in modern physics


Albert Einstein was a born pacifist


As Albert Einstein became more well-known, his marriage to Mileva fell apart: they divorced and he married his cousin, Elsa Lowenthal


Einstein’s spiritual views were complex, sometimes even contradictory, but always linked to universal values


In his years at Princeton, Albert Einstein gradually left his research to spend his time on education


After his death, Einstein’s brain became a legend




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Enjoy a detailed account of the life of Albert Einstein.
  • Look beyond the stereotypes for which the genius physicist is known.
  • Discover his great and contradictory compassion.

Alice Calaprice was born in Berlin, Germany, and emigrated to the United States with her mother and sister in 1951. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, in 1970, she began working at the Einstein Archive of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Here she indexed all 42,000 documents in the archive. She later went on to work as an editor at Princeton University Press. Calaprice is the author of a series of books on Albert Einstein, about whom she is widely acknowledged as an expert.

Trevor Lipscombe graduated in theoretical physics from the University of London and then went on to complete his doctorate in theoretical physics at Oxford. He is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society and has taught at Oxford, the City University of New York, and Johns Hopkins University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and has been widely published in physics research journals as well as journals devoted to physics teaching. Over the years, he has taken part in many initiatives to help bring physics to a broader audience, including such events as an edible-car contest and a mass experiment to see if toast lands butter-side down. His latest book is titled The Physics of Rugby.

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