THE EINSTEIN ALMANAC
BY ALICE CALAPRICE THE JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS 2005, 176 PAGES, $24.95
Do not let the title scare you away from picking up this book. It is a virtual treasure of biographical and historical facts, centering around the life, times, and work of Albert Einstein. This genius was involved in numerous projects and causes, and his human side is revealed as well as his contributions to theoretical physics. He played the piano and violin, sometimes giving fund-raising concerts with the latter talent. In later life, he often walked the streets of Princeton, N.J., eating an ice cream cone, petting dogs, and conversing with the citizenry.
Einstein published over 600 papers, some of which were purely scientific while others were in support of various causes, such as pacifism, Zionism, and human rights. He was involved politically with the notion of the U.S. building an atom bomb and wrote several letters to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt urging work on nuclear fission, for fear that Germany might beat our country with an atomic device. With Robert J. Oppenheimer, he opposed the hydrogen bomb, which Hungarian-born Edward Teller pushed to completion.
Surprisingly, Einstein could not get security clearance for work on the nuclear device which was set off at White Sands, N.M. The FBI was concerned about his views on socialism as well as with his acquaintance with so many scientists from around the world. However, he did work on explosives under a contract with the Navy. For his services, he was paid the generous sum of $25 per day!
Born in Ulm, Germany, on March 14, 1877, his family moved to Munich the following year. In 1885, he entered a Catholic school as the sole Jewish student. Einstein himself never believed in Judaism, but felt religion helped keep people civilized. Next, his family moved to Italy, leaving the young Einstein behind to complete his education. Homesick, he quit school to return to his family. His teachers regarded him as sharp-tongued, arrogant, and cocky; maintaining he never would amount to anything.
From Italy, the family moved to Switzerland. Einstein eventually studied at the Federal Polytech School, graduating in 1900. He took a job in the Swiss Patent...