Albert Einstein - Person of the Century

Albert Einstein was a man of the world. Born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879, he joined his family in Milan, Italy at 15 after leaving school without a diploma due to poor grades in history, geography and languages. He resumed his education in Switzerland, where he became a citizen after receiving his degree in physics from the renowned Polytechnic Academy in Zurich. Following the publication of his monumental Theory of Relativity, Einstein briefly taught at the German University in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he was awarded a full professorship; but he soon returned to Berlin (1914).

In 1921, at the request of the future first President of Israel Chaim Weizmann, Einstein toured the United States to raise money to buy land in Palestine and seek aid for the planned Hebrew University. During the next three years he traveled to several European capitals, as well as to the Orient, Middle East and to South America. According to his diary, Einstein found nobility among the Hindus of Ceylon, a pureness of soul among the Japanese, and a magnificent intellectual and moral caliber among the Jewish settlers in Palestine. It while he was touring Shanghai, China when Einstein received a cable notifying him that he had been awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics.

He was visiting professor at Oxford University in 1931. After Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Einstein renounced his German citizenship and left the country. He fled to England via Belgium, and finally to the United States, where he became a foundation member of the School of Mathematics at the new Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Albert Einstein enjoyed being with fellow physicists at the Netherlands' Leiden University, and Polish refugee Leopold Infeld in Princeton. Niels Bohr, the great Danish atomic scientist, delivered the news to Einstein that the Germans had split the Uranium atom in 1939, which resulted in Einstein's historic letter to President Roosevelt urging "watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action" on the part of the United States in atomic bomb research, which in turn led to the Manhattan Project. However, after the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, he joined with other scientists in seeking ways to prevent any further use of the bomb and urged the establishment of a world government under a constitution drafted by the United States, England and Russia ... a precursor to the United Nations.

Einstein fought for lofty humanistic ideals throughout his life, in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- his feeling that people had an innate lust for hatred and destruction (expressed in a famous exchange of letters with the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud).

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