Famous for being the synonym of “genius,” Albert Einstein did not have such honor throughout his entire life. Though he has been met with several successes and applause from both the scientific community and the entire world, Einstein has actually faced many setbacks and even ridicule for his opinions and achievements.
His earliest encounter was when he was in school as a young boy. Born on March 14, 1879 in Wurttemberg, Germany, Albert Einstein was born into a Jewish family. They were not a wealthy family, but his parents were able to financially sustain the family. His father, in particular, was a salesman and engineer. He and his brother founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, where they produced electrical equipment. His mother ran the household and Albert’s younger sister, Maja, was his childhood friend.
Albert attended his first years of schooling at the Munich Luitpold Gymnasium. He struggled with the school’s rigid system, though, and he soon felt alienated. He was unable to speak properly, and it is in this period when his schoolmaster wrote in his school report that “he will never amount to anything.” This did not stop Albert from developing a love for classical music and for inquisitiveness.
Albert met Max Talmud, a Polish medical student who was a close family friend of the Einsteins. He became a somewhat informal tutor to Albert at the time, introducing him to science. From then on, Albert has had a deep interest in the sciences.
He continued to pursue studying science, gaining admission to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich thanks to his superior mathematics and physics abilities, despite dropping out of school a few years prior. He soon faced ridicule and alienation again as he had trouble securing academic positions post-Polytechnic. It was said that he alienated some professors over preferring to study independently instead of attending classes.
Albert was eventually able to find a stable job in 1902 for a clerk position in a Swiss patent office. This gave him more time to explore his scientific ideas, and three years later, four of his papers were published in the most prestigious Physics journals at that time. The papers focused on his ideas on photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, his theory of relativity, and his infamous E=mc2 in his fourth paper. It was in 1915 when he was able to complete his theory.
He soon got a lot of traction and attention, and in 1921, Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics. However, he remained misunderstood – it was only the following year when it was officially awarded to him, because many of the people in the scientific community still found the theory questionable. In fact, when Einstein was gaining fame, Adolf Hitler was one of his detractors, labeling Einstein’s work as “Jewish physics.” However, Einstein continued to become one of the most celebrated minds in the world, and he was invited to speak in many countries.
Today, his memory and legacy lives on. It is thanks to Einstein’s unrelenting inquisitiveness – inquisitiveness that remained impervious to ridicule and judgment – that we now understand more of the world and universe we live in.