50 Interesting Facts About Albert Einstein

Last updated on February 8th, 2018

Albert Einstein, a German-born physicist, is best known for his famous equation, which has been dubbed as ‘the world’s most famous equation’ – “E=mc2.” Albert Einstein was not very satisfied with Newtonian mechanics, as he thought that these theories were not enough to explain classical mechanics and the electromagnetic field. And this inspired him to develop his singular Theory of Relativity.

Here are 50 interesting facts about Albert Einstein’s childhood, brain, theories, notable work and papers, married life and more…

1. Born: Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany to parents Hermann Einstein and Pauline Einstein, in 1879.

Interesting Facts About Albert Einstein (Image credit: Albert Einstein Archives,
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

2. Fat head at birth: Albert had a fat head at the time he was born. This startled his mother and grandmother when they saw him for the first time. However, the fat head slowly receded and turned into a normal size. Interestingly, a head containing the brain that would inspire millions of people in the future was not so perfect at birth.

3. Speech difficulty during childhood: Einstein did not speak until the age of three. He revealed this fact about the delay of his speech abilities to his biographer. Today there is a term, “Einstein Syndrome,” which was coined by Dr. Thomas Sowell, to describe exceptionally bright people whose speech is delayed.

Read: 14 facts about Albert Einstein’s brain

4. Early years: he spent his teenage years in Munich. His family operated an electrical equipment business in the city.

5. The parietal lobe in Einstein’s brain was 15% larger than that of an average brain.

6. Fascination for Science: the beginning of Einstein’s fascination about science came from a pocket compass, which was shown to him by his father when Einstein was five years old. He wondered what made the needle point in a certain direction and not anywhere else. This was the beginning of his long and illustrious career in science, which made him renowned around the world.

7. His favorite scientist: Galileo Galilei was Einstein’s favorite scientist.

8. Not suitable for employment: his teachers did not consider him a good student, and they refused to recommend him for further employment.

9. Failure at 16: at 16, Einstein is said to have failed an exam that would have let him train to become an electrical engineer.

10. Citizenships: Einstein was born German and a Jew. Einstein renounced his German citizenship in 1896. He became a Swiss citizen in 1901. However, he died in 1955 as an American citizen.

11. Could not swim: Albert Einstein never learned to swim. However he loved sailing and continued to do so as a hobby throughout his life. Also, Einstein never wore socks. He thought wearing socks was a pain, and he would often get holes in them.

12. An Avid Smoker: Einstein’s love for smoking was so enormous that he credited his pipe smoking with a calming and judgmental effect.

13. Invented refrigerator: Amazingly, Einstein also co-invented a refrigerator that would work on compressed gases.

14. An analytical and curious mind: Einstein was very curious and had an analytical mind at a very young age, showing great abilities in both mathematics and science.

15. Another interesting fact about Albert Einstein is that he had a poor memory. He could not remember names, dates or phone numbers.

16. The Nobel Prize in 1921: the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Albert Einstein “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.”

17. Love and Hate: he loved the violin and sailing, and hated socks and haircuts. He #also loved bird watching.

Related: Interesting facts about Sir Isaac Newton

18. Einstein made groundbreaking discoveries during the earlier years of his life. While he continued to perform research, he did not produce anything of significance during the later years of his life.

19. If not a scientist – a musician: Einstein was very fond of music, and his mother played a vital role in his inclination towards music. She played violin, which became a source of enjoyment and inspiration for the young Einstein, who himself learned to play the instrument at the tender age of five. He said, “If I were not a scientist, I would be a musician.”

20. Imagination over knowledge: he always said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited, but imagination encircles the world.”

21. Illegitimate daughter: Einstein had an illegitimate child with fellow student Mileva Maric, who later became his first wife. Their child is believed to have died in 1903 because of an infection just one year after her birth.

22. Conditional marriage: Einstein lived on certain conditions with his first wife, which she agreed to. Here are the terms of the marriage, which lasted for almost 16 years:

He said in the contract, you (Mileva Maric) will make sure

  • that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
  • that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
  • that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
  • that you will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons…

23. Connections with women: Even after his second marriage to his first cousin, he maintained connections with six women, receiving gifts and spending time with him. This was revealed from his letters, later on.

24. Did you know that almost immediately after Albert Einstein learned of the atomic bomb’s use in Japan, he became an advocate for nuclear disarmament?

25. The miracle year 1905: this year is believed to be a miracle year in Albert Einstein’s life. He published four papers during this year, representing his most creative work. These papers were about the Quantum theory, Brownian motion (existence of atoms), Electrodynamics of moving bodies and the most famous equation in the world – the E=MC2 equation – establishing the relationship between mass and energy. At this time, he was just 26 years old and worked during the day at a patent office.

26. His Masterwork: Einstein considered his general theory of relativity, published in 1915, to be his masterwork. The theory was the first theory on gravity to be published in the 250 years since Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity was revealed. It brought Einstein a lot of attention from all over the world. Soon, he started touring the world and began speaking in front of crowds of thousands.

27. Left Germany forever: Einstein left Germany in December 1932, a month after Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany. Einstein’s move to the United States was permanent; he never entered the country of his birth again.

28. Brain preserved: In 1955, after the death of the famous physicist and scientist, his body was cremated and ashes scattered. However, the only part of his body that was retained by pathologist Thomas Harvey at Princeton Hospital while conducting his autopsy was his brain. Thomas Harvey was later fired from the hospital for not returning Einstein’s brain, which he removed during the autopsy. (Interesting facts about the brain)

29. Unified Theory: During the later years of his life, Albert Einstein was working on unified field theory. His aim was to develop a theory that would explain the entrie universe and all the laws of physics, bringing them into a single framework. However, this theory remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1955.

30. Copely Medal in 1925: the Royal Society of London awarded him its prestigious Copely Medal in 1925 for his theory of relativity and contributions to quantum theory.

31. A simple man: Einstein believed and wished that people should be respected for their humanitarian work and thoughts, and not for their nationality and origin. In this context, expressing his cynicism for nationalistic pride, he once said: “If relativity is proved right, the Germans will call me a German, the Swiss will call me a Swiss citizen, and the French will call me a great scientist. If relativity is proved wrong, the French will call me Swiss, the Swiss will call me a German, and the Germans will call me a Jew.”

32. Refused to become president: Einstein was offered the opportunity to become president of Israel after the death of its first president in 1952. Einstein politely refused the offer, saying that he did not have the natural aptitude and experience to deal with people properly. And he could only understand a little of science and none of human nature.

33. Einstein could have lived longer: before he died, doctors suggested surgery to Einstein, as he suffered from a burst blood vessel. However, Einstein refused, stating, “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially.”

Also Read: 41 Interesting Facts About Henry Ford

Honor for Albert Einstein  

34. Atomic number 99: Just after Einstein died in 1955, the recently discovered element with atomic number 99 was given the name ‘einsteinium’ in his honor.

35. Time magazine named Albert Einstein its “Person of the Century.”

36. Einstein until the age of seven used to repeat his sentences to himself softly. This could be the reason he was considered to be dull during his early childhood days.

37. His language of choice: in 1923, when Einstein tried learning Hebrew he felt that it was unproductive for him to do so. German was the only language that he was comfortable with.

38. His last words: on his death bed, he uttered his last words in German to his attendant who did not understand German and those last words of his are still unknown.

39. Asperger’s syndrome: Einstein during his young age was perceived to be suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. Children suffering from this syndrome are emotionally detached from their peers and have little to no empathy for others.

40. Being busy with himself: during his teenage years, Albert always liked to spend his time solving his own problems, playing violin or cards, or constructing something new with building blocks. However, he had the ability to concentrate on things long enough.

41. Einstein said, “I never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart.”

42. Right hander or left hander: Einstein was right handed, as opposed to the persistent popular belief that he was a lefty. Left hander people are generally considered to be genius or to have a high IQ, which is why Einstein is wrongly thought to be left handed by many. There are several evidences that support this argument including some photographs that show him holding a pen and paper with his right hand, and playing the violin like a right hander.

43. Smoking habit: smoking was Einstein’s passion and obsession. One could see the trail of smoke behind him when he walked from his home to his office. He liked to smoke pipe but wouldn’t mind even a cigarette or a cigar. He enjoyed smoking so much that he had a judgmental and calm effect while doing so, which helped him in his job as a thinker.

44. Sleep was important: Einstein said that he needed at least 10 hours of sleep to function well.

45. Einstein never drove cars. He liked to walk a lot and drove bike when needed.

46. Interestingly, he once picked a grasshopper from the ground and ate it.

47. He gave his ex-wife his Nobel Prize money as a divorce settlement. However, his wife could only use the interest on the prize money and not the principal amount, which was reserved for his sons from the wife.

48. He received the Nobel Prize for photoelectric effect and not relativity as thought by many.

49. His eyes: you can see Einstein’s eyes that are kept safely in a box in New York City.

50. He wasn’t a spy: however, Einstein was thought of as a soviet spy by the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

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