Wednesday, 17 October 2012

On this Day: 17th October 1933, Physicist Albert Einstein denounces Nazi Germany and moves to the United States

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and the most influential physicist of the 20th century. While best known for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation"), he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect." The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory within physics.

In February 1933 while on a visit to the United States, Einstein decided not to return to Germany due to the rise to power of the Nazis under the new chancellor Adolf Hitler. After travelling to Europe to renounce his German citizenship, Einstein returned to the US and on the 17th October 1933 and took up a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, that required his presence for six months each. He settled in the U.S becoming a citizen in 1940 and on the eve of World War II, he helped alert President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Germany might be developing an atomic weapon, and recommended that the U.S. begin similar research; this eventually led to what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein was in support of defending the Allied forces, but largely denounced using the new discovery of nuclear fission as a weapon. Later, with the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein remained affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.

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Photo courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution under The Commons agreement on Flickr

Research courtesy of Wikipedia


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