He held out his hand is if it contained magic. The amazed, five-year-old, ran his fingers along his chubby, pale face, and through his thick black hair (McPherson 7). He widened his bright, brown eyes, as he stared down at the small round container, with a glass top. He curiously brought it close to his ears and shook it to see if there were any hidden parts that caused the needle to mysteriously point north no matter how he moved it. His father, Hermann, a jolly fellow who wore prince-nez eyeglasses and had a dark black mustache, had called it a compass (Calaprice and Lipscombe 1).
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Albert had been very ill that day, and had remained home from school (Cwiklik 12). To cheer him up, his father passed by a store and picked up the compass as a gift (12). Amused by his son’s interest in the compass, Hermann sat by his bedside, and revealed to him the “magic” behind the compass (Calaprice and Lipscombe 1). He explained to his son that the earth was like a giant magnet, and that the needle in the compass was attracted by the magnetism of the North Pole, and therefore always pointed north.
Albert was different from most children. Other children would have simply considered it another toy and added it to their collection, without thinking about the marvel behind the revolving needle. Who would think that such a simple attempt to understand why the needle revolved would have sparked the inspiration of one the greatest minds in history?
Albert Einstein had always been different since birth. The Einstein household was full of commotion the Friday of March 14, 1879 in the small town of Ulm, Germany, when he was born (Calaprice and Lipscombe 1). Pauline Koch Einstein looked down at the child cradled in her arms. It was her first, a baby boy. Just as much as she was thrilled, she was also equally concerned. Normal babies didn’t have such large and pointed skulls (Calaprice and Lipscombe 1). “Was something wrong with my baby?” she wondered (1). The doctor assured her that the baby was healthy, and that within a couple weeks, his head would begin to look normal (1).
Although Hermann and Pauline were Jewish, they did not adhere to the religion’s traditions (Calaprice and Lipscombe 2). For example, they did not follow the Jewish tradition of naming the first child after a close relative. They were content with using the “A” from “Abraham”, Einstein’s grandfather, to choose the name Albert for their son (2).
At the time, Hermann had recently failed in the featherbed industry, and his second attempt at running a business, a newly opened electrical hardware store, was quickly falling apart (2). Even though he was disappointed, he tried to stay joyful despite the tough circumstances. Desperate to give his newly born child the best opportunities in life, Hermann optimistically decided to move to move to a larger town, where business would be able to thrive (2).
In June of 1880, Hermann rented a small house in the city of Munich and moved there with his wife and young child (2). He decided to take advantage of the booming electricity industry and opened up another small electric hardware store with the help of his brother, Jacob, and the funding of his in-laws (“Albert Einstein”). It seemed that Hermann had learned from his previous mistakes which caused his businesses to fail. Soon enough, his business had flourished, and he was able to purchase a larger house on the outskirts of the city (Calaprice and Lipscombe 2).
After a year and a half of the Einsteins arriving in Munich, a new addition to the family to their family was made; Maja, a baby girl was born (3). Albert’s parents were confused on how to introduce the idea of having a sister to the two-and-half-year-old (3). Outside of the room, where Maja and Pauline rested, Hermann stood with his son. He stood down on one knee so he could speak face to face with Albert. Pulling at his finely shaped mustache, he told his son that his sister was someone new he could play with (3). Excited, Albert walked into the room, towards the bed, holding hands with his father. Standing on his toes, Albert peered over his mother’s shoulder and stared down at the white bundle which held his sister. “Where are its wheels” (3)? Albert sighed in frustration. He had expected his sister to be a toy to add to his collection (3).
Einstein’s parents were thrilled by their son’s confusion, and even more thrilled for the fact that their son had spoken. He was late to talk. He started to speak when he was two and a half (3). Even after, Albert seldom spoke, and when he did, he spoke his sentences twice, once under his breath, and another time aloud as if to make sense of what he was saying (3). He did not speak fluently until the age of ten (3). His parents strongly believed that he did not develop properly. They had never anticipated that he would grow up to be one of the smartest men in history (3).
He was also very much to himself, keeping himself amused with building blocks and solving puzzles. His sister Maja remembered watching Albert as he patiently built houses of cards up to fourteen stories high. Albert kept to himself and didn’t mix with other kids (3). Although he sometimes beat Maja, once with a trowel and another time when he threw a skittles ball at her head, she was the only person who Albert played with and considered her his only friend (3).
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At the age of six, Albert began his formal education at a Catholic elementary school in Munich (McPherson 10). He didn’t mind being the only Jewish student in his class, nor did he mind that the school was Catholic, but everything else about the school seemed to bother him (Calaprice and Lipscombe 4). Albert hated that he had to sit still for hours at a time, and that he could not ask questions. The German teachers were strict and didn’t hesitate to yell at or hit their students. He didn’t like their style of teaching. He disliked memorizing facts out of textbooks, which he was not good at (10). However, Albert was an obedient student and didn’t like getting into trouble and did what the teachers asked (10).
Einstein would usually sit in the back of the class and daydream (McPherson 10). For example, he would think about the magical compass that his father gave him and the strange magnetic field that worked on it, or about other curiosities he had. Albert was so amused by his thoughts that quite frequently a large smile would spread itself over his face when he was absorbed in his thoughts (10). His strict teachers were never too fond of his daydreaming. One time, his teacher stopped in the middle of class and gave Albert a fearsome look (Cwiklik 15). “I would prefer, Mr. Einstein, that you were not in this class,” the teacher yelled (15). “All you do is sit in that back row and smile, and that destroys the feeling of respect that a teacher deserves from the class (15).” Albert felt belittled and embarrassed. He didn’t want to cause trouble, and after all, he did nothing wrong.
Although Albert did not like the military-like strictness of his school, he endured as much as possible. He graduated from the Catholic school at the age of ten, where he was one of the top students (Sowell 89). Albert’s grades in math and physics, his favorite subjects, were outstanding, while his other grades were above average (Calaprice and Lipscombe 7).
However, Einstein never enjoyed being forced to learn (Cwiklik 18). During that year, his mother forced him to take violin lessons. His mother was a talented pianist and hoped that she can transfer her joy for music to her son (McPherson 9). Albert had detested being forced to practice the violin for hours at a time. Once, Albert grew so uneasy during his violin lesson that he threw a chair at his violin teacher (Calaprice and Lipscombe 3). However, his hardship paid off with time, as Albert discovered his hidden talent and love for music (Cwiklik, 19). Later in an interview in 1929 Einstein stated “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. I get most of my joy in life out of music (Calaprice and Lipscombe 5).”
Albert also spent more time at his father’s electrical workshop (Cwiklik 18). He admired watching his uncle Jacob design new gadgets, with a ruler and protractor in hand (18). His uncle soon realized how interested Albert was with numbers and decided to introduce him to algebra, even though he was still doing elementary math at school (McPherson 10). Giving Einstein the difficult math problems in a game-like manner, Albert quickly mastered algebra (10).
One night, the Einsteins invited Max Talmud, a Jewish medical student, over for dinner. Albert’s uncle Jacob was praising Albert’s quick mastery of algebra at the table, and Max also began to notice Albert’s eagerness to learn (10). When Max gave Albert an old geometry book of his, young Einstein was fascinated. He loved imagining and thinking about the basic shapes and their properties, which fascinated him as much as his father’s compass (12). Each week, when Max would come over for dinner, Albert would proudly present the work he completed (12). Soon enough, Albert had blasted through geometry, and was ready for more challenging topics. Max loaded Albert with books about calculus, physics, and philosophy (12). Before he knew it, young Einstein had even outsmarted Max. While growing up, Albert thought a lot about the nature and life, and had always been confused when he thought about the world. But each time he picked up a new book, everything became clearer to him. Einstein had discovered a world that was previously concealed to him: the world of knowledge.
Finally, his parents soon began to realize how gifted their son was. At the young age of sixteen, Einstein wrote his first scientific work (“Albert Einstein”). Although his slow development didn’t reveal his genius, he became one of the most renowned and smartest thinkers in the 20th century. He went on to publish more than 300 scientific works, and 150 other non-science related works (“Albert Einstein”). Without his research and discoveries of the fundamentals of science, we would have had very little of the technology that we have today, including the television, or nuclear power. His research also helped put an end to the Second World War. The legacy he left was only his name: a globally recognized synonym for the word genius (Howard and Stachel 159).
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