Albert Einstein was born on this day in 1874 in Ulm, Germany. His “miracle year” began in 1905 when he turned classical physics on its head with his special and general theories of relativity. Einstein’s groundbreaking scientific ideas made his name synonymous with genius, but he was also famous for his pacifist views and support of the civil rights movement.
According to the History Channel, there are nine surprising facts about one of the towering minds of the 20th century:
-Einstein didn’t fail math as a child, he was actually an exceptional student, known as a prodigy for his grasp of complex mathematical and scientific concepts. He did leave school at age 15 and Germany to avoid state mandated military service.
-Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Maric, a fellow physicist-in-training, originally from Serbia, had two sons. While examining his private papers in the late 1980’s, researchers discovered they had a daughter prior to their marriage. There is no more known about this mysterious child. Read the book “Einstein’s Daughter” by Michele Zackheim
– It took Einstein nine years to get a job in academia. While he showed flashes of genius at the Zurich Polytechnic, his rebellious personality and penchant for skipping classes insured his professors gave him less than glowing references pending his graduation in 1900. Einstein spent several years at the Swiss patent office in Bern as a clerk which allowed him time to conduct research and write. It was during this time that he wrote his famous equation E=mc2 and the theory of special relativity began. In spite of this earth shaking discovery, it would be four more years before he would win a full professorship in 1909.
-After his marriage to Mileva fell apart, as part of the divorce settlement in 1919, Einstein promised Mileva a stipend and the money he would eventually receive from winning the Nobel Prize. As he predicted, he did win the Nobel Prize in 1922 and handed over a small fortune to Mileva.
-The FBI spied on Einstein for years. His support for pacifists, civil rights and the left-wing causes drew J. Edgar Hoover’s suspicions, as well as Einstein leaving Berlin for the United States shortly before Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.