Einstein’s miracle year – Larry Lagerstrom

Einstein’s miracle year – Larry Lagerstrom

As 1905 dawned, the soon-to-be 26-year-old Albert Einstein
faced life as a failed academic. Most physicists of the time
would have scoffed at the idea that this minor civil servant
could have much to contribute to science. Yet within the following year, Einstein would publish not one, not two, not three, but four extraordinary papers,
each on a different topic, that were destined to radically transform
our understanding of the universe. The myth that Einstein
had failed math is just that. He had mastered calculus on his own
by the age of 15 and done well at both
his Munich secondary school and at the Swiss Polytechnic, where he studied for
a math and physics teaching diploma. But skipping classes to spend
more time in the lab and neglecting to show proper deference
to his professors had derailed his intended career path. Passed over even
for a lab assistant position, he had to settle for a job
at the Swiss patent office, obtained with the help
of a friend’s father. Working six days a week as a patent clerk, Einstein still managed to make
some time for physics, discussing the latest work
with a few close friends, and publishing a couple of minor papers. It came as a major surprise when in March 1905 he submitted
a paper with a shocking hypothesis. Despite decades of evidence
that light was a wave, Einstein proposed that it could,
in fact, be a particle, showing that mysterious phenomena,
such as the photoelectric effect, could be explained by his hypothesis. The idea was derided for years to come, but Einstein was simply
twenty years ahead of his time. Wave-particle duality was slated to become
a cornerstone of the quantum revolution. Two months later in May,
Einstein submitted a second paper, this time tackling the centuries old
question of whether atoms actually exist. Though certain theories were built on
the idea of invisible atoms, some prominent scientists still
believed them to be a useful fiction, rather than actual physical objects. But Einstein used an ingenious argument, showing that the behavior
of small particles randomly moving around in a liquid,
known as Brownian motion, could be precisely predicted by the collisions of millions
of invisible atoms. Experiments soon confirmed
Einstein’s model, and atomic skeptics threw in the towel. The third paper came in June. For a long time, Einstein had been troubled
by an inconsistency between two fundamental
principles of physics. The well established
principle of relativity, going all the way back to Galileo, stated that absolute motion
could not be defined. Yet electromagnetic theory,
also well established, asserted that absolute motion did exist. The discrepancy,
and his inability to resolve it, left Einstein in what he described
as a state of psychic tension. But one day in May, after he had mulled over the puzzle
with his friend Michele Besso, the clouds parted. Einstein realized
that the contradiction could be resolved if it was the speed of light
that remained constant, regardless of reference frame, while both time and space
were relative to the observer. It took Einstein only a few weeks
to work out the details and formulate what came to be known
as special relativity. The theory not only shattered
our previous understanding of reality but would also pave the way
for technologies, ranging from particle accelerators, to the global positioning system. One might think that this was enough, but in September, a fourth paper arrived as a “by the way”
follow-up to the special relativity paper. Einstein had thought a little bit more
about his theory, and realized it also implied
that mass and energy, one apparently solid
and the other supposedly ethereal, were actually equivalent. And their relationship could be expressed
in what was to become the most famous and consequential equation in history: E=mc^2. Einstein would not become a world famous
icon for nearly another fifteen years. It was only after his later general theory
of relativity was confirmed in 1919 by measuring the bending of starlight
during a solar eclipse that the press would turn him
into a celebrity. But even if he had disappeared back
into the patent office and accomplished nothing else after 1905, those four papers of his miracle year would have remained the gold standard
of startling unexpected genius.

100 thoughts on “Einstein’s miracle year – Larry Lagerstrom

  1. May be in 1904 Einstein had a surprise visit from ET……. 😜
    Where are the "Ancient Aliens" guys from history channel……

  2. We only research purposes, Ive heard many claim Einstein stole his papers. Now TED comes up with this, who do I believe?

  3. Why haven't we had a genius like Einstein in the 21st century yet?
    You would think with more people on Earth today than in 19th and 20th century, the probability of a mega genius person making a huge breakthrough in science would be higher.

  4. Well… it wasn't Einstein who proposed light was a wave. It infact was none other than multiverse boss Newton.
    Duality was proposed by de Broglie. But, an idea of that sort was in the air for the physicists of the time for about 5-6 years.

  5. me: Gets 1 A in whole entire year and throws a damn party
    Einstein: Puplishes 4 legendary papers in a year.

    me:git gut

  6. So the lesson here is.. stick a bright Pisces in a cramped patent office for years. Then watch as they eventually plot their way out in a blaze of excellence.

  7. I made my own theory called speed-time theory. It states:
    There is a speed where time stops.
    There is a speed where time goes super fast.
    Beyond the speed where time stops,you may go to the past,depending on your specific speed.
    Beyond the speed where time goes super fast,you may go to the future.
    Time speed depends on an object's own speed.

  8. >energy has mass >the neurons in your head use energy to fire and create your conciousness >your soul has mass.

  9. Einstein only wanted to get his doubt clarified and thus did nothing after he did what he wanted to do

  10. Einstein is the greatest scientist of all-time because of his originality. He became the most original thinker of all-time by being able to merge different, often disparate fields of physics. His work on particles and later Bose-Einstein condensates established the field of condensed matter condensates. His ability to simultaneously resolve the paradoxes in classical physics between Maxwell and Galileo, and then thermodynamics and statistical mechanics with his work on Light Quanta (that nobody in the world believed other than Einstein), is astonish. He truly is the gold standard of genius. According to head of applied physics at Yale University, A. Douglas Stone, Einstein should've won 8 Nobel Prizes – his work was so far ahead of his time the Nobel committee didn't believe in it.


  11. Einstein had FIVE groundbreaking papers in 1905 not 4. His work calculating the exact size of molecules and atoms using Avogrado's Number was his most CITED paper of that year and was a work of profound genius.

    And this video doesn't even talk about the mind-boggling genius of General Relativity. It doesn't touch on the fact that Einstein is the theoretical inventor of the LASER (his paper in 1919 gives us the EInstein A and B coefficients, without which we cannot make a LASER). It doesn't touch on the fact that Einstein is the father of condensed matter physics thanks to his work on Bose-Einstein statistics and Bose-Einstein Condensates. (And we wouldn't be able to have the internet without him because without understanding condensed matter physics and mesoscopic physics you cannot build long range fiber optic networks which supply us with the internet). It doesn't touch on his work on probability waves as energy densities, his work on matter waves (giving us wave-particle probability) 14 years before De Broglie. And the list goes on and on and on. Einstein was an incredibly prolific scientist, writing over 350 papers, many of them ground breaking in other areas of physics to complex to explain to the lay public.

    Max Planck called him the second coming of Galileo (the father of modern science) and Isaac Newton (the man who first revolutionized physics), and his peers idolized him even during his lifetime. During the Solvay Conference, the most prestigious gathering of scientific minds in the world, his fellow scientists – many of the Nobel Laureates – insisted that he sit in the middle of the Conference picture (the annual photograph of all the scientists at the conference).This was a token respect as they thought he was the most exceptional among them. Werner Hesieberg, one of the architests of quantum mechancs idolized Einstein. The rest of us should too. Einstein is the GOAT.

  12. I love watching videos/documentaries on Einstein’s theories. I can’t understand any of them really (I wish I could), but I still find them fascinating

  13. He was literally a god in human form. Kinda like Morden day Jesus landing on earth to explain laws of physics.

  14. Actually, he came up with e equal mc square from the acme songs by Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, geez get your facts straight

  15. I respect this scientist for what he has done,however, I indeed do not respect what we have done today including me.

  16. I took a Special Theory of Relativity course on Coursera with Larry Lagerstrom. He's an awesome teacher! It's no wonder he has gotten so many teaching awards. Got an 84.6! 🙂

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