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The German-American physicist Albert EinsteiN contributed more than any other scientist to the 20th-century Born in the town of Ulm Germany Mar 14 1879 HE then later died in Princeton NJ Apr 18 1955 In the wake of World War I Einsteins theories especially his theory of relativity seemed to many people to point to a pure quality of human thought one far removed from the war and its aftermath Seldom has a scientist received such public attention for having the ability for learning thet he had in 1905 Einstein examined the phenomenon discovered by Max Planck according to which electromagnetic energy seemed to be emitted from radiating objects in quantities that were ultimately discrete The energy of these emitted quantities--the so-called light-quanta--was directly proportional to the frequency of the radiation This circumstance was perplexing because classical electromagnetic theory based on Maxwells equations and the laws of thermodynamics had assumed that electromagnetic energy consisted of waves propagating in a hypothetical all-pervasive medium called the luminiferous ether and that the waves could contain any amount of energy no matter how small Einstein used Plancks quantum hypothesis to describe visible electromagnetic radiation or light According to Einsteins heuristic viewpoint light could be imagined to consist of discrete bundles of radiation Einstein used this interpretation to explain the photoelectric effect by which certain metals emit electrons when illuminated by light with a given frequency Einsteins theory and his subsequent elaboration of it formed the basis for much of quantum mechanicsAnother of Einsteins theories concerned statistical mechanics a field of study that had been elaborated by among others Ludwig Boltzmann and Josiah Willard Gibbs Unaware of Gibbs contributions Einstein extended Boltzmanns work and calculated the average trajectory of a microscopic particle buffeted by random collisions with molecules in a fluid or in a gas Einstein observed that his calculations could account for Brownian motion the apparently erratic movement of pollen in fluids which had been noted by the
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