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Einstein, Albert (1879–1955)

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631198963.2005.x


German-American scientist and philosopher. Born of a Jewish family in Germany, he studied in Zurich. Five revolutionary papers published in the Annalen der Physik transformed the course of an otherwise seemingly average career and marked him out as a scientific genius. In them he outlined, among other discoveries, his new theory of relativity, which defined the precise relationship between a particle's energy and its mass and overturned previous Newtonian ‘certainties’. He held a succession of academic posts in Zurich, Prague and Berlin, before emigrating to the USA in 1935 and accepting a post at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where he worked intermittently for the rest of his life. The remainder of his life was spent attempting to construct an alternative theory to the principle of indeterminacy: ‘What I'm really interested in is whether God could have made the world in a different way; that is, whether the necessity of logical simplicity leaves any freedom at all.’ Although not formally religious, he did not accept a theory that would ‘compel God to throw dice’. For him, the universe was essentially rational. However, the principle of indeterminacy is now widely accepted. His views on religion are outlined in the essay ‘Science and Religion’, now contained in his books Out of my Later Years (1950) and Ideas and Opinions (1954). See also P hysical science ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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