This Day in History: March 14

Preeminent scientist Albert Einstein born in Germany in 1879
By , Coin World
Published : 03/14/16
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Every day, almost everyone interacts with items that stem directly from Albert Einstein’s discoveries.

The famed scientific genius was born on March 14, 1879, and in his lifetime developed some of the most important scientific theorems ever discovered, that have ramifications even today.

He was born in Ulm, in Wurttemberg, Germany, the son of Hermann and Pauline Einstein. The following year, the Einsteins moved to Munich, where Albert attended rigidly disciplined schools whose regimented format was harsh and intimidating.

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Albert’s uncles, Jakob Einstein and Casar Koch, stimulated his soon-consuming curiosity in science and mathematics.

At the age of 15, with poor grades in history, geography and languages, Einstein quit school and rejoined his family, which had recently moved to Milan because of his father’s failed electrochemical business. Albert resumed his education in Switzerland, receiving his diploma in September 1896. After that, Einstein studied physics for four years, graduating in 1900 from the Polytechnic Academy in Zurich.

After a two-month stint as a math teacher, Einstein began working at the Swiss patent office in Bern, where he used his physics training to judge the worth of patent applications for devices involving physics.

Einstein was 26 years old in 1905 when he published five papers, four of which are considered to have had a profound effect on physics.

In 1979, Switzerland issued two copper-nickel 5-franc coins to mark his birth centennial.

A portrait of Einstein appears on one coin, with the lines composed of many small letter E’s, resembling a computer-generated image with three-dimensional characteristics, in a nod to Einstein’s famous equation about mass and energy and his surname initial.

The other coin shows two mathematical equations that form the basis of the General Theory of Relativity (which was discussed in a 1916 paper and is not to be confused with his Special Theory).

Dozens of numismatic items are dedicated to Einstein, many of which were cataloged by Harry Flower in Numismatic Tributes to Albert Einstein, a 42-page reprint of articles Flower published in The Numismatist in January and February 1987. 

He updated those articles in the March 1993 issue of The Numismatist and a final update appeared in the December 1997 TAMS Journal.

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