The Scientist and The Man

The Scientist and The Man :

Have you heard of the great scientist, Albert Einstein? He is considered to be one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. He is known for his Theory of Relativity.

Read and discuss some incidents from Einstein's life with your friends.

One day, when Albert Einstein was a small boy, his father brought him a compass. It was a small toy to entertain him. Albert trembled with excitement as he looked at the 'magic' needle turning towards north. He was too young to understand the principle of magnetism, yet he felt that he was in an enchanted world. For him, the compass was not a plaything but a miracle.

It was the same way when he played the violin. His eyes shone and his hands shook, so overcome was he with feeling. It was the music that moved him. Very often, he would stand spellbound while his mother played the piano.

He was a curious child and would often daydream. His father was pained at the reports from his teacher. They told him that the boy was not interested in his studies and making friends. He was lost and adrift forever in his foolish dreams. But Albert was unaware of the worry of his elders. He was full of joy and regarded the world as a wonderful place. He played in his garden or walked in the streets singing songs aloud, and was extremely happy.

On leaving school, his father wanted him to study electrical engineering. But he disliked the very thought of becoming an engineer. He entered the Zurich Polytechnic Academy to prepare himself for a teaching position in mathematics and physics. Though he finished his studies and received his teacher's certificate, he was unable to get a job.

Finally, he got a job as a clerk. In his spare time, he filled his note-paper with difficult mathematical formulas. Some of these later led to great scientific discoveries. When they were published, the humble clerk became one of the most famous scientists in the world. He could not take his daily walk without being surrounded by photographers, reporters and autograph-hunters. He would only smile at them, and went on with his work in his quiet humble way.

In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics for his contribution to physics and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect. He developed the theory of general relativity, which was a revolution in physics. Einstein is hence regarded as the father of modern physics, and one of the most prolific intellects in human history.

Once, the Queen of Belgium invited him to pay her a visit. He got down from the train with a suitcase in one hand and a violin in the other, and started on foot for the palace. He did not know that a reception committee was waiting for him at the station.

The Queen's officials looked for him all around. At last they returned to the palace to inform the Queen that Einstein had most probably changed his mind about coming. And suddenly, they saw the dusty figure of a little gray-haired man coming up the road.

“Why didn't you use the car I sent for you?" asked the Queen. The guest looked at her with a smile and answered, "It was a very pleasant walk, Your Majesty." Einstein hated wealth. He would have none of it. Peace, he said, was what the world needed, and that could not be bought with money. Unfortunately, this lover of peace had to witness two World Wars during his lifetime.

When the First World War broke out, the German government was anxious to get the support of learned people like Einstein. However, Einstein refused to lend them his support. He was fearless in his love of peace. The Germans never really forgave him for disobeying them. Even as a young man, when he had the chance, Einstein chose Swiss in place of German nationality. He was therefore attacked on two sides.

After the Second World War, he went on a journey to the East. He never rode a man-pulling rickshaw while he was in India. How could he, who loved mankind so deeply, ride on the back of a half-naked man? He loved children and listened with joy to their talk. "In these children lies the hope of the world," he said.

Einstein lived his last years quietly and peacefully, with his books and dreams in a small house in the United States. He was saddened by the use of the atom bomb. He had neither the ability nor the experience to deal with human beings. Yet he continued to love them. He was patient even with the strangers who sneaked up to the fro nt of his porch and had their wives photograph them as they were coming out of the great man's house.

Einstein died when he was seventy-six years old. He left behind the memory of a man who had looked at the universe with the eyes of a scientist, and looked at mankind with the kindness of a saint.

Adapted from NCERT publication

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