|The narrative of Albert Einstein’s life provides hope to every underachiever out there. Einstein was slow to start speaking. His teachers predicted early on that he’d never amount to much. When he completed his graduate work, he was the only student in his cohort who couldn’t land a university position. And so he wound up working at a patent office in Switzerland. The young Einstein was apparently “no Einstein.”
But it was at the patent office that young Albert fleshed out his theories on relativity, and he’d eventually win a Nobel Prize. Later, when he traveled to the United States, he was welcomed as a rock star. All of this is recounted in Walter Isaacson’s new biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe, which John Updike reviewed in a recent New Yorker. The former managing editor at Time magazine and head of CNN, Isaacson writes biographies that are rich but approachable. To get a feel for his style, you can listen to him talk about Einstein during an appearance on Fresh Air (iTunes – Feed). And, just as an interesting aside, you can download Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory as a free audio book from Librivox (full zip file – individual mp3 files).
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Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for his description of the photoelectric effect, not for relativity.