Robert Bruce August 10, 2012 Leadership The Accidental Leader Albert Einstein was a world-renowned German-born theoretical physicist. Best known for his theory of relativity and famous equation of E = mc2 the expression of mass-energy equivalence. In 1921 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics “for his service to Theoretical Physics, and his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect. His numerous contributions to physics include his special theory of relativity, which brought together concepts of mechanics and electromagnetism, and his general theory of relativity, which was intended to extend the principle of relativity to non-uniform motion and to provide a new theory of gravitation. The physics community reveres Einstein; with over three hundred published scientific works and over one hundred and non-scientific works, Einstein’s influence on modern theoretical physics is irrefutable. In a broader sense, he is regarded as one of the most influential people in human history.
In 1999, he was name Time magazine’s “Person of the Century”. Einstein became a German citizen in 1914, but showed feelings of being pressured into accepting Germany citizenship by the Academy. There were growing tensions in Germany after World War I towards Jewish people. Albert was not a practicing Jew but faced the same prejudice and injustice Jewish people across Europe would feel under Hitler rule. Einstein’s fears of a Nazi-ruled Germany came to reality in 1933 when Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany.
Hitler’s administration introduced the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, which removed Jews and politically suspect government employees (including university professors) from their jobs, unless they had demonstrated their loyalty to Germany by serving in World War I. Einstein remained in Berlin until 1933 when he renounced his citizenship and emigrated to America to take the position at Princeton University. Meanwhile, in Germany, a campaign began to eliminate Einstein’s work from the German lexicon. Activists published pamphlets and ven textbooks denigrating Einstein, and instructors who taught his theories were blacklisted. Albert’s upbringing and personal life form the foundation of Einstein, the man, the leader, and the genius. Jurgen Neffe sums up Einstein’s childhood with the line, “A child like Albert, in the view of the German-born American psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, ‘today would be subjected to specialized examination and, perhaps, to treatment. ’ Fortunately Einstein was spared that. ” Einstein’s childhood was unique even to the standards of late Nineteenth Century Europe.
Young Albert was not pressured into sports and social circles by his parents; instead left to create his own supplementary curriculum and study with his engineer uncle. Einstein had help developing intellectually but that was not the case with social interactions. As Albert grew he kept a childlike way about him except when it came to women. Neffe uses Albert’s love letters extensively to show his fascination with the other sex and derives, “Einstein’s correspondence with women invariably reveals he regarded [women] almost as playthings. However Neffe neglects to connect Albert’s early successful form of communication to his later dependence on written correspondence. According to Neffe, Albert was very successful with women but not at relationships. Neffe describes his interactions with his two sons and divorced wife as if they were circumstantial, but Albert clearly felt himself a better father and provider if the relationship was on paper. The seclusion Albert was then thrust into because of his divorce allowed him to delve wholly into his work.
Albert Einstein’s will to think was engrained in his psyche at an early age. Neffe finds this point to be a singular incident. During this phase, one experience in particular made a “deep and lasting impression” on Einstein: the day “my father showed me a compass. ” He was surprised that its needle always pointed in the same direction without being touched. “Something deeply hidden had to be behind things. ” The initiation of a genius? The “miracle” sheds light on the enigma of his uniqueness only up to a point.
Nearly every child is amazed at the sight of a quivering compass needle or some other baffling physical phenomenon. As Einstein advances in years he becomes more focused on his work. Albert’s personal studies are the only consistent force in his life and soon encompass his life. Einstein’s obligatory migrations forced him to completely embrace his studies as a defense mechanism. There is a childlike quality that remains present in many men considered geniuses, but fails to connect to Einstein’s upbringing.
The focused, isolationist psyche developed in his youth stayed with the man and developed the genius. Neffe describes the genius Albert Einstein’s contributions to science as indispensable. Neffe writes. “In addition to his contributions to the foundations of modern physics, he also made essential inroads in chemistry, provided the theoretical basis for the development of the laser, and, in his insatiable curiosity, answered questions such as why rivers bend and why the sky is blue. ” Einstein’s isolation and devotion to his thoughts allowed him to develop his amazing theories.
Neffe describes Einstein’s collaborations with other scientist and students in relation to work but does not fully describe the awkwardness that must have occurred between men of their nature. Einstein was turned down for many teaching positions and only received an honorary PhD. It is evident that every scientist greatly admires the dedication of Einstein to his work. A half-century after Einstein’s death, his theories, and the mind that spawned them, remain as baffling as ever to the public. Neffe offered a valid attempt to explain what created Einstein.
He determines the defining moment of Einstein’s life at Nov. 6, 1919, the day when a joint session of Britain’s Royal Society and Royal Astronomical Society announced it had confirmed Einstein’s grandest idea, the general theory of relativity. According to the theory, gravity can generate enough force to bend light. Sir Frank Dyson, the Astronomer Royal, announced that the results left “no doubt” about the validity of Einstein’s prediction. Years later it was uncovered that the results in fact left considerable doubt, but Einstein’s supporters intuitively felt that the theory must be correct.
The Times of London declared the finding “one of the most momentous, if not the most momentous, pronouncements of human thought. ” Within days other media around the world followed. In an instant, Neffe writes, “Albert Einstein was reborn as legend and myth, idol and icon of an entire era. ” Einstein showed his true qualities as a leader preceding and following World War II. Preceding the war, the German-Jew immigrant had the power to write the president, Theodore Roosevelt, urging leadership to begin nuclear weapons research to keep pace with Germany.
Einstein’s nuclear theories, formulated for energy production, became the foundation for the work done during the Manhattan Project. Following the war, Einstein had the foresight to see the perils of a nuclear arms race and led the movement to slow nuclear progression. Einstein’s leadership qualities were honored the most when he was offered the Israeli Presidency by the government of Israel. Einstein’s influence was derived from his expert power and conceptual skill. Einstein never set out to be a leader, yet made some of the greatest contributions to the world’s society in history. ——————————————- [ 1 ]. Einstein: A Biography. Jurgen Neffe. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 22 [ 2 ]. Einstein: A Biography. Jurgen Neffe. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 87 [ 3 ]. Einstein: A Biography. Jurgen Neffe. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 22 [ 4 ]. Einstein: A Biography. Jurgen Neffe. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 151 [ 5 ]. Albert Einstein: A Leader in Science. Glen F. (Gather. com 2008)
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