As a clerk of a patent office, the greatest thinker ever had time to philosophize about the nature of the universe. But when he brings out his visionary theories, no one understands him.
While his contemporaries hopping around and playing tag or throwing a ball, a slender boy with a dark appearance sits at home, in a suburb of Munich, Germany, over thick books.
Family members think he is a boring person, and Albert Einstein loves daydreaming, reading and playing the violin much more than climbing a tree.
Albert Einstein had a sister who was two years younger.
At school he is the best, a loner who achieves the highest marks for almost all subjects. Until late in the evening he is sitting with his nose in a pile of textbooks, which Albert's parents drag home for their inquisitive boy.
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Thanks to a special event, his favorite subject is physics: when five-year-old Albert is sick in bed, his father gives him a compass. To his great surprise, the boy finds that the needle always points in the same direction thanks to a force his father calls magnetism.
Already at the age of 16 Albert takes the entrance exam for the ETH in Zurich, one of the best Swiss technical universities - and fails like a rock; not for mathematics and physics, but for literature and social history.
Info image: Things you didn't know about Albert Einstein
A drawer full of wisdom
The ambitious teenager, however, cannot be ignored by this setback. The following year things went better, and in 1900 he had a university degree in mathematics and physics.
This certificate only does not open doors, as the young man had hoped. In vain he is looking for an appointment as a lecturer at a university, but he has to settle for jobs as an insurance agent and substitute teacher. An important cause of the rejections is that Einstein is of Jewish descent in a Europe where Jew hatred flourishes.
Young Einstein fell under the spell of science when he received a compass from his father.
Because of his constant shortage of money, Einstein feels like a failure. In a letter to a family member, he notes that it would have been "better if I had never been born," but luckily he's more successful in love.
As mature as he once was as a child, so charming and witty is the adult Einstein, who flirts a lot. Many women fall in love with the attractive man with the expressive eyes. But Einstein sees only one: his fellow student Mileva Maric, who shares his passion for physics, mathematics and music with him.
Mileva Maric was Einstein's first wife. Photo: Getty Images
In the long run, however, Einstein cannot live on mere love, so if the father of a friend had a job for him in June 1902 as a technical expert at the Swiss patent office in Bern, the now 23-year-old Einstein tackled the offer with both hands .
Einstein changed the world
To his delight Einstein soon notices that the work of a whole day is done in a matter of hours. As a result, he has plenty of time for his "Department of Theoretical Physics" - in other words, daydreams.
In all the free hours he juggles with ideas that have been spinning around in his head for years, and the drawer of his desk is gradually filling himself with scientific articles: the concrete result of the ingenious raids that will become his trademark.
On those mental voyages of discovery, he is well aware that the entire physics must be re-established. The issues of the existence of the atom, the nature of light, space and time, and the connection between energy and mass are among the subjects on which he delves.
Once deep in thought, Einstein forgets everything around him. On his way home, he wanders the streets absent-mindedly without seeing the surroundings, and he is often far beyond the city limits before waking up from his trance.
Original recording, in which Einstein talks about E = mc2.
Einstein himself experiences this condition as a mental crisis, but in fact his brain boils over from the genius raids. And after such a superhuman intellectual effort, in 1905 he published four articles that were worthy of a genius and that put a bomb under the physics of that time. He will work out the article about the special theory of relativity afterwards. This theory is later decisive for our insight into the universe, but it does not work in its time.
While summer and fall turn into winter, Einstein sits at home hoping for a reaction from the scholars, but instead of acclaim, he is greeted with an icy silence. It is not until the end of 1905 that it is broken, when one of the best minds of the time has a good word for him. The German physicist Max Planck praises the articles by Einstein and especially the piece about the special theory of relativity, which "immediately aroused my interest."
Read the next chapter: The breakthrough - Einstein warps the whole universe (NB. You must be logged in on the website of Science in View.)
Einstein's IQ has never been tested, but it is estimated that his intelligence quotient was around 160. Have you already tested YOUR IQ? Take our FREE IQ TEST and see how high you score compared to Albert Einstein.