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This online exhibit on the life of Albert Einstein takes a somewhat less orthodox approach. How did an ordinary patent clerk with an undistinguished college record evolve into one of the most profound thinkers of all time, whose contributions to theoretical physics changed the world? Was it the structure of his brain (the exhibit delves into images of Einstein's brain taken after his death).  Was it the support of key friends and family members at an early age? Was it his associations with noted physicists such as Max Planck? Was it innate curiosity coupled with an aptitude for mathematics?

Einstein's major achievements, his public and personal life, his philosophy, and his political activism are all explored in this resource produced by the American Institute of Physics. Archived speech clips, photos, quotations, and essays serve to bring the exhibit to life. A "Site Contents" section provides an overview and facilitates navigation within the exhibit.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
General Physics
- History
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Electron Properties
- General Relativity
- Spacetime Fundamentals
= Light
- Special Relativity
- High School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
- Reference Material
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
= Sound
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
General Public
Access Rights:
Free access
© 1996 American Institute of Physics
Brownian Motion, Einstein biography, Einstein childhood, Einstein early years, photoelectric effect
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 23, 2006 by Ed Lee
Record Updated:
August 9, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 2, 2006
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

1. The Nature of Science

1A. The Scientific Worldview
  • 9-12: 1A/H2. From time to time, major shifts occur in the scientific view of how things work. More often, however, the changes that take place in the body of scientific knowledge are small modifications of prior knowledge. Continuity and change are persistent features of science.

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 9-12: 4F/H2. All motion is relative to whatever frame of reference is chosen, for there is no motionless frame from which to judge all motion.
  • 9-12: 4F/H3c. In empty space, all electromagnetic waves move at the same speed—the "speed of light."

10. Historical Perspectives

10C. Relating Matter & Energy and Time & Space
  • 9-12: 10C/H1. As a young man, Albert Einstein, a German scientist, formulated the special theory of relativity, which brought about revolutionary changes in human understanding of nature. Among the counterintuitive ideas of special relativity is that the speed of light is the same for all observers no matter how they or the light source happen to be moving. In addition, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
  • 9-12: 10C/H3. The special theory of relativity is best known for stating that any form of energy has mass, and that matter itself is a form of energy. Even a tiny amount of matter holds an enormous amount of energy. This relationship is described in the famous relativity equation E = mc2, in which the c in the equation stands for the immense speed of light.
  • 9-12: 10C/H4. A decade after Einstein developed the special theory of relativity, he proposed the general theory of relativity, which pictures Newton's gravitational force as a distortion of space and time.
  • 9-12: 10C/H5. Einstein's development of the theories of special and general relativity ranks as one of the greatest human accomplishments in all of history. Many predictions from the theories have been confirmed on both atomic and astronomical scales. Still, the search continues for an even more powerful theory of the architecture of the universe.
  • 9-12: 10C/H6. Under everyday situations, most of the predictions of special relativity are nearly identical to those of classical mechanics. The more counterintuitive predictions of special relativity occur in situations that humans do not typically experience.

12. Habits of Mind

12A. Values and Attitudes
  • 9-12: 12A/H3. In science, a new theory rarely gains widespread acceptance until its advocates can show that it is borne out by the evidence, is logically consistent with other principles that are not in question, explains more than its rival theories, and has the potential to lead to new knowledge.
  • 9-12: 12A/H5. Curiosity motivates scientists to ask questions about the world around them and seek answers to those questions. Being open to new ideas motivates scientists to consider ideas that they had not previously considered. Skepticism motivates scientists to question and test their own ideas and those that others propose.
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Record Link
AIP Format
American Institute of Physics, (1996), WWW Document, (https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/).
American Institute of Physics, A. Einstein - Image and Impact (1996), <https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/>.
APA Format
American Institute of Physics. (2006, July 2). A. Einstein - Image and Impact. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/
Chicago Format
American Institute of Physics. A. Einstein - Image and Impact. July 2, 2006. https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/ (accessed 17 July 2024).
MLA Format
American Institute of Physics. A. Einstein - Image and Impact. 1996. 2 July 2006. 17 July 2024 <https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "American Institute of Physics", Title = {A. Einstein - Image and Impact}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {17 July 2024}, Month = {July 2, 2006}, Year = {1996} }
Refer Export Format

%Q American Institute of Physics %T A. Einstein - Image and Impact %D July 2, 2006 %U https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/ %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A American Institute of Physics, %D July 2, 2006 %T A. Einstein - Image and Impact %V 2024 %N 17 July 2024 %8 July 2, 2006 %9 text/html %U https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/

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