Albert Einstein
rating: +1+x

Basic Information

Albert Einstein is best known for E=MC2 (the most famous equation in science), and for his hair. His name is synonymous with "genius". He's been the model for numerous characterizations of Mad Scientists and Absent-Minded Professors. Time magazine named him the Person of the Century.

Scientific Work

He wrote over 300 scientific works, and over 150 non-scientific works. His earliest scientific works were written pre-college, while still in his teens.

This is a list of topics Einstein worked on and expanded our knowledge of:


Einstein was very political. He attended the 1927 League Against Imperialism. He was a Zionist and a Socialist. He spoke out against the Nazi movement. He helped other Jews get US Visas so they could flee Nazi Germany. He helped found the International Rescue Committee.

In Nazi Germany, Deutsche Physik denounced him, and instructors who taught "Jewish Physics" were blacklisted. A man convicted of conspiring to murder Einstein was punished with a pitiful six-dollar fine.

Einstein co-wrote a letter to US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, urging the U.S. to develop the Atomic Bomb before the Nazis could. Later, he expressed regrets about this letter, and lobbied for the end of nuclear testing and the arms race. He argued the the US should not try to have a monopoly on nuclear weaponry - he suggested giving the United Nations nuclear weapons to deter war. A few days before his death he signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, calling for a conference of scientists to assess the threat to the survival of humanity caused by Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"I do not know how the third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth—rocks!"
- Albert Einstein

In the U.S., he worked with numerous Civil Rights organizations. He described capitalism as an evil that mankind must overcome. He served as a character witness for the defense when W. E. B. Du Bois was accused of being a communist spy.

The FBI file on Einstein was 1,427 pages long.

Timeline and Events

  • Born in Ulm on March 14, 1879.
  • At the age of 4, he was shown a compass, and realized there had to be some force causing the needle to move. He was a child prodigy, and well-versed in Euclidean Geometry by age 12.
  • Growing up, his family faced financial troubles as a result of his father owning a company that manufactured electrical equipment based on direct current (see Current Wars).
  • He did not complete his secondary school, and later failed on his first entrance exam to college. He always scored very highly in the fields of mathematics and physics, but had little patience for the formalities and regimen of school.
  • At the age of 17 he renounced his citizenship to avoid conscription in germany. He later moved to Zurich, Switzerland.
  • He married the mathematician Mileva Marić in 1903, and they divorced in 1919. They had two sons. Some authors have suggested that Marić was an uncredited contributor to his Relativity theories.
  • 1905 was Einstein's "miracle year". In that year he got his PhD, published the theory of Special Relativity, and pioneered the idea of the Photon (particles of light), all while holding down a job at the Swiss Patent Office. At said job, he frequently examined patent applications pertaining to electrical transmission and mechanical synchronization. Those two topics show up repeatedly in the thought experiments related to (and leading to) Relativity.
  • In 1912 he became a professor at the ETH Zurich.
  • In 1915 he published the theory of General Relativity.
  • In 1922 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics (see Nobel Prize). He invested much of the prize money, and lost it during the Great Depression.
  • He married his cousin Elsa Löwenthal in 1923. She died in 1936.
  • In 1932 he moved to the United States. He lectured at the California Institute of Technology and the Institute for Advanced Study.
  • In 1952, the state of Israel offered Einstein the opportunity to be their second President. He turned them down, because he didn't feel he had the necessary people skills.
  • Albert Einstein died on April 17, 1955, of an aneurysm. He was cremated and his ashes scattered around the Institute for Advanced Study. The pathologist conducting the autopsy stole his brain and preserved it, in hopes that future scientists would be able to figure out why he was so smart. It took 40 years for his brain to be returned to his family.


Game and Story Use

  • Einstein and his life make a good Point of Divergence for an Alternate History.
    • You can hold back science and technology by changing the details of his life.
      • Direct current wins over alternating, and Herman Einstein (Albert's dad) has a successful business electrifying Europe. His son goes into the family line of work, instead of the patent-office-to-physicist route. Einstein refrigerators take the world by storm, but nobody figures out the energy potential of the atom.
    • Beware of Godwin's Law of Time Travel - if the Nazis hadn't restricted research into the so-called "Jewish Physics", they may have had The Bomb. If Einstein hadn't written to FDR, the US wouldn't have had The Bomb. Run with it.
    • President Einstein sounds kinda fun, though Albert himself wouldn't have liked it.
  • Speculative Fiction has a long habit of disregarding Relativity in favor of FTL and Space Does Not Work That Way.
    • Perhaps other elements of science turn out not to be true? See Alternative Science for ideas.
  • During the Cold War, if the PCs are Government Agents, they may be asked to spy on Einstein and his socialist friends, or to clear his name.
  • The brain of possibly the world's smartest man was taken from his body against his families wishes, and not returned for 40 years. If you can't come up with a sinister back story, secret history, conspiracy theory or plot line based on that, it's time to turn in your dice and GM's screen.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License