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An Einstein Centennial

by Kathleen Robertson, IfA Librarian

In 1905, Albert Einstein, then an examiner in the Swiss Patent Office, published several papers in the leading German physics journal, Annalen der Physik. These papers on the photoelectric effect, the special theory of relativity, the theory of Brownian motion, and the theory of energy equivalency (E = mc2) revolutionized physics. To honor the centennial of this event, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) has declared 2005 the World Year of Physics (see www.physics2005.org/).

A handy review of Einstein's career with a good collection of Web resources can be found at the Wikipedia site. An extensive exhibit on his life is available on the American Museum of Natural History Web site. The American Institute of Physics also has a wide-ranging Web exhibit.

There are biographies of Einstein for every age and interest. Genius: A Photobiography of Albert Einstein, by M. Delano, is aimed at younger readers. For adults, Einstein's Cosmos: How Albert Einstein's Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time, by M. Kaku, and Einstein: Decoding the Universe, by F. Balibar, are both highly recommended. Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein, by A. Pais, explores the physics and mathematics of Einstein's work in depth. Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance, by D. Overbye, traces his scientific breakthroughs against the backdrop of his personal life. In (E = mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation, D. Bodanis explores this famous phrase, more widely recognized than understood. Einstein's Mirror, by T. Hey and P. Walters, provides a nontechnical discussion of Einstein's theories, describes how experiments have repeatedly verified them, and traces their practical applications from the atomic bomb to satellite navigation systems.

Celebrate the Einstein centennial by exploring this great scientist's life via the Web, a book, or if the aural mode is your preference, Albert Einstein: Historic Recordings, which has just been released by British Library Publishing.