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Physics and Chemistry

Light, Sound, and Other Waves

What were some of the leading contributions of Albert Einstein?

Albert Einstein was the principal founder of modern theoretical physics; his theory of relativity (speed of light is a constant and not relative to the observer or source of light), and the relationship of mass and energy (E = mc2), fundamentally changed human understanding of the physical world.

During a single year in 1905, he produced three landmark papers. These papers dealt with the nature of particle movement known as Brownian motion, the quantum nature of electromagnetic radiation as demonstrated by the photoelectric effect, and the special theory of relativity. Although Einstein is probably best known for the last of these works, it was for his quantum explanation of the photoelectric effect that he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

His stature as a scientist, together with his strong humanitarian stance on major political and social issues, made him one of the outstanding men of the twentieth century.



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