Today marks the 64th death anniversary of the man whom almost everyone knows: Albert Einstein! Well known to the world for his most famous & most controversial theory, The Theory of Relativity, this Nobel Laureate is one of the most influential physicist of 20th century. Today, let us have a look at Einstein's top contributions to science, beyond general relativity.
We have all studied photoelectric effect in our school and it is one of the most significant contributions made by Einstein. According to Einstein’s quantum theory of light, light is composed of small packets of energy called photons. They have wave-like properties. Einstein explained that whenever a metal is struck by a beam of light (photons), electrons are emitted from the metal surface. This was called the Photoelectric Effect. This effect won him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics and also was one of the founding pillars of quantum physics.
In 1905, Einstein formulated an important relationship between mass and energy, according to which mass and energy are interconvertible. Einstein demonstrated that "E = mc^2". Here E is the energy corresponding to an object of mass m and c corresponds to the speed of light. This relationship between energy and mass is known as Mass - Energy equivalence relation. This relation by Einstein is the soul behind the nuclear energy we use these days.
In 1827, an English botanist Robert Brown noticed that pollen seeds suspended in water moved in an irregular motion. This irregular motion was named as Brownian motion after him, but the reason behind it was explained by Einstein .In 1905, Einstein reasoned that if tiny but visible particles were suspended in a liquid, the invisible atoms in the liquid would bombard the suspended particles. This bombardment would eventually cause them to jiggle. Einstein explained the motion in detail.He accurately predicted the irregular, random motions of the particles, which could be directly observed under a microscope.
This observation of the zigzag movement of particles in suspension helped to prove the existence of atoms and molecules. Though Einstein wasn’t the first one to propose atomic collisions as a solution to brownian motion, but his paper powerful as it connected physical properties of atoms to something we could actually measure. Gif Courtesy-GifImage.net
The Manhattan Project
Albert Einstein created the Manhattan Project in collaboration with Leo Szilard. It was a research supported by the U.S, which later led to the development of the atomic bomb in 1945.However, after learning about the destruction the atomic bomb did in Japan during World War 2, Einstein was very disheartened. Eventually, he started campaigning for a ban on nuclear weaponry.
One of Einstein's least known invention is the Einstein's Refrigerator. Jointly invented by Einstein & his student Leó Szilard, it is an absorption refrigerator which had no moving parts and operated at constant pressure. It required only a heat source to operate. This design used ammonia, water, and butane, and required almost no energy to work. Considering the energy demands of the world, efforts are being made to modify this design to increase its efficiency.
These are just a few of the contributions made by Einstein towards the scientific community. The actual list of the legend's contributions is quite long!