Einstein in Time

Albert Einstein has been called one of the freest people who ever lived. He didn’t let anything hold back his imagination and it powered him to completely new places. As a great humanitarian, Einstein supported causes that helped people around the globe. Take a trip through his incredible life and see for yourself!


Albert Einstein is born on March 14 to a Jewish family in Ulm, Germany.

Closeup of Einstein as a young boy with a compass.

Receives a compass from his dad, which sparks his curiosity about how things work. This curiosity leads to a lifelong love of physics, mathematics and philosophy.

Violin with text: "If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician ... I get most joy in life out of music."

Starts playing the violin.

3-story building with columns, steps, and large windows on the ETH Zurich campus.

Enrolls in university in Switzerland and gives up German citizenship. He later becomes a Swiss citizen.

Einstein as a young man in a suit seated at a desk.

After graduating from Zurich Polytechnic Institute, he takes a job in a Swiss patent office.

A chalkboard with "E=mc2" written on it in chalk.

Publishes the papers that deal with his Special Theory of Relativity, photoelectric effect, and the original version of the equation E=mc2.  This has been called his "year of miracles."

“The bond that has united the Jews is the democratic ideal of social justice, coupled with the idea of mutual aid and tolerance among people."

Becomes a worldwide celebrity when Sir Arthur Eddington  confirms his 1915 General Theory of Relativity. Begins to use his celebrity to champion causes he believes in, including the formation of a Jewish state.

portrait of Einstein in middle age

Wins the Nobel Prize in Physics.

“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve though one’s greatest efforts

While in Jerusalem, he delivers the first scientific lecture at The Hebrew University.


Signs a document with Gandhi against forcing men into military service.


Spends several months teaching at CalTech in Pasadena, California, where his fame leads to contact with movie stars and other celebrities.

“I did not wish to live in a country where the individual does not enjoy equality before the law and freedom to say and teach what he likes.”

Gives up his job at a school in Germany as the Nazi party comes to power. Joins the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University in New Jersey.

“I made one mistake in my life—when I signed that letter to President Roosevelt advocating that the bomb should be built.”

Writes to President Franklin D. Roosevelt urging U.S. to develop atomic energy research. He is concerned that Nazi Germany's research will soon allow it to build an atomic bomb. Later, he regrets sending the letter.

“America is today the hope of all honorable men who respect the rights of their fellow men and who believe in the principles of freedom...”

Becomes a U.S. citizen.


Turns down an offer from the State of Israel, which is 4 years old, to be its president.

“In the last analysis, everybody is a human being.”

Speaks out against the mistreatment of those unjustly accused of being communists during the era of McCarthyism.


Dies on April 18 at Princeton Hospital.

Einstein on the cover of Time magazine.

TIME magazine names Einstein "Person of the Century."

Einstein the Humanitarian

Closeup of Einstein sticking his tongue out with a peace sign, star of David, and happy face in the background.

Einstein  is now a household word that means “genius.” During his life, Einstein used his fame to draw attention to things he believed in. He spoke about peace between Jews and Arabs and about finding homes for both Jewish and political refugees. He opposed all forms of racial and ethnic discrimination, such as segregation. He was also an activist for world peace and democracy. Einstein realized that the scientific community can either help or hurt our civilization and believed that scientists are responsible for their actions.

If you were a superstar celebrity, how would you use your fame to make the world a better place?

Image Credits:
©AMNH; Einstein as a boy, Christie's Images Ltd 2018; Violin, CC BY 2.0 by born1945; ETH Zurich campus, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons/Roland ZH; Einstein as a young man, Lucien Chavan / ETH Zürich; E=mc2 chalkboard, CC BY-SA 4.0 by Santeri Viinamäki via Wikimedia Commons; Einstein Portrait, courtesy of the Albert Einstein Archives, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Einstein pledging (1940), courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty; Time magazine cover, © Time Magazine; Einstein with tongue out, original image by Arthur Sasse/AFP.