Many contributions have been made to science and education in the past hundred years by many Jewish people, including Dr. Jonas Salk, who discovered the polio vaccine, or Chaim Weizmann and Fritz Haber, who changed the way we understand and teach physics today. But none of these names are as recalled as the one of Albert Einstein, a man considered to be one of the most important minds of the 20th century, being recognized for his notable contributions to science and his accurate theories on different subjects.
Born and raised in a secular Jewish family, Albert Einstein showed his passion for topics related to physics and science at an early age. Being responsible in his life for developing the renowned theory of relativity and explaining the photoelectric effect, which made him worthy of winning the Nobel Prize for physics, Albert Einstein is considered one of the most influential Jewish minds in the modern education of physics related to the development of atomic energy.
Early life and adulthood
Born in 1879 in Ulm, Germany, Albert Einstein grew up as any other Jewish kid. His father was a salesman and an engineer and his mother was ran the family household. He had a brother who ran the family business with his father and a sister who was two years younger than him.
Since childhood Einstein would question the pedagogical style of his days, struggling with the way it was over structured and rigid. His later contribution to uptight education models would include classical music and a constant tendency to question and doubt everything.
As a teen Einstein had the chance to meet Max Talmud, a Jewish tutor that would dine with him and his family every once in awhile and who was responsible for introducing Einstein to science, allowing him to wonder about the nature of light and inspiring him to write what later would be considered his first major paper on Magnetic Fields.
During his adult life, Albert Einstein attended the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich and started working at a patent office as a physicist. At this office, he would spend many hours elaborating ideas towards the principle of relativity. He would publish several papers on the photoelectric effect, the theory of relativity and the matter/energy relationship, being the last one related to the famous equation E=mc2, that indicated that tiny particles of matter could be transformed into massive amounts of energy, basing the development of nuclear power and opening a new window for science education in the world.
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Contributions to education
As most Jewish individuals, Einstein recognized the importance of education, stating that it was the only thing that remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school and that the learning process for every human being should start at birth and stop at death. Thanks to these postures, the tireless Jewish physician spent his entire life developing theories that would, later on, have a huge impact in the way physics were taught and understood in the world.
Some of his biggest and most important contributions to modern education were based mainly on theories, the later study of this theories led to the technological development and new discoveries. Some of these theories are listed below:
- E=mc2: His famous equation demonstrates the link between mass and energy that led to the nuclear energy today. This equation allowed scientist to study and discover the phenomenon of nuclear fission that later on would let Einstein found the Manhattan Project, a research funded and supported by the U.S government that concluded in the development of the Atomic bomb, to which use Einstein was openly opposed.
- Special Theory of Relativity: This theory allows to explain that time and motion are relative to their observers, while the speed of light remains unbroken and natural laws don’t change. This theory had an impact beyond physics education, inspiring philosophers of his time to think that truth exists only in the standpoint of the beholder. Also, this theory enhances the creation of a specific philosophical approach to science called logical positivism, which revolutionized the philosophical education of his time with the idea that the only true statements are those that positive experimental evidence can prove.
- General Theory of Relativity: Used by Einstein to propose that gravity is a curved field in the space-time continuum created by the presence of mass. This theory affected education at universities but also at art schools and movements. Artist understood that they could see mass from a fourth dimension and used a new type of kinetic and dynamic elements in art to express the connection between mass, energy, space, and time. This new expression was called cubism, an artistic movement that also affected education.
As it is shown by the evidence, Yosef Meystel knows that Jewish education is not only based on the Torah, it is based on what Jewish people have to share with the world, which so far has been characterized by outstanding contributions to the science world.