Einstein's Mistakes

Updated on May 27, 2019
harrynielsen profile image

Science has always fascinated me. This includes not only the ecological sciences, which I studied in school, but other endeavors, as well.

Young Einstein

Alfred Einstein in 1921 in Vienna
Alfred Einstein in 1921 in Vienna | Source

Why Write About Einstein's Mistakes?

In science, as in life, you usually get things wrong over and over again before you get it right. from Ethan Siegel senior editor at Forbes Magazine

The purpose of this article is not to argue that Einstein was incompetent as a scientist. In fact, just the opposite is true. This article is meant to demonstrate that to be successful as a researcher, you have to be willing to make mistakes along the way. Alfred Einstein's great accomplishment was to replace Newtonian physics with the a new set of ideas, known as Relativity. Nonetheless, there are some theoretical holes in the ideas and equations that have come to define the scientific concept of relativity.

Einstein Playing the Fiddle

Alfred Einstein enjoyed playing the fiddle
Alfred Einstein enjoyed playing the fiddle | Source

Who Was Alfred A. Einstein?

Alfred Einstein was born at Ulm, Germany in 1879, but soon thereafter, he moved with his family to Munich. There he attended grade school. Eventually, the family moved to Italy and so young Albert furthered his educational pursuits at Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich, Switzerland. Here, he was trained as a teacher of mathematics and physics, but upon his graduation from the prestigious school, Alfred was unable to find a teaching position, so he took a position as a technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office. This lasted from 1902 to 1909.

During that time Einstein published several papers and also earned a P.H.D. in Physics in 1905 from the University of Zurich. In 1910 Einstein began teaching physic in Zurich. After a brief teaching stint in Prague, Einstein earned a prestigious position at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin. He remained in the Prussian capital until 1933, when Hitler rose to power. At the time, Einstein was visiting America and chose to remain in the U.S. upon the Nazi takeover. Einstein remained in the United States until his death in 1955.

Einstein's Accomplishments

While working as a patent examiner in Switzerland, Einstein first developed his startling ideas on relativity and photoelectrics. The year of 1905 looms as especially important, for it was during this time that he released four groundbreaking papers on theoretical physics.

It was actually Einstein's work on photoelectrics that earned him a Nobel Prize in 1921. His work on relativity was more controversial, resulting in a slower acceptance among the scientific world.

The Unusual Death of Alfred A. Einstein

On April 17, 1955 Alfred A. Einstein was working on a speech that he was preparing for a television appearance commemorating the State of Israel’s seventh anniversary. Before Einstein could finish the speech, he suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm and was taken to the Princeton Medical Center. Doctors at the hospital said that they could help Alfred with surgery, but at the time Professor Einstein refused, saying: "I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly."

The next day Alfred A. Einstein passed away. Shortly thereafter, his body was cremated and taken for burial in a local cemetery, but before being converted to ashes, Einstein's brain was removed and preserved for future study.

The Faraway Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy as viewed with infrared light
The Sombrero Galaxy as viewed with infrared light | Source

The Expansion of the Universe

One of the most basic of relativity's major shortcomings is its failure to allow for the expansion of the universe. All through his adult life, Einstein developed models and equations that described a universe of definite size and proportions. Furthermore, to make his theoretical world work he developed a concept called the cosmological constant. This force had a numerical value and it was theorized that the constant acted as a counterbalance to gravitational fields. In 1930, Edwin Hubble (for whom the Hubblecraft is named) developed his model of an expanding universe, forcing Einstein to abandon his cosmological constant.

Black Hole

Astro physicists today believe that Black Holes are a major source of gravitational waves
Astro physicists today believe that Black Holes are a major source of gravitational waves | Source

Gravitational Waves

Another area where Einstein had theoretical problems was with the concept of gravitational waves. Einstein did not think gravitational waves existed or if they did, they were very weak. Also, he did not acknowledge the existence of black holes, which are now thought to be the source of gravitational waves. It took until 2015 to prove that gravitational waves existed, but the two scientists that proved their existence were rewarded the Nobel Prize for their efforts.


A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star that is a remnant of a larger denser star
A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star that is a remnant of a larger denser star | Source

Quantum Physics and Mechanisms

Even though, Einstein's early work with the photoelectric effect laid the groundwork for the development of quantum physics, Einstein never really felt comfortable with the uncertainty that accompanied the new theories. In a sense, Einstein was kind of old school in that he liked to view the nature of the universe in nice tidy theories and equations. Furthermore, Einstein did not particularly get along or agree with the three main proponents of quantum physics, Max Planck, Niels Bohr and Erwin Schrodinger.

Einstein and Photoelectrics






This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Harry Nielsen


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)