Albert Einstein (1879 - 1950)

Most people have heard of the famous scientist Albert Einstein - what they don’t know is that while his work is concerned with Physics, it is mostly mathematical in nature.

Born into a German-Jewish family he trained as a mathematics and physics teacher but took a job with the patent office in 1902.

It was there that he began to write and publish papers on perhaps his most famous contribution to mathematics and physics - the theory of relativity.

Firstly, in his Special Theory Of Relativity he took a great leap forward when he assumed that the speed of light remains constant, which was not in line with contemporary ideas.

He took another great leap forward when he proved that mass and energy were equivalent, and in 1907, showed that gravitational acceleration and mechanical acceleration are interchangeable (the principle of equivalence).

This was vitally important as it meant that gravitational and inertial mass were one and the same.

Einstein eventually left his job at the patent office and began to teach mathematics and physics in Switzerland.

It was at this time that he started work on his General Theory Of Relativity, using the tensor calculus developed by Tullio Levi-Civita and Gregariou Ricci-Curbastro.

He returned to Germany in 1914, but as the Nazi party swept towards power his lectures were often disrupted by anti-Jewish demonstrations and riots, and he decided to leave for America, taking up a post at Princeton.

A few months after his departure the Nazis took power in Germany and Einstein was never to return.

Einstein had a great impact on more than just mathematics.

His achievements were so great that he became an icon for the Jewish people. After the death of the first president of Israel in 1952, Einstein was offered the job by the Israeli government, but he refused.

As a man who lived through both World Wars, Einstein actively supported peace.