Thursday, May 10, 2007

Einstein-Patent Examiner

Albert Einstein was born in 1879, and at 21, graduated in mathematics and physics from the Swiss Polytechnic Institute in Zurich. From age 23 to 30, Einstein worked as an examiner at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. The primary job of Einstein, and of all patent examiners, is to understand and deal with definitions of inventions and discoveries. Once defined, an invention can be evaluated as to whether it is new or appropriate for patenting. Einstein honed his analytical skills in dealing with numerous invention definitions proposed by the patent applicants with whom he was dealing.

At the age of 26, while still employed as a patent examiner, Einstein made three of his greatest contributions to scientific knowledge. The year 1905 was an epoch-making one in the history of physical science, because Einstein contributed three papers to Annalen der Physik (Annals of Physics), a German scientific periodical. Each of them became the basis of a new branch of physics. In one of the papers, Einstein suggested that light could be thought of as a stream of tiny particles, in addition to being thought of as waves. This helped explain the photoelectric effect where light caused release of electrons from materials. In a second paper, titled "The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies," Einstein presented the special theory of relativity, which allowed for time to be different for different observers. The third major paper concerned Brownian motion, an irregular motion of microscopic particles suspended in a liquid or gas. It confirmed the atomic theory of matter. It was not until Einstein was 30 years old that he held any academic position.

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