Einstein's Big Idea

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Gottfried von Leibniz (German)

July 1 1646 - November 14 1716

Invented calculus. Suggested that squaring an object's speed would reveal its capacity to do work.

Émilie du Châtelet (French)

December 17 1706 - September 10 1749

First to translate Newton's works into French. She made Liebeniz's ideas about squaring an object's speed clearer by expanding upon an experiment of dropping balls into soft clay. She discovered that they had the capacity to do twice as much work if they had a squared amount of speed.

War of the Quadruple Alliance

1718 - 1720

War of the Austrian Succession

1740 - 1748

Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (French)

August 26 1743 - May 8 1794

Worked with his wife to introduce and refine the idea of mass being conserved.

Seven Years' War

1756 - 1763

Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze (French)

January 20 1758 - February 10 1836

Worked with her husband in creating the mass part of Einstein's equation. She drew detailed drawings of laboratory apparatus and translated other scientists' works.

Michael Faraday (British/English)

September 22, 1771 - August 25 1867

Believed that invisible fields of electricity and magnetism carried forces through space, and that Newton was wrong in saying that they always travelled in straight lines. He essentially introduced the idea for the modern concept of energy, which would become a basis of Einstein's research.

American Revolution

1775 - 1783

American Independence

July 4 1776

French Revolution

1789 - 1799

Death of Louis XVII and Marie Antionette

October 16 1793

James Clerk Maxwell (British/Scottish)

June 13 1831 - November 5 1879

Worked with Michael Faraday to refine Faraday's concepts. He used his mathematical prowess to give precedence to the idea of electromagnetism. He also showed that light is naught but a wave of electric and magnetic fields.

First Opium War

1839 - 1842

Lise Meitner (Austrian/Swedish)

November 7 1878 - October 27 1968

She worked with Otto Robert Frisch to successfully prove E=mc2 when they created nuclear fission. By bombarding the nucleus of a uranium atom, they created nuclear fission. This was a huge discovery, and resulted in a Nobel Prize for Frisch. Meitner was sadly overlooked due to prejudice against women at the time, and it is still said to be the most aggregious mistake made by the Nobel Prize committee to this day.

Otto Hahn (German)

March 8 1879 - July 28 1968

Albert Einstein (German)

March 14 1879 - April 18 1955

Introduced the most fundamental ideas of physics: space, time, matter, and energy. Einstein compiled the works of all those before him into one formula- E = mc2. He proved that a small amount of mass can be equal to a huge amount of energy. Einstein never truly understood his own formula, as no one can truly fathom the incredible amount of energy packed into all the mass in our universe.

Fritz Strassmann (German)

February 22 1902 - April 22 1980

He and Otto Hahn worked with Lise Meitner until she was forced to flee Germany during WWII due to her Jewish heritage.The team worked with the nuclei of a uranium atom, bombarding the huge nucleus with extra neutrons.

Otto Robert Frisch (Austrian/British)

October 1 1904 - September 22 1979

Worked with Meitner, Strassman, and Hahn to create nuclear fission. Frisch took credit for the discovery, as Lise Meitner was not in the country or in any kind of position to prevent him from doing so.

World War I

1914 - 1918

World War II

1939 - 1945

Einstein and Meitner had to flee Germany, interrupting their works.