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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 02:22 GMT
Germany honours Einstein's genius
By Roland Pease
BBC science correspondent

Undated file photograph of Albert Einstein
Einstein emerged as an important figure in 1905
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is due to launch the World Year of Physics, celebrating 100 years since Albert Einstein made his first great discovery.

Educational bodies such as Unesco are hoping Einstein's achievements will inspire schoolchildren of today to pursue a career in physics.

The year 1905 was truly extraordinary - for science and for Albert Einstein.

In a handful of papers, he established the existence of atoms and determined their size, he laid the ground work for one of the most fruitful branches of modern physics, called quantum theory, and he introduced his theory of relativity to the world - a revolutionary description of the nature of space and time.


Einstein also discovered that most legendary of scientific equations, E=mc˛, which relates the energy of matter to its mass and the speed of light.

The destructive power of nuclear bombs is often attributed to this equation, though it has many positive uses, too.

At the start of 1905, Einstein's genius was invisible to all but a few close friends.

By the end, his name was familiar to the best scientists across the world.

Fifteen years later, Einstein became the world's first superstar of science, when one of the more bizarre predictions of his theories was proved.

His image was splashed across newspaper front pages around the world.

Today, he remains the most recognised of scientists, despite - or perhaps because of - the sheer complexity of his ideas.

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