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Albert Einstein


Key People

key-people Key People
Michele Angelo Besso - A close friend of Einstein during his years at the Zurich Polytechnic and then at the patent office in Bern. Besso, a mechanical engineer, shared Einstein's affinities for classical music and the philosophy of Ernst Mach.
Helen Dukas - A Swabian woman whom Einstein hired as his personal secretary in 1928. Helen traveled with the Einsteins on lecture tours, moved with them to the United States in 1933, and cared for Einstein after the death of Elsa in 1933.
Hermann Einstein  - Einstein's father, a merchant and engineer
Pauline Einstein  - Einstein's mother, a talented musician
Maria Einstein  -  Einstein's younger sister and closest childhood friend
Marcel Grossman - Einstein's friend and fellow student at the Zurich Polytechnic. Einstein, who often skipped his classes, relied upon Grossman's lecture notes. Grossman continued to come to Einstein's aid in later years, first by helping him to secure a position at a patent office in Bern following his graduation, and then by working on the mathematical calculations of the general theory of relativity.
Elsa Lowenthal  - Einstein's cousin and second wife (after Mileva Maric). Einstein moved in with Elsa in 1917 in Berlin, and she nursed him back to health during a period of prolonged sickness. Einstein and Elsa were married in 1919, and Einstein adopted Elsa's daughters Ilse and Margot. Elsa moved with Einstein to America in 1933 and lived with him at Princeton until her death in 1936.
Ernst Mach - An Austrian philosopher and contemporary of Einstein who believed that all science is based on empirical observations. Mach insisted that science must be free of metaphysical speculation, including any concept that does not have its root in observable phenomena. Einstein and Mach corresponded with one another between 1909-1913, a period during which Mach at first supported relativity theory but then grew suspicious of its more mathematical formulations.
Mileva Maric - Einstein's fellow student at the Zurich Polytechnic, and later his first wife. She belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church and was of lower social standing than the Einsteins, and thus Einstein's well-off Jewish parents opposed the marriage. Einstein and Mileva had one illegitimate daughter together, later given up for adoption, and then two sons following their marriage in 1903. When Einstein moved to Berlin in 1914, the couple separated and Mileva and their sons returned to Zurich.
Hermann Minkowski - A German mathematician who re-interpreted Einstein's theory of special relativity as a form of geometry, in which three dimensions of space and a fourth dimension of time were united in an "absolute world." Minkowski was also Einstein's mathematics professor at the Zurich Polytechnic.
Max Talmud - A young medical student who would eat one meal a week with the Einstein family when Albert was a child. Talmud introduced Einstein to Kant and other philosophers and scientists, leading him to renounce his strong religious faith by the age of thirteen.

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