1879 — Albert Einstein is born

One of the most influential scientists of all time, who revolutionized physics and had no small effect on global politics while he was at it, Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in what was then the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire. He and his family were non-observant Jews, but it’s not like that mattered to the Nazis in 1933, when Einstein moved to the United States.

From undistinguished beginnings, Einstein would become the most famous scientist of the 20th century, devising both the General and Special Theories of Relativity, winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, being a key advisor of President Franklin Roosevelt regarding atomic weapons, and even being offered the Presidency of Israel in 1952 (he declined). Time Magazine named him the Person of the Century in 1999.

Referenced in:

The Big Bang Theory — Barenaked Ladies

1915 – Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity is published

One of the most revolutionary theories of physics of all time, Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity turned the celestial mechanics of Isaac Newton on its head, and set the stage for the quantum mechanical revolution in physics that characterised the Twentieth Century. Along with Heisenberg, Bohr, Schrodinger, Feynmann and others, Einstein’s work changed the way we understand our world, but even in that august company, Einstein is a titan among giants, a man whose name has become a byword for genius.

The General Theory of Relativity resists easy summation. It was created to reconcile various anomalies in Newton’s theory of Universal Gravitation, as well as between Newton and Einstein’s earlier Special Theory of Relativity, and forms an important part of our current understanding of physics, gravitation and cosmology – the Big Bang Theory draws upon it, for example.

Referenced in:

The World’s Address – They Might Be Giants