Albert Einstein (pron.: /ˈælbərt ˈaɪnstaɪn/; German: [ˈalbɐt ˈaɪnʃtaɪn] ( listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars ofmodern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). While best known for his mass–energy equivalenceformula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”), he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of thephotoelectric effect“. The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.
Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the development of hisspecial theory of relativity. He realized, however, that the principle of relativity could also be extended togravitational fields, and with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a paper on the general theory of relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole.