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How did Einstein earn his PhD?

  1. Aug 16, 2014 #1

    td21

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    History question:
    I searched all over the web and cannot find the answer. I knew that Albert Einstein earned his phd from university of zurich.
    from wiki:
    In 1900, Einstein was awarded the Zürich Polytechnic teaching diploma.
    (Between 1900 to 4/30/1905, I deduced that Einstein was unemployed and working for jobs like clerk.)
    On 30 April 1905, Einstein completed his thesis, with Alfred Kleiner, Professor of Experimental Physics, serving as pro-forma advisor. Einstein was awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich.
    (Therefore, I am curious of how he could complete a PhD when he was unemployed and working full time in 5 years)
    It would be great if you could provide me with historical writings in this aspect.
    Thank you very much.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2014 #2

    jedishrfu

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  4. Aug 17, 2014 #3

    HallsofIvy

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    "unemployed and working full time"?
     
  5. Aug 17, 2014 #4

    SteamKing

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    That's how Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity.
     
  6. Aug 17, 2014 #5
    Employment is relative!
     
  7. Aug 18, 2014 #6
    Haha. Good one.
     
  8. Aug 18, 2014 #7

    jedishrfu

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    Especially if you're employed by relatives.
     
  9. Aug 18, 2014 #8

    Curious3141

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    Nepotism is a rather relative business. :biggrin:
     
  10. Aug 19, 2014 #9

    td21

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    Yes, he was unemployed for a brief period of time. After posting the question, I also find a brief history of what Albert Einstein was doing between 1900 (undergrad graduation) to 1905 (award of PhD):
    http://www.biography.com/people/albert-einstein-9285408#marriage-and-family
    "After graduating from the Polytechnic Institute, Albert Einstein faced a series of life crises over the next few years. Because he liked to study on his own, he cut classes and earned the animosity of some of his professors. One in particular, Heinrich Weber, wrote a letter of recommendation at Einstein’s request that led to him being turned down for every academic position that he applied to after graduation. Meanwhile, Einstein's relationship with Maric deepened, but his parents vehemently opposed the relationship citing her Serbian background and Eastern Orthodox Christian religion. Einstein defied his parents and continued to see Maric. In January, 1902, the couple had a daughter, Lieserl, who either died of sickness or was given up for adoption—the facts are unkown.

    At this point, Albert Einstein probably reached the lowest point in his life. He could not marry Maric and support a family without a job, and his father's business had gone bankrupt. Desperate and unemployed, Einstein took lowly jobs tutoring children, but he was unable to hold on to any of them. A turning point came later in 1902, when the father of his lifelong friend, Marcel Grossman, recommended him for a position as a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Bern, Switzerland. About this time, Einstein’s father became seriously ill and just before he died, gave his blessing for him to marry. With a small but steady income, Einstein married Maric on Jan. 6, 1903. In May, 1904 they had their first son, Hans Albert."

    I am amazed how he found a way to gain a PhD degree from Zurich (but how he did that is still quite mysterious to me and I find this webpage after posting the question and this webpage does not tell me how he obtained admission). In my opinion, this is not very likely to happen in today's world.
     
  11. Aug 19, 2014 #10

    Evo

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    You might like this website "CHRONOLOGY OF EINSTEIN'S LIFE" http://www.einstein-website.de/z_biography/chronological_table.html

    I have found several website's that say that Einstein received his PhD for his paper "A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions".

    Again here
    http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Einstein.html

    It does not appear that he actually attended at the time from what I can find.
     
  12. Aug 19, 2014 #11

    D H

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    It happens a lot more than you would think. There's even a name and an acronym for Einstein's state between early 1902 (when he submitted his first thesis) and 1905 (when he submitted his second thesis, which was accepted in an amazingly short time).

    The acronym is "ABD". It stands for "All But Dissertation" or sometimes even "All But Defense". A graduate student might get married, have a kid, and then find out that the grad student pauper life doesn't fit with having a family. Or a graduate student's advisor might have a heart attack and die, leaving the student in a terrible bind. All kinds of things can happen that makes someone leave graduate school, sometimes shortly before they would nominally receive that PhD. I've worked with a number of ABDs over my career, and some of them did eventually finish up what they left behind, eventually receiving that PhD.
     
  13. Aug 20, 2014 #12

    f95toli

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    At one point Einstein actually applied for a position in Kamerlingh Onnes lab (which was the first "modern" research lab in the world) but was turned down. This was perhaps in retrospect a good thing. I don't think Einstein would have been able to do the work he did if he had been busy liquefying helium:tongue:
    (although the lab did generate an amazing number of discoveries during those years)
     
  14. Aug 20, 2014 #13

    jtbell

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    From the link given in post #2:

     
  15. Nov 28, 2015 #14
  16. Nov 28, 2015 #15

    Evo

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    There is no mystery, it clearly says
    he did not know if he would get it, SAYS SO right there.

    This is common in divorces where a wife may be awarded future compensation, for example a wife that gave up everything to put her husband through medical school can be awarded money years later when her husband gets rich from his medical practice.

    Thread closed.
     
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