In a nutshell – expect this here.
One might think that the world-famous Albert Einstein would have presented his world-changing theory of relativity in a metropolis. In fact, he presented his complex theory publicly for the first time in a small, stuffy gymnasium in Salzburg. In this way, Salzburg was Einstein’s partner in crime and assisted turning physics upside down. Where did that happen? We’ll show you.
Where can you find this place?
The full story of Albert Einstein and his presentation of the Theory of Relativity in Salzburg
At a research conference on September 21, 1909, Einstein explained his by then infamous theory of relativity and was met with great scepticism. Of course not everyone understood what Mr. Einstein was talking about. From today’s perspective however, the lecture was a turning point in physics.
The scene of Einstein’s presentation was the Gymnasium I of the St. Andrew’s school in the heart of Salzburg. Nowadays you find that school behind the Andräkirche in the “Andräviertel” neighborhood. The physics department of the congress, for which 1,300 natural scientists, physicians and scholars came to Salzburg met in these rooms. Albert Einstein was at the age of 30 at that time and was the first Physics conference he attended.
Einstein’s presentation had the title “About the development of our views on the nature and constitution of radiation”. The 7 page abstract of his 1909 report can be found here in German. It was a mere unspectacular title of what should put our world upside down later. Einstein presented the special theory of relativity and the quantum hypothesis for the first time and explained the famous formula “Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared”. Grand Nobel Prize winners like Max Planck sat in the audience but none of them jumped up from their chair with an energetic “HEUREKA!” Insted they were rather sceptic and tempting with praise and recognition.
Today only the granite plaque at the Andrä School commemorates the lecture of an underrated physicist who became one of the most famous Nobel Prize winners later.
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