Perhaps the most famous physicist of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein was born in 1879 in Ulm, a small city in the German Empire. It is often reported in popular culture that Einstein did not score well in his early schooling. However, it has been since proven that the controversy stems from a change in the German grading system which led some to believe that he had done poorly when in fact he had done exceptionally well. Despite some minor setbacks, Einstein finished his schooling one year early, renounced his German citizenship to avoid WWI, and enrolled in the math and physics program at a Polytechnic school in Switzerland.
After graduation, Einstein spent two years in a fruitless job search until a classmate's father secured a position for him in the Bern patent office. While working at the patent office, Einstein began publishing the various papers and essays which would earn him the attention and praise of the international scientific community.
At a time where quantum theory was in its beginning stages, Einstein's work was revolutionary, and would inspire some of the greatest scientific discoveries of the century. His theory of special relativity (1905) produced the famous equation E=mc2, which predicted the development of nuclear energy. By 1922, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
An enemy of the German regime, Einstein was targeted for assassination in 1933. He emigrated to the United States where he took a position at Princeton University.
But his work was not limited to the sciences. In 1923, Einstein toured the United States with Chaim Weizmann, raising funds for the establishment of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His politics were always progressive. He wrote on social issues, openly derided the Nazi party, was a member of the NAACP, and a Zionist throughout his life. By the time he died in 1955, Einstein's work had touched upon everything from refrigeration technology to time travel.
In his will, he bequeathed the royalties from the use of his image to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.