When any of us, even the most distant and uninterested in scientific topics, are forced to think about physics, the name that comes to mind is always that of Albert Einstein.
Einstein was born in Ulm in 1879. He had an unhappy childhood: German society at that time was extremely repressive and moreover anti-Semitism was beginning to take root, and Einstein was of Jewish origin. For these reasons and because of a setback in family fortunes, Albert spent a nomadic existence in Italy and in Switzerland. His youth was characterised by a total intolerance for authority, including that of the universities, so when he graduated he found no better employ than that in the patents office.
It was exactly at that time that Einstein laid the foundations for his scientific theory, that of relativity, which was to revolutionise our vision of space and time, and which was to lead to the fascinating equivalence between mass and energy, the law E=mc2. But Einstein’s importance, as one of the great genii of humanity, was beyond physics: his radical pacifism, his criticism of capitalism, his declared opposition to McCarthyism, all speak of a man who participated in the drama of his own and our times.