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Albert Einstein's Year of Miracles: Light Theory

One hundred years ago today, Albert Einstein finished a scientific paper that would change the world. His radical insight into the nature of light would help transform Einstein from an unknown patent clerk to the genius at the center of 20th-century physics.

Scientists call 1905 Albert Einstein's annus mirabilis — his year of miracles. Within a few months, Einstein wrote a series of papers that would transform the way we see the universe. They included his theory of special relativity and the famous equation E=mc².

The first paper described his particle theory of light, which became one of the foundations of modern physics. Just as popular legend has it, Einstein really was a patent office clerk when he conceived his radical theories — but he was also a doctoral candidate who spent his free time debating cutting-edge physics with his friends.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Award-winning journalist Richard Harris has reported on a wide range of topics in science, medicine and the environment since he joined NPR in 1986. In early 2014, his focus shifted from an emphasis on climate change and the environment to biomedical research.

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