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1902 – 1909: "Those serendipitous days in Bern"

"Bern is delightful; one of those essentially cozy cities in which one can live just as well as in Zurich," wrote Einstein to his girlfriend and fellow physicist Mileva Maric.

 

Having failed his entrance examinations at the University of Zurich, Einstein decided to seek his fortune in Bern in 1902, when a university friend enticed him with the prospects of a job at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property. He first lived in a flat at Gerechtigkeitsgasse 32 and scraped by as a tutor. Then, in June, a position for a technical expert finally opened up at the patent office and Einstein began work. A few months later, he asked Mileva to come to Bern and they married, eventually having two children together and living at Kramgasse 49, the site of today’s Einstein House.

The young physicist regularly met with his friends Conrad Habicht and Maurice Solovine to discuss physics, literature, God and the world; they jokingly referred to themselves as the "Olympic Academy". During this period, Einstein regularly frequented the city and university libraries, joined the Natural Science Society and wrote his post-doctoral thesis at the University of Bern in 1908. His time in Bern was the most creative of his life – in 1905 alone, in what is known as his "annus mirabilis", he published five works that changed the world view of physics forever. It was an explosion of inspiration which would puzzle science historians long after.

Image Einstein's desk
Einstein's desk where he had numerous flashes of inspiration.
Image Einstein House
From 1903 to 1905, Einstein lived on the second floor of Kramgasse 49. The Einstein House is open to the public and stands testimony to an important period for Einstein.