The classical view of Albert Einstein is of the ageing scientist with the white lab coat and wild hair of the same colour, but while that was true of the great physicist in his later years, there is much about his life that people will not know. Although his later years were spent in the US, Einstein lived in Bern for much of his early life and visitors to the city can learn much more about this by visiting Einstein House, where he resided from 1903 to 1905.
That may have been a short time, but it was in 1905 that he had his ‘annus mirabilis’ and transformed the science of physics with his theory of special relativity. He then began his work on general relativity while still in the city. This period also saw him publish a paper titled ‘On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light’, which may be a mouthful, but also won him the Nobel prize for physics in 1921. His rented house stood at Kramgasse No. 49, and now visitors can come and see it for themselves.
The interior has been restored to reflect the decor of the period, but a number of additional features have been introduced. In particular, there is an illustration of the Milky Way on the stairway. However, the original spiral stairway to the second floor has been left just as it was. Just imagine walking up it – and thinking about the wonders of the swirling galaxies as you go.The second floor apartment provides an accurate representation of the living conditions experienced by Einstein, his wife Mileva and their son Hans Albert.
It also displays pictures and texts presented with modern media. The furniture, however, is very 1905, while the walls display various black and white pictures of the younger Einstein, who was 26 in 1905. Einstein House is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and costs CHF6 to enter for adults and CHF4.50 for senior citizens. It certainly doesn’t take an Einstein to work out this is a must-see for visitors to Bern.