The dream for a better life is one that compels us all to act with courage and conviction. So, in honor of the pursuit of happiness, we return to our coverage of celebrity and millionaire American immigrants.
Today, we start by going back a little more than a century, to profile the world’s most famous physicist – Albert Einstein. We look at his roots, his story and challenges – and his enduring legacy.
We also profile Iranian born engineer, entrepreneur and astronaut Anousheh Ansari, the first woman to self-fund a space exploration, thereby becoming the first female Muslim and first Iranian to enter space.
We will discover her story and find out why Anousheh – and Albert- decided to make the USA their home.
Albert Einstein – physicist and scientist
Intro to the Incomparable Albert Einstein
There will only ever be one individual like Albert Einstein. A pioneer of science and physics in the dawn of the industrial age, his immense contributions to the world of science had an immediate – and lasting – impact. It is because of Einstein that we have:
- The Theory of Relativity
- Quantum mechanics
- Modern Physics
- The infamous equation: E = mc2
Let’s take a dive in the Genius of Einstein and discover why he, like many other scientists, chose to make America his home.
Albert’s Childhood in Germany, Italy & Switzerland
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm in the German Empire. Born into a family of Ashkenazi Jews, they moved to Munich in 1880, where they lived until 1894. It was in that year that the Einstein family moved to Pavia Italy where Albert stayed a period before moving to Switzerland.
Albert was a child prodigy in the subjects of maths and physics. He also held a passion for philosophy. As a teen studying in Switzerland, he enrolled in the 4 year program at the Federal Polytechnic University, where he met his future wife and scientific partner Mileva Maric.
In 1914 they moved to Berlin Germany after a decade of groundbreaking publications and discoveries.
In was during the earliest years of the 20th century that Einstein began publishing the first of his many pivotal papers.
Einstein’s Major achievements
As the father of modern physics, Einstein discovered many laws of science that helped change the way we perceive the world. The four most famous scientific discoveries are:
- The Theory of Relativity
- Contributions to quantum mechanics
- The Law of the Photoelectric effect
- The infamous equation: E = mc2
Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity, but he also made important contributions to the development of the theory of quantum mechanics. Relativity and quantum mechanics are together the two pillars of modern physics.  His mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which arises from relativity theory, has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”. His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”, a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory. His intellectual achievements and originality resulted in “Einstein” becoming synonymous with “genius”.
Beginning with his four famous papers from his miracle year in 1905, here is a list of some of Albert’s most well-known theories and contributions:
- Albert Einstein provided empirical evidence for the atomic theory
- He enabled the determination of Avogadro’s number and therefore the size of molecules
- Einstein solved the riddle of the photoelectric effect
- He proposed the special theory of relativity
- Albert came up with the concept of rest energy through his famous equation
- He proposed the general theory of relativity
- He collaborated with Bose to predict the existence of Bose-Einstein condensate
- His debates with Niels Bohr brought quantum physics in focus
His Life in America
First visiting the USA in the roaring 20’s, Einstein returned for good 1933 after visiting again in 30-31 and 1933 while under a visiting professorship. Witnessing the effects of the rise of Hitler and fascism in Nazi Germany, he felt that his future – and safety- was to be found in America.
While at American universities in early 1933, he undertook his third two-month visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In February and March 1933, the Gestapo repeatedly raided his family’s apartment in Berlin. He and his wife Elsa returned to Europe in March, and during the trip, they learned that the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which was passed on 23 March and transformed Hitler’s government into a de facto legal dictatorship and that they would not be able to proceed to Berlin. Later on they heard that their cottage was raided by the Nazis and his personal sailboat confiscated. Upon landing in Antwerp, Belgium on 28 March, he immediately went to the German consulate and surrendered his passport, formally renouncing his German citizenship. The Nazis later sold his boat and converted his cottage into a Hitler Youth camp.
In 1940 Albert became a US citizen. Comparing America to Europe, Einstein felt that upward mobility was easier in the US and that class structures were not as rigid:
“He recognized the “right of individuals to say and think what they pleased”, without social barriers, and as a result, individuals were encouraged, he said, to be more creative, a trait he valued from his own early education.”
He was, however, very critical of how African Americans were being treated in the US and was a vocal supporter of civil and equal rights.
As a new American in his later years, Einstein continued unimpeded with his scientific work. In his later years, Einstein focused on civil rights, a dual Israeli State, as well as his life long commitment to pacifism.
Albert Einstein died in Princeton New Jersey on April 18,1955 from internal bleeding caused by the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He refused surgery, declaring he had lived a full life and that we would let it happen gracefully.
The Lasting Impact of Albert Einstein
The world was forever changed because of Albert Einstein’s innumerable scientific contributions.
Throughout his life, Einstein published hundreds of books and articles. He published more than 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific ones. On 5 December 2014, universities and archives announced the release of Einstein’s papers, comprising more than 30,000 unique documents. Einstein’s intellectual achievements and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with “genius”. In addition to the work he did by himself he also collaborated with other scientists on additional projects including the Bose–Einstein statistics, the Einstein refrigerator and others
The four major areas of science that Albert Einstein contributed to are Light, Time, Energy and Gravity.
His work has had profound and far reaching implications:
Albert Einstein’s scientific theories accelerated the development of the world like never before and he gave scientists the tools to mold almost every observable aspect of life as we live today. From nuclear energy production to synchronization of GPS satellites to computers to many everyday consumer products; all can be traced or linked to Einstein’s work. His impact is not just restricted to science it can be seen in other fields like philosophy, visual arts and literature. Philosophical movement logical positivism, art movement Cubism and numerous science fiction novels bear the imprint of Einstein. Albert Einstein changed the world perhaps more than anyone has ever done in its history.
The full impact of Einstein’s genius would not have been realized had he stayed in Nazi Germany. As a Jew, he could have been killed alongside the millions of Jews that lost their lives during the decade long genocide.
But instead, he found safety and opportunity in America. He found a new home where he was free to express himself and continue his ground-breaking work.
Anousheh Ansari -engineer, entrepreneur and astronaut
Intro to Anousheh
Anousheh Ansari. Born in Iran, Anousheh is a prominent engineer, entrepreneur and astronaut now living as an American.
Her professional specialties are in telecom technology and space industry commercialization.
After dreaming of going to space since childhood, in 2006 she became the first Iranian to achieve this goal.
Let’s learn about Anousheh and her path to success in the USA.
I’m a U.S. citizen who was born in Iran. Both countries are part of who I am. My roots are in Iran and America has given me the opportunities that I would have never had in Iran and made it possible for me to realize my dream. In particular, my Iranian heritage instilled a focus on education and a strong work ethic into my everyday life. Both countries are part of who I am.
Anousheh’s Childhood in Iran and America
Born Anousheh Raissyan on September 12 1966 in Mashhad, Iran. Her family moved to Tehran when she was a child. Deeply affected by the Iranian Revolution of 1979, her family emigrated to America in 1984
Since I was a young girl in Iran, space has always fascinated me. I would lie on my balcony at night and just look up at the stars. I was fascinated by the sheer mystery of space, what’s out there, what’s it like and how I could get there. When I was young I made the decision I wanted to be an astronaut/astrophysicist and travel into space.
The dream – and the drive.
And the right place to make it happen…..
Education has always been emphasized in my family. So when I came to the United States as a teenager, I was already in the mindset that I must work hard to learn English, as well as my chosen field of study. There is so much opportunity in the United States, and I have worked hard to take advantage of those opportunities to achieve my dreams. It’s been challenging, but following your dreams is always a challenge. I wouldn’t want to live any other way.
Pursuing her higher education on American soil, Anousheh received her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and computer science at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia in 1989, and her master’s degree at George Washington University in Washington D.C in 1992.
Ansari’s Major achievements
Ansari’s first major achievement actually occurred as a little girl in Iran, when she decided to dream big and travel to space.
Onward into adulthood, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in shortly after finishing graduate university.
Working at MCI (formerly Worldcom and later Verizon), she along with her husband and brother-in-law used their savings and retirement plans to found Telecom Technologies in 1993.
Specializing in softswitch technology that improves system performance, Telecom merged with Sonus Networks in 2001 at a lucrative $750 million USD, where Ansari remained a Vice President.
In 2006 Ansari co-founded Prodea Systems, a technology and services management company. She is the acting chairwoman and CEO.
Clearly the most known of her achievements occurred in 2006, when Anousheh became the First Female Private Space Explorer.
Her journey into space began as a the dream of a child. But on Monday September 18, 2006, at the age of 40, and after 6 months of intensive training, that dream became a reality. Two days later Ansari became the first Iranian and Muslim woman to dock on the International Space Station.
Asked what she hoped to achieve on her spaceflight, Ansari said,
“I hope to inspire everyone—especially young people, women, and young girls all over the world, and in Middle Eastern countries that do not provide women with the same opportunities as men—to not give up their dreams and to pursue them… It may seem impossible to them at times. But I believe they can realize their dreams if they keep it in their hearts, nurture it, and look for opportunities and make those opportunities happen.”
During the spaceflight Ansari performed scientific experiments and was congratulated by the other government-agency astronauts for her preparedness and professional behavior.
How Ansari Gives Back
Ansari is very active in spreading the message of hope and personal responsibility.
She is active as a public speaker, ambassador and spokesperson for space commercialization and exploration.
As a Space Ambassador she holds the following mandate:
- To act as a messenger to create public awareness and stimulate grassroots enthusiasm about the virtues of space exploration;
- To inspire youth, and especially girls, around the world to pursue their dreams; and,
- To promote peace and understanding among nations as the world’s first Space Ambassador.
Anousheh believes that although there are critical challenges facing humanity, through hope and respect for all life, we can pave a way for prosperity in the generations to come.
As quoted in her website:
“She believes the key to a better future for humankind is in the hands of our young generation, and it is up to us to provide them with the right tools through education and as good role models. Through it all, Anousheh continues to quote Gandhi, one of her personal heroes, who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Through her space exploration and entrepreneurial trend-setting accomplishments, Ansari gives back via her numerous humanitarian efforts.
In 2010, she was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of her humanitarian efforts.
She currently works to enable social entrepreneurs to bring about radical change globally, with organizations such as X Prize, ASHOKA and the PARSA Community Foundation.
As quoted from Wikipedia:
Ansari is a member of the X PRIZE Foundation’s Vision Circle, as well as its Board of Trustees. Along with her brother-in-law, Amir Ansari, she made a multimillion-dollar contribution to the X PRIZE foundation on May 5, 2004, the 43rd anniversary of Alan Shepard’s sub-orbital spaceflight. The X PRIZE was officially renamed the Ansari X PRIZE in honor of their donation. As demonstrated by her commitment to the X PRIZE and through presentations at Space Enthusiast conferences, Ansari is a spokesperson for the “privatization of space”, a process enabling commercially viable companies to government-independently send equipment and/or people into space for exploration and other purposes.
The Ansari family was honored with an Orbit Award by the National Space Society and Space Tourism Society for underwriting the Ansari X Prize.
Anousheh Ansari’s life path to success has been pretty straight forward:
- Have a dream
- Make a plan
- Develop the skills
- Get the right support and team
- Accomplish the goals
- Give back to help others with THEIR dreams
Anousheh’s family made the decision to leave Iran in the 80’s to allow for a better range of opportunities for their daughter. They made the sacrifices necessary to ensure that she could have the best chance of success in her own life.
Their choice is one that thousands of families make as they dedicate themselves to a new life in the USA.
For more than two centuries, moving to the USA has been a dream and goal for millions around the globe. Making it there – able to work and live legally – is the reality for only the very lucky and persistent.
So today, let us allow the success stories of celebrity and millionaire immigrants be your inspiration. The motivation to not give up, and to do it right. So, in the end, just like them, you can realize and live all of your dreams.
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