The Royal Mint of Belgium has issued two new coins in honor of the centennial anniversary of the breakthrough theory of relativity. Famed scientist Albert Einstein (1879–1955), a German-born theoretical physicist, proclaimed the discovery, which has been described as “the origins of the universe” and essentially resulted in the re-thinking of what was regarded as the basis of science and mathematics. (Read more after the jump.)
At the left of the obverse is a right-facing semiprofile portrait of Einstein, inspired by an actual photograph from around 1947. Filling the field to the right is a blackboard marked with segments of the formula that resulted in the equation E = mc2, which is enlarged to the right of the bust. The scientist’s name encircles the field, with ALBERT above and EINSTEIN below.
The reverse design includes a map of the current states within the European Union, along with 12 stars of various sizes placed randomly around the map. The denomination (10 EURO or 50 EURO) is placed to the left of the map, and the three versions of the country’s name (Belgique, Belgie, and Belgien) appear below the map as a typographic composite: BELGI with the three suffixes—QUE, E, and EN—stacked at the end. The mintmark of the new mint master, Ingrid Van Herzele (who was appointed to the position in April of this year), appears on the reverse, just below 2016.
Each coin is enclosed in a perspex or lucite capsule within a polished-wood, custom-branded presentation case. For more information on this and other coins offered by the Royal Mint of Belgium, please visit their website. International orders dispatched where applicable.
As early as 1905, Albert Einstein determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and that the speed of light in a vacuum was independent of the motion of all observers. This hypothesis, published in 1905, was known as “special relativity” because it applied only to special cases—frames of reference in both constant and unchanging motion. As a result of this principle, Einstein deduced that there is no fixed frame of reference in the universe and that everything is moving relative to everything else. This was the beginning of what would be published as Einstein’s final theory of relativity in 1916.
The equation E = mc2, which has become synonymous with Einstein’s theory, is the mass–energy equivalence concept that explains the relationship between mass and energy. It expresses the law of equivalence of energy and mass using the formula where E is the energy of a physical system, m is the mass of the system, and c is the speed of light in a vacuum (about 3×108 m/s).
Although Einstein was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to Theoretical Physics” during a ceremony in 1922, the committee noted his contribution especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect and rather than his theory of relativity—the latter was not accepted as given until further research was carried out by S.N. Bose, a physicist specializing in mathematical physics.
While on a visit to Pasadena, California, from his native Germany, Albert Einstein prepared to immigrate to the United States in February 1933. He and his wife sailed to Belgium, where they handed in their passports to the German consulate in Antwerp; they returned to the United States in October the same year. Einstein applied for American citizenship in 1935, and it was granted in 1940. He took up a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and remained at the institution for the remainder of his life. Albert Einstein died at his home in Princeton on April 17, 1955, at the age of 76. He had published more than 300 scientific papers and had another 150 non-scientific works to his credit.