ETH
ENTRANCE
EXAMINATION
11
part
tested Einstein
orally
on
literary history, political history, descriptive
natural
sciences,
and
fluency
in
German;
it
also included
a
written German
essay.
The
spe-
cialized scientific part
included oral examinations
in arithmetic,
algebra, geometry,
descriptive geometry,
physics,
and
chemistry;
it
also
required
submission
of
technical
and free-hand
drawings.[6]
Einstein
failed to gain admission, apparently
because of
poor performance
on
the
general
part
of the
examination.[7] Yet he must
have done
well
on
the
scientific part,
since
physics professor
H. F.
Weber
gave
Einstein
permission
to
attend
his
lectures
if Einstein
stayed
in Zurich.[8]
But
he followed
Director
Herzog's
advice
to finish his
secondary
education
at
the
Aargau Kantonsschule,
and
spent
a
year
in
the
town
of
Aarau, 50
kilometers
west
of
Zurich.[9]
The
Aargau
cantonal school
system
was
well
known
in
Switzerland for
its liberal,
secular educational
tradition.[10]
When Einstein entered the Kantonsschule in
late
October
1895,
it
consisted of
a Gymnasium
with
fifty-six
pupils
and
a
Technical-
Commercial School
(Gewerbeschule)
with
ninety
pupils.[11]
Three scientists had dominated the
development
of the Kantonsschule for
some
time.[12] Physicist August
Tuchschmid
(1855-1939),
who had
previously
been Weber's
Assistent at
the
ETH,
was
the
rector.[13]
He had
equipped
an
excellent
physics
laboratory,
to
which
a
small
dynamo
and other electrotechnical
equipment
were
adding during
the
year
Einstein
attended.[14]
Friedrich
Mühlberg (1840-1915),
Pro–
[6] See
Appendix
C
for
a
complete
list
of
topics required
for
this examination.
[7] "Die
Prüfung
zeigte
mir
schmerzlich die
Lückenhaftigkeit
meiner
Vorbildung, trotz-
dem
die Prüfenden
geduldig
und verständ-
nisvoll
waren.
Daß
ich durchfiel, empfand ich
als
voll berechtigt"
(Einstein 1955, p.
145).
MWE,
this
volume,
p.
lxv,
attributes the
fail-
ure
to
unsatisfactory
results
in
linguistic
and
historical
subjects; Kayser
1930,
p.
45,
ascribes
it to
a
deficient
knowledge
of
languages
and
of
descriptive
natural
science.
[8]
See Einstein
1955,
pp.
145-146.
In
general
candidates who did
not gain
admission
to
a
section
were
not
allowed
to
audit
obligatory
courses
in
that section
(see
ETH
Programm
1895a,
p.
[3]). During
the
winter
semester
of
1895-1896,
Weber
offered
physics
to
second–
year
students
(see
ETH
Programm 1896b,
p.
7).
[9] For
Herzog's advice,
see
Einstein
1955,
p.
146.
Aarau
is
the
principal
town in
the
canton
of
Aargau.
[10] Hans
Byland (1878-1949),
a
schoolmate
of Einstein's, recalled: "An
der
Aargauischen
Kantonsschule wehte
in
den 90er Jahren
ein
scharfer Wind der
Skepsis,
worauf schon
die
Tatsache
hindeutet,
daß
aus
meiner
Klasse,
so
wenig
als
aus
den
zwei nächsten,
kein
Theologe hervorging.
In
diese
Atmosphäre
paßte
der kecke Schwabe
[Einstein]
nicht
übel..."(Byland
1928).
[11]
See
Aargau Programm
1895/96, p. 15.
In
April 1896,
the
Gewerbeschule
was
divided
into
a
Technical Section
(Technische
Abtei-
lung)
and
a
Commercial Section
(Handelsab-
teilung).
About two-thirds of the
pupils,
in-
cluding
Einstein,
remained
in
the Technical
Section
(see
Aargau Programm
1896/97, p. 14),
which
was
often referred
to
as
the
Gewerbe-
schule
after the
change.
[12] For the
history
of the
Kantonsschule,
see
Aargau
Kantonsschule
1952,
Tuchschmid
1902,
and Zur
Erinnerung
1897. See
Aargau
Kantonsschule
1952, pp.
109-112, for
the role
of the three scientists.
[13]
See
Tuchschmid's talk
at his
jubilee
cele-
bration
(Zschokke
1923, pp. 41-48).
[14]
See
ibid.,
p.
37.
For
an
account of
equip-
ment
added
to the
physics laboratory in
the
new
school
building, opened
in
April 1896, see
Aargau Programm
1896/97, p.
56.
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