THE ETH 43 THE SWISS FEDERAL POLYTECHNICAL SCHOOL (ETH) Einstein entered the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule (ETH)[1] in Zurich in October 1896. He graduated in July 1900 with a Diplom accrediting him to teach mathematics and physics at the secondary-school level. Since opening in 1855, the ETH had gained a worldwide reputation for teaching and research in the sciences and engineering.[2] The school was divided into seven departments (Abteilungen). Department VI, the School for Mathematics and Science Teachers (Schule für Fachlehrer in mathematischer und naturwissenschaftlicher Rich- tung), was the center of advanced scientific research and training at the ETH. It con- sisted of two sections: Section VI A, Mathematische Sektion (mathematics, physics, and astronomy),[3] headed by Adolf Hurwitz (1859-1919), a mathematician and Section VI B, Naturwissenschaftliche Sektion (other natural sciences), headed by Albert Heim (1849-1937), a geologist. At the time of Einstein's admission, 23 of the 841 ETH students were in Section VI A. Eleven of the 23 were in the entering class, among them Mileva Maric, the only woman then in Section VI A.[4] Unlike other departments, Department VI did not formally prescribe a curric- ulum.[5] The section head worked out a course of study with each student at the beginning of the semester.[6] Doc. 28 shows that Einstein followed the suggested plan of study for physics students as closely as possible.[7] He was, however, unable to take several theoretical physics courses or seminars that were not offered during his last two years. An ETH student was required to take at least one course each semester outside his or her field of study.[8] Einstein took more than the required minimum number of electives, including courses in philosophy, politics, and economics.[9] [1] Although the school did not receive its present name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) until 1911, the abbrevia- tion "ETH" is used for the school in this volume. [2] Agronomy and forestry were also taught at the ETH. Histories of the ETH include Oechsli 1905 and Guggenbuhl 1955. [3] In 1899, Section VI A was renamed "Mathematisch-physikalische Sektion" (see ETH Reglement 1899, p. 2). Some physics courses were also offered in Section VI B. [4] See ETH Programm 1897b, pp. 35-36. [5] Introductory paragraphs to course list- ings for Section VI A in ETH Programm 1896-1901. [6] An unpublished plan for Section VI A prescribed a course of study for the first three semesters (to which exceptions were rarely allowed), and listed the courses from which a student could choose during later semesters (see "Studienplan der Abteilung VI A," en- closed with Adolf Hurwitz to Schweizerischer Schulrat, 15 June 1896 (SzZE Schulratsarchiv, 1896, no. 359)). [7] Summaries of some courses taken by Einstein are included in Appendix E. [8] See ETH Reglement 1873, p. 14, and ETH Reglement 1899, p. 5. [9] These elective courses were offered in Department VII, "Allgemeine philoso- phische und staatswirtschaftliche Abteilung. Freifächer" (see ETH Programm 1896-1900).
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