In 1905 Albert Einstein was 26 and struggling to finish his doctoral
dissertation on the size of molecules. To pay the bills, he worked at the Swiss patent office, analyzing the inventions of others. You would think his day job would have inspired Einstein to contemplate practical uses for the theories he was developing in his spare time. Yet he showed little inkling that year, as he published five of the most remarkable papers of his extraordinary career, that the new views of matter, energy and time he was urging would eventually inspire novel kinds of machines to advance human industry and health.