54 letters shed light on the relationship between Mileva Marić and Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein and Mileva Marić exchanged 54 letters in which the famous scientist mentioned his scientific musings, daily activities, and personal aspirations – the letters shed more light on Albert and Mileva’s relationship, and the correspondence shows that science and love were, for Einstein, inseparable.

Romantic emotions and scientific excitement are intertwined in most of Einstein’s love letters to Milena. On March 27, 1901, Einstein wrote to her that “our work on the relative motion should be successfully concluded.” This sentence and the love letters have prompted historians to ask if Mileva Marić assisted Einstein in his groundbreaking work in physics in 1905?

Various historians and scientists have speculated about Mileva’s role, especially in the development of the theory of relativity.

German linguist Senta Troemel-Plotz wrote the following: “Their life stories show a well-known pattern leading to the creation of men’s success and the collapse of women’s success.” That is why it is not surprising that the editors of “The Collected Works of Albert Einstein” have nothing more to say about Mileva Einstein Marić than this: “Her personal and intellectual relationship with the young Einstein played an important role in his development.”

The debate began when physicist Abram Ioffe, a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and an assistant to Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen from 1902 to 1906, saw the original manuscript on theory of relativity signed “Einstein-Mariti.” “Mariti” is the Hungarian version of the Serbian surname Marić. Mileva Marić Einstein’s name was omitted from the published work and only Albert Einstein is mentioned as the author.

The editor of the first two volumes of Albert Einstein’s works explains that Ioffe’s, in his 1955 article in a Soviet journal, devoted to the achievements of the physical sciences does not cite Einstein and Maric as co-authors of the 1905 Theory of Relativity: “In 1905, three articles appeared in the Annalen der Physik journal, which initiated three very important branches of 20th-century physics. These are – the Brown theory of motion, the photon theory of light, and the theory of relativity. The author of these papers – unknown at the time – was an official of the Einstein-Mariti Patent Office in Bern (Mariti, the wife’s maiden name, had been added to her husband’s surname according to Swiss custom).”

Danil Semenovitz Danin, a popular Russian writer who often wrote about scientific topics, interpreted the above as proof that Einstein and Marić did collaborate scientifically. Suppose that Marić was mentioned as a co-author in the works related to the theory of relativity, who then deleted her name from the group of editors of Annalen der Physik journal? This prestigious journal had nothing against women being signed as writers of scientific papers, but three of Einstein’s key scientific papers from 1905 mention only him.

In the period from 1897 to 1903, Albert Einstein and Mileva Marić exchanged 54 letters. Of those, only 10 of Mileva’s letters to Albert from 1902 or earlier saw the light of day, compared to his 43 letters to her.

American physicist and writer Evan Harris Walker wrote in a letter published in 1989 in Physics Today magazine: “Did Einstein adopt his wife’s ideas? Only 10 of Mileva’s letters to Einstein have been found from that period and none of them mentions important physics topics, while his letters to her are filled with comments on physics books and articles containing his theoretical considerations and experimental solutions.”

Still, Evan Harris Walker, a physicist, contends that the basic ideas for relativity came from Mileva. While Senta Troemel-Ploetz, a German linguist, says that the ideas may have been Albert’s, but Mileva did the math.

(Vecernje Novosti, 14.03.2022)



This post is also available in: Italiano

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