Did Einstein steal his theory of relativity from his first wife?

Allen Esterson and David C. Cassidy have published a new book: Einstein’s Wife. The Real Story of Mileva Einstein-Marić.

The last part of the book considers the question: Did Einstein’s first wife coauthor his 1905 path-breaking papers. In his book, the author Allen Esterson failed to mention my work on the subject probably because in 2013 I corrected his draft on Mileva Marić and Einstein and perhaps he didn’t like my comments…

Anyway, in 2012 I wrote the following paper:

Did Mileva Marić assist Einstein in writing his 1905 path breaking papers?

Shortly afterwards, the MIT Technology Review wrote a piece about my paper:

Did Einstein’s First Wife Secretly Coauthor His 1905 Relativity Paper?

I didn’t quite like the style and I have noticed that the paper required some corrections. In 2015 and 2017 I expanded on the aforementioned topic in my book:

Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity (2nd Edition), Chapter E.

As to Allen Esterson’s book. His chapter begins with Desanka Trbuhovic-Gjuric’s biography of Mileva Marić: Im Schatten Albert Einsteins, das tragische Leben der Mileva Einstein-Marić (In the Shadow of Albert Einstein: The Tragic Life of Mileva Marić).

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Esterson writes:

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Esterson tries to refute one item after the other. While refuting  Trbuhovic-Gjuric’s thesis, Esterson tells in much detail how Marić was a good student and almost graduated the Polytechnic, she travelled to her parents’ home in Novi Sad to secretly give birth to a daughter, Liesel, in early 1902. Liesel was born before the couple’s (Einstein-Marić) marriage, and so forth.

Don Howard has written that Mileva Marić was a remarkably talented and ambitious young scientist, someone who expended tremendous personal energy to create for herself opportunities that normally would have been foreclosed to women at that time. Marić’s love affair with Einstein and her pregnancy with their illegitimate daughter Lieserl simply put an end to all of these dreams that had fired her soul. She was pregnant and scared about what the future would bring and she failed her final exams at the Zurich Polytechnic. The cultural norms of the era and the unhappy accident of the pregnancy and birth of Lieserl destroyed Mileva’s intellectual dreams and ambitions. However, Mileva was a very smart sounding board for Einstein’s ideas, in much the same way that Michele Besso, was a sounding board.

In his book, Esterson repeats John Stachel’s theme that Marić did not contribute to Einstein’s relativity paper of 1905 and Stachel’s altercations with feminists authors and with Evan Harris Walker (see, for instance, Esterson’s book, page 282 where he writes:

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Esterson also analyses Peter Michelmore’s biography, Einstein, Profile of the Man and writes on page 107:

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Yes, Michelmore mentioned the couple Einstein and Marić, writing that “Mileva checked the [relativity] article again and again, then mailed it. ‘It’s a very beautiful piece of work’, she told her husband” (Michelmore’s book 1962, page 46).

Michelmore interviewed Hans Albert Einstein. Michelmore wrote that Einstein’s son  “answered all my questions, and waited while I wrote down the answers. He did not ask to check my notes, or edit my book. He trusted me”. Thus, if Einstein’s son did not check Michelmore’s notes and the latter did not base his book on archival material, then Michelmore’s biography is not a primary source and we can consider it as almost pure imagination. See my book, Einstein’s Pathway to the Special Theory of Relativity (2nd Edition) for further analysis.

While refuting Trbuhovic-Gjuric’s and Michelmore’s theses Esterson bases himself on the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein and on secondary sources, such as Albrecht Fölsing’s biography of Einstein. He thus refers to biographies to make a point about Marić’s life and influence on Einstein’s 1905 ground-breaking papers. He refers to Walter Isaacson’s 2007 biography of Einstein and says that Isaacson “examined archival material newly released in 2006” (Esterson’s book 2019, page 136). This is absolutely true. Esterson explains in an endnote:

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However, Isaacson inadvertently falls into the trap of Trbuhovic-Gjuric’s biography of Mileva Marić, which according to Esterson is a dubious source:

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Isaacson writes in his biography of Einstein, page 136:

“In late summer 1905 Albert, Mileva and Hans Albert visited Belgrade, Mileva’s hometown Ujvidek (now Novi Sad). Walter Isaacson described Mileva Marić’s role in Einstein’s work: Albert and Mileva took a vacation together in Serbia to see her family and friends. “While there, Marić was proud and also willing to accept part of the credit. ‘Not long ago we finished a very significant work that will make my husband world famous’, she told her father, according to stories later recorded there […] and Einstein happily praised his wife’s help. ‘I needed my wife’, he told her friends in Serbia. ‘She solves all the mathematical problems for me'”.

The source is Dennis Overbye’s historical romance, Einstein in Love, in which Overbye has written (page 140):

“‘Not long ago we finished a very significant work that will make my husband world famous’, Mileva told her father in a conversation widely repeated through the years. To the villagers and relatives who remembered her as a childhood genius in mathematics, Mileva had a heroic aura, the local girl who had gone out into the world and made good. Now she had brought back a handsome, adoring husband. Albert knew how to play the crowd. ‘I need my wife’, he is reported to have said, ‘She solves all the mathematical problems for me'”.

Overbye quotes Trbuhovic-Gjuric’s biography of Marić, which was translated to English for him

Isaacson and Overbye simply fell into the trap of Desanka Trbuhovic-Gjuric’s biography of Mileva Marić.

This one minor fly in the ointment in Isaacson’s otherwise good intentioned book would pass unnoticed by the reader. But Esterson is citing Isaacson’s biography in a book the title of which is Einstein’s Wife. The Real Story of Mileva Einstein-Marić, and he thus has to rectify this trifling inadvertency.

 

Einstein’s 140th Birthday: this is not Einstein’s Legacy!

Yesterday the Einstein Archives (at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) celebrated with much pomp and circumstance Einstein’s 140th birthday. It was overwhelmed with grandeur and was definitely Einstein’s “wishful thinking” (as you probably all know Einstein was so humble).
In 2004 my Ph.D. supervisor passed away from cancer. After her death, I learned from colleagues about the presence of overt or covert conflict between my mentor and another professor in her department of history and philosophy of science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (see my Hebrew posts). Not only did that professor cancel my mentor’s field of expertise after her death, but she would bend over backward to kick me off the academy. She would try to get rid of me plain and simple. And then with puppy dog eyes, people would tell me: don’t make a big mountain out of something small, we like you… People in the academy behave like thugs in the street and speak of both sides of their mouth.
But let us delve into Einstein’s 140th celebration. Ever since of my mentor’s death, Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund (celebrating on Einstein’s 140th birthday and is seen everywhere in the photos and interviews) would spin the web around me in such a way that he would do anything in his power to block me and not let me participate in any conference, project, any event organized by the Einstein archives/institute at the Hebrew University.
I am a well-known female scholar of the history of Einstein’s physics and mathematics. Prof. Gutfreund began to present my ideas as his own and use my ideas without mentioning my name. The organizers of the 2015 Berlin Century of General Relativity conference on Einstein failed to invite me to the conference (though I requested to lecture there) but Gutfreund gave the main plenary evening lecture at the conference and he made use of my works and failed to mention my name. He was feted by important people while presenting my ideas. But this was not the first and last time this would happen.
It’s not water under the bridge because the end result of this ordeal is that Gutfreund is celebrating with much pomp and circumstance with important people Einstein’s 140th birthday, and he’s presenting Einstein’s new documents. But here I am with no job and no money and I am ostracized by the entire academy. Something is way out of whack here because this is absolutely and unequivocally not Einstein’s legacy! Obviously, it is making a deal with the devil.

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Photo from here