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.


Photo from here

Albert Einstein and the old white boys’ club

Yesterday the Hebrew University in Jerusalem asked on the official Albert Einstein Facebook wall:

“Did you know? Einstein was the first Chairman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Academic Council and was on the University’s first Board of Governors. Support the University that Einstein loved on July 24th, on the 1st annual Global Giving Day. Every donation counts. Help fulfill Einstein’s legacy today”.


And the university also asked the other day:


How can students answer these questions if they haven’t learned about Einstein’s legacy and theories? Over the past decade, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has not offered any course on Albert Einstein’s legacy and theories (relativity, unified field theory, etc.).

I am an expert in Einstein studies; the Hebrew University in Jerusalem awarded me two extraordinary doctoral prizes (Bar Hillel and Edelstein) for my thesis on Albert Einstein. I could teach this topic but a decade ago the university abruptly closed my course and there were no other professors that offered the same course on Einstein’s legacy. That field was much a “unicorn”.

It was not until a decade after the university canceled my course that people realized that the program for the history and philosophy of science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem was actually dependent on Einstein’s legacy.

When history and philosophy both were living under the same roof, historians were mumbling their medieval and early history of science and philosophers were discussing quantum and statistical mechanics. I’ve told them many times that Einstein was the Hebrew University founder and therefore the university has to offer a course on Albert Einstein’s legacy, but people in the program for the history and philosophy of science wouldn’t listen. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink…

If we try to bring out the circumstances that were going on in the program for history and philosophy of science then when we look beneath the surface the program was dominated by the good ole boys club. The program was about to flourish but then came the 2018 closing or redefinition of the program (you can call it whatever you want) in terms of two or so courses in the department of philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; and the realization that more than a decade of great legacy is falling apart. And now, unfortunately, it’s a lame duck, almost a dead duck.


The prediction of gravitational waves emerged as early as 1913

On February 11, 2016, The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin published the following announcement: “One Hundred Years of Gravitational Waves: the long road from prediction to observation”:

“Collaborative work on the historiography 20th century physics by the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science carried out over many years has recently shown that the prediction of gravitational waves emerged as early as February 1916 from an exchange of letters between Albert Einstein and the astronomer Karl Schwarzschild . In these letters Einstein expressed skepticism about their existence. It is remarkable that their significant physical and mathematical work was carried out in the midst of a devastating war, while Schwarzschild served on the Eastern Front”.

Collaborative work by experts on the physics of Einstein from the Einstein papers Project, from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin: Prof. Jürgen Renn, Roberto Lalli and Alex Blum; and from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem the only representative is Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, the academic director of the Albert Einstein Archives. Their main finding is therefore:

The prediction of gravitational waves emerged as early as February 1916 from an exchange of letters between Albert Einstein and the astronomer Karl Schwarzschild. However, from a historical point of view this is not quite accurate because Einstein reached the main idea of gravitational waves three years earlier, as I demonstrate below. Any way the group published two summaries of the study.

A summary was published in German:

“Als Einstein dann seine abschließende Arbeit zur allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie am 25. November 1915 der Preussischen Akademie in Berlin vorlegte, war die Frage, ob solche Wellen tatsächlich aus seiner Theorie folgen, noch offen. Einstein erwähnte das Thema zum ersten Mal in einem Brief, den er am 19. Februar 1916 an Karl Schwarzschild schickte. Nach einigen obskuren technischen Bemerkungen, stellte er lakonisch fest: „Es gibt also keine Gravitationswellen, welche Lichtwellen analog wären”.”

“Gravitationswellen – verloren und wiedergefunden” von Diana K. Buchwald, Hanoch Gutfreund und Jürgen Renn.

and also in English:

“When Einstein presented his theory of general relativity on Nov. 25, 1915 in Berlin, the question of whether such waves would constitute a consequence of his theory remained untouched. Einstein mentioned gravitational waves for the first time in a letter of 19 February 1916 to Karl Schwarzschild, a pioneer of astrophysics. After some obscure technical remarks, he laconically stated: “There are hence no gravitational waves that would be analogous to light waves”.”

“Gravitational Waves: Ripples in the Fabric of Spacetime Lost and Found” by Hanoch Gutfreund, Diana K. Buchwald and Jürgen Renn.

And here as well.

Hence, according to the three above authors Einstein mentioned gravitational waves for the first time in a letter of 19 February 1916 to Karl Schwarzschild. However, this is wrong . Einstein reached the main idea of gravitational waves three years earlier, which is not when the above group of scholars had thought the gravitational waves were mentioned for the first time. As early as  1913, Einstein started to think about gravitational waves when he worked on his Entwurf gravitation theory.

In the discussion after Einstein’s 1913 Vienna talk on the Entwurf theory, Max Born asked Einstein about the speed of propagation of gravitation, whether the speed would be that of the velocity of light. Here is Einstein’s reply:



In 1916, Einstein followed these steps and studied gravitational waves.

See my papers on gravitational waves (one and two) and my book for further information.

A Historical Note on Gravitational Waves

Dr. Roni Gross (press conference) holds Einstein’s general relativity paper from May 1916, “The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity” (“Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie.” Annalen der Physik 49, 769-822). However, in this paper Einstein did not discover gravitational waves. Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, the academic director of the Albert Einstein Archives, asked Dr. Rony Gross to present this document to the journalists.




Equations (52) and (53) from the original page on the right above:


are Einstein’s field equations for systems in unimodular coordinates. There are no gravitational waves here!

In his 1916 general relativity paper, “The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity”, Einstein imposed a restrictive condition on his field equations. This condition is called unimodular coordinates.

Einstein presented the gravitational waves later in 1916, in a paper published under the title, “Approximate Integration of the Field Equations of Gravitation” (“Näherungsweise Integration der Feldgleichungen der Gravitation.” Königlich Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin). Sitzungsberichte, 688–696).

After the 1916 general relativity paper, Einstein succeeded in relinquishing the restrictive unimodular coordinates condition and in his new gravitational waves paper his equations were not restricted to systems in unimodular coordinates.


How did Einstein predict the existence of gravitational waves?

Einstein’s Discovery of Gravitational Waves 1916-1918

Einstein and Gravitational Waves 1936-1938

For further details on Einstein predicting gravitational waves read Chapter 3, section 1 in my new book: General Relativity Conflict and Rivalries, Einstein Polemics with physicists.