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Brilliant Idea: More Than 80,000 Of Einstein's Documents Going Online

Mon, March 19, 2012 7:30pm

Story by Mark Memmott




Listen to this story on npr.org »

A detail from what is thought to be one of only three existing manuscripts containing Einstein's most famous formula about the relationship between energy, mass and the speed of light — in his handwriting.

More than 80,000 of Albert Einstein's papers, including his most famous formula — E=mc² — and letters to and from his former mistresses, are going online at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

As NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro says on All Things Considered, "what the trove uncovers is a picture of complex man who was concerned about the human condition" as well as the mysteries of science.

In one 1929 letter, to the editor of the newspaper Falastin, the Einstein (a Jew) suggested that a council of elders of both Jewish and Arab backgrounds convene to resolve the Jewish-Arab conflict taking place under the British mandate."

Later, one of his former mistresses wrote to him about how terrible it had been living as a Jew under Nazi rule. She asked for help in emigrating to the U.S., and Einstein provided it.

In a statement, Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, former president of the Hebrew University and the academic head of the Einstein Archive says the site, which is a significant expansion of the university's previous online cache of Einstein records, "is another expression of the Hebrew University's intent to share with the entire cultural world this vast intellectual property which has been deposited into its hand by Einstein himself."

A good place to start with the online material is at this gallery.

Einstein died in 1955, at the age of 76.

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