Handwritten Einstein essay on theory of relativity goes under the hammer

It's not an NFT either!

Albert Einstein is – to put it mildly – a bit of a ledge so science fans will be interested to note that a handwritten essay by the granddaddy of modern physics is being flogged by Boston-based RR Auction.

The auction house, which specializes in historical documents and autographs, says that the six-page essay is unsigned and undated, but is believed to have been written around 1947-48 in Einstein's native German.

It forms the draft for "The Essence of the Theory of Relativity," an article that would go on to be published in English as part of volume XVI of The American Peoples Encyclopedia in 1948.

The special and general theories of relativity are discussed within, and the manuscript includes several equations and graph sketches. The introduction, translated, reads:

Mathematics deals exclusively with the relation of concepts to each other without regard to the relation to objects of experience. Physics also deals with mathematical concepts; but these concepts acquire physical content only due to the fact that their relation to objects of experience is determined in a clear way. This is the case in particular with the concepts of motion, space, time. The theory of relativity is that physical theory, which is based on a consistent physical interpretation of these three terms. The name "theory of relativity" is due to the fact that motion from the point of view of perceptability always occurs as relative motion of a thing against others (e.g. a car against the ground, or the earth against the sun and the fixed stars) (however, motion is not perceptible [;] not as "motion against space" or – as it has also been expressed – as "absolute motion").

The "principle of relativity" in the broadest sense is contained in the statement: The totality of physical phenomena is such that it offers no support for the establishment of the concept of "absolute motion", or more briefly but less precisely: there is no absolute motion.

"Einstein also pens several equations in ink and pencil on the reverse of the fourth page. In fine condition, with a minor rust mark to the first page," RR Auctions says. The spindly scrawls are nigh-on indecipherable to this pathetic monoglot, but the manuscript does come with a full English translation.

The institution or private collector that bids for the essay will need deep pockets, however, as it is estimated to be worth more than $350,000. The auction will end on May 11 and after seven bids currently stands at an already handsome $93,500.

RR Auctions says that at the time of the essay's writing, nuclear physics were under public scrutiny following the advent of the atomic bomb. Thorough explanations for the layman at this point in history didn't really exist so this is Einstein's attempt to simplify his works for publication in a popular encyclopedia.

"Einstein begins by offering a simplified discussion of his theories before launching into an increasingly technical explanation," the auction house says. "A significant scientific manuscript by Albert Einstein, discussing the history, meaning, and influence of his theory of relativity."

While we needn't point out why the manuscript is remarkable to the little Einsteins known as The Reg readership, for everyone else:

Einstein is widely considered one of the most important scientists in history due to his groundbreaking work in theoretical physics. His contributions to the field revolutionized our understanding of the universe and paved the way for modern physics.

He is best known for his theory of relativity, which fundamentally altered our understanding of space and time. This theory is based on the idea that the laws of physics are the same for all observers, regardless of their relative motion. It also introduced the concept of space-time, which treats time and space as two components of a single entity.

He also made significant contributions to the development of quantum mechanics, a branch of physics that deals with the behavior of matter and energy at the smallest scales. He proposed the idea of wave-particle duality, which states that particles can exhibit both wave-like and particle-like behavior.

Einstein's work also had implications beyond the field of physics. His famous equation E=mc2, which relates energy to mass, has led to the development of nuclear energy and the atomic bomb. One of his earliest scientific contributions sought to explain Brownian motion, which occurs when particles are suspended in a fluid.

Though he did not "discover" black holes, his theory of general relativity predicted their existence. The first solution to the equations of general relativity that described a black hole was found by Karl Schwarzschild in 1916, just a year after Einstein published the theory. The mind-melting cosmic phenomena continue to be a subject of intense scientific study and research.

Born to a family of secular Ashkenazi Jews in Ulm, Germany, 1879, he also had a career as a patent clerk in Bern, Switzerland, from 1902 to 1909. It's during this time that he developed some of his most groundbreaking ideas, with 1905 in particular cited as his "Annus Mirabilis" (miracle year). In 1933, he fled Germany to escape persecution by the rise of Nazism, eventually making his way to the United States, where he was made a citizen in 1940.

In other news from RR Auction, a 46-year-old check signed by none other than infamous Apple asshole Steve Jobs is going under the hammer. Items even tangentially related to Jobs can fetch a pretty penny thanks to his undying and deluded cult, and this one is no different, with an estimated value of $250,000. The check is actually made out for $175.00 to a Palo Alto management consulting firm – inflation in action, people.

But if it does happen to sell for more than Einstein's ruminations, well, here's another little equation: faith in humanity = dead. ®


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