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Einstein- Husband, Lover and Father 215

evilsheep writes "A large collection of correspondence shedding light on Einstein's personal life and perspectives was made public today by The Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Spanning almost 3500 pages, the correspondence encompasses letters to and from his first and second wives and children between the years 1912- 1955.This newly released batch of letters fill in details to create a 'higher resolution' image of Einstein beyond what was previously known of his personal life. The collection has been in the Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University for many years, but was not made public in accordance with the will of Einstein's stepdaughter, Margot, who specified that they not be revealed until 20 years after her death. Margot died in July 1986. Einstein wrote almost daily letters to his second wife Elsa and to her daughter Margot whilst away from home about delivering and listening to boring lectures, playing music with friends, or trying to stop smoking."
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Einstein- Husband, Lover and Father

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  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:14PM (#15692629)
    So Albert Einstein is actually human. For all these years, I thought he existed only in Apple's "Think Different" advertisements.
    • In line with Steve Jobs' relentless pursuit of perfection, he realized that it may add more sales if the adorable scruffy looking guy in the ads (nicknamed 'Al' by insiders) had a suitable backstory that could be drawn upon in future ad campaigns.

      There is some talk that the character is loosely based on an obscure German physicist, but Apple has so far failed to comment on any speculation.

    • So Albert Einstein is actually human...

      Yes and tabloids like slashdot love to "take a look" at our idol's personal life.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by megaditto ( 982598 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:27PM (#15692711)
      A different perspective on Einstein being human:

      Many thousands of scanned pages (PDF) from the FBI at []

      An investigation was conducted by the FBI regarding the famous physicist because of his affiliation with the Communist Party. Einstein was a member, sponsor, or affiliated with thirty-four communist fronts between 1937 and 1954. He also served as honorary chairman for three communist organizations.

      Also note in part 1b the Army claims LASERs cannot be built ;-)
    • So Albert Einstein is actually human. For all these years, I thought he existed only in Apple's "Think Different" advertisements.

      Oh yeah? Well I thought he was just this random guy that Slashdot used as the icon for their "science" section.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:02PM (#15692944)
      With all due respect to Einstein, what I really want to see today is a story covering Nikola Tesla's 150th anniversary (he was born 150 years ago today, July 10th 1856).
  • Biographies (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    One hopes that the discovery of new correspondence will result in some more up-to-date biographies. My favourite, Albrecht Folsing's Albert Einstein: A Biography [] is only 13 years old, but recent archival findings suggest a need for an update, and these letters reinforce the need all the more.

    Personally, I'd like a biography that focuses more on Einstein's role in the Cold War. Was he really a moonbat like some conservatives now accuse?

  • by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:16PM (#15692646) Homepage
    "You don't have to be Einstein to know smoking is bad for you... but it doesn't hurt!"
  • misleading (Score:3, Interesting)

    by preppypoof ( 943414 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:16PM (#15692648)
    the summary seems to paint the picture that einstein was both a great physicist and a great person...but FTA:
    Particular attention is dedicated to Einstein's relationship with his son, Eduard. Einstein found his son's schizophrenia difficult to accept, and on more than one occasion expresses the idea that it would have been better off if Eduard had not been born.
    • Re:misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GuruBuckaroo ( 833982 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:27PM (#15692709) Homepage

      I have a stepbrother with schizophrenia. I've seen the effect it has on his father, my mother, and all of those around him. I've also thought that it may have been better that he never been born. Doesn't mean I wish he hadn't, but it certainly would have been easier.

      For years, his father watched him deteriorate, and could get no help for him. No-one treated his problem as serious - until he put an axe in his girlfriend's back. Since then, he has spent his life in institutions (thankfully not prison, which would be no help at all). He cannot live alone, has almost no social skills, and is very easily shaken into paranoid episodes - which cause him to quit taking his meds, which make it all worse. Yet through it all, his father has remained supportive, trying his best to cope with his son's illness, and my mother as well - who volunteered into this relationship, knowing (but perhaps not really knowing) how bad it could get. They do not wish he were never born. But still, perhaps it would have been better... How would you feel, if this were your son?

      Thoughts such as these do not make a person less noble. They make him human.

      • Re:misleading (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Lord Ender ( 156273 )
        It's more than human. It's rational.

        I only have the resources to raise a finite number of children well. I intend to screen all the fetuses of my potential future wife for some of the more serious genetic diseases. I won't bring one into this world if it is going to have a miserable or unproductive life.

        If we had inifinite resources, it would be different. But since we don't, it is actually MORE moral to raise 3 healthy children than to raise 2 healthy children and 1 miserable, diseased child who will die y
    • Re:misleading (Score:4, Informative)

      by grapeape ( 137008 ) < minus author> on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:56PM (#15692908) Homepage
      You have to remember though that Schizophrenia was not even defined until 1908 at the time the Eduard was institutionalized those suffering from Schizophrenia were just concidered flat out nuts. Freudian Theory was the "new science" and sas so outside the realm of Freudianisim that it was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Though diagnosis was fairly defined treatment was nearly non-existant. Combine this with probablity of Albert having Aspergers himself and his feeling while not right by todays standards were clearly understandable in relation to the time and setting.

      • Although Asperger's syndrome is a fad right now, and fairly commonly self diagnosed here on slashdot for people to make themselves feel better (sic), from what I have read about Einstein, he seems healthy to me, with no exceptions.

        Yes, I did a cursory Google search, and it did have a number of hits, but it seems in question at best. Also on the list of newly rediagnosed Asperger's syndrome people is Mozart, which to my understanding is of Mozart and Asperger's is completely wrong.

        And while I'm offtopic, al
  • Einstein's wife (Score:5, Interesting)

    by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:18PM (#15692655) Homepage Journal d=2964216#t2964216 []

    In one letter, written in 1914, less than two years before Einstein revolutionized science with the publication of his theory of relativity, he tried to impose extraordinary conditions of marriage on his first wife, Mileva. He told her:

    1) You will expect no affection from me and you will not reproach me for this;

    2) You must answer me at once when I speak to you;

    3) You must leave my bedroom or study at once without protesting when I ask you to go;

    4) You will promise not to denigrate me in the eyes of my children, either by word or by deed.
    In another letter, he wrote: "I treat my wife as an employee whom I cannot fire. I have my own bedroom and avoid being alone with her."

    It's in a journal, so it's probably true. I wonder if this is actually provable with dead-tree sources (the article the poster cites is not on the web).
    • Re:Einstein's wife (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MustardMan ( 52102 )
      Wow, a blog that quotes "news articles" from a year, and doesn't even tell you what publication those articles are in. I'm convinced. I'd love to see a REAL source for these quotes - because if they are true, that dude was a right bastard.
    • Reminds me of this guy []. Hey, maybe we have another Einstein in the making... or maybe not.

    • You might also want to remember that in 1912, Civil War veterans were still being wed to 14 year old girls in arranged marrages.
      For all of the screaming you hear about the sacred institution of marriage, it was strictly a political and financial arrangement up until about a hundred years ago or so. The only use the church has for marriage is that it allows tracking of a paternal lineage by creating a 'blessed' family tree - allowing inconvienent bastards to be tossed asside unless extrememly useful.
      • For all of the screaming you hear about the sacred institution of marriage, it was strictly a political and financial arrangement up until about a hundred years ago or so.

        Not too bad on accuracy, but two problems: 1) It never stopped being a financial and political arrangement, 2) contradictory evidence exists such as early Jewish law as well as ancient fables record romance as a direct influence on marriage.

        The only use the church has for marriage is that it allows tracking of a paternal lineage by creatin
    • I have heard those bits of trivia before... must have been in Discover magazine's big Einstein issue last year; I think in reference to a book that should be in publication now.
    • Apart from (2) there is nothing all that bad about any of these conditions. She was certifiably nuts, he wanted to leave her, and she wanted him to stay. In that context (1) and (3) are entirely reasonable. He was just requiring that she leave him alone when he asked her to, and not bitch about the fact that he didn't love her anymore. As for (4), that sounds reasonable under any circumstances.

      That just leaves (2). Maybe he just got sick of getting the silent treatment.
    • I found various fragments of what the blogger cites in news articles from Nov. 1996, including e.g. a couple articles in the NYT. Apparently an auction of some of his personal papers was held at that time.

      One of the best parts of being a uni. student is free access ot Lexis Nexis et al....
  • CNN's Article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fdiskne1 ( 219834 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:18PM (#15692660)
    CNN also has an article on the release of the letters: instein.reut/index.html []

    Looks like he wasn't a true geek! He had six girlfriends in addition to his wife.
  • by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:23PM (#15692687)
    batch of letters fill in details to create a 'higher resolution' image of Einstein

    I thought PBS already made a better resolution picture Einstein when they began broadcasting their shows in HD. Does this mean I can get him in 1080p now?
  • First Daughter? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr Foobar ( 11230 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:29PM (#15692734) Homepage
    Didn't Einstein have a daughter from his first marriage that basically disappeared, and whom nobody really knows what happened to her? I always found it curious that such a smart man could also have such a lousy private life.

    Do these letters say anything about her?
    • I always found it curious that such a smart man could also have such a lousy private life.

      Funny...I recall reading about quite a few "smart people" with lousy private lives, but not that many with good ones (maybe my memory is somewhat selective, though). Some obsessed over their work too much, some lacked other skills needed to support a good private life (like money management, interpersonal skills, etc.). Just because somebody is really, really good in a particular field doesn't mean that they can h

    • Re:First Daughter? (Score:3, Informative)

      by blamanj ( 253811 )
      The first daughter came before Einstein and Mileva married, which is why she disappeared. The assumption is that she was put up for adoption to avoid scandal. No one knows for sure what happened to her.

      There's even a book about it [].
    • It's generally known that a genius has mostly a few aspects of intelligence underdeveloped whereas the others are overdeveloped.
      Many genius have been characterized with poor social skills, which doesn't surprice me as social interaction takes alot of energy and focus.

      Could a genial person with great social abilities fe. be able to disconnect from the social distractions to fully concentrate on another task requiring alot of inverted and solitary work and time?

    • Re:First Daughter? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella ( 173770 )
      I always found it curious that such a smart man could also have such a lousy private life.

      Give me a good reason why high intelligence should lead to a good private life, really. For one, being very good at school is not the best way to get liked - nobody likes to feel stupid. In fact, I think there's an evil circle where lack of social contact leads to poor social skills which lead to lack of social contact, and nerds seem to get the worst of it. A retarded kid has greater chances to be included on the pity
    • "I always found it curious that such a smart man could also have such a lousy private life."

      Being smart does not have much to do with ones ability to handle relationships, "smart" or "intelligence" is not a global capacity that applies to all domains of functioning.

      There are many people who think he most likely had aspergers syndrome.
  • by kbonin ( 58917 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:46PM (#15692844) Homepage []

    r/e Mileva Maric

    I found this fascinating - Einstein is an iconic figure, so criticism is not taken well, but I found these to be a fascinating read. No idea how good the underlying sources are, but if there is any merit to them, he may not deserve a good deal of the credit he is given. Reminds me of Tesla vs. Marconi or Tesla vs. Edison.
    • No idea how good the underlying sources are,

      Not very good.

      Every few years another anti-intellectual feel-good women's lib line of BS like that comes up, whether it involves Einstein's wife as some hidden genius behind her man, or Bach's wife Maria as the true composer, or that Mary Sidney ghost-wrote most of Shakespeare's works, or just a large to-do about a relatively talentless woman "chauvinistically ignored" by her peers such as Hildegarde von Bingen.

      If someone finds proof, not pointless conject
  • by photonic ( 584757 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:52PM (#15692884)
    I heard to following story about Einstein and his wife, who was apparently very pretty. Could be an urban legend...

    Wife to Einstein:
    Imagine that we would have kids together: they might be as smart as you and as pretty as me.

    Einstein to wife:
    But what if they would be as ugly as me and as stupid as you?

  • I'm willing to bet that the pages will show no evidence of dyslexia. And yet thousands of people will choose to ignore it, and go on believing that Einstein was, in fact, dyslexic.
  • Why Criticize? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mcguiver ( 898268 )
    Sure Einstein had some faults, but don't we all? Instead of reading these correspondences with criticizem for his faults lets just be greatful that we have so much information on him so we can learn from his genius as well as his blunders. Here's to the memory of a great man!!!!
    • by CyberLord Seven ( 525173 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:13PM (#15693014)
      ...1905 papers we should give her credit in the history of physics. Her name should be as well known as his.

      I personally don't care about his personal life, but I am intrigued by the idea that Marie Curie may not have been the only phenomenal woman of her generation. That women of the last century did NOT have access to a potentially phenomenal role model disturbs me.

      I don't care how much pussy he got or where it came from, but my image of him is hurt IF it is true that his first wife helped him and generations of young women were deprived of a role model.

  • by iritant ( 156271 ) <lear&ofcourseimright,com> on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:53PM (#15693307) Homepage
    Great article! If, however, you happen to be in Switzerland at any time during the next couple of months there is an Albert Einstein exhibit at the History Museum in Bern. There are audio tours given in all languages, and it covers both his scientific achievements and his personal life. The exhibit attempts to explain his achievements in a way that uninitiated would understand, and it succeeds somewhat. For more info see []
  • is that when my mother was a child, he helped carry her books for her at Princeton after school - my grandmother was working there at the time.

    Basically, he was a nice guy to kids, is what I'm trying to say, no matter what other quirks he may have had.
  • My father played Viola as a chile and into college. When he was in college he was introduced to Einstein and ended up getting together with him and some others several times over to play music. Einstein was a violin player and apparently enjoyed getting together with friends and young people to play music. My father, who is no 76, was in his early 20's. He said they never talked about physics or math but that they did talk a lot about music, some politics and some religion. He said Einstein was very fun...g

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.