Post by The Starmaker
She made the discovery, but a man got the Nobel. A half-century later,
she’s won a $3 million prize.
The Theory of Relativity but they didn't want her to get the Nobel so
they gave her the money instead...or something like that.
"...our work on relativity." -Albert Einstein in a letter to his wife
Einstein agreed to pay his wife Noble prize monies...
I ran into the Washington Post’s paywall, so I presume that that you are
referring to the possible contribution of Mileva Marić to special relativity
and in particular to “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”. AFAIK, her
contribution and whether e.g. the depiction in “Genius” in that regard is
correct, is still debated. John Stachel’s account of their collaboration
does not quote such a letter. Your quotation lacks a citation, thus may
well be hearsay.
While Einstein and (Einstein-)Marić lived together in Bern from from 1903 to
1912 (they married in 1903), and Zürich from 1912 to 1914, they separated in
1914 and accordingly divorced in 1919; he married his cousin Elsa Löwenthal
in Berlin, whom he had been in a romantic relationship with since 1912 when
he first visited there, the same year. Einstein received the Nobel Prize in
Physics 1921 in 1922. He and (Einstein-)Marić had two (living) children
together, one who required constant medical attention:
Einstein certainly was not the truest of partners or husbands (compare the
dates), but it is a bit far-fetched to assume that he gave Marić the Nobel
Prize money out of guilt or something like that. It is much more likely
that he either simply did not care about the money or wanted to support his
children with it (he certainly did not care much about *her* anymore at this
point; there is historical evidence in letters of him calling her “my cross”
and similar bad things; see Stachel 1966).
After all, he did NOT receive the Prize mainly for the theories of
relativity (as that was still debated at the time), but “for his services
to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the
photoelectric effect [earlier in 1905; the ed.]”:
As you can read there, he did not even attend the Prize ceremony or banquet
because he was on a lecture tour at the time. And he did not even care to
take a short break from the tour to receive the Nobel Prize, but sent a
friend instead? Maybe the reason was that he did not appreciate the fact
that he received the Prize mainly for work that started a field whose
probabilistic concepts he thoroughly disliked (“The Old Man [God] does not
play dice.”) instead of the theories of relativity that were dear to him as
they started his career as a scientist, and were just confirmed three years
earlier (1919) by Eddington, which made Einstein a worldwide celebrity.
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