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Science News

Original Einstein Manuscript Discovered 325

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the not-so-theoretical-manuscript dept.
vinlud writes "The original manuscript of a paper Albert Einstein published in 1925 has been found in the archives of Leiden University's Lorentz Institute for Theoretical Physics. The German-language manuscript is titled "Quantum theory of the monatomic ideal gas," and is dated December 1924. It is considered one of Einstein's last great breakthroughs. High-resolution photographs of the 16-page manuscript are posted on the institute's web site."
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Original Einstein Manuscript Discovered

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  • Other than (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LordChaos (2432) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:38PM (#13365012) Homepage
    ... being one of the first people to make the world see that atomic warfare was not such a good idea - to which he devoted much of his later life.
    • Not exactly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mnemonic_ (164550) <<ude.hcimu> <ta> <cemaj>> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @12:36AM (#13365188) Homepage Journal
      Later in his life, Einstein was rather divided over violent and non-violent resistance. For example, in a 1941 letter to a pacifist he said:
      If all the young people in America were to act as you intend to act, the country would be defenseless and easily delivered into slavery.
      The issue became progressively more cloudy as Einstein aged. A Guardian article [guardian.co.uk] details Einstein's conversations with a Japanese pen-pal after World War II:
      I didn't write that I was an absolute pacifist but that I have always been a convinced pacifist. That means there are circumstances in which in my opinion it is necessary to use force.
      Einstein likely changed his views because of the plight of the Jews in Nazi-ruled Germany and elsewhere. Though he was not a practicing Jew, he still felt connected to the Semite people and served the Technion Institute in Israel. By the circumstances of his time, Einstein accepted war as a necessity to combat extraordinary evils.
      • It seems a reasonable, if weird, position. You can feel in your core a disgust of violence, yet if you completely reject the use of force only the pricks and sociopaths will win in the end because they will always happily resort to violence.
      • Re:Not exactly (Score:3, Informative)

        by zootm (850416)

        Your parent post was referring to atomic warfare, however, which I think was less of a contentious subject for him.

  • Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:40PM (#13365025) Homepage Journal
    Its amazing that something like this can have lain undiscovered for so long, and a good thing that we can use modern technology to archive it and preserve it for future generations. It's all very well knowing what Einstein theorized, but to see the actual work is something different and humanises the achievement.
    • Re:Amazing (Score:3, Informative)

      by MavEtJu (241979)
      The dailytimes article didn't mention that it was found in a private archive instead of the universities main archive.
    • Should word of this leak out to the authors of the DMCA or the Sony Bono Copyright Act. I'm not even sure if I'm joking, here. SOMEone is going to try and squeeze money out of this.


      I wouldn't go around telling the Department of Homeland Security, either - the idea of someone publishing a guide on how to supercollapse matter would scare them witless.

  • Handwriting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jthayden (811997) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:45PM (#13365042)
    I know German, but I'm still having trouble reading the manuscripts. His n, u, r and m all look very similar. I do like the way the entire page has a slant to the right though. Maybe some student of Freud could read something into that?
    • On the subject of handwriting, it's cool how these manuscripts match the handwriting on my Einstein poster.
    • It isn't that hard, really. Or maybe I spent too much time reading my prof's attacks on me... Really, it isn't that hard to read.

      Now, understaning it, that's different. I don't have a don't have a degree that would help. (I did calc in a German school, and won awards for various Stupid Math Tricks while there. But I'm over 30 now, and I don't pretend I'm going to do anything interesting.)

      I'm going to be reading this for a while. Some of it is hard to translate, some is hard to transliterate, and some of

    • Re:Handwriting (Score:2, Interesting)

      by onekanobe (908898)
      It's Sütterlin, the old German style of hand-writing. See here: http://www.peter-doerling.de/Englisch/Sutterlin.ht m [peter-doerling.de]
      • Re:Handwriting (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hankwang (413283) *
        It's Sütterlin, the old German style of hand-writing.

        Interesting theory, but no. The web page explains that it was taught at school between 1915 and 1941, while Einstein probably learnt writing between 1885 and 1890. Moreover the letters in Einstein's manuscript don't look anywhere close to those in the Sütterlin script. The only thing that can be said is that Einstein didn't make clear arcade curves (the ones in n, m) which makes it hard to read if you don't know German.

        • Mix of both (Score:3, Informative)

          by henni16 (586412)
          I think it is a mix of both: most letters are Latin (script) but some are Sütterlin.
          For example, his small type 'z' and the capital 'E' look like Sütterlin.

          I think it was quite common to use a mix of both at that time;
          I looked into an inherited "Poesiealbum"(*) from that time and it contained very different writing styles:
          Completely Sütterlin, completly Latin and very often mixtures of both - some very similar to Einstein's (using Sütterlin 'z' and 'E').

          (*autograph book with littl
    • Re:Handwriting (Score:3, Informative)

      by odin53 (207172)
      When I was a child, we were taught in school to write script with a slant to the right, which I still do to this day. YMMV -- e.g., I'm American -- but I doubt you can read anything much into it. Incidentally, I wonder if kids today even have penmanship class anymore?
    • I do like the way the entire page has a slant to the right though. Maybe some student of Freud could read something into that?

      The table he wrote on was slanted.
    • by nfarrell (127850)
      Modern handwritten German is just as bad. it's particularly annoying when you're trying to decipher love letters - and unlike scientific papers, you can't bluff your way through and pretend you read it all.
    • His n, u, r and m all look very similar. I do like the way the entire page has a slant to the right though. Maybe some student of Freud could read something into that?

      Ah yes, I see now! Without doubt, this shows he subconsciously desired his mother! Desires developed during the Phallic Phase, yadda yadda. :-)

      Sorry. Einstein.

      z
  • It's in German... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aurb (674003)
    The manuscripts are in German. Can someone post a translation? :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      E=MC2
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:47PM (#13365050)
    Hrm... The words "High" and "Resolution" appearing in a link from a Slashdot article. Certainly this will not need a mirror...
  • Coral Cache Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dubpal (860472) * on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:48PM (#13365052) Homepage
    Because we all know "High-resolution photographs of the 16-page manuscript are posted on the institute's web site" usually means said website is about to become very uncooperative.

    http://www.lorentz.leidenuniv.nl.nyud.net:8090/his tory/Einstein_archive/ [nyud.net]

  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @12:05AM (#13365102)
    In the margin, he had scribbled:

    Und so investieren die Schüler nicht selten mehrere Monate, um einem Problem auf die Spur zu kommen. Von der Literaturrecherche bis zur Slashdotten durchlaufen sie in kleinen Gruppen alle Phasen einer Forschungsarbeit

    which can be translated as:

    I have elucidated the necessary relationships that describe the General and the Special Theories of Relativity. Now I must add to those the third and last: the Slashdot Theory of Relativity, namely that a URL posted to Slashdot will result in the associated server being relatively quickly removed from our frame of reference.

  • High resolution? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HorsePunchKid (306850) <sns@severinghaus.org> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @12:07AM (#13365106) Homepage
    This is pretty nifty, but the submitter and I apparently have very different thresholds for considering something "high resolution". These are less than 150dpi, unless these were originally printed on 3×4" sheets of paper or something. If you wanted to print one of these out as a poster or something (hey, don't judge me!), they wouldn't be very attractive. Maybe if you tiled them all together, though.

    Am I possibly missing the links to some even-higher-resolution versions?

  • I'm surprised to see his handwriting is a little bit messy, but doesnt look too bad. I figured it would have been all over the place.
  • If it took them 80 years to find his manuscript, one wonders how much of his privacy is in jeopardy.

    For the curious, I think it's been 2 or 3 years since Albert's manuscripts were put in:

    http://alberteinstein.info/ [alberteinstein.info]

    I remember the announcement from Reuters at the time.
  • Don't you love if when they use figures without giving the units?

    The paper predicted that at temperatures near absolute zero - around 460 degrees below zero -

    So absolute zero is 460 degrees below zero, but I have been tought that it was 273 degrees below zero.

    So if Toby Sterling is reading: The absolute zero is:

    - zero Kelvin
    - minus 273.15 degrees Celcius
    - minus 460 degrees Fahrenheit

    Feel free to properly describe it next time!
  • How dare they!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bob Gelumph (715872)
    He hasn't been dead for 50 years, let alone 75!

    Aren't they violating copyright by posting images of his work?

    Or is this another one of those wacky European loopholes?
    • Hi, I know you were probably just joking, but just as an FYI...

      In most countries, anything pre-Berne convention should be deemed as having NOT been copyrighted unless such notice is included in the work. Copyright laws now dictate that copyright is automatic, and in some countries such as the Netherlands, there are even rights that cannot be signed away.

      I didn't see any copyright notices on Einstein's papers, and judging by the date they were authored, it is reasonable to conclude that the text of the docum
  • Superman, we need your help! Lex Luthor just stole the Einstein document [superman.ws] just after its discovery! Fortunately, your friend Jimmy Olsen of the Daily Planet was one of the witnesses [superman.ws]; he can tell you what happened.
  • Title? (Score:3, Informative)

    by slavemowgli (585321) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @11:00AM (#13366597) Homepage

    The German-language manuscript is titled "Quantum theory of the monatomic ideal gas,"

    Huh? No, it's not. It's titled "Quantentheorie des einatomigen idealen Gases", and considering that it's written in German, that shouldn't be much of a surprise, either. What you gave above is the translation of the title, not the title itself.

    Sheesh. Slashdot editors. :)

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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