Einstein asserts himself

Einstein’s handwritten document that was auctioned yesterday in Paris. / AFP

Theory of relativity. A manuscript of the German genius is auctioned in Paris and reaches a record 11.6 million euros, eight times the starting price

BEATRIZ JUDGE Correspondent. Paris

A manuscript by the famous German physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) with previous calculations of the theory of general relativity was sold yesterday in Paris for a record price of 11.6 million euros. The auction houses Christie’s and Aguttes, responsible for the sale, had estimated its price between 2.2 and 3.3 million. The sale started at 1.5 million. After a bidding war. The scientific document was sold with a hammer blow for 10.2 million euros, although the final price was 11.6 after adding the commissions.

The Einstein-Besso manuscript – written in Zurich in four hands between June 1913 and early 1914 by Einstein and his friend and collaborator, the Swiss-Italian physicist Michele Besso – is considered by Christie’s “one of the most important scientific documents of the century. XX ‘. It documents “a crucial stage on the way to the theory of general relativity, which gives birth to a new understanding of the global functioning of the Universe.”

According to Aguttes and Christie’s, it is “without a doubt the most valuable Einstein manuscript ever auctioned.” There are only two Einstein manuscripts that document the genesis of the theory of relativity: one is this, which was until now in private hands, and another is the so-called “Zurich notebook”, dating from late 1912 and early 1913 and which is kept in the Einstein Archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The 54-page auctioned manuscript contains 26 pages handwritten by Einstein, 25 by Besso, and three pages with contributions from the two physicists, with whom he linked a strong friendship. If this working document has been preserved, it is thanks to Besso’s admiration for Einstein, which led him to save all his letters and documents on which they worked together. Einstein probably never would have kept this draft.

The most “beautiful” in physics

In this paper, Einstein and Besso attempted a series of calculations to explain an anomaly in the orbit of the planet Mercury, “using versions of equations that Einstein would later use to test his theory of general relativity.” But your calculations in this document involve certain errors that then went unnoticed.

In 1915, Einstein finally found the correct equations and published his famous theory of general relativity, which changed the modern conception of how the universe works and is considered by some to be the “most beautiful” scientific theory in the history of physics. Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, curiously not for the theory of relativity, but for his work on the photoelectric effect. The scientist ended up becoming a popular icon of world-famous science. His face with his tongue sticking out is reproduced even on T-shirts.

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Einstein asserts himself