Who was Einsteins first wife? Debate heats up over Mileva's role in Alberts science (Part 1 of 2)
This is an ABC podcast. This is friction culture and science with extra spas welcomes. The Tesha Mitchell here this week with a controversy that just will not be put to bed distinguish language of fan form language after we are the negativity, and I am can you guess who this is. How is it that find language international? I think of wild wiry watt hair and doc penetrating is he's arguably one of the greatest original thinkers of all time and certainly in science. Four if a out. And clarity of concepts. After I got them Mutuel relation and debt. Correspondent to censor with eat. It's Dan Stein. Yes. And this week the first ever photo of a black hole gave us yet further evidence. He was right. He predicted the behavior of black holes and their immense gravitational pull through his general theory of relativity, which visualized gravity is warping of the fabric of the universe or space time around objects, but heavy heard of a woman called Malaysia Malaysia marriage on Stein to Baber size. She was he's first wife and a promising scientist in the making in her own right when they met and fell in love. Now this being a vocal malivert fan club in recent years. It says she was fundamental to Albert's early scientific success. Even a key collaborator on his theories. And that. Her legacy was hidden. Well, a brand new investigation strongly contests this climb and over the next to episodes. I'm gonna drilling to that evidence. To let you decide buckle up. maters just to know the truth. I can Stein is portrayed as degrade hero of science and entertain is seen as a God. And you don't touch the man for some people is just like attacking the Cohen that the bible, you don't touch things. We try not to make up stories, and this story appears to be largely a hopeful story people hoped. It was true they wished it was true. But it doesn't seem to be true. She helped in a great measure that I'm fine became what he became. I have serious doubts that he would have got where he is. If he did not have her supporters. He needed someone to discuss them. He needed someone to calculate them, compare them. So she left us a genius. That's her gift to the world. It's important that the truth be told when stories are based on very unreliable evidence. When you start to examine the sources the stories just don't hold out. And those stories that Malaya's mathematical abilities rivaled on stones that she co-authored on stones early research that they worked late into the not to give blazing trial for quantum physics. Malivert, and what's relationship really on the time to be understood at all in the nineteen ninety s when early litters between them were found in a family Bank in California, very little material evidence remained, then and physicist. Dr polling Gagnon believes they could be a reason for that to people where really adamant that this story would not come out about these were Helen Ducasse, the personal secretary of Albert Einstein and these fan two Netam both of them became they were the executors of his estate, and these people were adamant that disturbed will not come. Pulling is a particle physicist. Now retied in Jimmy she spent much of her career investigating doc meta at the European laboratory of particle physics soon and at Indiana University. She's taken up Malaya's Kohl's and explains that even Elba full story was withheld for loan time. The first biographies came out more than twenty years after the death of Albert Einstein. The reason was that what not end, for example, would not allow anything in writing on less. He would be right himself. The everything that was in the possession of Albert Einstein was cleaned up. It has to do with the fact that auto Neten after the death of mill of marriage and Stein in one thousand nine hundred forty eight or two net and came to Surrey to her apartment to search department and probably took everything that he could find of scientific merit. So. These people made every effort to clean up what was there and to erase any trace of miliver market Stein? Now, whether that's the case, oh, not reminds I've into conjecture, but it's indisputable that Malaysia was a mystery very few people had heard Malaysia Einstein. She was known to be his first wife. She was the mother of his sons, but typically no one paid much attention to the wife and not much was known about her professor Ruth Lewin Sime in Sacramento who tried as a chemist and is a noted historian of science, especially of women in science. She wrote a biography of Lisa Montana, a famous German physicist of Malaysia and Oba generation in the nineteen eighties. Some of the love letters between Einstein and Malaysia where published by the people who publish the Einstein papers. So lucky to found Krisha who is my equal. You're so sweet will how kiss August nineteen hundred without you at lack self confidence shin for work and enjoyment in without you. My life is no nine thousand nine hundred sweetheart adjust received your second very measurably also came forward to working on our new papers proud, I will be to have a little PHD for sweet lie remain, Odin ary person. I feel alone with everyone else except. All of a sudden, it turned out that Millais was really very interesting person that she was trained as a scientist that she and Einstein had a passionate relationship that even had a daughter before they were married. No one knows what happened to this child. And so people became very interested in Malaysia. So people started to DU and to read between the lines of Elbert Malaya's early love letters to each other fifty four of which had survived mostly from L, but sadly, very few remind from alive, and in those letters they were many references to work that was unsigned described as our work and work. We're doing together prior to those letters virtually nothing was known about relationship between labor ninety nine not during this juniors. Those no knowledge of the relationship that developed between them family started together. The letters don't reveal anything. About millennials contribution Ellen ESTES. In is. Todd physics lecturer in London and his cO through a new book just out through MIT press. Contesting climbs about Malaya's scientific legacy and readings worldwide really revealing is the degree that the young Stein investigate and on his own someone furthest reaches a physics of that time, and he certainly read books with me on this. There's no information about how much I have made any contribution. So anything in those times is share guess what you could describe this story as a nearly twenty year obsession for Ellen which he's poured into his new book on stan's wok, the real story of Malaysia on marriage co authored with American historian of science, David Cassidy and Ruth Lou. And saw I'm contributes chapter two on women in science. What happened was that kind of myth grew that Malaysia had in fact, contributed substantially? Weinstein's work in particular, his very famous for papers in nineteen o five his miracle year, and that she was unrecognised for the work that she had done about this is where the controversy laws rot, and I'll come back to the latest but ninety nine hundred five really was ice stupendous year. Ovitz NS miraculous has some coal it. That was the that. Then twenty six year old heightened clock introduced the world to and white for it. They warriors. The corner theory of lush, that's the understanding that lied exist in discrete packets or Quanta of energy on a heuristic viewpoint serving the production and transformation of light in March that year came he's evidence for the existence of atoms. The motion of small particles spended in a stationary liquid. Wyatt by the molecular kinetic theory of he in may on Stein's special theory of relativity landed on the alert. And in September nine hundred five that finest formula a in say squared does the nurse of body. Depend on energy. Yes. It was an almighty year old rush with full pipers that pretty much changed now understanding of the physical world and the course of history to top it off Elba was awarded. He's that year too. But we kind of getting ahead of ourselves because this is in fact, non years into Elbert and Malaya's relationship in two years into their marriage. So let's head back a bit earlier. Rob Miller Millan TV. The call me rather for short easier. Redman made a series of stunning climbs about Malaysia and Elbert in her twenty fifteen book malivert Marijan Stein live with Elbit on Stein. She's a professor emeritus in history in New York. And as a former minister in the Serbian government, she's committed to celebrating soobee and he street and daintily I was worn on October twenty seven nineteen thirty one. I'm eighty seven years old now so. So read Mila was seventeen when Malaysia died in nineteen forty eight and like Malaysia she was born and raised in Serbia where today read military's me Malaysia is celebrated as a kind of folk hero with monuments and straits bearing her name, but I was not very happy there. I was a student when the communists came to power. The situation was not that pleasant. There was not enough freedom. So I was looking for way to get out. Lac red Mila Malaysia got out of Serbia to when her father moved for his job in eighty ninety two with his encouragement she enrolled at a boys hostel in Croatia as a private student. So she could study Mets physics such was her enthusiasm. I mean that was a mighty courageous act for a young woman than you can imagine eventually it was off to university. And again, the options for girls than was some limited in those days. Switzerland was the unlike German speaking country accepting women at the university level, so Malaysia moved to Zurich to enroll at the Swiss federal polytechnic in eighteen ninety six then only the fifth woman in its forty history to be admitted into Metson physics classes, according to Milla. She came from a highly traditional Serbian family, but she was lucky that she had to falter who was understanding. He saw her a smart interested in in science. So he supported her is she clearly had deepen motivations and Esperanza didn't she she was the only woman enrolled in a class of five at the Swiss polytechnic, which is wishy met L dance done in idee ninety see when that would have been all Sharyo unusual recipient woman at the time. Oh, not only very unusual. Sort of serene people is nations as people were looked down upon by the higher nations in in Europe. Like, the Germans is somehow Lor class of people, but she was exceptional highly intelligent and ton -ted, they met when both enrolled on the same course, it was actually caused teaching physics mathematics in secondary school. High-powered course, certainly equipment. A degree course. Einstein was only seventeen and at twenty one Malaysia was will the older woman, which L but smother would light a rally against with ride? She famously hide it in the live by the end of eighteen ninety eight it was clear that they were getting involved with each other calling each in, Johnny. Yeah. In lettuce. Yeah. Nineteen hundred ninety job is unlikely so his so far away that I can't give you a little. I'm writing this letter to ask you if you like me as much as I Don to me immediately thousand kitties from your Dolly, August, nineteen hundred deal little when I feel as if I'm not home when I sit to war and looking forward to going home amusing myself studying studying concert, still in concentrating joyous sweetheart with ten two cases from your Alba. God how beautiful the wilder look when I'm you a little one you say, they'll be no happier. Women in the world in which case. The man was also be happy. Farewell. My sweet little treasure ten cues from your. Physicist? Dr polling Gannon argues Elbert malivert were matching heart and mind and science it's clear that was a very organized person. That's the way classmates have described and I it was more like, you're happy. Go lucky type for him yin. And all that. And he was not so organized so together, the they had this incredible team work, they completed each other carefully. They had dispassionate for physics discount passion for physics from using. And for each other. And this allowed them to create something unusual, and it's really out of this collaboration that it came out. Many people have mentioned that the productivity of got Inge dying decline after his divorce from the military, and that's true. Elbert malivert Bose did. Well, the Swiss federal polytechnic, but at the time the odds will possibly stacked against her only four women every ten years accepted a woman and to make things worse for her not one of them ever. Graduated in physics. Some mill ever was going to be the first one and she failed so many past the entrance exam and eighth year. She also strict exempt be passed every year, she passed all the time. But she she did not receive a degree. Things seem to unravel foam alive in her oral exam. They final she filed it along with a math subject called theory of functions. And when she went back to try again the following year in non in hundred and one to hurt a stress she found she was pregnant, and she may not have been feeling well, physically she may have been devastated psychologically that this had happened to her plans, and maybe that contributed to her not doing as well on on the exams. We don't know and on Stein didn't want to marry a pregnant Malaysia until he had a job and a job wasn't immediately. Forthcoming Elbit one reason possibly antisemitism enough that the opinionated Elbert Cape getting on the wrong side of he's professes. So it seems Malaya's career in science appeared to be over before it had begun. She didn't have a degree. So she could not work as a. As a physicist later on or was her career in science. I've d- she instead become Ellwood on Stein's collaborator behind the scenes after all she had the same training. Just not the qualification and these spent all their time discussing and writing and studying together, so that's well documented and their lots of testimonies from their school fans at the time at just into that. It's clear that Malaysia had to give up any desire of a career. Oh pursuit of science. Once I'm married in nineteen hundred three she wrote to Habil friend lane. We have a nozzle hassle which I'm taking care of quite alone. I'm often quite angry at the boring office that takes away so much of its time. So frustrations were brewing. You can imagine. What that must have been like for her who had aspirants to do a doctorate in physics mine. Pression from the wrote including that one that you wrote friend heaven was that cheat settle down to my. Life with children she actually given off on a career. Well, before that when she felt her diplomas onto the second time, and we drew her attempt to doctoral thesis, she had in fact being offered by the head physics professor in July nineteen hundred physicians assistant to him, but fairly examined she couldn't do it. But according to a friend Millais said, she didn't want to take out. The system Chapman preferred to pry for job as a librarian. So the truth is we do not know exactly what are Ben was. We just don't know you have to stand that in the case of marriage. The stuff is difficult because we don't have lots of hot foods. We only have the stimulus some accounts by people have known them. But many people have thought about seeing them their son Hans had remember seeing his parents discussing physics late at night at the dining room table. But it was just a tiny little boy in one thousand nine hundred five it was four years old. So little what would hey, no about what they were discussing not or we saw is parents working together. And he talked about that that went on until nineteen fourteen was ten years when the they separated as an historian. How did you approach the challenge of pacing to give her voice in a way that is there a fiber because Malaysia makes little mention if ever of her contributions to the were convicts in any of the reminding litters she doesn't same Helen her best friend either. So in a way, her voice is entirely absent. So how do we pay to give evidence in a confident way that she was contributor, and we have evidence, for example, one year, they rented a room to a graduate student in physics, and that Roger student observed what they were doing after dinner and after the put the little boy too. The two of them set at the table and worked and worked and disgust. And then at some point I would get up and go to sleep because he had to go to the patent office the next morning to work Miller state and worked this also miliver brother, militia marriage was a medical student at the time Miller spent extensive periods of time with them and eat told Glutz of people how he had seen them always working together. And that was while he was there all the time. Everything evening he stayed with them for month. He was writing to his parents, how hard working then in people and relatives and friends in always when he went back how hard they working discussing catch relating debating reading together. So there's numerous account of that and their friends also talk about that. And then we have even some some. Written documentation, she was doing writing down some lectures for him because he didn't have enough time when he started eating she wrote to couple of the big big shots in in physics on issues that he was discussing he was concerned with instead of him. It's in her handwriting. Max plant was one of the prominent physicists at the time. And he solicited Albert Einstein's opinion on an upcoming paper that he wanted to publish and reply to plant that was in nineteen or nine believe was drafted by Bill, and it's a first draft. So it start that she was a copying something as from Albert's. She trashed this letter to max plan if she was in a position to be able to answer one of the most famous physicists at the time is that she was on par with the science that Albert was doing at the time. So we know that. Handwriting. We know that was yet. Yeah. It's written a search in the archives in the Jerusalem where the estates from Albert Einstein is the second document of the hundred notes for his lecture notes in the Zik in one thousand nine hundred twelve so you can see that they were still working together at that time. So we don't have the hard core evidence. But we have enough enough to know that if you were left alone. He probably would have drifted God knows where in some ways history is implementing of so many other women throughout history. His story. We can never know. Yes. That hasn't stopped climbs some very specific that Malaysia was Maija Playa in on stan's early theoretical work and drilling to the evidence in the next episode of science friction. It's interesting did Elba give her the money from his first Nobel prize in recognition of contribution was her name removed as a coal from his scientific pipe. It's what she Akot conspirator on the special theory of relativity, nullis, Ellwood, sinus, full red Mila Millan TV. If you go through his letters, the Arana goes, our new studies, our investigations are view. Our theory our paper, including our work on relative motion. Yes. At one point. He says how happy and proud. I will be when the two of us have brought our work on relative motion to a victorious conclusion lawn in a letter over to Malaysia in. Nine hundred one much has been made of this letter is the any evidence beyond this one single line to suggest they were working on his theories on the electrodynamics of moving bodies. And and relativity to get. He was lonely, but insecure and he needed support and what he was saying one letter to her without you, I lock self-confidence pleasure in work without you, my life is no life. He would've have never been able to develop these ideas on his own do the experiments in the laboratory on his own without having someone to discuss it with and to develop it. So she was the support they're very important support. But next show the battle lines are drawn historian of science Ruth, Lou and sign some of the myths claim that she was better mathematician that he was there's no substantial evidence for that. At all. In fact. From what we know about the work in the university. She was not better than he was in the grades that they got or the courses that they took. This is one thing that I may Mrs Fischer the story I've time was precociously mathematics by his own self study by the age of fifteen when he left school immunity. Join his parents in Milan, he got a letter from his mass teach say he'd already reach university entrance level standard, the idea method that Einstein needed with the mathematics from the relativity theory, does not hold what this whole myth of the loan. Scientists doing all this alone alone would probably never have succeeded to emerge. First thing she was really the one who allow them to make a name for himself. But she also allowed these ideas to flourish and grow and be much better than from one person. So collaboration is where we gain a lot. And that's the way science is done. It's true that it's not do. Justice anything to exaggerate the case, but I believe strongly that in the case of marriage Stein. There is sufficient information to get a sense of what happened that you get it from the letters. It's not made up. It's not anything. It's clear in those letters miss the next episode of science friction on stance. I one muse on fellow scientist talk to me on Twitter at Natasha Mitchell. More data and the mail on the science friction website and tell everyone about the podcast catching extent my before speak here. You've been listening to an ABC podcast. Discover more great ABC podcasts. Live radio and exclusives. On the say, listen up.