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Four Episodes in the Life of Einstein’s Mother

May 6, 2016 | by

Einstein1

Simpler, Simpler

On October 22, 1905, two weeks after he’d sent his father (but not his mother!) the issue of the Annalen der Physik containing his article “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” which laid out for the first time the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein received in return a letter not from his father but from his mother, Louise Einstein née Rosenberg, the daughter of a prosperous grain trader from Württemberg, who explained to her son, a little bit bashfully but with a distinct note of reproof, that she, too, was interested in his intellectual life—all the more so because his intellectual life was his life. There is simply no partaking in my son’s life if I cannot partake in his intellectual life, she wrote, such is the nature of my brilliant but pensive son, my inward-oriented, eternally brain-dwelling son! And so, she wrote, even though the article had not been sent to her, she’d snatched it up—“Please do not reproach me for this!”—as soon as his father was finished with it and set about studying it herself. Unfortunately, she hadn’t been able to make heads or tails of it. Despite her deep, her profoundly deep aching to understand, she wrote, the fact remained that she did not speak the physico-mathematical language in which her husband and son were fluent. “Please, Albert, explain it to me more simply! Put it in terms so simple that even the daughter of a Württemberg corn merchant can understand it!” Read More »