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Lot 41: Einstein Inscribes Relativity: The Special and General Theory in 1933 with a Humorous 4-Line Poem
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory Inscribed in 1933 with a Humorous Four-Line Poem********** EINSTEIN, ALBERT. (1879-1955). German-born physicist, humanitarian and Nobel Prize winner; promulgator of the General and Special Theories of Relativity. Signed book. (“Albert Einstein”). 168pp. 8vo. N.p., 1933. A 1931 Peter Smith reprint of the Henry Holt and Company 1920 edition of Relativity: The Special and General Theory, inscribed on the front free endpaper with a humorous four-line poem in German (translated): ********** “This book, unique, among my scribblings, Remains alone without some siblings, Because, as I have always believed, At present there is too much to read.” ********** During 1905, the so-called “Annus Mirabilis” (“Year of Miracles”), Einstein published four groundbreaking articles in Annalen de Physik that laid down the foundation of modern physics. His third paper “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” (“On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”), explained the relativity of space and time and the relationship between energy and matter, which became known as the Special Theory of Relativity, the famous core formula of which is E=mc2. After the theory’s publication in 1905, Einstein recognized the need to account for the effect of gravity on space and time, culminating in his updated General Theory of Relativity, which utilizes 10 equations, known as the Einstein field equations, to describe gravitation as a property of space and time as it relates to energy and matter. The General Theory, alongside the Special Theory, was first published in 1916 as Über die spezielle und die allgemeine Relativitätstheorie, and translated into English in 1920. In its preface, Einstein observes, “The present book is intended, as far as possible, to give an exact insight into the theory of relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view, are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics.” ********** Einstein won the 1921 Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking discoveries in the field of physics. As a professor at the University of Berlin, Einstein spent the 1920s developing the field of quantum mechanics and working on a unified field theory, but the rise of anti-Semitism ultimately made Germany an unwelcome place for Jews. In the spring of 1933, shortly after Hitler’s election as Germany’s chancellor on January 30, Einstein forestalled his anticipated dismissal by resigning from the Prussian Academy of Sciences and joining Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. He sought only temporary refuge from 1933 to 1935, living in rented apartments in Princeton. However, with the rise of Nazism, Einstein’s resolved to live in Princeton permanently and in 1935 he became a full professor at the institute where he remained the rest of his life. ********** Our copy of Relativity: The Special and General Theory is unique for its humorous inscription, dated during the “Annus Horribilus” of 1933. Bearing a later inscription in an unidentified hand beneath Einstein’s which reads: “Presented to Dr. Harold & Elizabeth L. Simons Great Neck, NY about 1950 and passed on to Dr. Harold Lee Simons Thanksgiving - Nov. 25, 1982 at West Newton Mass.” Simons was a 1949 Princeton graduate who earned his PhD at Yale, where he met his wife Elizabeth Reiman. He worked as a chemist in Boston and died in 1999. ********** Some damp-staining to the first few pages and normal wear to the cover and spine; the inscribed page is unaffected. In good condition. We could find no signed copies of any first edition or early printing of Relativity: The Special and General Theory at auction; the ones offered on the internet are invariably fakes.