Sunday, 28 Nov 2021

‘Extraordinary!’ Einstein’s notes on theory of relativity sell for almost £10m at auction

General relativity: Cosmologist discusses Einstein’s theory

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German-born scientist Albert Einstein, who passed away in 1955, is best-known for his groundbreaking work on the theory of relativity. The theory itself was published in 1915 and came after Einstein worked with his Swiss colleague Michele Besso.

It remains valid to this day and revolutionised how people thought about gravity as Einstein identified gravitation as a geometric warping of space and time.

While this transformed understanding of space, time and gravity, it also helped change modern cosmology and in the development of technology, such as GPS navigation.

However, courtesy of Besso retaining the manuscripts related to the theory, they were put up for sale at Christie’s auction house in Paris.

The 54-page manuscript, which is believed to have been penned between 1913 and 1914, “attracted collectors from all around the world who recognised the importance of the document”.

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Images of the manuscript show Einstein and Besso wrote on yellow pages in black pen.

The papers fetched a whopping £9.7million.

However, the identity of the buyer has not been revealed.

The auction house had estimated the value of the manuscript was somewhere between £1.7million and £2.5million.

Christie’s Vincent Belloy said: “That’s also what makes it particularly important given that working documents by Einstein before 1919 are extremely rare.”

He added: “Einstein is someone who kept very few notes, so the mere fact that the manuscript survived and made its way to us already makes it absolutely extraordinary.”

But Mr Belloy also claims the documents have mistakes on them as Einstein sought to develop their theory.

“Einstein makes errors in this manuscript, and that I think makes it even greater in a way, because we see the persistence, the thought that was in the process of being built, that is being corrected and redirected,” he said.

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This is the second Einstein document to be sold in 2021.

A handwritten letter by the German scientist in which Einstein made reference to the equation E=mc2 sold for around £850,000 in the United States back in May.

While the letter could not reach the million-pound-mark it was sold for three times the estimated price.

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