California Institute of Technology
Einstein Papers Project




End of Year Updates

Image shows journal cover overlaid on typescript copy of AE + Bergmann's Washington UFT paper

EPP Scientific Editor, Tilman Sauer and Tobias Schütz, doctoral candidate at the University of Mainz, and 2019 Visiting Research Student at the EPP, published Einstein's Washington Manuscript on Unified Field Theory in the Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte journal. The abstract is as follows: "In this note, we point attention to and briefly discuss a curious manuscript of Einstein, composed in 1938 and entitled “Unified Field Theory,” the only such writing, published or unpublished, carrying this title without any further specification. Apparently never intended for publication, the manuscript sheds light both on Einstein′s modus operandi as well as on the public role of Einstein′s later work on a unified field theory of gravitation and electromagnetism."

Langevin & Einstein circa 1923

Colleagues at the L'Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) and ESPCI (École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles) recently launched a beautiful digital archive of Paul Langevin's papers. Of the 9,108 digitized items, the bulk of the physical holdings are in the ESPCI archive. We appreciate the time, energy and resources needed to achieve a launch of this caliber. Congratulations!


For Your Reading List

Einstein Was Right Book Cover

In 1915, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime caused by the movement of large masses—as part of the theory of general relativity. A century later, researchers with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) confirmed Einstein’s prediction, detecting gravitational waves generated by the collision of two black holes. Shedding new light on the hundred-year history of this momentous achievement, Einstein Was Right brings together essays by two of the physicists who won the Nobel Prize for their instrumental roles in the discovery, along with contributions by leading scholars who offer unparalleled insights into one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of our time. Contributing authors include: Diana K. Buchwald, EPP General Editor and Director, Daniel Kennefick and Tilman Sauer, EPP Scientific Editors, Kip S. Thorne, EPP Executive Committee member and Jürgen Renn, former EPP Editor. Click to read more on Princeton University Press' website.

Thinking About Space and Time book coverThinking About Space and Time offers an integrated understanding of how the theory of general relativity gained momentum after Einstein had formulated it in 1915. Chapters focus on the early reception of the theory in physics and philosophy and on the systematic questions that emerged shortly after Einstein's momentous discovery. They are written by physicists, historians of science, and philosophers, and were originally presented at the conference titled Thinking About Space and Time: 100 Years of Applying and Interpreting General Relativity, held at the University of Bern from September 12-14, 2017. By establishing the historical context first, and then moving into more philosophical chapters, this volume will provide readers with a more complete understanding of early applications of general relativity (e.g., to cosmology) and of related philosophical issues. Because the chapters are often cross-disciplinary, they cover a wide variety of topics related to the general theory of relativity. Tilman Sauer, EPP Scientific Editor, is one of the book's editors and a contributing author. Click to read more on Springer's website.

A Living Work of Art book cover

Hendrik Antoon Lorentz was one of the greatest physicists and mathematicians the Netherlands has ever known. Einstein called him "a living work of art, a perfect personality". During his funeral in 1928, the entire Dutch nation mourned. The national telegraph service was suspended for three minutes and his passing was national and international front-page news. The cream of international science, an impressive list of dignitaries, including the Prince Consort, and thousands of ordinary people turned out to see Lorentz being carried to his last resting place.

This biography describes the life of Lorentz, from his early childhood, as the son of a market gardener in the provincial town of Arnhem, to his death, as a towering figure in physics and in international scientific cooperation and as a trailblazer for Einstein's relativity theory. A number of chapters shed light on his unique place in science, the importance of his ideas, his international conciliatory and scientific activities after World War One, his close friendship with Albert Einstein, and his important role as Einstein's teacher and intellectual critic. By making use of recently discovered family correspondence, the authors were able to show that there lies a true human being behind Lorentz's façade of perfection. One chapter is devoted to Lorentz's wife Aletta, a woman in her own right, whose progressive feminist ideas were of considerable influence on those of her husband. Two separate chapters focus on his most important scientific achievements, in terms accessible to a general audience. Authors are A. J. Kox, EPP Senior Editor and H. F. Schatz, EPP translator. Click to read more on Oxford University Press' website.


No Shadow of a Doubt Book Cover

With so much happening last spring, you might have missed the April 3 issue of the Times Literary Supplement. In it P. D. Smith reviewed five books for his article "Relative values The private and public lives of Albert Einstein". EPP Editor Dan Kennefick's No Shadow of a Doubt was among the books reviewed. Smith wrote "Kennefick offers a wonderfully rich and authoritative study of the way science worked in 1919 (“a golden age for astronomy”), highlighting the role of the technicians, assistants and “computers” (people, not machines) who helped set up the telescopes, made measurements and checked complex calculations. He usefully explores the history and afterlife of the technology that enabled the eclipse to be studied." In the same article Smith writes EPP Executive Committee member Michael Gordin's book, Einstein in Bohemia, "is a fascinating mix of urban and scientific history, and a genuinely original contribution to Einstein studies".

Headshot of Claus SpenningerIn July, our friend and colleague Claus Spenninger received his PhD in the field of History of Science from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich's History Department. Spenninger's dissertation is titled: Stoff für Konflikt. Fortschrittsdenken und Religionskritik im naturwissenschaftlichen Materialismus des 19. Jahrhunderts, 1847-1881 or Matter and Conflict. Ideas of Progress and Critique of Religion in 19th Century Scientific Materialism, 1847-1881.

invitationThis summer we received a note in our general inbox from Prof. Diane Klein of the University of La Verne. Prof. Klein was going through a box of family papers and came across an invitation her grandfather received in 1931. It is for a tea in honor of Einstein and his wife Elsa, hosted by the Pasadena Woman's Club. The Einstein Papers Project is always interested in learning about materials of historical relevance to our project. If you have items in your personal papers written by Einstein, or ephemera such as the document highlighted here, please contact us.

The EPP Twitter account is managed collaboratively by Emily de Araújo, Joshua Eisenthal and Jennifer L. Rodgers. We tweet about three times a week; for a fresh take on what we're thinking about and working on at the project, engage with us @Einstein Papers.


The Digital Einstein Papers is an open-access site where The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, documentary editions and translation volumes, are presented with extraordinary attention to usability. Readers may click between the original language transcriptions and their translations with ease, as well as follow archival links to look at manuscripts online. Out in print since 2018, we are thrilled Volume 15 will also be freely accessible via the web. Thanks @PrincetonUPress for their ongoing support.



The pace and atmosphere of an academic research project does not always match that of contemporary day-to-day life. Steeped decades back in time, the Einstein Papers Project’s current research for our next two volumes covers June 1927 through June 1931. Even absorbed in parsing the past, with Albert Einstein as the keystone of our project’s existence, we are keenly aware of his present-day popularity. We use two simple tools to monitor folks’ interest in Einstein and, by extension, in the work we do. One is our visitor log; it documents how admired a figure Einstein is, across cultures and continents. Two is the general inbox, the catchall email address most businesses have, where queries and comments land requiring attention, filtering, and forwarding.

Organizing is the stuff of work life. In the driest terms, the Einstein Papers Project’s job is to gather, sort and repackage the data comprising the record of Einstein’s life and work. The information that is within our reach, we process, organize and, in turn, put within reach of all who are interested. The work of the project, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, is an ambitious undertaking that will continue beyond most of its current staff’s retirement. More importantly, the depth and thoroughness of research in our books should be of use and interest well beyond the scope of any future editors’ retirement. While we keep at our tasks, the general public occasionally drops by and the general inbox continues to ping.

In the grand scheme of a large-scale, history of science project focused on a titan of 20th century science, the individual questions landing in the inbox and even their answers might seem insignificant. The fact of the matter is that the questions are still important. Continue reading...


Einstein Papers Project Visiting Hours Suspended

Keeping health and safety in mind, the Einstein Papers Project has suspended its visiting hours until further notice.


Whitney Clavin's piece on the Caltech website, "Not a Lone Genius", addresses collaboration in science. Recently, she spoke with Diana Kormos Buchwald about how, and with whom, Einstein collaborated. To dive deeper into some of those working relationships, take a look at our first fourteen volumes on line, where you can read written exchanges between Einstein and his peers and follow links to see scans of the original manuscripts. Volume 15 of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, out in print since spring 2018, will have its digital release on March 14, 2020.

Einstein, Ehrenfest, Langevin, Onnes, Weiss. Leiden, Holland, 1920.


Find us on Twitter: @Einstein Papers

Einstein Papers Project Twitter Banner




Caltech Magazine's occasional series #SoCaltech features Caltech senior Maggie Anderson. Maggie is majoring in both physics and history. Considering the demands of studying at Caltech, and with a double-major no less, the EPP is always grateful when students find time in their schedule to work with us. Who knew Maggie's talents extended to mural painting as well? If you're curious about other people who have worked with us over the years, they are listed on our Past Editors & Staff page in the Who We Are section of the site.


"Cosmic Explorations: at the Intersection of Science, Space, Art, and Culture"
This event has been postponed until further notice.


The eleventh international conference from the series The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, will focus on the intersection of science, humanities, art, and culture. Celestial phenomena have fascinated humanity for millennia, inspiring works of art, science, scholarship, and emerging technologies. Southern California has played a major, or even a central role in this arena over the past century. The conference goals are to provide scholars from various, disparate disciplines an opportunity to interact, gain new perspectives, and establish novel collaborations. Further goals are to celebrate the rich history and ongoing activities within these intersecting disciplines, while informing and inspiring the general public.

The Einstein Papers Project is pleased to join in supporting the Cosmic Explorations conference organized or sponsored in part by Caltech's Center for Data-Driven Discovery (CD3) and Astronomy Department, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Griffith Observatory, Huntington Library, ArtCenter College of Design, Carnegie Observatories, Caltech Optical Observatories (COO), Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), and others. 02-06-20