California Institute of Technology
Einstein Papers Project




We’re excited to share that The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Volume 16: The Berlin Years – available in a documentary edition in the original German, with a companion volume of select material in English translation – is now available to read on The Digital Einstein Papers website.

Volume 16 was published in print in 2021 and appears now in digital form on the centenary of Albert Einstein receiving the Nobel Prize for his “services to theoretical physics.” Edited by Diana Kormos Buchwald, Ze’ev Rosenkranz, József Illy, A. J. Kox, Daniel J. Kennefick, Dennis Lehmkuhl, Tilman Sauer, and Jennifer Nollar James, the volume includes source material from June 1927 until May 1929, a period during which Einstein was working to discern whether an electron’s equations of motion are derived from the field equations of general relativity and embarking on a new approach to the unified field theory founded on teleparallel geometry.

In 1927, Einstein attended the historic Solvay Conference and was invited to a research professorship at Princeton. Writings from the following year chronicle the onset of a severe heart ailment and despite a period of convalescence, ongoing engagement with scientific work and writing, as well as with social and political issues, including advocacy for domestic legislative reform, gay, and minority rights in Germany, European rapprochement, and conscientious objection to military service. Also covered are Einstein’s resignation from the board of Hebrew University, his hiring of Helen Dukas – who was ultimately instrumental to the preservation of his written archive – as his assistant, and his fiftieth birthday, in March 1929.

Volume 16 and the supplemental translation appear on The Digital Einstein Papers site alongside the prior fifteen volumes, and English translations, beginning with Volume 1 The Early Years, 1879 – 1902. A collaboration between Princeton University Press, The Albert Einstein Archives at Hebrew University, and The Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology, the website was launched in 2014 and currently hosts and makes available close to 20,000 pages and more than 8,000 unique documents from Albert Einstein’s written records. New materials are added online roughly 18 months after publication of the print edition.


Students, Young Scholars Contribute to the EPP

The Einstein Papers Project has a long history of working with students and recent graduates of Caltech, as well as other universities. They’re always listed, and sometimes pictured, on our Who We Are page. Once they’ve moved on to bigger and better things, we continue to acknowledge their work with us on the Past Editors & Staff page.

As in-office work and collaborations have steadily increased, since the pandemic related shutdowns, we’ve been very happy to have the continued support and engagement of Caltech senior Neymika Jain. An Applied + Computational Mathematics major, Neymika has worked with the project since the summer of 2021 with a break in 2022 to dedicate time to a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship with the Stuart lab group.

Recent Caltech alumni Rosita Fu (Chemistry ’22) and Liam Silvera (Biology ’22) began working with us after graduation this summer. They are using their skills in computation and image processing towards ongoing research led by EPP editors, Diana Kormos Buchwald and Tilman Sauer. The project involves manuscript analysis of thousands of undated Einstein calculations made as he worked on his concept of Unified Field Theory.

There's a certain awe one can feel working with historical manuscripts, especially those of larger than life figures like Einstein. When asked what she found interesting about working at the EPP, Neymika replied “It’s interesting how much evidence of the life you live is recorded. For example, with Einstein, the fact that there is so much information about him that continues to exist, not just from his notes, but also from his letters, his talks, his will, etc; it’s mind-blowing.” Another facet to the experience of working with historical documents would be how Liam expressed it: "it's quite surreal working with his original manuscripts and scratch paper (or at least scans of them)." In a similar vein, Rosita said "when I interact with the documents, it's very humbling to see all the transcription work from past students and researchers."

This is the type of engagement we're excited to share with students who join us for short and long stints at the project. We're pretty sure that all agree with Rosita's comment: "At the EPP, the people are welcoming and one never goes hungry with the great snacks available :-)"


Cosmic Explorations: at the Intersection of Science, Space, Art, and Culture

Detail of Painting, The Muses Urania and Calliope by Simon Vouet with conference title superimposed

The Einstein Papers Project is pleased to collaborate with Caltech colleagues in the Center for Data-Driven Discovery and the Astronomy Department, along with various venerable institutions such as the Griffith Observatory and Jet Propulsion Laboratory on INSAP XI. The conference website, including the full program is online at Cosmic Explorations: at the Intersection of Science, Space, Art, and Culture.

Among the presenters are Einstein Papers Project colleagues Diana Kormos Buchwald and Daniel J. Kennefick. The abstract for Kennefick's talk, Tracing Shadows: How Astronomers predicted the perfect eclipse to test Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, follows. "In 1917, less than two years after Einstein had published his theory of General Relativity, the Astronomer Royal of England, Frank Dyson, argued that the eclipse of May 29, 1919 would be the perfect opportunity to test the theory’s key prediction that light is deflected by the Sun. How did Astronomers reach the point where they could so accurately predict the future? What were the implications for science and society? From Thales of Miletus to the present the history of eclipses traces the development of science."


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, detail of a painting by Simon Vouet The Muses Urania and Calliope

EPP Awarded a National Archives Grant

National Archives Logo of a stylized eagle with text: National Archives, National Historical Publications & Records Commission

The EPP is grateful to be one of the documentary editing projects to receive a National Archives grant for publishing historical records. This is our project's first direct grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC). Since the project was installed at Caltech in 2000, when Professor Diana Kormos Buchwald took the helm as General Editor and Director of the project, several of our editors have attended the NHPRC funded Association for Documentary Editing's Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents. In that light, we have long benefitted from the NHPRC's ongoing backing of projects like ours. We will apply the grant funds to our work in progress on Volumes 17 and 18 of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein.

EPP Editors Convene at Black Hole Initiative Conference

Jeroen van Dongen, Joshua Eisenthal & Dennis Lehmkuhl stand in a courtyard, near a statue of George Washington adorned with a hooded sweatshirt.

Joshua Eisenthal (at center) was one of three EPP editors to present at the 5th Annual Black Hole Initiative Conference “Beyond the Horizon” in Cambridge, Massachusetts, earlier this month. While there, Eisenthal reconnected with EPP collaborator Dennis Lehmkuhl (at right). Eisenthal was a Heinrich Hertz Fellow in Lehmkuhl's Lichtenberg Group for History and Philosophy of Physics at the University of Bonn, in the winter of 2020-21. A former EPP Associate Editor, Jeroen van Dongen (at left) is a Professor of History of Science at the University of Amsterdam and rounded out the trio of EPP representatives who presented at the conference.


Image Credit: Katie Robertson, on Twitter @philophyser

Yemima Ben-Menahem: 2022 Israel Prize Recipient

Headshot, Yemima Ben-Menahem, smiling, in front of book filled bookcase

"First awarded in 1953, the Israel Prize is presented annually in four categories — the humanities, science, culture and lifetime achievement — and is considered one of the highest honors in the country." (Times of Israel article from 2022-02-23)

"The Israel Prize is the most important and prestigious prize of the State of Israel. It was initiated in 1953 by the then Minister of Education, Benzion Dinur, and has been bestowed continuously since then. Every year the judges’ committee submit to the Minister of Education their recommendations to give the prize in various fields of activity and creation in Israel. The winners are Israeli citizens – individuals, or in rare cases partners to achievement – who have evinced particular brilliance and excellence, breaking new ground in their field, or making a special contribution to Israeli society." (As described on Hebrew University's School of Social Work and Social Welfare website.)

"Prof. Yemima Ben-Menahem is Barbara Druss Dibner Professor of the History of Science Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Shalem College. Her areas of expertise are the philosophy of science, in particular the philosophy of modern physics, and the philosophy of history and of American Pragmatism. She is author of Causation in Science (Princeton, 2018), Conventionalism: From Poincaré to Quine (Cambridge, 2006) and editor, among others, of Hilary Putnam (Cambridge, 2005)." (Bio and Photo Credit, Shalem College website.)


One Hundred Years Ago

JPG from @EinsteinPapers twitter feed quoting exchanges between P. Ehrenfest and A. Einstein

In January 1922, Albert Einstein was engaged in the defense of an idea he was sure would determine the nature of light in quantum mechanics. Many colleagues challenged his work. Einstein grappled with their criticism, acknowledged his mistakes and eventually referred to his work from that period as "a monumental blunder".

For more detail on the above, click on this link to see the thread in our Twitter profile. In it, we include specific references to documents in the Digital Einstein Papers.

Why highlight one of Einstein's blunders on the project home page? It's a matter of perspective. One cannot know one is wrong, or what can be right if one does not try. Let us hope that in 2022: we can explore our options, discuss our ideas with trusted friends and colleagues, and forge ahead to whatever is next. We all make mistakes. As Einstein wrote to Max Born later on, in May of 1922: "Only death can keep one safe from blundering."

Six Years Ago

Part of a poster advertising the 2016 GR100 conference

Caltech's Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences together with the Division of Physics, Math and Astronomy and the Research Division of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens co-hosted the Sixth Biennial Bacon Conference General Relativity at One Hundred. If you were not there in 2016, it is now available via podcast. Click here for more information.


2021 Highlights

EPP New Year Greeting Card

Our big news this year was the release of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Volume 16. The nascent iteration of each CPAE volume is a spreadsheet, detailing all known documents from the time period to be covered. Approximately three years later, the clothbound hard copy and companion translation paperback are released. As the group collaborates on research and shaping the book, individual editors and contributors continue solo projects in their fields of expertise.

Project Director Diana K. Buchwald has long nurtured young researchers. Mara Julseth began work with the EPP in 2013 as a volunteer. Since then, as time and other pursuits permitted, Mara ably assisted us in our research both at Caltech and abroad. She is now solely devoted to completing a PhD at the Institute of Science and Technology, Austria. It was our longtime colleague, Rudy Hirschmann, who connected us to Mara. Rudy’s unwavering dedication to our project began 21 years ago; his knowledge of computer science and German continue to be invaluable resources. Rudy’s recent retirement is well deserved.

Caltech junior John Parker worked with Science Editor Joshua Eisenthal on a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow project titled “Einstein’s Early Alignment with Mach.” Meanwhile, Josh’s article "Hertz's Mechanics and a Unitary Notion of Force" was the winning entry for the 2020 Du Chatelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics, awarded by Duke University. At the JG University in Mainz, Tobias Schütz, a former Visiting Student Researcher at the EPP, successfully defended his PhD dissertation "Einstein at Work on Unified Field Theory" summa cum laude, under the supervision of our science editor Tilman Sauer.

Historian Jennifer Rodgers presented conference papers at odd hours over Zoom, among them a seminar on Pacific Standard Time for The Cedars-Sinai Program in the History of Medicine: "A 'New Order' of Obstetrics? Childbirth Cultures in Divided Germany." Senior Editor Ze’ev Rosenkranz’s next installment of The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein describing Einstein’s trip to South America in 1925, which was covered by our Volume 15, is slated for release by Princeton University Press in 2022. Ze’ev and our colleague Barbara Wolff worked closely with German historian Siegfried Grundmann over many years. His most recent book, Albert Einstein Dringender Appell (1932) und Kongress Das Freie Wort (1933): Eine Dokumentation, will be released posthumously in the spring of 2022. Grateful for his scholarship, the project is sorry for his loss.

Anticipating the deluge of tributes and correspondence that was to arrive less than three months later on his 50th birthday, when asked by newspapers what he wished for the New Year of 1929, Einstein responded: “dass man mich in Ruhe lässt” (“that I be left alone”). Einstein was not given the peace and quiet he wished for, intrusions and interruptions continued. While Einstein may have wanted less fame, and the attendant inconveniences, we are pleased to share his work and thoughts with the scholarly and broader communities of which we are a part. Whatever your particular desires, we wish you and all those you are connected to much health, success, and joy in the New Year.


Image Credit: Emily Araújo; Card Design: