INTRODUCTION
TO
VOLUME
1
xxxix
tion
papers support
her
claim.
His
first scientific
essay
in 1895
demonstrates
his
independent study
of
physics
and
his
considerable
facility
at
assimilating
and
reworking
the material
he
studied. It establishes Einstein's
early
interest
in
the
nature
of the ether and in
the
propagation
of
electromagnetic
waves
(see
Doc.
5
and the editorial
note
that
precedes
it).
Einstein's notes
on
the
introductory physics
course
at
the
ETH,
taught
by
Weber,
provide a
unique
view
of Einstein's formal education
as
a physicist.
At
least
this
once,
he followed
enthusiastically
and recorded
a course
of
physics
lectures.
Through
them
he
was
exposed
to
many
current
ideas
on
the
nature
of thermal and electrical
phenomena,
including
their atomistic
explanation
(see
Doc.
37
and the editorial
note
that
precedes
it).
No discussion of
Maxwell's
electromagnetic theory
seems
to
have been included in
any
of
his
courses
at
the
ETH, however,
and Einstein
began
to
study
it
on
his
own.
The
most
fascinating
evidence
of Einstein's
readings
and
scientific
interests
between
1899
and
1902
is
found
in his
letters
to
Maric. As
noted
earlier,
both
were
students of
physics,
and Einstein undertook his
independent
study
of
physics
together
with her.
They
read and discussed books
by
Boltzmann,
Drude, Helmholtz, Hertz,
Kirchhoff,
Mach,
Ostwald,
and Planck. Einstein
continued to
discuss
physics
in
their
letters,
written
during
summers
and other
periods
of
separation.
When
one
reads
these
letters,
fascination
is
often mixed with frustration.
Einstein
breaks
off
an explanation
in
the middle of
a key
thought,
which he
presumably completed
when
they
met; or
he
begins
to
discuss
a
topic by pre-
supposing
previous
conversations about
it.
In
addition,
there
are
clear indica-
tions of
many
letters that
are now missing.
Forty-one
of Einstein's letters
to
Maric from the
period
covered
by
this volume have
survived,
but there
are
only
ten
of
Maric's
letters
to him.
Other
letters,
particularly
those
to
the
Winteler
family,
to
Marcel Grossmann, and
to
Helene Savic
(Kaufler), fill
some
of the
gaps
in their
correspondence,
but
they
tend
to
include
very
few
scientific comments.
The letters
in
this volume
provide
few
indications of Maric's
part
in
this
ongoing
scientific
dialogue.
Aside
from
a
brief
description
of
a
lecture
by
Philipp
Lenard,
there
is
no
discussion of
physics
in
her letters
to
Einstein.
Her letters
to
their friend
Savic
twice
discuss works
by
Einstein,
which Maric
attributes
exclusively
to him.
Einstein's letters
to
Maric
mention
joint
work
on
capillarity
and relative
motion;
but besides
references to
their
study
of
books and
requests
for her
help
in
obtaining
data
on
several
topics,
the letters
fail to
clarify
Maric's role
in
such
joint
work.
Although
the
possibility
that
she
played
a more
significant
part cannot be excluded,
the available evidence
suggests
that her role
was
that
of
a sounding
board
for
Einstein's
ideas,
a
Previous Page Next Page