Digital archives of German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein are now accessible online at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The university launched the online archive on Monday, offering easy access to Einstein’s scientific and personal documents which have been made public for the first time. Documents range from a wedding announcement to a letter in which he offered a solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict.
With a click, a scroll and a zoom, researcher, scholars and science buffs can now search and read about the life and work of the Jewish physicist. The original scribble of Einstein’s famous formula “e=mc2”, which postulates that time and space are relative, is also available for viewing.
He donated his work after his death in 1955 to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which he co-founded.
There are more than 80,000 documents archived in the university but only material dating through 1922 has so far been posted online.
Hanoch Gutfreund, a university professor who handles Einstein’s intellectual property, said the remaining archives will be digitized in time. Many of the papers which are mostly written in German will also be translated into English.
“It will make this access much easier, not only for the general public but also for interested academics because they will be able to browse through the 80,000 documents and they will be able to use, to benefit, from the most sophisticated technological tools of categorisation, cross-referencing, looking at key words, looking at related documents,” Gutfreund said.
“Ultimately everything will be there - digitized, annotated, transcripted, translated. So this is going to be not only something to, you know, satisfy the curiosity of the curious but it also will be a great educational and research tool for academics,” he added.
The project provides an in-depth perspective into the life of Einstein, leaving every visitor to shape his or her own views of the man whose theories were revolutionary in physics.
Gutfreund says that some of Einstein’s belongings are so personal that he was unsure if they’d be made available for the public.
These included 24 love letters he wrote to his second wife, Elsa, while he was still married to his first wife, Mileva.
On display but not yet online is a letter Einstein wrote to the editor of the publication “Falastin”, proposing setting up a “Secret Council” to help put an end to the Jewish-Arab conflict.
This envisioned a group of eight Jews and Arabs -- a physician, a jurist, a union representative and a cleric from each side -- that would congregate every week in secret to discuss the issues concerning what was then British Mandate Palestine.