Posted in: Science

Never-Before-Seen Letters Reveal The Unthinkable About Einstein

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Albert Einstein’s theories and formulae have rarely been challenged. His theorems have been the basis of further scientific research discovery even in the 21st century. Hence it comes as a shock when two never-before-seen letters confirm the unthinkable; Einstein had once committed a mathematical error in one of his many published papers.

If that’s not surprising enough, the extremely rare letters, confirm that the error was pointed out by a 23-year-old student. But the humble genius that he is, Albert Einstein, though initially dismissed the claim politely, in one of the follow-up letters, not only admitted the error, but applauded the man for his diligence and mathematical prowess.

23 year old Herbert Salzer was studying for a Master’s degree in physics, when he wrote to Albert Einstein to point out that an equation in one of his published papers was actually wrong. Herbert supported his argument with an equation that he himself had written. Though it was rare for a student to challenge such a prodigy, it was even rarer for a noted persona to reply, let alone closely examine the claim and counter-verify his own work.

The correspondence related to Albert Einstein’s work on a unified theory of Distant Parallelism – A Study Of Gravitation and Electromagnetic Fields. Einstein had invested more than three years pursuing the theory and possible linkages between gravitation fields and electromagnetic fields, but chose to simply abandon his hard-work when he failed to find strong evidence to support his notions.

The First Letter Written By Albert Einstein Politely Refutes The Claims By Herbert Salzer

The First Letter Written By Albert Einstein Politely Refutes The Claims By Herbert Salzer

Interestingly, the German physicist initially, politely dismissed the claim, reported ABLX Boston. Einstein replied back to Herbert with the complex algorithm re-written, that was aimed at defending his work. He even chose to conclude the letter with the following words:

“I will now show that equation is really, really not the equation you specified’ before signing off ‘Yours respectfully, A. Einstein”

In The Second The Second Letter Albert Einstein Accepts His Error By Supporting Herbert Salzer's Claims

In The Second Letter Albert Einstein Accepts His Error

All could have ended there, but the untiring dedication that Einstein had, nagged him to recheck his equations. This resulted in a completely unexpected hand-written letter delivered to Herbert. Written on September 13, 1938, the letter reads,

“Shortly after I wrote you, I noticed that the error was on my side…”

Einstein continued to closely examine what Herbert put forth with equations that were now revised. After the noted physicist agreed with Herbert, Einstein concluded,

“…The transformation required is exactly that of a tensor in the Theory of Relativity. Therefore, your transformation equation is correct, mine wrong. I don’t have my earlier work available. But it sure seems that I have made the same mistake there. This will make my assertions about the shape of the first approximation inaccurate.”

Needless to say, Herbert went on to become an acclaimed physicist and published more than 100 papers.

[Image Credit |ProfilesInHistory/BNPS via Daily Mail, Fun Chap]

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Comments

30 Responses to “Never-Before-Seen Letters Reveal The Unthinkable About Einstein”

  1. Paul F Miller

    What's unthinkable about this? Einstein was no math prodigy. Any good biography of his will note that he needed help with it when he was working on his theories.

  2. Ed Harrison

    That's the wonderful thing about the scientific method. Science is self correcting, although sometimes it doesn't happen as quickly as we'd wish.

  3. Tim Quilty

    oh darn, you mean science will correct itself when presented with new evidence….instead of trying to cling to a notion penned 3,400 years ago?

  4. Anonymous

    Proving that anyone, at any time, in any circumstance, can be wrong; but it takes a very strong man to admit it….

  5. Anonymous

    You really haven't known very many smart people, have you? Intelligence is not a guarantee against error.

  6. Joseph B. Barrett

    It happens to the best of them. I challenged the New York Power Authorities claim that the Ice Boom did no significant environmental damage. WRONG! It's killing the entire Lower Great Lakes Ecosystem! Can you be anymore wrong? Read Ice boom theory at my site http://www.bantheboom.com and send some reporters. THX, JBB

  7. Anonymous

    gravity is faster than the speed of light. So it is possible to travel faster than the speed of light,or 186,000mph

  8. Daniel Kelly

    This reaffirms my opinion of Dr. Einstein as a man for whom the work, the true knowledge of our universe was paramount. He placed his interest in the truth and in enlightenment above his pride, and I suspect inspired many scientists in the process.

  9. Teresa Leet

    Tim Quilty Well said. And clinging to that out-dated notion has caused centuries of pain and suffering for mankind.

  10. Sean Hitch

    Here is an experiment. Take a flat sheet of paper between the hands, hands facing opposite direction. Middle finger in each palm. Treat those two points like the ends of a magnet. Now put pressure and crumple up the paper at those two points. Then stretch the paper out flat. Repeat, and switch sides a few times. What you will get are stress lines in the paper that look nearly identical to the lines of the magnet under a paper with metal shavings on top. :-p

  11. Hppy Hippi

    The only thing unthinkable here are false headlines and incredible lack of journalistic standards, just to get eyeball clicks.

  12. John Greene

    I think what Tim is saying is that when someone says "The science is settled," what they really mean is "The science is settled until new evidence comes along."

  13. Anonymous

    will there ever be another einsteinian brain in the world

  14. Nikolaos Athanasiadis

    Anyone knows about his teacher Karatheodoris (Greek Professor living and teaching in Germany at the time ? Anyone knows how much help Einstein got fm him ? Just curious………

  15. Karl Moeller

    Paul have you read a biography of Einstein's? The idea that he was bad at math has been floating around for quite some time since Ripley's Believe it or Not! said that he failed math. This is not true however. He was very proficient in math and had mastered high level math when he was very young.

  16. Bruce Whitney

    i think there should be different levels to science to scientific methodology ,"no1"the science flat view prove everything by formula ,"no.2"the scout radical scientist who goes where theory and fantastic fantasy mixes goes into and beyond the 4d and "no3" the scientist who puts the dots together connecting no. 1 and 2

  17. Nikolaos Athanasiadis

    The son of a Greek-born diplomat who served as the Ottoman Empire's ambassador to Berlin, Constantine Karatheodoris who was born September 13, 1873 in Berlin and died February 2, 1950 at Munich taught mathematics at four German universities — including those of Munich and Goettingen — and also worked on physics and archaeological engineering.
    He married in 1908 to Efrosini Karatheodoris, who was a distant relative. She was 11 years younger than him. They had two kids: Despina and Stefanos.
    His scientific papers are in the collection of Goettingen University, and have never been translated into Greek, though a number of American universities have copies of his theories.
    On December 20, 2005, Israel's ambassador to Athens, Ram Aviram, presented the Greek foreign ministry with copies of 10 letters between Albert Einstein and Greek mathematician Constantine Karatheodoris, part of a long correspondence which lasted from 1916 to 1930.
    According to experts at the National Archives of Israel — custodians of the original letters — the mathematical side of Einstein's physics theory was partly substantiated through the work of Karatheodoris.
    Besides being a collaborator with Einstein, Constantine Karatheodoris was among those who pioneered the establishment of the Aristotle University — where he later also taught.
    Greek authorities intend to create a museum honouring Constantine Karatheodoris in Komotini, a major town of the northeastern Greek region where his family came from.I hope this was of help to you sir. Greetings fm Greece.

  18. Nikolaos Athanasiadis

    Dear Mr/Professor Charles Asofsky or whatever your title is sir (And I really mean no offence by this), here is also another small example of an answer to your question. I hope I was of help. If you need more I will be happy to help as long as I can.

    We all know about Albert Einstein, the founder of the theory of relativity but how about the person who taught him and showed him the way to a bright scientific journey which would change the world? That was his teacher, Konstantinos Karathodoris. During one of his last pubic appearance Albert Einstein said, “You ask me to answer to all sorts of questions, but noone has ever wanted to know who was my teacher, who showed me the way to the higher mathematical science, thought and research. I simply say that my teacher was the unrivalled Greek Konstantinos Karatheodoris, to who we owe everything…” Indeed, it was a Greek from Thrace. He has not only been in touch with Einstein but has also hepled him to complete the theory of relativity. The world’s mathematical community acknowledges the major offering and contrubution of “Kara” , as they name him when it comes to the research of higher mathematics. He started his studies at the age of 27 and until the last days of his life he kept writing critics and scientific studies. His cooperation and communication with Einstein for the theory of relativity is imprinted in the letters they exchanged, which know are exhibited in the museum “Karatheodoris ” in Komotini. Below is an excerpt:

    quote
    “I consider your derivative as excellent.. at first I was misleaded by a slight error in the second page. But know, I understand everything. You should publish the theory in this form in Αnnalen der Physik since physicists know nothing on this subject, neighter do I. [...] If you would like to unfold regular transformations, I would be a concious and grateful listener. If you could also solve the problem of closed timelines, then I would kneel to you. [...] A. Einstein”
    unquote

    – See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2011/02/21/alber-einsteins-teacher-was-the-great-greek-konstantinos-karatheodoris/#sthash.mRvN979s.7xW5TBMy.dpuf

    Best Regards
    Nikolaos