Science

'Miracle' Einstein manuscript with general relativity notes expected to fetch up to £2.5m


The document, to be auctioned off in Paris, contains preparatory work for Einstein’s theory of relativity – widely hailed as his greatest achievement. An estimate for the manuscript is between two to three million euros (£1.7-2.5million), according to Christie’s, which is hosting the auction sale on behalf of the Aguttes auction house. Christie’s said in a statement: “This is without doubt the most valuable Einstein manuscript ever to come to auction.”

The preparatory works include a 54-page handwritten document, which Einstein penned with colleague and close collaborator Michele Besso between 1913 and 1914 in Zurich, Switzerland.

Christie’s said it was thanks to Mr Besso, the Swiss engineer, that the manuscript was able to be preserved all this time for future generations.

This, said Christie’s, is “almost like a miracle” as Einstein himself would be highly unlikely to keep hold of what he would consider to be merely a simple working document.

But today, according to Christie’s, the paper offers “a fascinating plunge into the mind of the 20th century’s greatest scientist”.

Einstein died when he was aged 76 in 1955, and is considered to by among the all-time greats of physics.

In 1916, he published his ground-breaking general theory of relativity in full which paved the way for a radical new framework for the study. It led to new understandings of space and time, making major contributions to quantum mechanics theory.

French astrophysicist Etienne Klein said: “The present manuscript documents Einstein testing his first theory.

“The general theory of relativity, published by Einstein in November 1915, is basically a new way of understanding gravitation.

“It is particularly moving to have it [the manuscript] in front of us. Einstein usually did not keep his drafts.”

In 1921, he was awarded the Nobel Physics Prize and has been embraced by pop culture as an iconic genius of science.

It is not the first time one of Einstein’s early works has surfaced to the public.

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The paper was written in November 1922 when Einstein was travelling to conferences in south-east Asia. It was published a month later.

The manuscript to be auctioned on Tuesday has been sold before.

Back in 2002, the item was purchased for $559,000 (£357,000 at the time) to a European dealer.

That figure will likely be dwarfed in the latest auction.





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