Allen Esterson: Einstein's wife was a math genius who helped her husband in his great 1905 discoveries. Or so some people claim.





It must have been around 1990 that I first read newspaper reports about the claims that Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Marić, had made substantial contributions to his early achievements in physics. The contentions seem not to have made much headway in the UK, and, after two popular biographies of Einstein published in 1993 rejected the claims, I presumed the story had ended up in the backwaters of speculative notions on great scientific figures. How wrong I was.

Towards the end of 2005 my attention was drawn to the fact that the claims had gained a new lease of life through the production of an Australian documentary “Einstein’s Wife”, which was broadcast in the United States in 2003 by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and is available on DVD. At the same time PBS produced a website devoted to the subject, complete with comprehensive lesson plans for teachers of high school students.[1] It was at this point that I decided to investigate the claims more closely. It turned out that they are almost entirely based on erroneous contentions and dubious hearsay evidence. However, in a relatively short article it will only be possible to provide a limited account of the misconceptions that occur in abundance in the documentary and on the PBS website. ...



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