Monday, January 16, 2012

The truth about Einstein's wife

Some weeks back I mentioned in passing in my Guardian column the far-fetched claim that Einstein’s first wife Mileva Maric was partly or even primarily responsible for the ideas behind his theory of relativity. Allen Esterson has written to me to point out that this claim is still widely circulated and accepted as established fact by some people. Indeed, he says that “the 2008-2009 EU Europa Diary for secondary school children (print run 3 million) had the following: ‘Did you know? Mileva Marić, Einstein's first wife, confidant and colleague – and co-developer of his Theory of Relativity – was born in what is now Serbia’”. Seems to me that this sort of thing (and the concomitant notion that this ‘truth’ has been long suppressed) ultimately doesn’t do the feminist cause any good. Allen has also posted on the web site Butterflies and Wheels a critique of an independent short film that tries to promote the myth – you can find it here.