My responses to Geraldine Hilton’s replies to my rebuttals of the claims on the PBS “Einstein’s Wife” Website

Allen Esterson

 

In response to my enumeration of errors and misleading statements on the PBS Einstein’s Wife website, Geraldine Hilton, writer/producer of the documentary “Einstein’s Wife” on which the website material is based, submitted to the PBS Ombudsman a response that he has copied in an article on his website (scroll down to the end).

I provide below my comments on Hilton’s responses, but first a general point. At the beginning of the enumerated list of errors on the website I clearly stated that the documentation for my statements can be found in the full critique posted on my website. Hilton’s responses (below in CAPITALS) indicate she has made no attempt to examine this documentation or address rebuttals of her claims; she merely repeats her assertions.

In each instance I start by quoting Hilton’s responses, which are prefaced by my enumerated statements in bold type.

 

On claims made on the PBS “Einstein’s Wife” website:

1. Mileva Maric was not "erased from history." FALSE. IT WAS NOT UNTIL THE DISCOVERY OF MARIC AND EINSTEIN'S 'LOVE LETTERS' THAT MARIC BECAME KNOWN TO THE BROADER, NONSCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY AS A SCIENTIST HERSELF. NOT A PROBLEM IF YOU WISH TO MODIFY WEBSITE.

On the PBS “Einstein’s Wife” website is the statement “The world only knew of Marić’s existence through the first release of Einstein’s private papers in 1987”. This is what they mean by asserting that she was “erased from history”, and I showed the claim is manifestly false by citing several biographies of Einstein written for the general public and published before 1987 which mention Marić. Now Hilton purports to rebut my refutation of the falsehood (she says it is “False”) by saying something very different, that Marić only “became known to the broader, non-scientific community as a scientist herself” after the publication of the letters. Manifestly she has not shown that my objection to the false statement on the PBS website is in error.

 

In response to Hilton’s revised version of the website claim, there is, of course, a very good reason why Marić was not known to the world as a scientist, that being that she was not a scientist. John Stachel has, in meticulous detail, examined the contentions in question, and concluded there is no evidence to support them. I have myself refuted the contentions, and have referenced the relevant writings of Stachel, in several articles, e.g.:  http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm

See also:

http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

Hilton seems unable to grasp that if she is to make informed responses to rebuttals she needs to actually read the arguments of those making them. I can only suggest that readers adopt a more rational attitude and actually examine the arguments and documentation presented by Stachel and by me.

2. Einstein wrote no personal autobiographies, only intellectual autobiographical articles. INTELLECTUAL INFORMS THE PERSONAL. THIS IS SPLITTING HAIRS.

The website statement I was rebutting is this: “Einstein’s autobiographies never mentioned his first wife.” Clearly this is implying that Einstein wrote autobiographies in the normal sense of the word. This is not the case; Einstein wrote no autobiography detailing events in his life. Towards the end of his life he contributed an essay with the title “Autobiographical Notes” for a volume in the series “Library of Living Philosophers”, described by the publishers as having the following aim: In each volume “a great philosopher presents his views in an intellectual biography. This is followed by a number of essays by distinguished scholars who critique the great philosopher's ideas. The LLP's subject then replies to each critic...” It is evident that personal details of Einstein’s life experiences were not appropriate for such a book.

Hilton’s glib statement that the “INTELLECTUAL INFORMS THE PERSONAL” indicates that she has failed to understand the context of Einstein’s “Autobiographical Notes”, although I fully explained it in my extended article on the PBS website material. The statements on the PBS website can only lead readers to believe that Einstein wrote autobiographical books in which he airbrushed his first wife out of his personal life, which is grossly, and tendentiously, misleading. If Hilton thinks this is “splitting hairs”, it is a further indication that she is unable to grasp arguments requiring a modicum of intellectual understanding.

3. Einstein did mention Maric in one of the autobiographical sketches. BUT ISN'T THE OBJECTION RAISED ABOVE THAT EINSTEIN DID NOT WRITE OF THE PERSONAL?

The second article (“Autobiographical Sketch”) alluded to here was requested for an entirely different book, containing reminiscences of Einstein, edited by Carl Seelig.  In that sketch Einstein made a passing mention of Marić among very brief personal autobiographical details in the course of an essay in which his central interest was in presenting the development of his scientific and philosophical ideas. To suppose this is in any way a contradiction to what I wrote about the other autobiographical essay [see (2) immediately above] again casts doubt on Hilton’s capacity to follow a logical argument.

4. Virtually all biographies of Einstein before 1987 mention Maric. MINIMALLY. VERY MINIMALLY — A SENTENCE OR TWO, ONE OF WHICH DESCRIBES HER AS A "SERBIAN PEASANT" DESANKA TRBHOVIC-GURIC'S WAS THE FIRST BIOGRAPHY ON MARIC. IT HAS BEEN TRANSLATED INTO MANY LANGUAGES BUT AS YET, AND PERHAPS TELLINGLY, NOT ENGLISH. DO NOT MIND IF YOU AMEND WEBSITE TO REFLECT THAT MARIC'S EXISTENCE IS "LARGELY UNKNOWN." IT WAS COMMONLY SAID TO ME DURING MY RESEARCH THAT "WASN'T SHE EINSTEIN'S COUSIN" OBVIOUSLY REFERRING TO ELSA, EINSTEIN'S SECOND WIFE.

 

Hilton writes: MINIMALLY. VERY MINIMALLY — A SENTENCE OR TWO, ONE OF WHICH DESCRIBES HER AS A "SERBIAN PEASANT".

First note that my quoted sentence was in response to the website statement that no biographies of Einstein before 1987 mention Marić, so even a minimal reference would have refuted that claim. In regard to Hilton’s assertion immediately above, it is quite extraordinary that she makes it without actually consulting the biographies in question, some of which I cited in the article to which I provided a link at the beginning of my enumerated list of errors. It is absolutely clear that she has no knowledge of most of these biographies, since some of them give considerable details about Marić, well beyond the “sentence or two” that Hilton asserts. (One can’t help wondering what is the intellectual cast of mind of someone who can make such a categorical – and false – statement despite the fact that she has not even examined the books in question.)

Hilton writes: …ONE OF WHICH DESCRIBES HER AS A "SERBIAN PEASANT".

I have checked all the biographies of Einstein that I possess and none of them refers to Marić as a “Serbian peasant”. So where does Hilton get this quotation from? Evidently it comes from an article in the Boston Globe in which the journalist Ellen Goodman writes the following:

“Mileva Maric Einstein, described in a popular biography as the ‘gloomy, laconic and distrustful’ Serbian peasant, was due for a comeback.”

So in her response Hilton has:

(i) failed to address my refutation of the specific false assertion that I challenged on the PBS website

(ii) replied in turn with another false assertion, namely, that no pre-1987 Einstein biographies gave more than a minimal reference to Marić

(iii) provided an alleged quotation from a biography which turns out to be the words of a Boston Globe journalist.

(Note: The description given in quotes by Goodman above occurs in the biography of Einstein by Carl Seelig: “Her contemporaries found Mileva a gloomy, laconic and distrustful character.” Nowhere does Seelig describe her as a “Serbian peasant”, though he does say she was “the daughter of an honest Serbian peasant family”.)

I leave readers to draw their own conclusions about the reliability of Hilton’s scholarship.

Hilton writes: DESANKA TRBHOVIC-GURIC'S WAS THE FIRST BIOGRAPHY ON MARIC. IT HAS BEEN TRANSLATED INTO MANY LANGUAGES BUT AS YET, AND PERHAPS TELLINGLY, NOT ENGLISH.

I only have knowledge of translations of Trbuhović-Gjurić’s biography into German and French. I have no idea why it has yet to be translated into English, but from a close examination of the passages relevant to the issue of Marić’s alleged contributions to Einstein’s work it has to be said that it is a deeply flawed book, as I demonstrate in my articles:

http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm

http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

 

The same view of Trbuhović-Gjurić’s book is taken by the Einstein biographer Albrecht Fölsing, who describes the book as a combination of “fictional invention and pseudo-documentation”, and by the Einstein scholars Schulmann and Holton, who called it “a nationalist puffery of a biography of Mileva Marić” in a letter written for The New York Times Book Review in 1995.

5. There is no evidence that "Einstein's executrix systematically destroyed potential evidence" about Maric's alleged role in his work. THERE IS EVIDENCE OF CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MARIC AND EINSTEIN WHICH WAS COPIED DEFINITELY WENT MISSING WHEN HELEN DUKAS, EINSTEIN'S EXECTRIX DIED. I DID NOT MAKE ANY CLAIMS THAT THESE WERE "POTENTIAL EVIDENCE ABOUT MARIC'S ALLEGED ROLE IN HIS WORK." IF THE WEBSITE STATES THIS (WHICH I COULD NOT LOCATE), PLEASE DELETE.

To elucidate, and correct, what Hilton writes in her first sentence, six letters from Einstein to his future second wife Elsa Löwenthal in the period 1912-1915 (of which copies had already been made by John Stachel) were missing when the Einstein Archive acquired Einstein’s papers. As Robert Schulmann (historian and associate editor of the Albert Einstein Collected Papers project) has pointed out to me, these contain material that Helen Dukas would have felt was injurious to the “great man” legend that she wished to protect, which is why it is assumed that she destroyed them. (Collected Papers, Vol. 5, documents 389, 391, 399, 488, 489, 497.)

On the website, in relation specifically to the claims that Marić was “Einstein’s scientific partner”, is the statement: “The debate remains open, in part because it appears that Einstein’s executrix systematically destroyed potential evidence.” This clearly implies Dukas systematically destroyed letters that could have shed light on the claims of scientific collaboration by Marić, for which suggestion there is not a scrap of evidence. (It should be noted that the “love letters” from the early period of the relationship between Einstein and Marić were never in the possession of Helen Dukas.)

6. There is no evidence that Einstein "demands all her time" when Maric was a Polytechnic student, nor that she "sacrificed her studies" on his account. LETTERS BY HER GIRLFRIEND MILANA BOTA ATTEST TO THIS.

To my knowledge there is only one relevant letter by Milana Bota, in which she wrote to her mother: “I see little of Mitza [Mileva] because of the German, whom I hate”. This was written on 7 June 1900, right at the end of the four year diploma course (on which the pair were examined in July 1900). This comment of Bota’s merely indicates that, once Marić became deeply emotionally involved with Einstein, she preferred to spend her time with him than with her girlfriends, a not unusual occurrence. This shows neither that Einstein “demanded” her time (Marić’s letters to Einstein show that she was at least as keen to spend time with Einstein as he with her), nor that she in any way sacrificed her studies on his account. The Marić/Einstein correspondence shows that not only did she continue to study hard on her coursework and exam preparation, Einstein was equally concerned that she should do so.

That Hilton interprets Bota’s comment so far beyond what it actually says speaks volumes about her notion of scholarly research.

7. They did not "both fail their exams." Einstein passed. SEE OP CIT.

From the relevant Zurich Polytechnic document:

“Based on these [examination] results, the Conference of Examiners moves that diplomas be granted to candidates Ehrat, Grossman, Kollros, and Einstein, but not to Miss Marić.”  (Collected Papers, Volume 1, Document 67.)

There really is nothing more to be said on the matter – which didn’t prevent Senta Troemel-Ploetz speculating wildly on the subject in Hilton’s documentary. See: http://www.esterson.org/einsteinwife1.htm

8. The alleged comment of Maric's "We finished some important work that will make my husband world famous" is unreliable third-hand gossip. THIS MIGHT HAVE BEEN MARIC BOASTING BUT TO SAY THAT THIS SOURCE IS GOSSIP IS UNFOUNDED. SOURCE: Desanka Trbuhovic-Gjuric, biography.

The idea that a reference to any book, leave aside the deeply flawed biography by Trbuhović-Gjurić, in itself constitutes hard evidence is another illustration of Hilton limited grasp of the nature of scholarly research. I can only repeat that I have examined in detail the relevant claims by Trbuhović-Gjurić (many of which have been uncritically, indeed credulously, recycled by Troemel-Ploetz) and shown them to be unsustainable:

http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm

http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

9. Maric did not set the condition in the divorce settlement for the Nobel Prize money to go to her, this was proposed by Einstein. (In fact the capital was to be held in a bank account for their sons.) FALSE. MILEVA PURCHASED THREE PROPERTIES AND RESIDED IN ONE OF THESE IN ZURICH WITH THE PROCEEDS OF THE NOBEL PRIZE. IT WAS ALWAYS A CONCERN OF EINSTEIN AND MARIC THAT THE SONS BE PROVIDED FOR.

It is difficult what to make of Hilton’s response, as she doesn’t actually address what I wrote, which was about the terms of the divorce settlement, not what events eventually transpired. According to the PBS website, it was Marić who made divorce conditional on her receiving the expected Nobel Prize money. The correspondence between Einstein and Marić shows that this is false; on the contrary, it was Einstein who made this proposal in his efforts to overcome her reluctance to agree to a divorce. Hilton fails to address this.

10. There is no evidence that Maric liked dealing with statistics. SEE BELOW

11. The statement that Einstein "doesn't like dealing with statistics" is scientific nonsense. He made major contributions to statistical physics over a period of two decades. WE AGREE THAT EINSTEIN DID MAKE MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO STATISTICAL PHYSICS HOWEVER, EINSTEIN ALSO WROTE HOW HE DISLIKED MATHEMATICS. THIS DOES NOT DETRACT FROM THE FACT THAT HE OBVIOUSLY OPERATED AT A HIGH LEVEL IN MATHEMATICS. I RECALL THAT MAURICE SOLOVINE MAKES A REFERENCE TO THIS, HOWEVER, NEED TO CHECK HIS BOOK AGAIN.

Hilton writes: HOWEVER, EINSTEIN ALSO WROTE HOW HE DISLIKED MATHEMATICS.

Yet again I must ask Hilton to have the courtesy to actually read my articles, specifically in this case Who Did Einstein’s Mathematics?, where I demonstrate that her statement quoted immediately above (derived from her consultant Senta Troemel-Ploetz) is absolute nonsense.

12. Joffe is not a "supporter" of the claim that Maric collaborated on the 1905 papers. I AGREE — PLEASE AMEND AS THE DOCUMENTARY DOES NOT MAKE THIS CLAIM. WE ASK THE QUESTION "WHY WAS HER NAME THEN NOT ON THE PUBLISHED PAPERS WHEN JOFFE SAW IT ON THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS?"

Hilton writes: “WE ASK THE QUESTION "WHY WAS HER NAME THEN NOT ON THE PUBLISHED PAPERS WHEN JOFFE SAW IT ON THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS?”

Since the Soviet physicist Abram Joffe did not say that he saw Marić’s name was on the original documents, the presumption contained in this question is entirely false. See:

A. A. Martinez (2005): Handling Evidence in History: The Case of Einstein's Wife.

J. Stachel (ed.) (2005). Einstein’s Miraculous Year: Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics, pp. liv-lxiii.

See also my article http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm.

13. Joffe nowhere "declares that he personally saw the names of two authors on the 1905 papers." PLEASE CORRECT THE WEBSITE TO STATE THAT JOFFE SAW THE NAMES 'EINSTEIN-MARITY' ON THE ORIGINAL SUBMISSION OF THE 1905 PAPERS.

Hilton’s proposed amendment is just as false as the original. Joffe said nothing about seeing the original manuscripts. See references in (12) immediately above.

An additional point is that Hilton, and her consultant Troemel-Ploetz, are evidently unable to grasp that her words “the names ‘Einstein-Marity’” contains a self-contradiction. Einstein-Marity is one name, not two “names”, and Joffe describes the person referred to as “a bureaucrat at the Patent Office in Bern”, in other words, he is unambiguously referring to one person, namely, Albert Einstein. If Joffe had seen “the names of two authors” on the original submission, as Hilton claims above, then he would hardly have referred to the author (in the singular) as a single individual.

There has been an attempt to make a tortuous argument out of the idiosyncratic form of the name that Joffe used in his obituary, and this has been examined, and refuted in meticulous detail, by Stachel in the above referenced book (Stachel, 2005, pp. lvii-lxiii). Anyone who has not read the several pages in question is not in a position to continue to maintain the position taken by Troemel-Ploetz in her much-cited 1990 article, which references the report in Trbuhović-Gjurić’s book that contains a travesty of what Joffe wrote (Trbuhović-Gjurić, 1983, p. 79; 1991, pp. 111-112). Troemel-Ploetz, who credulously recycles anything she finds in Trbuhović-Gjurić’s book that is grist for her mill, presents her own erroneous version of what Joffe wrote on page 419 of her 1990 article.

14. The fragment of a page on the website purporting to be from an article by Joffe is actually by someone else. SEE EXPLANATION ON DOCUMENTARY REBUTTALS.

I don’t know what Hilton thinks the word “explanation” means, but it is entirely inadequate as a description of her response to the same point I made in relation to her documentary. See item (24), dealt with under item 2, at: http://www.esterson.org/Defending_Einsteins_Wife_2.htm

On the PBS website, under the heading The Mileva Question, is the statement that “there is at least one printed report in which Joffe declared that he personally saw the names of two authors on the 1905 papers: Einstein and Marity (a Hungarianized form of Marić)” [my italics].) Not only is the italicised claim completely false, the fragment of a page shown adjacent to the claim is not by Joffe. No “explanation” can alter the fact that both in the documentary and on the webpage the viewer/reader has been seriously misled.

15. There are no "tantalizing clues" suggesting Maric's collaboration with Einstein in any letters to her friends. FALSE. THERE IS FIRST HAND PRIMARY EVIDENCE BY MARIC, EINSTEIN, FELLOW STUDENTS THAT MARIC PLAYED A CRITICAL PART IN EINSTEIN'S FORMATIVE YEARS LEADING UP TO 1905.

First note that the claim I was rebutting is that there are “tantalizing clues in the letters Mileva exchanges with Albert, and with their friends” concerning the contention that Marić co-authored Einstein’s celebrated 1905 papers. That this is what I was alluding to in my enumeration of errors on the PBS website is clear from the article to which I drew readers attention at the beginning of my enumeration. This means that Hilton’s response above completely fails to address my specific criticism. There is, in fact, nothing in any of the correspondence between Marić, Einstein and their friends that remotely suggests that she had any role in the 1905 papers. On the contrary, in a letter from late 1906 that Marić wrote to Helene Kaufler she reported of Einstein that “the papers he has written are already mounting quite high”, with not the slightest hint that she had the least involvement with them.

However, let’s now deal with the ‘reply’ by Hilton, which actually addresses a different issue, the claim that, more generally, Marić collaborated in the development of Einstein’s advanced research (indeed “played a critical [sic] part” in it) before 1905.

I shall break Hilton’s claim (of evidence by Marić, Einstein, and fellow students) down to its individual parts. First the alleged evidence by Marić. The short answer is that there is no evidence in any of her surviving letters of any collaboration on Einstein’s personal research on advanced physics.  Second, Einstein: The claims in relation to Einstein’s letters to Marić in the period 1898-1901 have been examined in considerable detail by John Stachel and by me, and found to be without foundation. See my article http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm, and the relevant Stachel citations therein. Third, fellow students: Hilton claims there is “first hand primary evidence” from fellow students. However I know of  no documentary evidence from Marić’s and Einstein’s fellow students which support this claim, and my familiarity with the literature in question makes me confident there is none. However in her response to the item 1 in reply to my enumeration of errors in her documentary Hilton copied this statement from the Mileva Marić entry in Wikipedia. “Back in Zurich [1898]: ‘Intensive collaboration between Mileva Marić, Albert Einstein, Marcel Grossman, Michele Besso.’ (Michelmore 1968, p. 35, 36, 56).” It is possible that Hilton has this in mind. In fact the cited pages in Michelmore’s book on Einstein (the publication date is actually 1962) contain nothing remotely connected to the statement in question, and nor is there anything like it anywhere in the book! In any case, I have demonstrated that Michelmore’s book is not a reliable source of information, indeed quite the contrary. See under the subheading “More direct evidence (allegedly)” in Who did Einstein’s Mathematics?: A Response to Troemel-Ploetz

[N.B. Since I discovered that the reference to Michelmore’s biography in the Wikipedia entry for Mileva Marić is erroneous, I have deleted the item from that webpage, giving the explanation in the Wikipedia discussion page.]

I note that Hilton’s wording in her ‘reply’ is more than a little vague: “Marić played a critical part in Einstein’s formative years.” This could, of course, cover the emotional support she gave him in this period, in which case no one will dispute it. Nor will anyone dispute that, under Einstein’s encouragement, they read extra-curricular books by contemporary eminent physicists together during their time at the Polytechnic.

 

Yet again I direct readers to my articles refuting the claims of collaboration by Marić on Einstein’s advanced work, and to the citations of the relevant writing of John Stachel:

http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm

http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

 

Finally, I shall quote sentences from Einstein’s letters to Marić in the period in question that are inconsistent with the “collaboration” thesis. The first is in a letter from September 1899 in which Einstein writes: “In Arrau I had a good idea or investigating the way in which a body’s relative motion with respect to the luminiferous ether affects the velocity of the propagation of light in transparent bodies. I even came up with a theory that seems quite plausible to me. But enough of this! Your poor little head is already crammed full of other people’s hobby horses that you’ve had to ride.” [My emphasis.] Einstein is clearly saying that in reporting his ideas on the subject of motion relative to the ether he is aware that it is not something of especial interest to her.

 

The second quotation is from a letter Einstein wrote to Marić in December 1901: “Soon you’ll be my ‘student’ again, like in Zurich” [i.e., as during their student years]. This indicates something of the relationship between them when it came to academic work. It was clearly not one of joint collaboration on research on advanced physics.

16. The editors of the Einstein Collected Papers have not "claimed neutral territory." They say unequivocally that the evidence does not support the collaboration claims. AMEND WEBSITE TO REFLECT THEIR CLAIM AS STATED HERE.

17. There is no evidence "to confirm that… Einstein did have a partner …in his scientific research — his first wife Mileva Maric Einstein." FALSE. THERE IS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE INCLUDING ROBERT SCHULMANN ADMITTING IN THE DOCUMENTARY THAT SHE PROBABLY DID CONTRIBUTE TO EINSTEIN'S PUBLISHED CAPILLARITY PAPER.

Robert Schulmann did not say that Marić “probably” contributed to Einstein’s first published paper, on capillarity paper (1901). What he actually said is this: “It is very conceivable that Mileva had input on the paper on capillarity.” Evidently Hilton fails to grasp the difference between something being conceivable and there being hard evidence that it was the case. (A great many contentions are conceivable, even very conceivable, but are nevertheless false.) In any case, Hilton doesn’t seem able to comprehend that it is not a question of what any specific individual thinks about a contention, but what evidence there is for it. So let’s look at the overall evidence on this specific question.

 

On 3 October 1900 Einstein wrote from Milan (the home of his parents): “The results on capillarity I recently obtained in Zurich seem to be entirely new despite their simplicity. When we’re back in Zurich we’ll try to get some empirical data on this subject from Kleiner. If this yields a law of nature, we’ll send the results to Widermann’s Annalen [der Physik].” (The article eventually written is dated 13 December 1900.)

 

The question is whether Einstein’s use of the collective “we” in this letter indicates appreciable collaboration on the work between the couple, or is an instance of Einstein’s trying to draw Marić into his world of extra-curricular physics. The actual results alluded to by Einstein he unambiguously attributes to himself, and as they had been separated since the end of their exams in July there would have been no opportunity for joint work. He writes “we’ll” try to get some empirical data from Kleiner [Prof Alfred Kleiner, at the University of Zurich], but in fact it is he who is in communication with Kleiner. The other relevant documents from this period are letters that Marić wrote to her closest friend, Helene Kaufler, the first from later that month (October 1900) just after Einstein and Marić were both back in Zurich. She writes: “For the time being I am studying at home with Albert; next week we begin laboratory work.” What she is referring to here is the experimental work Einstein was doing for his first attempt at a Ph.D. thesis (unrelated to his personal interests in physics topics), and her own work for her diploma dissertation (required for the examination she would retake the following year), which she hoped to extend to a Ph.D. thesis. Both were investigating heat conduction, so there was overlap between their researches in this area. (Einstein refers to their research on heat conduction, with an allusion to Professor Weber’s laboratory at the Polytechnic, in a letter written to Marić around the beginning of September 1900.) Evidently this is what she is referring to when she writes of her “studying at home with Albert”, followed immediately by a reference to their laboratory work.

 

The second relevant document is a letter from Marić to Kaufler dated 11 December 1900 which is full of personal material, but contains no suggestion she had undertaken any joint work with Einstein recently. The final piece of evidence comes in a letter Marić wrote to Kaufler on 20 December 1900. Again there is no hint of her having worked on the paper with Einstein. On the contrary, she writes, “Albert wrote a paper in physics that will probably soon be published in the Annalen der Physik.” Is it really conceivable that had Marić collaborated on the paper to any appreciable degree she would not so much as hinted as much to her closest friend. My view is that this is unlikely in the extreme. In the following sentence in this letter Marić writes: “You can imagine how proud I am of my darling.” These are not the words of someone who collaborated on the paper to which she is referring. Given also that the only information we have about actual research done for the paper refers exclusively to what Einstein wrote he had obtained, I conclude that the inclusive “we” in the letter of 3 October indicates no more than that Einstein was trying to draw Marić into his exciting world of research on fundamental notions in physics, as is evident in many of his letters from their student days.

 

This does not exclude the possibility that Marić assisted Einstein in looking up data (though we have no evidence that this is the case with regard to the capillarity paper), but there is no hard evidence that she collaborated with him on the paper, and what she wrote in her letter to Kaufler on 20 December 1900 strongly suggests that she did not.

 

It is also worth recording that in April 1901 Einstein wrote to his friend Marcel Grossman, “As for science I have a few splendid ideas”, including that “my theory of atomic attraction forces [i.e., relating to his capillarity paper] can also be extended to gases”.

18. Maric was not "a gifted scholar and scientist" before she met Einstein. She had just graduated from high school. MARIC OBTAINED THE HIGHEST MARKS IN HER HIGH SCHOOL IN MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE. IT IS A STRETCH THOUGH TO SAY SHE WAS A SCIENTIST AT THAT STAGE SO PLEASE AMEND WEBSITE. REFER Trbuhovic-Gjuric.

I am glad that Hilton rejects the absurd notion that Marić was a gifted scientist (or any sort of scientist) when she had recently graduated from high school, with no evidence that she had done any work beyond her school curriculum. However, in the context of the claims of Marić having collaborated on Einstein’s great papers of 1905, describing her as “a gifted scholar” is also questionable. As Hilton writes, she obtained excellent grades for mathematics and science on graduation from high school. (However, my reading of Trbuhović-Gjurić’s report on Marić’s school results suggests that her phrase “the best marks in mathematics and physics” could well have been referring to Marić own best marks, rather than saying that she obtained better marks than the other school students in her class as Hilton writes. It is probably significant that Dord Krstić, who never passes over an opportunity to inflate the claims about Marić, writes (2004, p. 30) that her best grades were in mathematics and physics, not that in those subjects she obtained the highest grades in her high school.) Marić fared less well at Zurich Polytechnic, achieving an average grade that placed her fifth of six in her intermediate exam, and last (failed) of five in the final exam in 1900. Her mediocre exam performances at the Polytechnic, to my mind, preclude her being described as a “gifted scholar” in the context of high level academic work (unless one is of the school of thought that we are all “gifted”!)

19. The only documented "knowledge" Maric "shared with Albert" was a short rather jocular passage about one lecture on the speed of oxygen molecules. N/A

The PBS website says: “They shared information through their writing. She brought back [from Heidelberg University] information that served as part of the foundation of quantum mechanics.” My comment actually covered both these sentences, criticized in my relevant linked article. In the surviving letters between Marić and Einstein all the “shared information” was one-way, from Einstein to Marić, other than the passage to which I allude above that Marić wrote at the time she spent one semester at Heidelberg University in 1897-98. The statement that she brought back information that served as part of the foundation of quantum mechanics is ignorant nonsense.

20. There is no evidence that Maric was doing any extra-curricular "research." SEE NOTE IN DOCUMENTARY REBUTTALS. EINSTEIN AND MARIC WRITE IN THEIR CORRESPONDENCE THAT THEY WERE WAS READING THE CLASSIC WORKS OF BOLTZMANN, DRUDE, HELMHOLTZ, HERZ, KIRCHKOFF AND OSWARD. MILEVA IN ONE OF HER LETTERS ALSO RECOMMENDS EINSTEIN READ PLANCK. SHE OBVIOUSLY KNEW OF THIS MAJOR SCIENTIFIC FIGURE'S SIGNIFICANCE.

Hilton writes: EINSTEIN AND MARIC WRITE IN THEIR CORRESPONDENCE THAT THEY WERE WAS READING THE CLASSIC WORKS OF BOLTZMANN, DRUDE, HELMHOLTZ, HERZ, KIRCHKOFF AND OSWARD

No, Marić does not write this, only Einstein refers to “classic works” by the authors cited by Hilton that he is reading and wants Marić to study with him. Marić’s letters are almost entirely taken up with personal matters, and even where we have two surviving letters of hers in direct response to Einstein’s in which he writes excitedly of extra-curricular physics he is currently working on, she gives no response whatever to this. In complete contrast, in Einstein’s letters we frequently find him enthusing about the extra-curricular physics he is reading about, or the research he is himself doing.

Hilton writes: MILEVA IN ONE OF HER LETTERS ALSO RECOMMENDS EINSTEIN READ PLANCK. SHE OBVIOUSLY KNEW OF THIS MAJOR SCIENTIFIC FIGURE'S SIGNIFICANCE.

This is the only mention of any writings by physicists in Marić’s letters. Now let’s examine the context in which Planck’s name is mentioned. In the paragraph in question Marić wrote some sentences about non-physics books that Einstein had sent her, then adds: “Have you read the Planck yet? It looks interesting.” Clearly she is referring to a paper by Planck that Einstein already knew about, so she is not, as Hilton claims, “recommending” it to Einstein. But what is significant about this is that all she can say about it is a vague “It looks interesting”. It is not even clear from this that she had read it closely. It is inconceivable that Einstein would have written about a newly-read paper by Planck in this fashion. He would have discussed the subject matter, and said if he agreed or disagreed with sections in the paper. It is instructive to look at Marić’s next letter and see what happens when she reads a publication that really interests her. After referring again to one of the books Einstein had sent her (by August Forel, director of a Swiss psychiatric clinic), she writes a quite lengthy passage on what is evidently a topic dealt with in the book, hypnotism. The contrast between this passage and the brevity of her comment on the Planck paper is, I suggest, revealing. There is little doubt about which subject she is more interested in.

21. Maric's overall average final diploma mark was not "slightly below Albert's," it was considerably below (by approximately 18%) on the grading scale 1-6. 18% IS JUST NOT WORTH THE BOTHER — HER GRADES WERE COMPARABLE EXCEPT IN ONE SUBJECT.

While it is true that Marić’s grades in physics topics were moderately good, Einstein’s grade was higher than Marić’s in every topic other than one in which they were equal. The “one subject” alluded to by Hilton was the mathematics component (theory of functions) in which she obtained a very poor 5 on a grade scale 1-12. (The poor grade in mathematics must surely have been the reason she was not awarded a diploma.)

The reason why one should “bother” is that the relevant statement on the PBS website, that Marić’s final diploma mark was only “slightly below” Einstein’s, is false. The difference between their average grades was approximately 18%, some 50% greater than the difference between Einstein’s and the top candidate in their group (though they are not strictly comparable, as that candidate specialised in mathematics).

22. Maric was not "denied" a diploma, she failed because of her very low mathematics grade. DENIED OR FAILED HAVE THE SAME MEANING. AMEND TO READ FAILED.

Hilton clearly doesn’t understand that saying that Marić was “denied” a diploma carries the connotation that she was denied something she deserved. I suggest she looks up the meanings of the two words in a dictionary if she thinks they mean the same.

23. There are very many more instances of Einstein using "I" and "my" in relation to his extracurricular work in letters when they were students than of his use of "we" and "our." The relatively rare use of "our" sometimes referred to their co-operative study on their diploma dissertations, not Einstein's personal work on physics. Also, Einstein's first important papers were not published until several years later. NOT RELEVANT.

Hilton’s response here is only comprehensible if she has failed to examine my articles on the subject (as against my straight enumeration of errors) and the relevant writings of Stachel that I cite. Since she has clearly not done so, she is not in any position to know if what I have written above is irrelevant.

24. The statement that Maric "studied physics at the highest levels" is totally without evidential support. BLATANTLY FALSE. THEORETICAL PHYSICS WAS THE NEW GROUND OF SCIENCE AT THAT TIME.

I’ll be charitable, and say that Hilton’s response here is cryptic. Nevertheless I’ll try to decipher it. Let’s presume she is meaning to say that Marić was studying theoretical physics at Zurich Polytechnic. But theoretical physics, along with experimental physics, was part of the course that all such students would study in a course for teaching mathematics and physics to secondary school students, and it was most definitely not “physics at the highest levels”. But she may be meaning that Marić researched in higher level physics after she had twice failed her diploma examination. For this contention there is no documentable evidence, as Stachel (and I) have demonstrated by closely examining the material adduced in support of it. 

25. There is no evidence that Maric collaborated with Einstein on his work when she was his wife. PLEASE SUPPLY EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY.

Hilton doesn’t seem to comprehend that the onus is on someone who makes claims as to a certain state of affairs to provide hard evidence it is the case. I can’t supply evidence that Anna Magdalena Bach didn’t compose a number of Johann Sebastian’s works. I doubt many people would think this suggests that she did.

26. They did not "publish some early works together," nor "conduct research together" outside of their Polytechnic studies. AGAIN, REFER TO EINSTEIN'S PUBLISHED CAPILLARITY PAPER AND ROBERT SCHULMANN'S STATEMENT IN HIS INTERVIEW WHEN HE ADMITS MARIC LIKELY PLAYED A ROLE IN THE CAPILLARITY PAPER.

I have already dealt very fully with this in item 17 above. Schulmann didn’t say it was “likely” she played a role, only that it was “very feasible”. Many things are very feasible but nevertheless false. And in any case it is the documentable evidence that counts, not the opinion of any single individual.

27. The statement that Maric brought back from Heidelberg knowledge that "served as part of the foundation of quantum mechanics" is scientific nonsense. REFER TO LENARD'S WORK ON QUANTUM MECHANICS IN REBUTALS REGARDING DOCUMENTARY.

MILEVA SPENT HER WINTER SEMESTER 1897-1898 IN HEIDELBERG, GERMANY. IN HER LETTER TO EINSTEIN WRITTEN FROM HEIDELBERG, MILEVA EXPRESSED HER FASCINATION WITH A LECTURE OF THE GERMAN PHYSICIST PHILLIP LENARD ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE VELOCITY OF MOLECULES AND THE DISTANCE TRAVERSED BY IT BETWEEN COLLISIONS, A TOPIC RELEVANT IN EINSTEIN'S STUDIES OF BROWNIAN MOTION.

It is generous of Hilton to display both her deficiencies of logic and her ignorance of the subject matter on which she writes so clearly for all to see. My statement was in response to the claim on the PBS website that Marić brought back information that “served as part of the foundation of quantum mechanics”. In her supposed rebuttal of my rejection of that statement it now appears that the information was relevant not to quantum theory but to Brownian motion! But what she writes is scarcely more sensible than the statement on the website. What Marić was reporting to Einstein related to a topic in the kinetic theory of gases that would have been in the course at Zurich Polytechnic. The idea that Einstein, who was always eager to read outside the syllabus, needed Marić to tell him about this is absurd. He was soon reading far more advanced books by Boltzmann, a pioneer in the kinetic theory of gases.

Hilton writes REFER TO LENARD'S WORK ON QUANTUM MECHANICS.

(i) Lenard did not do any work on quantum physics, as can be seen from the long list of his work on physics that Hilton has copied below (item 32) from Wikipedia.

(ii) Hilton, unsurprisingly, does not know the difference between quantum physics and quantum mechanics.

[Note: Hilton’s second paragraph above (in capitals) under item 27 is copied directly from a webpage of the Tesla Memorial Society of New York. This accounts for the fact that whereas on the PBS website the claim is that Marić brought back information from her semester spent at Heidelberg University that related to Einstein’s 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect, here Hilton reports that the information was relevant to his 1905 paper on Brownian Motion. This not only tells us a great deal about Hilton’s notions of what constitutes historical scholarship, it shows that when the ‘evidence’ is as vague (actually non-existent) as that in question, it may be brought into service to support whatever claim a proponent wishes.]

28. There is not a scrap of evidence that "Mileva's name [was] removed" as co-author from the celebrated 1905 papers. SEE FOLLOWING:

ABRAM FEDOROVICH JOFFE (IOFFE) RECOUNTS THAT THE ORIGINAL PAPERS HE SAW WERE SIGNED "EINSTEIN-MARITY." "MARITY" IS A VARIANT OF THE SERBIAN "MARIC," MILEVA'S MAIDEN NAME. JOFFE, WHO HAD SEEN THE ORIGINAL 1905 MANUSCRIPT, IS ON RECORD AS STATING: "FOR PHYSICS, AND ESPECIALLY FOR THE PHYSICS OF MY GENERATION — THAT OF EINSTEIN'S CONTEMPORARIES, EINSTEIN'S ENTRANCE INTO THE ARENA OF SCIENCE IS UNFORGETTABLE. IN 1905, THREE ARTICLES APPEARED IN THE 'ANNALEN DER PHYSIK', WHICH BEGAN THREE VERY IMPORTANT BRANCHES OF 20TH CENTURY PHYSICS. THOSE WERE THE THEORY OF BROWNIAN MOVEMENT, THE THEORY OF THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT AND THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY. THE AUTHOR OF THESE ARTICLES — AN UNKNOWN PERSON AT THAT TIME, WAS A BUREAUCRAT AT THE PATENT OFFICE IN BERN, EINSTEIN-MARITY (MARITY — THE MAIDEN NAME OF HIS WIFE, WHICH BY SWISS CUSTOM IS ADDED TO THE HUSBAND'S FAMILY NAME)." 286 . . .

ALBERT EINSTEIN NEVER SIGNED HIS NAME "EINSTEIN-MARITY" IN ANY OF HIS PUBLISHED PAPERS. SWISS LAW PERMITS THE MALE, THE FEMALE, OR BOTH, TO USE A DOUBLE LAST NAME, BUT THIS MUST BE DECLARED BEFORE THE MARRIAGE, AND IT WAS MILEVA, NOT ALBERT, WHO OPTED FOR THE LAST NAME "EINSTEIN-MARITY." A MARRIED PERSON MAY USE THE HYPHENATED "ALLIANZNAME" IN EVERYDAY USE, BUT IT WAS MILEVA WHO WENT BY "EINSTEIN-MARITY," NOT ALBERT. ALBERT SIGNED HIS MARRIAGE RECORDS SIMPLY "EINSTEIN." MILEVA'S DEATH NOTICE READS "EINSTEIN-MARITY." WHY IT WAS DROPPED IN PUBLICATION IS AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY.

 

The footnote number 286 at the end of the first paragraph reveals (by means of a Google search) that all but the last sentence above is again copied directly from a webpage of the Tesla Memorial Society of New York. This no doubt accounts for the fact that, for the very first time, Hilton has accurately quoted what Joffe actually wrote! However, there is something more interesting to note about the two paragraphs above that Hilton has copied. The link on the Tesla Society webpage indicates that the passage in turn comes from a webpage on the website of Christopher John Bjerknes. Bjerknes is an eccentric anti-semite who posts on a Holocaust denier website.

Bjerknes’s antipathy to Einstein is indicated by his describing him as the “chief racist” among the political Zionists of his time, and his writing that “Einstein hated non-racist Jews”. His book on Einstein received a scathing review from John Stachel.

I’m sure that Hilton would be horrified to know that, in regard to the second paragraph she has copied above (which purports to explain away the fact that Joffe clearly cited Einstein as the sole author of the three most celebrated of his 1905 papers), she is citing the arguments of a rabid anti-semite with an intense antipathy to Einstein. That does not, in itself, mean that Bjerknes’s contentions in that paragraph are false. Like any assertions, they must be examined on their merits.

The paragraph in question by Bjerknes merely points out that it is not correct to give Einstein’s name in the form Einstein-Marity, and that Einstein would never have signed his name in this manner. But that is entirely beside the point. The question is, was Joffe under the mistaken impression that at that time in Switzerland (some fifty years before) that was the way a married man would give his name? Since Joffe nowhere says that he saw the signature on the original manuscripts, he can only be surmising what the formal version of Einstein’s name was in 1905 Switzerland. One thing is absolutely clear: he is not remotely suggesting that this single name represents two people. And for all the verbiage in the second paragraph of Hilton’s reply above, there is no explanation there of how a single (hyphenated name) can be evidence that there were two authors. This means that the presumption implicit in the final sentence that Hilton has added to Bjerknes’s paragraph (WHY IT [Marić’s name] WAS DROPPED IN PUBLICATION IS AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY) is erroneous.

Again, I advise anyone genuinely interested in the claims about the Joffe quotation to consult John Stachel’s comprehensive treatment of the issue in Einstein’s Miraculous Year: Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics (ed. J. Stachel), 2005, pp. liv-lxiii. The fact that they have not attempted to rebut what Stachel has written there indicates that that neither Hilton nor Troemel-Ploetz has taken the trouble to examine his arguments. Perhaps one day they’ll understand that genuine scholarship requires one to read the arguments of one’s critics instead of merely repeating assertions that have been decisively refuted.

29. To say that Maric "had the education and the ability to conduct the research" that Einstein did displays a gross ignorance of Einstein's prodigious achievements in his early twenties. THIS DOES NOT DETRACT FROM EINSTEIN'S OBVIOUS GENIUS.

I’m beginning to suspect that Hilton is a mistress of the non sequitur! The question is not about Einstein’s genius, but about the absurd claim that spending four years on a diploma course for teaching mathematics and physics to secondary school children (even if one doesn’t fail the exam) provides sufficient education to conduct the research required to arrive at the epoch-making 1905 papers published by Einstein. On the other element in the claim, that Marić had “the ability” to conduct [Einstein’s] research: Anyone who has an appreciation of the prodigious nature of Einstein’s achievements in 1905 (which rapidly placed him among the foremost theoretical physicists in the world) and a modicum of knowledge about Marić would recognize that this was not the case. Only someone entirely ignorant of the nature of the papers in question could make such a suggestion.

Incidentally, the context of the claim I was rebutting is advice to schoolteachers as follows: “Discuss with students their own opinion about Mileva. She had the education and the ability to conduct the research…”  So teachers are told to tell their school students that someone who couldn’t even obtain a diploma for teaching in high school, and for whom there is no documented evidence of advanced work in physics, had the ability to have produced Einstein’s 1905 papers. This is nearer to brainwashing than to education.

30. There is no evidence that "they worked closely together for years" on his papers. FALSE. MILEVA REMAINED AN ARDENT SUPPORTER OF EINSTEIN'S CONTINUING RESEARCH EVEN AFTER THEIR DIVORCE, REQUESTING HIM TO SEND HER HIS LATEST RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS. PRIMARY EVIDENCE FROM EINSTEIN SCHOLARS STATE THAT THE 1905 PAPERS WERE THE CULMINATION OF HIS STUDENT YEARS AT THE ETH AND AS A POST GRADUATE. MILEVA WAS BY HIS SIDE FOR THE MAJOR PART OF THESE 8 YEARS.

Frankly, such a ‘reply’ is scarcely worthy of a response. However, I shall endeavour to provide one.

Hilton writes: PRIMARY EVIDENCE FROM EINSTEIN SCHOLARS STATE THAT THE 1905 PAPERS WERE THE CULMINATION OF HIS STUDENT YEARS AT THE ETH AND AS A POST GRADUATE.

In the case of a theoretical physicist like Einstein, everything is a culmination of what went before. What this has to do with the claim that Marić worked closely together with Einstein for years [by implication, given the context, on his advanced physics projects] is anybody’s guess.

Hilton writes: MILEVA WAS BY HIS SIDE FOR THE MAJOR PART OF THESE 8 YEARS.

Judging by the paragraph above, the eight years extends from 1897 to 1905. In their student years from 1897 to 1900 they spent a lot of time together, but it is an exaggeration to say Marić was by his side most of that time. (They were not, after all, living together.) During 1901, when Einstein had a teaching post in north Switzerland and later spent time with his parents, Marić spent much of the latter part of the year with her family. She gave birth to their daughter Lisserl in January 1902, and remained with her family until she went to Bern in June, where Einstein had obtained a post at the Patent Office. In regard to the period 1903-1905, of course after their marriage she was by his side much of the time. But after she failed her diploma course for the second time in 1901, and her making the hard decision to leave Lisserl in the care of her family in June 1902 (the baby was possibly given up for adoption the following year), Marić’s ambition for a professional life in science evidently dissipated. Einstein’s biographer Philipp Frank reports (evidently based on information from Einstein) that from early in their marriage her response to his attempts to engage her in his abundant flow of ideas was “slight”. There is no evidence that she played an active role in Einstein’s physics research, or even that she was more than an interested observer at gatherings of the self-styled “Olympia Academy” discussion group (comprising a few of Einstein’s friends) that met at the Einsteins’ home.

Letters to her close friend Helene Kaufler in the period after her second failure to obtain a teaching diploma provide no indication that Marić maintained an active interest in physics. In the autumn of 1901 she reported that she had finished her studies at the Polytechnic, but does not say anything about keeping up any work in physics beyond this. In a letter written in December 1901 she reported that Einstein had finished his (first) Ph.D. thesis, which she had “read with great joy and real admiration for my little darling, who has such a clever head” – hardly the words of someone who was collaborating on his research. Furthermore, none of her letters to Kaufler in the ensuing years provide the least indication of her being involved in any research herself, and papers of Einstein’s that she refers to are unambiguously attributed to him alone.

Hilton writes: MILEVA REMAINED AN ARDENT SUPPORTER OF EINSTEIN'S CONTINUING RESEARCH EVEN AFTER THEIR DIVORCE, REQUESTING HIM TO SEND HER HIS LATEST RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS.

I am not familiar with the letters at that late stage, so I would have been interested to see the citations for Hilton’s statement.* (I can’t say I’ve been impressed by the reliability of Hilton’s claims on more significant matters.) Nevertheless, it is irrelevant to the point at issue. That Marić took an interest in Einstein’s later career does not indicate any involvement with his work at an earlier stage. One thing is certain. Someone for whom there is no evidence that she herself kept up any work in physics after leaving the Polytechnic, and in addition went through the harrowing times that Marić experienced in the period 1914-1920 (and beyond) could not remotely have understood the kind of theoretical physics Einstein was engaged in during the 1920s. [*NOTE: Barbara Wolff at the Albert Einstein Archives in Jerusalem reports that “when [Mileva] is asking for offprints of Albert’s new papers, she does it expressly in the name of the sons” (personal communication, 4 March 2007).]

Returning to the claim on the PBS website that Einstein and Marić “worked closely together for years”, there is not the slightest hint in Marić’s letters to Helene Kaufler at any time that she was working on ideas in physics. Later on, around 1909-1910, she writes in terms that indicate that she is not exactly happy that Einstein’s work on advanced physics takes up so much of his time. For example, she bemoaned to Kaufler that, having given up his “daily eight hours” in the Patent Office, “he will now be able to devote himself to his beloved science, and only science”. (Marić’s emphasis.) A year or so later she wrote in regard to Kaufler’s saying the Marić “must be jealous of science” that she “long[ed] for love”, and in the same context refers to “the damned science”. In contrast, Einstein’s correspondence with numerous physicists in the years following the publication of the 1905 papers reveals him to be immersed in his world of high level physics, and contains an extraordinary variety of ideas he is working on (or debating with other physicists). It is only too evident that proponents of the collaboration thesis, like Hilton and Troemel-Ploetz, have not the least conception of the prodigious work Einstein was doing during these years, and are under the illusion that Marić was capable of keeping abreast of such work, which was formidable even by the standards of advanced physics.

It is important to appreciate that the contention I was rebutting in item 30 is in one of the school student lesson plans in a section relating to their time at Zurich Polytechnic, and reads as follows (the statement in italics in parentheses is the ‘information’ being provided for the teachers):

“Ask students to describe how they [Einstein and Marić] worked together. (They worked together on new theories on the cutting edge of physics…)

As I’ve emphasized repeatedly, the claim that Marić worked together with Einstein on “new theories on the cutting edge of physics” is without foundation, either during their time together at the Polytechnic as claimed here, or in the following years. It is reprehensible that teachers are instructed to state the above assertion to their innocent students as if it is an indubitable fact. And there is an equally egregious example immediately before this in the same lesson plan, where teachers are informed for passing on to their students:

(They published some early works together and conducted research together. They shared information through their writing. She brought back information that served as part of the foundation of quantum mechanics)

There are no less than four falsehoods in this short passage. That PBS is complicit in the production of such material as part of school lesson plans is a blot on its reputation as the foremost provider of educational material for schools in the United States.

31. Maric was not "a pioneering woman in the world of physics," and she did not "contribute" to Quantum Physics. FALSE. MARIC WAS A PIONEERING WOMAN IN THE WORLD OF PHYICS. SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST WOMEN TO UNDERTAKE THEORETICAL PHYICS AT THE ETH AND WAS ONE OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF WOMEN TO STUDY MATHEMATICS AND PHYSICS AT HEIDLEBERG UNIVERSITY.

First note that the statement on the PBS website I was challenging is the following:

“Mileva Einstein-Marić was, in many ways, a pioneering woman in the world of physics. She and her husband, Albert Einstein, studied and contributed to the then developing field of Quantum Physics.”

 

It is evident that by “a pioneering woman” the writer means that Marić was involved in advanced work in physics, not that she was a pioneer in the sense that Hilton writes about in her response to this item. There is no evidence that Marić did high level (or indeed any) research in physics beyond her Polytechnic studies, and, more specifically, none that she made any contributions to quantum physics.

On a minor point, Marić did not “undertake theoretical physics” at Zurich Polytechnic (later ETH) other than in the mundane sense that it was part of her standard teaching diploma course, along with experimental physics.

32. Philipp Lenard was not "a pioneer in quantum physics." SEE FOLLOWING:

Biography
Philipp Lenard was born in Bratislava (Pozsony(Hungarian) Pressburg(German), the former city of the Hungarian parliament; now Slovakia) on July 7, 1862. He studied under the illustrious Bunsen and Helmholtz, and obtained his doctoral degree in 1886 at the University of Heidelberg. ([1]) After posts at Aachen, Bonn, Breslau, Heidelberg (1896-1898), and Kiel (1898-1907), he returned finally to the University of Heidelberg in 1907 as the head of the Philipp Lenard Institute. […]

[There follows a long list of Lenard’s professional achievements, copied by Hilton from the Philipp Lenard entry on Wikipedia.]

Hilton has wasted her time copying this material, as none of it includes pioneering work in quantum physics! This is yet another indication that Hilton is completely out of her depth concerning the academic subject matter she purports to be dealing with.

33. Maric did not learn "cutting edge physics" with Lenard. SEE ABOVE.

The notion that the impressive list of Lenard’s achievements in experimental physics is an answer to my statement is another instance of Hilton’s totally inadequate responses. Marić attended Heidelberg University as an auditor for the winter semester 1897-98, during which she took a short course of Lenard’s on Heat Theory and Electrodynamics. The idea that a student attending a course at the beginning of her second year (of four) at university is going to learn “cutting edge physics” is absurd.

34. There is no evidence that Maric "cut classes" at Zurich Polytechnic. ROBERT SCHULMANN SAID THIS HIMSELF IN HIS INTERVIEW IN THE DOCUMENTARY, EVEN THOUGH ESTERSON STATES HE HAS SCHULMANN'S SUPPORT.

Here is what Robert Schulmann said in the documentary:

“It's well known that Einstein of course did not attend many courses but was able to use the notes from his good friend Marcel Grossman. And, my view of Mileva is that she was a much more orthodox student in that she did attend classes and, however successful or not, she took her coursework very seriously as she took everything very seriously.”

That Hilton cannot even report correctly what someone says in her own documentary speaks for itself.

On a minor point, the clause at the end of Hilton’s above sentence carries an illogical presumption: that because Schulmann strongly supports my general position we necessarily agree on every single point – though we certainly do on this one.

Summing up: There is good evidence that Einstein borrowed notes from his friend Marcel Grossman prior to his exams in order to catch up with work he missed as a consequence of cutting classes. There is nothing in the Einstein/Marić correspondence, nor (to my knowledge) anything elsewhere in the literature, that indicates that Marić also cut classes.

35. There is no evidence that Einstein's diploma "grades were rounded up to a passing mark." SEE NOTES IN DOCUMENTARY REBUTTALS.

The specific NOTES to which Hilton is referring are the those in her response to my listing of errors in her documentary. The notes in question are entirely based on the assertions of her consultant Senta Troemel-Ploetz, who is the source of the claim about Einstein’s grade being rounded up to a supposed pass mark of 5. Treomel-Ploetz provides no evidence that there was such a pass mark in 1900, and John Stachel has searched the ETH (formerly Zurich Polytechnic) archives and reports he has found no such regulation. (On the scale 1-6, with 1 effectively zero mark, Einstein’s overall average grade works out at around a creditable 78%.)

 

Final summing up:

 

I shall finish with some remarks on the source of many of Hilton’s contentions, both here and in her documentary. One is Senta Troemel-Ploetz, whose 1990 article “Mileva Einstein-Marić: The Woman Who Did Einstein’s Mathematics” has been widely cited in regard to the collaboration claims. I suggest that readers consult the following articles to get an idea how deeply flawed her article is as a purported work of scholarship:

http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm (see under subheading “Senta Troemel-Ploetz’s claims”)

 

In regard to Trbuhović-Gjurić’s biography of Marić on which Troemel-Ploetze relies for most of her contentions: that the Einstein biographer Albrecht Fölsing description of the book as a combination of “fictional invention and pseudo-documentation” is accurate is attested to by my exposing of the many dubious claims she makes. See the two articles cited immediately above.

 

It is worth giving just one example here (immediately below) that illustrates both the deeply flawed nature of Trbuhović-Gjurić’s claims, and the corollary that the relevant writings of an academic who uncritically recycles such claims (namely Troemel-Ploetz’s) can scarcely be described as serious scholarship.

 

The source of a hearsay statement (from an interested party), collected more than fifty years after the occurrence in question, Ljubomir-Bata Dumić, is quoted by Trbuhović-Gjurić (1983, p. 75; 1991, p. 106) as reporting that Einstein said that he has need of his wife as she “solves for me all my mathematical problems”. The idea that Einstein said any such thing (other than in jest) is absurd, but this does not prevent Trbuhović-Gjurić quoting it as evidence, nor Troemel-Ploetz (1990, p. 418) recycling it as if it constituted serious testimony. Even worse is the further quotation in Trbuhović-Gjurić’s book from the same source, Ljubomir-Bata Dumić:

 

We raised our eyes towards Mileva as to a divinity, such was her knowledge of mathematics and her genius… Straightforward mathematical problems she solved in her head, and those which would have taken specialists several weeks of work she completed in two days… We knew that she had made [Albert], that she was the creator of his glory. She solved for him all his mathematical problems, particularly those concerning the theory of relativity. Her brilliance as a mathematician amazed us. [My translation.]

 

I leave readers to decide on the reliability of such reminiscences from a proud fellow-Serb with connections to the Marić family, and of the author who presents such statements as evidence. That this nonsense is recorded in all seriousness by Trbuhović-Gjurić is enough to undermine the reliability of the many other statements she collected in the 1960s (most of which are inherently dubious anyway). That in her 1990 article Troemel-Ploetz uncritically recycles such material (though in this instance only the earlier nonsense about Marić’s “doing all [Einstein’s] mathematical problems”) and presents it as serious evidence tells us much about her scholarly pretensions. In turn, of course, Geraldine Hilton has relied upon Troemel-Ploetz for a number of the statements made in her documentary, and in her responses to my criticisms she has cited Trbuhović-Gjurić as the source of some of the key claims about Marić’s alleged scientific collaboration with Einstein. This speaks for itself.

 

Conclusion

 

It should be apparent by now that the PBS “Einstein’s Wife” website is so permeated with falsehoods and misleading contentions that it is irredeemably flawed. The same must be said about Geraldine Hilton’s documentary Einstein’s Wife.

 

PBS must face up to the fact that they made a serious error in not having the documentary (and the associated PBS website material) examined by scholars knowledgeable about both the historical facts and the science before they decided to sponsor it. It should be only too apparent by now that the only way they can act with integrity in this matter is to withdraw both their sponsorship of the documentary and their “Einstein’s Wife” website.

 

 

December 2006

 

http://www.esterson.org/