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Albert Einstein’s handwritten letter sells at over $1 million at auction3 min read

May 30, 2021 3 min read


Albert Einstein’s handwritten letter sells at over $1 million at auction3 min read

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Albert Einstein. Credit: Britannica

Albert Einstein, called one of the greatest physicists of all time, passed away in 1955. Now, well past his demise, the developer of the ‘theory of relativity’ is being remembered for his most famous formula – E=mc2.

What does E=mc2.  mean?

The theory’s letters mean: mass (M) going at the constant speed of light (C) equals the amount of energy needed to reach that speed. In other words, it states that the amount of mass you need to reach the speed of light, determines the energy needed to do that. The part that says E=M, means that energy and mass can be converted into each other. So the amount of mass determines how much energy that object has. In anything, there isn’t enough energy to reach the speed of light, unless you added more energy. But when you do, you then also have more mass to move, which then needs more energy. As long as you add energy, this will repeat in an endless cycle.

A handwritten letter by Einstein that contains his famous equation has sold at a Boston-based auction house for more than $1.2m, about three times more than it was expected to get!

The letter that was sold at auction. Credit: AP

Archivists at the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem say there are only three other known examples of Einstein writing the world-changing equation in his own hand.

RR Auction, which sold the most recent letter, says this fourth example is the only one in a private collection and became public very recently. The auction house had expected it to sell for about $400,000.

“It’s an important letter from both a holographic and a physics point of view,” Bobby Livingston, the executive vice-president at RR Auction said, calling the equation the most famous in the world.

Parts of Albert Einstein’s brain with pathologist Thomas Harvey, who dissected it and kept some bits of himself! Credit: Getty Images

 “Your question can be answered from the E=mc2 formula, without any erudition,” Einstein wrote in the letter written on a Princeton University letterhead, according to a translation provided by RR Auction.

The one-page handwritten letter in German to the Polish American physicist Ludwik Silberstein is dated 26 October 1946.

The buyer was identified by RR only as an anonymous document collector. The rarity of the letter set off a bidding war, Livingston said. Five parties were bidding aggressively at first, but once the price reached about $700,000, it became a two-party contest, he said.

While we’re talking science, how about solving this quiz to test your knowledge on some of the greatest scientists the world has seen? Let us know your results in the comments below!

Sources: The Guardian, Live Science,