Einstein's notes on the theory of relativity taken up for auction for 3 million euros

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Einstein's notes on the theory of relativity taken up for auction for 3 million euros
Einstein's notes on the theory of relativity taken up for auction for 3 million euros
22 September, 17:10SciencePhoto: DW
Auctioneers say autographs from a scholar of that period are rare, and the notes to be sold in Paris in November are the most valuable ever auctioned.

On November 23 in Paris, the auction houses Christie's France and Aguttes will put up for auction the manuscript of Albert Einstein, according to The Guardian. The auctioneers are hoping to gain from 2 to 3 million euros for it.

The rarity is a calculation that was supposed to explain the phenomenon known as the anomalous displacement of the perihelion of Mercury and help in the development of the theory of relativity. Einstein and his friend and collaborator, the Swiss engineer Michel Besso, took these notes from June 1913 to early 1914. The manuscript, which consists of calculations, corrections and deletions, has 54 pages - 26 of them were written by Einstein's hand, 25 by Besso, and three pages by both scientists.

The point in Mercury's orbit where the planet is closest to the Sun, its perihelion, is slowly shifting over time due to the influence of other bodies in the solar system. If the Einstein and Besso equations showed the result of the observed shift, the theory of relativity would be proven. However, the manuscript contained errors in calculations - on page 28, Einstein made a mistake in the value of the mass of the Sun, and scientists postponed this approach to general relativity.

Photo:Christie's

Leaving Zurich, Besso took the manuscript with him, and thanks to this it survived: Einstein did not bother to keep working notes. Only two documents have survived to our time, according to which it is possible to observe the development of the general theory of relativity. The second is a notebook from late 1912 to early 1913, which is now in Einstein's archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Einstein returned to calculating the perihelion of Mercury in 1915 - then he managed to find evidence for his new theory, about which he wrote in a series of articles published at the end of the year.

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