Dr. Berger and other book contributors will discuss how Einstein broke two Nobel traditions with his lecture, Fundamental Ideas and Problems of the Theory of Relativity. But then, the entire history of Einstein’s Nobel Prize was unusual.
For over a decade, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences repeatedly rejected Einstein and, specifically, his greatest contribution to science─the theory of relativity─for a Nobel prize. In 1921, the debate about Einstein was so thorny for the Nobel Committee for Physics that no award was given that year. The following year, Einstein received the unused 1921 prize — pointedly, though, not for relativity but for discovering the law of the photoelectric effect. The award citation had an unusual disclaimer that excluded relativity as the reason for the award. Einstein’s Nobel diploma is unique in stating what the prize was not awarded for.
Einstein did not attend the 1922 Nobel ceremony to receive his award, choosing instead to embark on a prescheduled visit abroad. Although he intended to present his Nobel lecture at the 1923 award ceremony in Stockholm, that was not to be either.
In March 1923, the Committee for Physics Chairman wrote to Einstein suggesting that instead of waiting until December to deliver his Nobel lecture to the Swedish Academy, he address the Scandinavian Society of Science in Gothenburg in July on the 300th anniversary of the city’s founding.
As with everything concerning his Nobel award, Einstein’s lecture became a source of controversy. His detractors objected to it being accepted as an official Nobel lecture since it hadn’t been delivered in Stockholm and was not about the award topic. But, Arrhenius had submitted the lecture manuscript for inclusion in the Nobel Foundation’s yearbook, Les Prix Nobel. Although questioning its validity, the Swedish Academy allowed it to remain in the publication.
Einstein’s lecture on relativity presented in Gothenburg has this footnote in the later English translation (but not the original German version): “The Lecture was not delivered on the occasion of the Nobel Prize award and did not, therefore, concern the discovery of the photoelectric effect.”
After so many contentious years, the Nobel prize meant little to Einstein besides the money he had promised his wife Mileva in their divorce agreement. And, in later years, when Einstein listed his most significant achievements and honors, the Nobel prize was conspicuously absent.
Berger notes, “After decades of collecting rare Einstein items and then sharing them as full-page high-quality images in EINSTEIN: The Man and His Mind, I felt it was important to recall the unusual history at the centennial of his so-called Nobel lecture.”
The Facebook Live streaming event will occur on July 11, 2023, at 11 am EDT here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1344566559738665.
Joining Dr. Berger on the live stream will be co-author Michael DiRuggiero and Hanoch Gutfreund, who wrote the Foreword.
Gary S. Berger is a physician who has always been fascinated by Albert Einstein and how he could perceive what nobody had before about physical reality. During the past 25 years, he’s assembled perhaps the world’s largest private collection of original Einstein materials.
Michael DiRuggiero is a world-class rare book dealer specializing in the history of science with particular emphasis on material relating to Albert Einstein.
Hanoch Gutfreund is the academic director of the Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has written several books about Einstein and relativity.
Questions about the event or the book can be sent to email@example.com.