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Online archive offers easy access to Einstein

posted 19 Mar 2012, 07:46 by Mpelembe   [ updated 19 Mar 2012, 07:52 ]

The Hebrew University launches a digital archive of Albert Einstein online, offering easy access to scientific and personal documents.

JERUSALEM (MARCH 19, 2012) (REUTERS) - A digital archive of Albert Einstein was launched online on Monday (March 19), revealing personal documents to the public for the first time including his wedding announcement and a letter in which he proposes a way to solve the Jewish-Arab conflict.

Scholars and science buffs can now search, scroll and zoom in on the life work of the Jewish, German-born scientist and even see the original scribble of his famous formula "e=mc2", which postulates that time and space are relative.

Einstein, who died in 1955, bequeathed his papers to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which he co-founded.

The entire archive holds more than 80,000 documents but the university said it has only so far posted online material dating through 1922.

The rest will be digitized in time, said Hanoch Gutfreund, a university professor who is responsible for Einstein's intellectual property. They will include English translations, since most papers were written in German, and academic notes.

"It will make this access much easier, not only for the general public but also for interested academics because they will be able to browse through the 80,000 documents and they will be able to use, to benefit, from the most sophisticated technological tools of categorisation, cross-referencing, looking at key words, looking at related documents," Gutfreund said.

"Ultimately everything will be there - digitized, annotated, transcripted, translated. So, this is going to be not only something to, you know, to satisfy the curiosity of the curious but it also will be a great educational and research tool for academics," he added.

The project offers an in-depth and easily accessible look into the life of Einstein, allowing each visitor to form their own opinion of the man whose theories brought a revolution in physics.

Some items in the collection are so personal that it was not clear whether they should be made public, Gutfreund said.

He mentioned the decision to include 24 love letters that Einstein wrote to his second wife, Elsa, while still married to his first wife, Mileva.

Not yet included in the online gallery, but on display for the first time, is a letter Einstein wrote to the editor of the publication Falastin, in which he proposed setting up a "Secret Council" to help put an end to the Jewish-Arab conflict.

Einstein envisioned a group of eight Jews and Arabs -- a physician, a jurist, a union representative and a cleric from each side -- that would meet each week in secret and discuss the issues concerning what was then British Madate Palestine.

The collection also includes Einstein's high school certificate and letters written to the man who became one of the world's most famous scientists.