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Lot 61

Albert Einstein ALS Re: Unified Field Theory, Complete with 12 Formulas & Lines of Calculations in His Hand, & Unpublished!

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Albert Einstein ALS Re: Unified Field Theory, Complete with 12 Formulas & Lines of Calculations in His Hand, & Unpublished!


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Albert Einstein ALS Re: Unified Field Theory, Complete with 12 Formulas & Lines of Calculations in His Hand, & Unpublished!

A lengthy 2pp autograph letter in German signed by Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the acclaimed German theoretical physicist, with sensational scientific content, featuring over 30 written lines and 12 lines of mathematical notations in his hand. Einstein signed with his initials “A.E.” at the center verso. Addressed to Ernst Gabor Straus (1922-1983), Einstein's research assistant and collaborator. The date--May 2, 1950--is typed at top and appears in European notation. N.p. Inscribed in Einstein's spidery scrawl on both sides of a single leaf of watermarked paper. Expected light paper folds, and an extra wrinkle in the upper left corner recto mentioned just for accuracy. Else near fine. Unpublished.

The letter demonstrates that Albert Einstein was then actively at work in developing a "generalized theory of gravitation" as well as exploring the mathematics of a new Unified Field Theory. Einstein here considers the mathematical consequences of different types of asymmetry, seeking to extend the gravitation equations of General Relativity through the use of an asymmetric fundamental tensor. At the time this letter was written, Einstein was especially concerned with the compatibility of the field equations to the physical reality it was meant to explain. He particularly sought to avoid an over-determination of the field equations so as to enable the manifold of their solutions to be as extensive as empirically required.

In the letter, Einstein indicates that he has found an improved way of “accounting” ["Abzahlung-Betrachtung"] applicable to the problem of deducing the sought-after field equations. After discussing the case where the spacetime metric tensor supports the convergence of the Ricci tensor, Einstein charts a table of the field size, number of equations, and Bianchi identities for alternative types of spacetime metrics. In concluding the letter, Einstein draws out the implications of his work for the selection of functions satisfying the field equations.

Einstein’s article “On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation” (Weil 226), published in 1950, gives us insights into the underlying concerns of this letter. “All attempts to obtain a deeper knowledge of the foundation of physics seem doomed to me,” Einstein explains, “unless the basic concepts are in accordance with General Relativity from the beginning.” But because “The principle of General Relativity does not suffice to determine completely the field equations,” Unified Field Theory requires “free speculation to a much greater extent than is presently assumed by most physicists.” Einstein’s own “free speculation” led him to abandon the basic assumption of a strictly symmetric fundamental tensor and the subsequent breaking of the tensor into two distinct sub-components, one symmetric and one asymmetric. But, as Einstein saliently remarks, “the combination of the two parts of the field can only be shown to be a natural procedure if in the formalism of the theory only the total field plays a role, and not the symmetrical and anti-symmetrical parts separately.” “The problem,” Einstein states, “is to set up a relativistic theory for the total field.” And, “the most important clue to its solution” – as Einstein seems to be suggesting in this letter - “is that there exists already the solution for the special case of the pure gravitational field.” But “This pure mathematical problem is as yet unsolved,” Einstein acknowledges at the end of the article.

The work discussed in this letter seems to be discussed in Einstein’s final article on Unified Field Theory, “Algebraic Properties of the Field in the Relativistic Theory of the Asymmetric Field” (Weil 237), published in 1954. Unified Field Theory was Einstein’s primary interest for the last thirty years of his life; he even worked on it on his deathbed. The continuity of Einstein’s Unified Field Theory with General Relativity is evident in the equations and concerns of this very important and unpublished scientific letter.

Ernst Gabor Straus was Einstein’s assistant from 1944-1948. He co-authored, along with Einstein, the important Unified Field Theory paper “Generalization of the Relativistic Theory of Gravitation” (Weil 217), published in in 1946.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

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