Contemporary love Lecture Series Four emotions

Contemporary love

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Jimena Canales


Einstein and the long distance relationships

Between 1897 and 1903 the physic Albert Einstein and his girlfriend exchanged almost fifty love letters while they maintained a long distance relationship. Traveling and living in several places -Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Serbia-, they wrote letters where he lovingly signed as "Johnnie" and she was "Dollie". Along these same years, Einstein developed his famous Theory of Relativity, and his love letters describe this work.

When his theory was published in 1905, many of his colleagues thought that Einstein had written an article on long distance communications, although we now consider this text as the one that revolutionized modern physics and changed the common notions about space and time. These two ways of seeing Einstein's work has sense because the text deals precisely on how much time it take a light sign to reach an observer. In this way, he inaugurated an unprecedented change in physics that had not been experienced since the times of Newton.

Einstein's love letters, passionate and picaresque -"I am going to give a few pats on the back" Johnnie warned Dollie-, contained a great number of observations in regards to the possibilities and limitations of long distance communications. Particularly, they regretted the deficient postal service. At the same time that postal mail began competing with the telegraph, the telephone, and later the radio, Einstein's Theory of Relativity began to be accepted as the best theoretical framework for the new electromagnetic age.

When exploring the most private issues of this personal correspondence, we find very tight bonds between the Einstein's new science of distance communication and the contemporary emotion of love.

  1. Jimena CanalesJimena Canales

    Es profesora asistente en el Departamento de Historia de la Ciencia de la Universidad de Harvard. Está especializada en Historia y Filosofía de las Ciencias Físicas. Entre sus áreas de interés se cuentan la epistemología, la ciencia y la representación y las teorías de la modernidad y la postmodernidad. Ha publicado el libro A Tenth of a Second: A History y numerosos artículos en revistas científicas.