Letters written by Albert Einstein to his family have shed light on the scientist’s personal life, including a dozen extramarital affairs and a series of bad investments.
To Ethel Michanowski, a Berlin socialite who became his lover:
How wonderful to see you again yesterday, if only briefly. I promised I would introduce you to a “4th dimension” of the erotic, and I hope I succeeded. The universe occupied by ordinary lovers is so mundane compared to ours! Next time, I will bring some jazz records and perhaps we will have a little “Brownian motion” beforehand!
I am still troubled by your persistent sentimentality concerning Niels Bohr. Why are women so attracted to men who ride motorcycles? Do not speak of him again if you wish to continue our relationship. And please do not say I am jealous because he got a Nobel before me.
I am taking your advice and going long on December pork bellies-wish me luck!
From his son, Hans Albert:
My dear Papa-
I don’t care to join you on holiday. Last summer when I came you and Frau Himmelfarb played “Wildlife Management” so late into the night that I got no rest. And I nearly killed myself tripping over the bearskin when I came down to breakfast that one time.
Eduard is becoming increasingly sensitive to the taunts he must endure as the son of a famous man. I know you go through money quickly but that is no reason for you to sell tee-shirts with that silly picture of you sticking out your tongue.
We tried your experiment with the two clocks, but couldn’t tell any difference. I don’t think my bicycle goes fast enough to approach the speed of light. Perhaps you could buy me a new one the next time we are together.
Your devoted son,
To Margaret Lenbach, a wealthy socialite whose chauffer would pick Einstein up for late-night trysts:
My dearest Margaret-
Please do not be cross with me. I am only thinking of your best interests when I say that your paper describing phlogiston as the vital force behind all human endeavor is not quite ready for the prime time of Annalen der Physik. They have very high standards, and I think you would be crushed by the force of their rejection.
I will make it up you by showing you the “Einstein-de Sitter Cartwheel” next time we get together. Be sure to limber up beforehand!
Did I perchance leave a bear costume in the back seat of your Duesenberg? Just wondering.
From an unidentified woman who pursued him:
Dear Dr. Einstein:
I am an artist who has made plaster casts of the crania of noted physicists, including Max Planck and Charles Glover Barkla. Contrary to what you may have heard from Johannes Stark, I am not a mere groupie. I hear you are a comer in the world of science, and I would love to do your head–and perhaps some other body part.
I would have enclosed a stamp to save you the expense of postage but I see I have already sealed the envelope.
To Boris Podolsky, who collaborated with him on a paper taking the position that the statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics was a consequence of the incompleteness of the description of physical systems, or something like that:
Just a quick note seeking your advice. This Fraulein M. is driving me crazy-always begging me for money or the use of a few extra letters, and as you know I can spare neither. Perhaps if the Nobel people paid me in vowels, but alas, this is not the case.
Also, thanks for your tip to get out of cocoa futures. Unfortunately, it came a little late as shorts on the Bund have wiped me out. My broker offered to sell me a Honus Wagner plug tobacco card for my remaining capital-think I will pass.
To Max Born, fellow physicist:
I have previously taken the position with you that God does not throw dice, but that shouldn’t stop us from having a little fun. I have recently purchased a set of poker dice, which I would love to try out with you. It is literally possible to roll five aces, and as you know this is highly improbable with playing cards! I lost some money on pork bellies recently and would be happy to relieve you of some of yours–money, that is, not your belly.
Think I will put my remaining prize money in something safe, like a Christmas Club Account. Do you know a shabbas goy who can help?