Bring back some good or bad memories


January 16, 2024

Albert Einstein and Marie Curie Having a Walk and a Talk by the Geneva Lake, ca. 1920s

Discussing near a lake, ca. 1929. A meeting of the most brilliant scientific minds of that time. Note that Marie Curie started working with radium in 1902. The pictures were taken five years before her death. She was probably slightly radioactive at this time.

In 1906, Curie’s husband, Pierre, was killed. She later became close to Pierre’s student, Paul Langevin, who was separated from his abusive wife.

Langevin’s wife exposed their relationship to the press, creating a scandal and forcing Curie and her daughter into hiding. Langevin tried to defend Curie’s reputation in an unarmed duel with a tabloid editor.

During this, Albert Einstein sent Curie a letter expressing his admiration and support: 
“Highly esteemed Mrs. Curie,

Do not laugh at me for writing you without having anything sensible to say. But I am so enraged by the base manner in which the public is presently daring to concern itself with you that I absolutely must give vent to this feeling. However, I am convinced that you consistently despise this rabble, whether it obsequiously lavishes respect on you or whether it attempts to satiate its lust for sensationalism!

I am impelled to tell you how much I have come to admire your intellect, your drive, and your honesty, and that I consider myself lucky to have made your personal acquaintance in Brussels. Anyone who does not number among these reptiles is certainly happy, now as before, that we have such personages among us as you, and Langevin too, real people with whom one feels privileged to be in contact. If the rabble continues to occupy itself with you, then simply don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.

With most amicable regards to you, Langevin, and Perrin, yours very truly,

A. Einstein”

The letter is part of nearly 5,000 of his papers that can be found online in The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein.

Despite the scandal, Marie Curie won her second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911.


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