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    Albert Einstein Typed Letter Signed "A. Einstein," one page, 8.5" x 11". On stationery of the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Mathematics, Princeton, New Jersey, October 13, 1942. To Captain Frank E. Phillips, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps, Unit 440, Postmaster San Francisco, Cal. In full, "I am glad you are interested in the theory of relativity. I have requested my publishers, Simon & Schuster in New York City, to send you a copy of a popular book I have written on the subject and on other questions of physics. There is not much practical application of my theories which try only to give a better understanding of some natural phenomena. I am glad for this because most inventions of 'practical value' are primarily used to kill and destroy. With my best wishes." The letter is in very fine condition with one horizontal and two vertical folds. The upper left sixth of the letter has been affixed to the front flyleaf beneath Phillips' signature. Present is the book Einstein refers to: The Evolution of Physics, subtitled "The Growth of Ideas from Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta" by Einstein and Leopold Infeld, 319 pages, 5.5" x 8". New York: Simon and Schuster, 1938; Seventh Printing, January 29, 1940. The book is in very good condition, blue cloth with gilt lettering on spine, with the original worn dust jacket. Phillips has signed the book on the first blank flyleaf, "Captain Frank E. Phillips, Jr./United States Marine Corps/26 Nov 42."

    The book is divided into four sections. Capt. Phillips read at least the preface and the first section, "The Rise of the Mechanical View." There are portions underlined by Phillips on 50 of the 65 pages, emphasizing some paragraphs. He has also written comments on two pages. On page 30, he comments on Newton's law of gravity: "The decrease in force of attraction = the relative proportion of the increase in distance raised to a power numerically = this relative proportion - pr, the relative proportion multiplied by itself a number of times = to its numerical designation. If distance becomes x times as great, force = 1/(x) x of original force." On page 55, next to his underlining of "Philosophical generalizations must be founded on scientific results," Phillips has penned, "Hedonistic only with universal application." This extraordinary young soldier was killed in action on Saipan in the Mariannas, on July 9, 1944, the day Saipan was officially secured by U.S. forces after a three week battle. Out of 71,000 Americans who had landed on Saipan Island, 14,111 were killed. Born on December 17, 1917, Capt. Phillips was 26-years-old. Phillips Square, at Salisbury and Flagg Streets in Worcester, Massachusetts, is named in his memory. A 5.5" x 3.5" unused color postcard of the S.S. Lurline was in this book, between sections I and II. It was most probably used as a bookmark by Capt. Phillips. On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Lurline was bound for San Francisco from Honolulu on its regular run. Upon receiving news of Pearl Harbor, the Lurline was immediately secured for water-tightness and blacked out and arrived in San Francisco on December 10th. The Lurline was transformed into a troop transport and most probably transported Capt. Phillips and his fellow Marines to the Pacific theatre.

    Letters of Einstein referring to his theory of relativity are rare and extremely desirable. One can only imagine the letter the learned Capt. Phillips wrote to elicit such a response. In 1939, Einstein had written to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that through "a nuclear chain reaction...extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed." When Einstein wrote this letter to Capt. Phillips, he did not know that scientists were working to develop an atomic bomb and that on September 23, 1942, Col. Leslie R. Groves was promoted to Brigadier General and put in charge of the Manhattan Project. On October 15, 1942, just two days after Einstein wrote this letter, Groves asked physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to head a new planned central laboratory for physics research and design which, in November, was established at Los Alamos, New Mexico. It is ironic that Einstein ended this letter by telling Capt. Phillips that "most inventions of 'practical value' are primarily used to kill and destroy." Three years later, a year after Capt. Phillips was killed in the Pacific, the results of the Manhattan Project, atomic bombs, were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, eventuating the end of World War II, killing, according to U.S. estimates, 60,000 to 70,000 people, and destroying two cities and countless lives. A remarkable and unique letter and book, linking a 63-year-old scientist with a 24-year-old Marine, fighting a war thousands of miles away.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
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