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    Albert Einstein writes that he "cannot pretend to have grasped the ideas" of another scientist

    Albert Einstein Typed Letter Signed "A. Einstein." One page, 8.5" x 11", Princeton, New Jersey, September 10, 1945, on stationery reading, "The Institute for Advanced Study / School of Mathematics / Princeton, New Jersey." Five years after becoming an American citizen, Dr. Einstein, a professor at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, writes to Marcus C. Goodall at Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co. in Essex, concerning a scientific paper Goodall had written that Einstein found too difficult to understand. In full:

    "Dear Sir:

    I cannot pretend to have grasped the ideas which you have indicated in your letter of August 12th. The reason may be that my own expectations concerning the future basis of physics are very different from your own. This is because I don't believe that the fundamental physical laws may consist in relations between probabilities for the real things, but for relations concerning the things themselves (fields f.i.). For this reason I am not enough aquainted [sic] with the attempts to expand the contemporary quantum-mechanics to fields and I am not able to give judgement [sic] about such efforts. I know that my friend, Professor Max Born (University of Edinburgh) has worked arduously in this direction so that I suggest to you to get in touch with him about the matter.

    Yours very sincerely,
    [signed] A. Einstein
    Albert Einstein."

    After fleeing Nazi Germany, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) settled to work at Princeton University in 1933. He continued his work there until his death. Only days after the official surrender of the Japanese ending World War II, Dr. Einstein received a scientific paper from Marcus Goodall which confounded him. When Goodall received this reply from Einstein, he mailed this letter with his paper to Max Born, as Einstein had suggested, but Born, too, was confounded, replying to Goodall early in November that he had "tried to read" the paper, but had given up after failing to "understand your meaning" (Max Born letter to M. C. Goodall dated November 1, 1945). Goodall later tried other scientists, such as Otto R. Frisch, but all were likewise confused.

    Marcus Campbell Goodall (1914-1998) attended Balliol College, Oxford, but was dismissed before receiving his degree for some mischief involving an automobile. During World War II, he was summoned into service as an experimental officer to the British Admiralty Signals Establishment in the scientific and technical pools at Royal Fort, Bristol. Following the war, he joined the research staff of Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company in Essex where he authored two manuscripts, one entitled "New Foundations of Physical Field Theory" and the other "P-adic Statistics and Elementary Particles." Both papers were rejected by the Physical Review and Reviews of Modern Physics for the same reasons that Einstein and Born gave. Goodall continued his work at several American universities and authored two books and numerous papers.

    Stamped in red ink in the top right corner, "Regulations General Office (Exchange Control) Authorisations - Forms." According to a letter written by Max Born to Goodall on November 1, 1945, Einstein's letter was mailed to Professor Born; this resulted in several folds. Minor soiling.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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