Home History The letter from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie was filled with excellent advice.
The letter from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie was filled with excellent advice.

The letter from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie was filled with excellent advice.

by Ricardo Walter

Stephen Hawking, a British theoretical physicist who died in 2018, was lauded for his contributions to science, his introduction of physics to a wider audience through his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” and his incredible reserves of resilience in carrying out his work while suffering from the motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Because of his illness, he had to use a wheelchair and became famous for speaking through a machine he made himself.

Even the greatest minds, however, are subjected to paparazzi scrutiny during their lifetimes. While Hawking remained the world’s most respected and recognizable scientist in his final years, his private life became increasingly fodder for the press. In 2007, publications such as Vanity Fair looked into allegations that the renowned scientist’s second wife, Elaine Mason, was physically abusing him. Even though people who knew him well thought there was evidence of abuse, Hawking denied the claims.

Scientists’ private lives have been the subject of the press for centuries, not just in the modern era. Marie Curie, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and chemist, had her reputation tarnished by what journalists considered lurid details about her personal life at the turn of the twentieth century. On the other hand, Albert Einstein, who was a friend of Curie’s, was a well-known person who stood up for her.

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In 1903, Marie Curie and her husband Pierre were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their groundbreaking research into radioactivity, making them world-famous. Their life together, however, was about to take a tragic turn. Pierre was killed in a freak accident in Paris in 1906 when he fell beneath the wheels of a horse wagon after losing his balance while crossing the street and suffered a fatal skull fracture (via Biography).


According to the biography, Marie mourned her husband’s death deeply but honored his legacy by continuing his work and teaching. Paul Langevin, Pierre’s former doctoral student and protege, felt the physicist’s loss. Even though Langevin was married to another woman, even if it wasn’t a happy marriage, Marie and the younger scientist got closer after Pierre died and started dating.

However, shortly after the affair was brought to the attention of Langevin’s wife, love letters between the two scientists began to appear in Parisian tabloid newspapers, threatening Marie Curie’s career. (According to the American Institute of Physics, the letters could be forgeries.) According to Einstein biographer Walter Isaacson (“Einstein: His Life and Universe,” posted at the Internet Archive), Curie and Langevin’s wife hired someone to break into the apartment where Curie and Langevin were having their affair to steal their correspondence and leak it to the press. The illicit affair drew a lot of attention because a large-scale science conference was taking place in Paris at the time, and both Curie and Langevin were in attendance. Curie was vilified as the destroyer of the Langevins’ marriage.


Albert Einstein is best known as the father of relativity, but in the age of the internet, he is also admired for his dazzling wit, which has made him a popular source of meme-ified quotes, both inspirational and otherwise. So it’s no surprise that when his colleague Marie Curie was on the verge of being canceled, Einstein—who admired Curie for her intelligence, honesty, and lack of pretension, according to Walter Isaacson’s “Einstein: His Life and Universe”—was eager to pick up his pen and offer her some powerful words of support.


Einstein begins his letter by assuring Curie of his admiration for both her and Langevin, and stating that his friendship with both of them is a personal privilege. In a typically verbose flourish, he advises her, “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.”

Not long after the scandal broke, Curie was awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry. She was the first person to receive two of these honors (per The Nobel Prize).

Source : Wikipedia | Grunge

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